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Shaharyar - Doyen of Urdu poetry

By Afzal Usmani

Since the inception of Jnanpith Award (Gyaanpeeth Award) in 1965, only four Urdu writers and poets made it to this highest Literary Award of India and our beloved Alma Mater, Aligarh Muslim University has the pride that 3 out of 4 recipient of this highest literary award in Urdu language are AMU alumni. In 1989, Ms. Qurratul Ain Hyder, Ali Sardar Jafri in 1997 and now Prof. Akhlaq Muhammad Khan ‘Shaharyar’ for 2008.

Prof. Shaharyar receiving the Jnanpith Award on 19th September 2011 in New Delhi from Amitabh Bachchan

Prof. Shaharyar receiving the Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award from Prof. P.K. Abdul Azis, Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh

Kunwar Akhlaq Muhammad Khan Shaharyar’ was born on June 16,1936 at Anwala village of Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh. His father was in the U.P. Police and belongs to Village Chondhera in Bullandshahr. District He received his early education in AMU City High School and later joined AMU as a student. He completed his masters in 1961. He is a student of another legendary progressive movement writer Prof. Khalilur Rahman Azmi. He started his career as a journalist in Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu and later appointed as Lecturer in 1966 and promoted as Reader in 1972 and in 1986 he became a Professor in Department of Urdu, Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh. During his career at Aligarh Muslim University, he took keen interest in Academic activities and was the Editor of Fikro Nazar, a quarterly research journal of the Aligarh Muslim University from 1987 to 1996. In his tenure as Editor of Fikro Nazar, he published special issues of Fikro Nazar namely Namwaran-e-Aligarh (Teesra Karwaan - Jild I) in July 1988, Namwaran-e-Aligarh (Teesra Karwaan - Jild II) in March 1991, Hali Number in July 1991, Sir Syed Number in October 1992, Deputy Nazir Ahmad Number in 1994 and Shibli Number in 1996.

L-R: Prof. Ale Ahmad Suroor, Col. Bashir H. Zaidi, Prof. Shaharyar

Prof. Shaharyar also served as Member-in-Charge of the Public Relations Office at AMU and also served as elected representative of Readers and Professors of Aligarh Muslim University in AMU Court. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Chairman of Dept of Urdu and retired from his services in 1996. Even after retirement, he was elected to AMU Court in the category of eminent people from Urdu Language.

Prof. Shaharyar started writing poetry before joining AMU as a faculty and in 1965; his first collection of poetry “Isme-Azam” was published. In 1969, his second collection, Saatwaan-Dar was published which was followed by “Hijr Ke Mausam” in 1978, “Khawaab ka Dar band hai in 1985, “Neend-ki Kirchain in 1995 and “Shaam Honey Waali hai” in 2004. He also compiled “Aasma(n) Ai Aasma(n) : Kuliyat of Khalilur Rahman Azmi, Mazaameen-e-Khalilur Rahman Azmi - Vol-I & Vol-II, Sher-o-Hikmat Vol-I and Sher-o-Hikmat Vol-II.

Haasil-e-Sair-e-Jahan (Kuliyaat)
Shaam Honey waali hai
Shaam Honey waali hai
Mazaameen-e-Khalilur Rahman Azmi - I
Mazaameen-e-Khalilur Rahman Azmi - Vol-I
Mazaameen-e-Khalilur Rahman Azmi - II
Sher-o-Hikmat- I
Sher-o-Hikmat- Vol-I
Sher-o-Hikmat- II
Sher-o-Hikmat- Vol-II
Fikro-Nazar-Sir Syed Number
Fikro-Nazar-Sir Syed Number
Fikro-Nazar-Shibli Number
Fikro-Nazar-Shibli Number
Nazir Ahmad Number
Fikro-Nazar-Shibli Number
Fikro-Nazar-Naamwaraan-e-Aligarh-III-Part 2
Fikro-Nazar-Naamwaraan-e-Aligarh-III-Part 2
Haali Number
Fikro-Nazar-Haali Number

Prof. Shaharyar’s most celebrated work, Khawaab ka Dar band hai, won him the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for the year 1987. In 1998, he was awarded “All India Bahadur Shah Zafar Award instituted by Delhi Urdu Academy. In 1999 he was choosen for Ghalib Award by Ghalib Institute New Delhi. In 2005, he received, National Iqbal Samman instituted by the Culture Department of Madhya Pradesh government. In November 2009 he was selected for the 18th Gangadhar National Award for poetry for 2008. He was conferred with this award by Sambalpur University, Orissa on its 43rd foundation day later this year. The award was instituted in 1989 in memory of the eminent Oriya poet, Swabhabha Gangadhar Meher. The only other Urdu poets, who have won this prestigious award are Sardar Ali Jafri in 1991 and Gulzar in 2005. He has also received Firaq Samman, Delhi Urdu Academy and UP Urdu Academy awards.

With President of India, Giani Zail Singh at Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi
Receiving Ghalib Award from Ms. Shiela Dixit, Chief Minister of Delhi

Receiving Certificate of Acknowledgment at First Sir Syed Day on 17th Oct 2003 in Phoenix AZ USA

In February 2010, the renowned centre of Indian literatures Sahitya Akademi has published a compilation of more than one hundred English translated poetries of this distinguished Urdu poet and former teacher at the Department of Urdu, Aligarh Muslim University. The poetries of Prof. Shaharyar have been selected from his poetic collections Ism-e-Azam(1965), Satwan Dar (1969), Neend Ki Sarhad (1995) and Shaam Honewali Hai (2004). The translation has been done by eminent translators, Bedar Bakht and Marry Anne (Canada). Eminent critic and litterateur Prof. Gopichand Narang has penned a foreword for the book. Two collections of translated versions of Prof. Shahryar’s poetries have already been published by Sahitya Akademi (1990) and Rupa Company (2004). In June 2010 University of Hyderabad has decided to confer D. Sc. Degree (Honoris Causa)on Prof. Shaharyar at the 12th Annual Convocation of the University which was held on June 22, 2010. The Vice President of India, Mr. Mohammad Hamid Ansari was the Chief Guest and delivered the Convocation Address.

