Josh Malihabadi

Josh Malihabadi
جوش ملیح آبادی

Malihabadi (1949)
Born Shabbir Hasan Khan
5 December 1898
Malihabad, United Provinces, British India
Died 22 February 1982(1982-02-22) (aged 83)
Islamabad, Pakistan
Nationality Indian and Pakistani
Education Tagore's University, Shantiniketan
Occupation Poet
Religion Islam
Children Sajjad Haider Kharosh

Bashir Ahmed Khan (Father)

Tabassum Akhlaq (Grand Daughter)

Padma Bhushan, 1954

Hilal-e-Imtiaz, 2013

Josh Malihabadi (Urdu: جوش ملیح آبادی) (born as Shabbir Hasan Khan; شبیر حسن خان) (5 December 1894 – 22 February 1982) was a Pakistani poet.[1][2] He was an Indian citizen until 1958, when he emigrated to Pakistan and became a Pakistani citizen. He wrote ghazals, nazm and Marsias under the takhallus (Urdu for nom de plume) Josh (جوش) (literally, "Passion" or "Intensity").[3]

Early life

Josh was born to an Urdu-speaking Muslim family of Afridi Pashtun origin in Malihabad, United Provinces, British India.[4] He studied at St Peter's College, Agra and passed his Senior Cambridge examination in 1914. Subsequently, he studied Arabic and Persian and, in 1918, spent six months at Tagore's university at Shantiniketan. The death of his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan, in 1916, prevented him from undertaking a college education.

His family had a long tradition of producing men of letters. Indeed, his great-grandfather, Nawab Faqeer Muhammad Khan, grandfather Nawab Muhammad Ahmad Khan, paternal uncle Ameer Ahmad Khan and father Basheer Ahmad Khan were all poets with numerous works (poetry collections, translations, and essays) to their name.[5] Another of his relative was the journalist, scholar and Abul Kalam Azad's confident, Abdur Razzaq Malihabadi.[6]


In 1925, Josh started to supervise translation work at Osmania University in the princely state of Hyderabad. However, his stay there ended when he found himself exiled for writing a nazm against the Nizam of Hyderabad, the then ruler of the state.

Soon thereafter, he founded the magazine Kaleem (literally, "speaker" in Urdu), in which he wrote articles in favour of independence from the British Raj in India. His poem Hussain aur Inquilab (Hussain and Revolution)won him the title of Shaair-e-Inquilaab (Poet of the Revolution). Subsequently, he became more actively involved in the freedom struggle (albeit, in an intellectual capacity) and became close to some of the political leaders of that era, especially Jawaharlal Nehru (later to be the first Prime Minister of independent India). After the end of the British Raj in India in 1947, Josh became the editor of the publication Aaj-Kal.[7]

Josh in Pakistan

Josh migrated to Pakistan in 1958 - despite Jawaharlal Nehru's insistence against it - over what is generally believed to be his concern regarding the future of Josh and Urdu language in India,[8] where he thought the Hindu majority would encourage the use of Hindi rather than Urdu. After migration, Josh settled in Karachi and worked for Anjuman-i-Tarraqi-i-Urdu .[9]

He remained in Pakistan until he died on 22 February 1982 in Islamabad. Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Syed Fakhruddin Balley both were the closest companions and friends of Josh and Sajjad Hyder Kharosh (son of Josh). Faiz Ahmad Faiz visited Islamabad during his illness and Syed Fakhruddin Balley remained entirely engaged with Hazrat Josh and Sajjad Hyder Kharosh.[10]

Josh Malihabadi's granddaughter Tabassum Akhlaq has carried over the legacy of his poetry. The Josh Memorial Committee was formed in 1986 by Tabassum Akhlaq and she is the current chairperson. The committee organises seminars on Josh Malihabadi's personality, history and literary work. These seminars are usually held on his birthday and death anniversary (on 5 December and 22 February respectively).[11]

In August 2012, the Government of Pakistan announced Hilal-i-Imtiaz for Josh Malihabadi. This award was presented to his granddaughter and founding chairperson of Josh Memorial Committee, Tabassum Akhlaq by the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari in a ceremony held in the Presidency on Pakistan Day 23 March 2013.

His poetry and publications

These include:

Song Singers Song lyrics by Film and year
"Ae Watan Hum Hain Teri Shama Ke Parwanaun Mein, Zindagi Hosh Mein Hai Josh Hai Imanaun Mein"[12] Masood Rana and Ahmed Rushdi Josh Malihabadi film Aag Ka Darya (1966)
"Hawa Ke Moti Baras Rahay Hain, Faza Taranay Suna Rahi Hai" Noor Jehan Josh Malihabadi film Aag Ka Darya (1966)

On the advice of veteran film director W.Z. Ahmed, he also wrote songs for Shalimar Pictures. One of the films is Aag Ka Darya (1966) with music by Ghulam Nabi Abdul Latif.[13]


He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan in 1954.[14] The Title of "The Poet of the Century" was given by the "QAFLA-PERA'O" Lahore, announced by the QAFLA_SALAR Syed Fakhruddin Balley, Jawaid Ahmad Qureshi, Dr. Wazir Agha, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi and Ashfaq