On 24th Sep 2010, Prof Akhlaq Mohammed Khan Shahryar was conferred with Ghyan Peet Award,the highest recognition in India in the field of literature and poetry. He was in Saudi Arabia for a Mushaira. For Shaharyar, his visit to this holy land proved rewarding with India conferring on him the most-coveted literary Gyanpeeth Award for 2008 on Friday. An elated Shaharyar thanked the jury for recognizing his services to Urdu.

Prof. Shaharyar is well recognized in Bollywood since he wrote songs for movie “Gaman”. Although quite well-known and duly acknowledged in poetic, literary and academic circles, Sharharyar shot into prominence after the classic composition for the Hindi feature film Umrao Jan ‘Dil cheez kya hai, aap meri jaan lijye, bas ik bar mera kaha maan lijye, is anjuman mein aap ko aana hai bar bar, deewar-o-dar ko ghor se pehchan lijye’. Even after becoming popular in Bollywood and worked with acclaimed Directors like Yash Chopra and Muzaffar Ali, he never left Aligarh and loved his teaching profession. He said he enjoyed teaching at Aligargh Muslim University and was never enamored of the money and fame in Bollywood. “I’m proud to be a poet and believe in writing poetry of a (high) standard and teaching”. Prof. Shaharyar refuses to be described as the writer of the film songs. He is proud of being a poet. He is the best living Urdu poet. At this time he has no match and there is no surviving Urdu poet who could stand at a par with him. Doyen Shaharyar’s poetic genius is on display in his couplet “Umeed se kam chashme kharidaar mein aye, humlog zara der se bazaar mein aye,” and he depicts the sensitivity of an artist, “Zindagi jaisi tawaqqo thi nahin kam hai, her ghari hota hai ehsas kahin kuch kum hai.” The romantic side of Shaharyar can be seen through in his presentation: “Woh bewafa hai, dil dukhata hai, magar humen to wahi shaks bhata hai.” He has written songs for several Hindi feature films, which became quite popular. His film songs also reflect the depth of thought presented in a simple and lucid language. He has penned songs for other movies that include “Ghaban” and Yash Chopra’s “Faasle” and Muzafar Ali’s movies. He claims to reflect social problems in his poetry.

From the very early age Prof. Shaharyar distinguished himself from a long list of poets of Dabistaan-e-Aligarh which includes the names of Faani Badayuni, Maulana Hasrat Mohani Asrarul Haq Majaz, Josh Malihabadi, Jan Nisaar Akhtar, Akhtarul Imaan, Khalilur Rahman Azmi, Majnoo Gorakhpuri, Ali Sardar Jafri, Munibur Rahman Bashir Badr and many more. The contemporary Urdu ghazal has reached its zenith in the poetry of Prof. Shaharyar. He is a role-model. He appeals through the use of symbols, metaphors and simple language. He is considered among the leading poets of India and his poetries have been published several native and foreign languages including Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Telgu, Malyalam, Russian, French and German. Prof. Sharyar’s seven books have been published in Devnagri script as well. Professor Shaharyar represented India in various literary meets and festivals of India held in USA, France, UK and other countries.

With Prof.Munibur Rahman and Dr. Moin Ahsan Jazbi
With Ahmad Faraz
With Dr. Ghulam Rabbani Taban and Prof. Iftikhar Alam Khan
With Prof. Iftikhar Alam Khan, Former Director Sir Syed Academy, AMU Aligarh
With Participating Poets in International Mushaira in Saudi Arabia on 24th Sep 2010
International Mushaira 002
Presiding over the First Sir Syed Day on 17th Oct 2003 in Phoenix AZ USA
International Mushaira 031
Reciting his poetry in the First Sir Syed Day Mushaira on 17th Oct 2003 in Phoenix AZ USA
Dinner with Poet 033
With members and well wishers of AAA of Arizona in Phoenix AZ USA
AMUOBA_Riyadh_Shaharyar1 Mr. Mohammad Zaigham Khan, President A.M.U.Old Boys’ Association Riyadh presenting Memento to Prof. Shaharyar
AMUOBA_Riyadh_Shaharyar2 Prof. Shaharyar Delivering the Speech at his Reception Organized By AMUOBA, Riyadh
AMUOBA_Riyadh_Shaharyar3 Prof. Shaharyar at his reception in Indian Embassy, Riyadh. Indian Ambassador H.E Talmiz Ahmad, Mr. Hifzur Rahman, Second Secretary Indian Embassy, Riyadh Saudi Arabia can also be seen in the picture.

L to R - Prof. VK Abdul Jaleel, Mr. VN Rai, AMU VC and Prof. Shaharyar at K. P. Singh Memorial Lecture, AMU Prof. Shaharyar at K. P. Singh Memorial Lecture, AMU - L to R - Prof. VK Abdul Jaleel, Mr. VN Rai, and Prof. P.K. Abdul Azis, VC AMU

At his residence in Aligarh
At his residence in Aligarh
With Bilal Usmani at his residence in Aligarh in Oct 2007
With Afzal Usmani at his residence in Aligarh in Oct 2007

Innna lil'lahi wa inn_na

Innna lil'lahi wa inn_na ilaehi raji_oon. Really, He was a great poet and a great human being too....Allah Ta'ala, unki maghfirat farmayeN. Aameen. From - Sayyed Ashraf Ali of Khurja.

Kunwar Akhlaq Muhammad Khan "Shaharyar" - Inna lilllahe-wa....

ASAK everyone: Inna lillahe wa inna ilaehe rajeeon. Sorry to hear of Shahryar sahab's death. In him not only the urdu world lost a great poet, but the AMU fraternity has lost a great teacher and someone who repeatedly brought AMU in the front page news with recognition of his works and awards...

May Allah grant him maghfirat and give him place in jannat. He will be dearly missed. I have many memories of him visiting us in new Jersey and Boston and meeting him at AMU.
I join all aligs from the Boston area in sending our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. May Allah give them sabr to bear this great loss.

With best wishes,
Ali Rizvi
Boston, MA

Sad Demise of Prof. Shaharyaar

Allah taala unko Jannat me aala muqaam ataa kare aur unke saare gunaah maaf kare. AAMEEN.

Allah se ye bhi dua hai ki AMU ko aise hi aur Asatzah bhi ataa kare Jisse AMU ka naam aur roshan ho.

Nasir Shadab Khan
1998 Batch

Sad demise of Prof. Shaharyar

Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Alaihe Rajeoon

With faith in death and destiny, it is with profound grief to know that Prof Shaharyar is no more with us as he left for heavenly abode yesterday. It is a great loss to the Aligarian Fraternity and Urdu as he was very few remaining stalwarts who served Urdu language with great dedication throughout his life.

I got the sad news while attending a reception of Indian Defense Minister in the Indian Embassy Auditorium. At the very same place a memorable reception was organized when he was conferred the Gyan Peeth award and he got an unprecedented standing ovation on his achievements. I still remember and feel his warmth when he had hugged me while presenting a bouquet to him in the same Auditorium. AMU Old Boys' Association Riyadh also has the honour to facilitate him on his visit to Saudi Arabia.

On my last visit to India I had the privilege to call on him at his apartment and had a cup of tea and a long conversation.

I extend my sincere condolences, as we all pray to Allah Tala for Maghferat of noble soul and May his soul achieve elevation and highest position in Jannat-ul-Firdaus. May the Grace of Almighty God and Infinite mercy be with all of us.

Mohammad Zaigham Khan
B.Sc. Engineering, 1979
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Umraao Jaan lyricist passes away

Umraao Jaan lyricist passes away
Mumbai Mirror | Feb 14, 2012, 09.21AM IST

Acclaimed lyricist Shahryar of Umraao Jaan fame, 75, died of lung cancer last night at Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.

Born at Aonla Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, he belonged to a Muslim Rajput family. Shahryar retired as chairman of the Urdu Department at the Aligarh Muslim University. Later, he used to co-edit the literary magazine Sher-o-Hikmat.

Originally christened Akhlaq Mohammed Khan, he was recognised for his lyrics in Muzaffar Ali's films like Gaman (1978), Umrao Jaan (1981) and Anjuman (1986).

His last lyrics were for Mira Nair's critically acclaimed The Namesake (2006). In 1987, he was rewarded with the Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai (1987). He was the fourth Urdu writer to win the Jnanpith Award in 2008.

In memoriam

I knew him since 1966. He was family to me. The news of his death came as a great shock to me. He was one of the greatest modern poets. He was my inspiration. I used his poetry in all my films. I met him last when he received the Jnanpith Award. It was two and a half months back. He was undergoing chemotherapy at that time. Actually, I was planning to go to Aligarh to meet him. However, it never materialised.

Shahryar's death is not only a loss to me but to the world of poetry. He was an extremely well mannered person, particularly sensitive to social issues. As for his work, his maximum contribution was in Umraao Jaan. But you cannot rule out the value that he added to Anjuman and Gaman. It's an irreparable loss. I will miss him.

I was shocked at the news. Shahryar had done some great work and wrote some outstanding songs in his film career, especially in Umrao Jaan. The songs were immortal. He understood the soul of the movies. Ek se ek gaane likhe the. He received an honorary doctorate, few years back. He also got the Jnanpith award and he deserved these awards. Bahut bade shayar hai hamare mulukh ke.

Oh.. Shaharyar Sahab

First Zakir Ali Khan Sahab and now Shaharyar Sahab. Too much to bear in a week.

These legendary Aligarians belongs to a generation which is on the verge of extinct and very soon will be only be living in history.

I know Shaharyar Sahab from my early days of Aligarh when Dr. Qamrul Huda Faridi, my Urdu teacher in class XI told us about Shaharyar sahab and his presence in Aligarh. I loved lyrics of Umrao-Jan and to know that the person who wrote the song walk on the same floor where you are walking was a different experience.

I first met him in Literary week of Abdullah Hall in January 1989 when we went to participate in Bait-Bazi and other literary competitions organised by Literary & Cultural Society of Abdullah Hall (maybe Women's College). Shaharyar Sahab was attending the event as a invited guest. A small incident happened and there was a heated argument between male participants and the organising Secretary and we decided to walk-out from the event. It was Shahryar Sahab who pacified the tense situation, Organizing Secretary apologized and the evening went peaceful. Girls of Abdullah Hall were not going to accept their defeat so easily and they opened the air wolves of bikes and we had to walk all theway from Abdullah Hall to Allama Iqbal Hall.

After that I met Shaharyar Sahab on and off in Dept of Urdu and visited his residence in Medical Colony on different occasions till he retired in 1996 and somehow I lost touch with him. The contact was revived when he visited Phoenix AZ (USA) to attend First Sir Syed Day and International Mushaira organised on 17th October 2003. It was a great pleasure and honor to be his host in US. I got a great opportunity to spend couple of days with him in US and since then we were in regular contact. On every visit to Aligarh, I paid a visit to see him and as always, he was a great host and always see me with great affection and love. He also helped me to get hold of few issues of rarely available "Namwaran-e-Aligarh" which he edited in early 90s.

I wrote his brief life sketch when he received Jananpeeth Award in 2011.

I also created a facebook page of him;

It was very sad to see his poor health last time when I met him in October 2011 in Aligarh. Never thought this will be last time I will be seeing him flash and blood.

We all are mortals and have leave this world one or the other day. It dos not matter who is your father, what is your family and from which tribe you belong. What matters is what you send to the next world and what you left behind for this world. Prof. Shaharyar's literary legacy will keep him alive for a long time. His loss is irreparable in and outside of Aligarh.

Afzal Usmani
Austin TX

A master of ghazal and nazm

A master of ghazal and nazm

Bareilly-born poet Prof Akhlaq Mohammed Khan Shahryar, who died on Monday, spent most of his 76 years in Aligarh. Popularly known by just his last name, he was a master of the nazm and ghazal. Shahryar, to most people outside the Urdu world, is best known for his memorable lyrics in Muzaffar Ali’s films Gaman and Umrao Jaan.

Unlike several other Urdu greats of his generation, especially from UP, Shahryar never thought it important to make the journey to Mumbai and write for Hindi cinema. He obliged cinema-makers sometimes, but never thought of it as the crowning achievement of his career or life, and was content to teach, debate and argue about poetry in Aligarh.

Honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award and several other awards by the Urdu Academy, Shahryar spent his last few days in considerable pain and was not conscious for the past week. His last public appearance, when he received the Jnanpith award for 2008, was in September last year in Delhi.

Shahryar’s writing echoed his take on social affairs, modernity, progress, change and the world as it was.

Noted poet Shahryar passes away

MUMBAI: Renowned Urdu poet Akhlaq Mohammad Khan, who wrote under the pen name 'Shahryar' and immortalized himself as the lyricist of 'Umrao Jaan', passed away in Aligarh on Monday fter battling lung cancer. He was 75 and received the Jnanpith Award for 2008 in September last year. He is best known for songs like 'Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye', 'In aakhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaron hain' from 'Umrao Jaan'.

His last rites will be performed in that town. Born Akhlaq Mohammed Khan, Shahryar had received the Jnanpith Award, India's highest literary award, in the year 2008. The 75-year-old poet was equally respected in his role as writer and academician, and wrote the lyrics for all of Muzaffar Ali's films. From Yeh kya jagah hai doston in Umrao Jaan to Seene mein jalan and Ajeeb saneha mujh par guzar gaya in Gaman, as well as Gulab jism ka which Shabana Azmi sang for Anjuman, all hold instant recall value to this day.

His son Faredoon who lives in Mumbai said,"He passed away around 8.30 pm Monday. My elder brother was with him when he breathed his last.'' Shahryar had visited Mumbai for treatment last year and met Yash Chopra at the time."He had written the songs of Yashji's'Faasle'. My father worked extensively with Muzaffar Ali, having written for Zooni which got shelved and another three ghazals for his forthcoming film,'' Faredoon said. He recalled the family's happiness at seeing their ailing father walk up to receive the Jnanpith award. Actor Farooque Shaikh was shocked at the news.

"This is a big loss to the world of Urdu literature. Shahryar Sahab wrote the lyrics for four of my films, Gaman, Umrao Jaan, Anjuman and Faasle, and each of them was a masterpiece. I met him several times during the 1980s and more recently at his son's residence in Mira Road when he came over to Mumbai for cancer treatment.''

Shaikh describes Shahryar as an extraordinary poet. ``He was extremely well educated and always mindful of the fact that his verses should give society something to think about even amidst all the ornamentation,'' he says. ``Like all true artistes, he led a quiet life away from publicity. But his writings speak for him.'' Urdu writer Hasan Kamal said, `"Shahryar Sahab's passing is tragic news. Not only was he a fine human being but one of the best poets in modern Urdu literature. His songs from Umrao Jaan and Gaman are popular to this day. He was media shy but otherwise very friendly.''

Shahryar was born June 16, 1936, in a village named Anwalla in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. He received his early education at Bulandshahr and then studied at Aligarh Muslim University. He was appointed as a lecturer in Urdu at Aligarh Muslim University in 1986 and served until in 1996 he retired as chairman of the Urdu Department of the University. He edited the literary magazine `Sher-o-Hikmat'. In 1987 he received the Sahitya Akademy Award in Urdu for his poetry collection, `Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai'. He leaves behind three children, two sons and a daughter.

Qit'aa-e-Taareekh-e-Wafaat-e-Akhlaq Muhammad Khan Shahr Yar

See this link for Qitaa-e-Taareekh-e-Wafaat :

(Tanwir Phool , New York)

Re: Prof. Shaharyar is no more with us


Deeply shocked and grieved to learn about the passing away of Shaharyar sahib. I have had the pleasure and honour of knowing him from my Minto circle days. He used to be my neighbour in Tarwala Bangla where he lived with Khaleelur Rahman Azmi sahib marhoom. During my stay in Kashmir he visited Srinagar many times and it was always a real joy to meet and interact with him. He was an Alig to the core and represented the best traditions and culture of Aligarh. He was an outstanding poet and was fortunate enough to get due recognition in his lifetime. I join the Alig fraternity in mourning his demise and pray for his maghfirat.


Dr Saleem Kidwai
American Studies Division
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110067,India
Cell No- +91-11-9953529424,


Dear friends,
It is with a very heavy heart to inform you that our dear friend Shaharyar passed away last night at 8 pm after suffering a long illness. He was fighting with a deadly cancer and was quite ill for the last one year. Last night he left us all for his final abode in heaven. Besides being a great poet, Shaharyar was an extremely nice human being and a sincere friend. We shall miss him very much.

Ather Siddiqi
Dept. of Zoology, AMU Aligarh

Prof. Shaharyar left us

Prof. Shaharyar is no more with us

February 13, 2012

Dear All, ASAK
It is again with a heavy hart that I have to inform the Aligarh community that one of the prominent Aligarians, Kunwar Akhlaq Muhammad Khan "Shaharyar" had just passed away in Aligarh about an hour ago. Inna lilllahe-wa-inna ilehe rajewoon
More on him will written in the coming days but suffice is to say that he has touched many hearts and will be greatly missed.
Shaharyar Sahab's burial will take place tomorrow, Tuesday (February 14th) after Asar at AMU Qabrustan.
Here is a brief write-up on Sharyar Sahab:

Shaheer Khan


Dear All


Inna lilllahe-wa-inna ilehe rajewoon ,
"Aaj kal to AMUNetwork kholne mai bi dar lagta hai, na maloon kiss ki khabar mile"
Phele Nawab sb, Phir zakir sb, aur ab Shaharyar sb .

Allah Hafiz
Murtaza Sherwani
Abu Dhabi


ASA, A gem of a person has gone leaving behind his memories. God may rest his soul in peace. He was known to me since his early age when he was a student.

S. Mohsin Ali Shah
Inter - Arts (1952-55)


ALIGARH February 13: A doyen of Urdu poetry and Jnanpith Award winner, Prof. A. M. K. Shahryar passed away late this evening today. He was 76 and suffering from cancer. Prof. Shahryar is survived by a daughter and two sons. He will be laid to rest at the University graveyard on February 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm.
Born in Anwla town of Bareilly district of UP on June 16, 1936, Prof. Sharyar’s father was a police officer. He moved to Aligarh in 1948 along with his father and passed high school examination from AMU City High School in 1954 and received the graduation, post graduation and doctorate degrees from AMU. He was appointed lecturer in the Urdu department in 1966, Reader in 1983 and Professor in 1987. He also became Chairman of the department of Urdu and held several honorary posts in the University like Editor of Urdu literary journal, Fikr-o-Nazar and Member Incharge of the Public Relations Office of the University. He retired from University services in 1996.
His first poetic collection was published in 1965 with the title ‘Ism-e-Azam’. His second book of poetry entitled ‘Satwan Dar’ was published in 1969. His fourth collection ‘Khwab Ka Dar Band Hai’ published in 1985 brought him the prestigious Sahitya Academy Award. Sharyar also penned the songs for superhit movies like Umrao Jan, Gaman and Fasle, which brought him international fame and prominence. In 1995, his book ‘Neend Ki Kirchein’ was published and in 1998 his book “Mere Hisse Ki Zameen’ was published in devnagri. His last book till date ‘Hasil-e-Sair-e-Jahan’ was published in 2001.
Prof. Shahryar has received a number of prestigious awards besides the highest literary award in India, the Jananpith Award, most prominent of which are Sahitya Academy Award, Bahadur Shah Zafar Award, Iqbal Samman, Gangadhar Puraskar and UP Urdu Academy Award. He has also been awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the AMU Alumni Association of UK.

(Dr. Rahat Abrar)
Public Relations Officer

Re: Dr Shahryar selected for Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award

Indeed its a great news for Aligarh fraternity as well as Urdu lovers that Prof. Shaharyar Sahab will be honored with Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award by Aligarh Alumni Association of New York Tri-State US. I would like to congratulate Aligarh Alumni Association of New York Tri-State for their superb selection. In fact all of their selections in the past were also great.
Dr. Moin Ahsan Jazbi, Prof. Shanul Haq Haqqi, Prof. Intezar Hussain, Dr. Obaid Siddiqi, Prof. Muneebur Rahman, Prof. Mukhtaruddin Arzu, Mr. Shyam Benegal, Dr. Mushtaq Yusufi, Er. Zakir Ali Khan and Shamsur Rahman Farooqi are the past recipients of Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award.

Once again on behalf of , we would like to Congratulate Prof. Shahryar Sahab for receiving this award.

Here is a brief life sketch of Prof. Shahryar;

Afzal Usmani
Austin Texas

Prof. Shahryar selected for Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award

Prof. Shahryar selected for Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award
Tuesday August 16, 2011 08:17:27 PM, Special Correspondent

Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association, New York Tri-State has selected noted Urdu poet Prof. A. M. K. Shahryar for its Annual Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award for excellence in poetry, literature, Arts or the sciences. The award will be presented to him on August 19, 2011 at Aligarh.

Mrs. Syeda Jabeen S. Shah, President of the Aligarh Alumni Association said that the Lifetime Achievement Award was established ten years ago, with the objective of making a very modest contribution towards recognizing truly outstanding individuals in their particular fields during their lifetime.

Prof. Shahryar is a Jnanpeeth Awardee, India’s highest literary honour.

The other recipients were noted filmmaker Shyam Benegal, noted scientist Obaid Siddiqui and noted Urdu critic, Shamsur Rahman Faruqui.

AMU Vice Chancellor, Prof. P. K. Abdul Azis will be the Chief Guest and Nawab Ibne Saeed Khan of Chhatari will preside over the award ceremony. Dr. Nourul H. Khan and Mrs. Avinash Sawhney will represent the Executive Committee of Aligarh Alumni Association, New York State along with Mr. Sajid Hasan and Dr. Mohsin Raza.

Journeys of the heart


On being awarded the country's highest literary award for the year 2008, Akhlaq Khan Shahryar speaks to RAKHSHANDA JALIL about poetry and politics.

Despite early critical acclaim and commercial success, Shahryar has consistently refused to become a performer playing to the gallery at Mushairas. A career rooted in academia has allowed him, for over three decades, to straddle two worlds with consummate ease – that of poetry and poetics. Forty years after his first collection appeared in print, Shahryar continues to delight his readers with his mastery over form and content. He uses a collage of images – sensual, multi-coloured, delicately filigreed – to speak out on a range of subjects: the pathos and alienation of the urban individual, outrage at communally-divisive politics, discrimination towards the less-privileged, as well as a relentless probing of his own heart and the human predicament.

Should poetry be self-referential? Or, must it have a social commitment, a framework within which it must be located and a frame of reference that is accessible to all its readers?

There can be no poetry without the self. At the same time, no one can be expected to be interested in the purely personal details of other people's lives, in the joys and sorrows of others.

Some poets have tried to do that, for instance Akhtar Shirani wrote poetry that was intensely romantic yet extremely personal. But that has never appealed to me. I have a Marxist world view. I believe in the social and political commitment of literature. You may not always find direct references to my worldview in my poetry. But you will find them in the oblique and the symbolic. Ghalib expressed it best when he said: Hamne yeh jaana ke goya yeh bhi mere dil main hai (I found that this too lies within my heart).

All good poets, be it Iqbal or Faiz, speak of the world, to the world. In some respects, Faiz is a greater poet than Iqbal precisely because he is more human, more interested in all humanity and not one community or group.

How important is communication for you? What you say, as a poet, do you want all of it to be instantly accessible, or revealed, to your audience?

Communication is all. A poet must reach the greatest number of people. Some of his words maybe clothed in myth and metaphor, but they must eventually be realised by his readers. If his images are too oblique, if his symbols too dense, then, no matter how exquisitely beautiful his words or how well-crafted his syntax, he is failing as a poet.

Your fame rests on your ghazals, but you have also written a great deal of nazm. Of the two, which do you personally favour?

Contrary to popular perception, I find writing the nazm far more difficult than the ghazal. The ghazal has been around for a very long time; we are familiar with its constraints and we have learnt to speak within its confines. The nazm, with its newness and its boundless freedom, is more challenging. A poet must be more exact, more precise, more sure of himself while writing the nazm. It does not have the safety net of the ghazal's rhyme pattern to fall back on. At the same time, it is more difficult to say something new in the ghazal. Therein lies its challenge.

Dreams and sleep have been a recurring leitmotif in your poetry. Why is that? What do they mean to you, apart from their obvious significance as metaphors?

Dreams and sleep have meant different things to me at different times. Dreams can be joyful or fearful. Sleep can beckon; and it can elude. Dreams can be an escape from unpleasant reality, or they can be a punishment of sorts. When I have most yearned for sleep and been denied it, it has been my worst nightmare. And when I have slept soundly and dreamt, I have felt most blessed.

Is the world a dark place for you? Or, does goodness and light outweigh evil and darkness?

I am an optimist. When I look at the world around me I see enough reasons to be glad and hopeful. In the midst of despair (when the right-wing government was in power), I wrote:

Siyah raat nahi leti naam dhalne ka/Yehi to waqt hai suraj tere nikalne ka (The dark night is showing no signs of ending/ Now is the time, Sun, for you to rise). When I go abroad and people ask me about the state of affairs in India or the state of Urdu, I say: Aaj ka din bahut achcha nahin taslimhai/Aane wale din bahut behtar hain meri rai hai (I agree that today has not been a good day/But I am convinced tomorrow will be a better day).

Finally, when you look back on your poetic journey, do you see a change or evolution?

I used to write a great deal more; now, my output has decreased considerably. I write very little, I am aware of the expectations people have of me. I am reminded also of what the noted critic, Ale Ahmad Suroor, wrote on the flap of my first book: ‘If he remains safe from the danger of takrar (repetition) and thakan (exhaustion), he will go far.' Today, when I look back, I can see I have been fearful of the consequences of both. Mujhe thakan aur takrar ka khauf hai.

Rakhshanda Jalil has translated Shahryar's nazms in English, under the title Through the Closed Doorway (Rupa & Co., 2004).

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Of lost dreams

Of lost dreams


Jnanpith 2008 for Shahryar is considered a boost to the Urdu language, which has been facing a difficult time in the land where it was born.


SHAHRYAR. HE IS among the most popular Urdu poets who are widely read and respected in Hindi.

THE selection of the Urdu poet Shahryar for the Bharatiya Jnanpith Award 2008 can be considered a boost to the beautiful language of Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Ghalib and Iqbal, which has been facing a difficult time in the very land where it was born and flourished until the early years of Independence. It was 13 years ago, in 1997, that Urdu was last honoured by this literary award, considered to be the highest in the country, when it was given to Ali Sardar Jafri, one of the last progressive doyens, well-known for his scholarly poetry and his compilations of Mir and Ghalib as well as Kabir and Mirabai. Sardar Jafri was among the prominent critics who formulated the aesthetics of the Progressive (taraqqipasand) literary movement as opposed to Modernist or Formalist (jadid) literature.

That robust generation of poets, fiction writers and critics who were active in the field of the written word and the visual media got exhausted in the 1960s, leaving a void in Urdu literature. The contradictions and differences of Hindi and Urdu literatures belonging to the Progressive Writers' Association (PWA), mainly on the tedious question of the Nagari script versus the Persian script, also contributed to the further alienation of Urdu.

A revealing testimony of this is a long letter written by the late Balraj Sahni, veteran actor and author, in 1970. In that, he expressed deep anguish over the way almost all Hindi writers had boycotted a conference organised by the Progressive Urdu writers in Bombay (Mumbai) and the widening of the Hindi-Urdu divide.

Curiously, no Hindi journal of that time bothered to publish this historic letter.

Shahryar belongs to a generation of poets that emerged out of the remnants of the Progressive movement and, of course, from the disillusionment with the meta-narrative of the Nehruvian era. The disturbing aftermath of its dreams and hopes had culminated in a deep sense of loss in the new generation of poets and cultural practitioners. The works of the poets to come to the fore in the post-Progressive era, such as Nida Fazli, Balraj Komal, Mohammed Alvi and Shahryar, signify the alienation from ‘the big dream' with a tinge of nostalgia and sadness for the past that once seemed so much full of promises of a new dawn, a resurgent democratic and egalitarian society. This sense of loss is evident in almost all the ghazals and nazms (free verses) of this period.

While Nida Fazli titled his Akademi Award-winning collection of poems as Khoya Hua Kuchh (Something that is Lost), Shahryar wrote: “ Zindagi jaisi tamanaa thi nahin kuchh kam hai/ har ghari hota hai ehsaas kahin kuchh kam hai” (Life is not what we wished for, but is somewhat less/every moment it seems somewhere something is less). In the same ghazal he further says, “ Ghar ki taameer tasavvur mein hi ho sakti hai/apne naqse ke mutaabiq yeh zamin kuchh kam hai” (A home can only be constructed in the imagination / the space for it on this earth is somewhat less).

Interiorising the experience of the loss, Shahryar depicts the dichotomy between the heart and the mind: “ Dil mein ummeed to kafi hai yaqeen kuchh kam hai” (Though the heart is full of hope, faith is somewhat less). It is interesting to note that a number of Urdu poets from the post-Nehru-post-Progressive era voice the feeling of disillusionment, irony and unease with the device of fusing the objective and the subjective which is very similar to each other.

Complexity of experience

Interestingly, the new generation of Urdu poets maintained a certain distance from the “taraqqipasand” (Progressive) as well as the “jadid” (Modernist) poetry. They neither took to the well-trodden path of “art for art's sake” nor joined the hope-generating chorus of the progressives. Instead, the socio-political concerns, the exterior, got interiorised in their “andaaz-e-bayan” or poetic diction. Thus, the poetry of Shahryar and Nida Fazli mostly speaks in understatements and undertones which denote a paradigm shift. It remained essentially “progressive” in its content, but its form, texture and expression got transformed into the complexity of experience and the simplicity of language.

In one of his poems written on communal riots, Nida says: “ Dhar ke kaandhe pe hal ghar se baahar nikal/jo huaa so huaa” (Put the plough on your shoulder and go out, letting bygone be bygone). Shahryar exclaims, “Come, let us go now/ let us look beyond our shell of loneliness/our shadow, let us see where it goes on this black night/which memories it lights up/ which moments it calls to ransom/what it loses, and what it finds today/how it grows, shrinks, then scatters/and how it dies.” In fact, poetry, both in Urdu and Hindi, of and after the 1960s carries the melancholy, irony and sadness of its time with a “pessimism of the mind and an optimism of the heart”, as famously put by the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci.


AT AN INTER-COLLEGIATE "Antakshiri" competition held to mark the 132nd birth anniversary of the Urdu poet Allama Iqbal in Bhopal in November 2009.

Born Akhlaq Mohammed Khan on June 16, 1936, in Bareilly, now in Uttar Pradesh, an important centre of Persian and Urdu in North India, Shahryar studied at Bulandshahar and later at Aligarh Muslim University, where he was later appointed lecturer in Urdu. He became professor there, and in 1996 retired as chairman of the Urdu Department. His first collection of poems, Ism-e-Azam, was published in 1965, followed by Saatvaan Dar (Seventh Threshold, 1969) and Hijr ka Mausam (Season of Separation, 1978), which marked a new kind of imagination and imagery. But it was with the publication of Khwaab ka Dar Band Hai (Door to the Dream is Closed) in 1987 that his poetry came to be recognised by critics as having an intellectual toughness quite different from the classic romantic characteristics of ghazals and a pithiness at the level of diction and textuality.

For the latter collection, Shahryar got the Sahitya Akademi Award the same year. His body of work is not fabulous and he has published only five collections of poems so far, but they have enriched modern Urdu poetry with the simplicity of language and complexity of human experience, their dreaming images and sensual metaphors. He is also known for creating memorable landscapes of human interiors by juxtaposing images of dreams and slumber, tears and sand, sleeping shadows and half-broken moons. In one of his poems, he invites the reader to go “a bit further from the misty veil of solitude” and see “the stars of voices and the moons of sounds/hanging from the cross of silence”.

Another interesting aspect of Shahryar's poetic career is that he has mostly shunned mushairas (poetry recitals), a popular and even commercialised platform in the Urdu-Hindi literary public sphere. Although his poetry has all the characteristics of being popular because Shahryar avoids difficult Persian vocabulary and writes in simple, minimalist language, he has been quite hesitant to give readings in big public gatherings. This may be a device to save his poetry from being diluted and becoming commonplace. Nevertheless, he remains a well-known figure in Urdu-Hindi; he has published five compilations of his translations in Hindi. In fact, he is among the most popular Urdu poets who are widely read and respected in Hindi. A selection of his poems in extremely readable English translations of Rakhshanda Jalil, “Through the Closed Doorway: a Collection of Nazms”, was published by Rupa & Co.


Some of his well-known ghazals are set to music in Muzaffar Ali's films such as Umrao Jaan, Gaman and Anjuman, a popular number, “ Seene mein jalan aakhon mein toofaan sa kyun hai”, being one of them. This may remind one of the Urdu poet Sahir Ludhyanvi, who lent some of his celebrated nazms to a number of successful Hindi films. While Sahir Ludhyanvi and some other very fine shayars (poets) and, later, Shahryar's contemporary and equally significant poet Nida Fazli made it a career, Shahryar did not write independent film songs for Bollywood.

Of course, the choice of Shahryar for the Jnanpith Award did not remain beyond criticism, mostly from critics and poets who believe that his body of poetry is not voluminous and that Nida Fazli or Mohammed Alvi or a noted critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi would have been a better choice. But, in the first place, Jnanpith is given to creative writers only and does not consider literary criticism, and, secondly, this kind of arguments are often put forward by the commercial-populist quarter of Urdu poetry whose contribution to literature is in fact doubtable. There is no doubt that Nida Fazli would have been an equally deserving choice, but there is also no doubt that it would have been the same the other way round.

Recently, Bharatiya Jnanpith, which gives the Jnanpith awards every year, was mired in a controversy following the publication of some rude remarks of the Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi International Hindi University, Wardha, in its literary journal Naya Gyanodaya, resulting in protests and boycott of the Jnanpith by a number of angry authors.

It may not be out of place to indicate here that the Jnanpith has, to a certain extent, tried to wash off this stigma by announcing the awards for 2007 and 2008 for a well-known Marxist-humanist Malayalam poet, O.N.V. Kurup, and an innovatively progressive figure in Urdu, Shahryar. One may also hope that the award will provide an opportunity to ponder over the shattered state of Urdu literature and language in India and try out ways to ensure its old glory and richness.

Mangalesh Dabral is a Sahitya Akademi Award winning Hindi poet.

TCN News

Congratulations to Prof. Shaharyar

Dear all,

We are all proud to have known about the Highest Literary award conferred on Prof. Shaharyar. In an interview Prof. Sheharyar said that his father wanted hin to go in police administration as all his family members were in police force. But he refused and started to study at AMU. He was appointed lecturer after completion of his studies. And lately started to say verses in Urdu. In a very short time, he achieved such a remarkable status. His verses are very simple to which even a layman can follow and enjoy easily.
I congratulate him for this splendid success and great accolade that he has been honoured with.

Syed Moinuddin Alvi

Congratulations to Prof. Shaharyar

Dear Colleagues / Aligs


Please convey our Mubarakbaf to Dr Shahryar Sahib .

Prof Dr Alay Ahmad
Faculty of Social Sciences
Preston University Peshawar Kohat campuses

Congratulations to Prof. Shaharyar

Dear Aligs,

It is a matter of great Pride for the AMU Fraternity and Urdu lovers. Let us join hands to pray for the good health of Shahryar Saheb, may almighty bless him with long life and good health so that he could do more for Urdu. Few days back Sharyar Saheb performed Umrah and immediately Almighty rewarded him with this honour.

I on my behalf and behalf of A.M.U.Old Boys’ Association Riyadh, Saudi Arabia would like to congratulate him for this wonderful achievement and for bringing laurels to our Alma mater.

Shaharyar Saheb is now in Madina Munawwara and may be contacted on his cell # 00966530706902.

Mohammad Zaigham Khan,


A.M.U.Old Boys’ Association,

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Congratulations to Prof. Shaharyar

I join the Alig community in felicitating Prof Shaharyar on being conferred
Gyanpeeth Award .He certainly deserved this prestigious award

Dr Saleem Kidwai
American Studies Division
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110067,India

Congratulations to Shaharyar chacha

Assalam Alekum

Its is a momentous ocassion in our lives - Urdu World and Aligarh together.

Shaharyar Chacha has not only been a Personality of International Stature
in the Urdu world but a very fine and loving human being as well.

I am personally indebted to his favours and today I rejoice with his family
on this great acheivement of his.

I pray to Allah for his long and healthy life.

Moin Sattar

Congratulations to Shaharyar sahab

ASAK Janab Shahryar Sahab: Congratulations on your receiving India's highest literary award, the Jnanpith Award".
Congratulations to all Aligs and well-wishers on this great news which again puts AMU in the news for the right reasons.

Best wishes,
Ali Rizvi, MBA 1984, Boston

Prof Shahryar conferred with Ghyanpeeth

Noted Urdu poet and former Chairman of Urdu department at the Aligarh Muslim University,Prof Akhlaq Mohammed Khan Shahryar to day conferred with Ghyan Peet Award,the highest recoginition in India in the field of literature and poetry..

74 year Sharyar was born on June 16,1936 at Anwala village of Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh. His father was in the U.P.Police and belongs to Village Chondhera in Bullandshahr district
He received his early education in AMU City High School and later joined AMU as a student He started his career as a journalist in Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu and later appointed as Lecturer,promoted as Reader and in in 1986 he became a Professor and retired in 1996.
He was the Editor of Fikro Nazar, research journal of the Aligarh Muslim University. He also served as Member-in-Charge of the Public Relations Office at AMU.
Professsor Sharyar is an Indian academician ,and a doyen of Urdu poetry in India.. In 1987,he was awarded the Sahitya AKaademy Award and this year University of Hyderabad conferred with D.lit ( Honoris Causa) by the Chief Guest Mr M.Hamid Ansari.
On August 14,2010, he has released my book "1857 Mutiny " at a function organized by the Department of Urdu,AMU.
Now Professor Shahyar is in Saudi Arabia and will return on Octber 5,2010

Rahat Abrar, PRO, AMU, Aligarh

Sir Syed Bi-Centenary


Hamiduddin Farahi


Satish Chandra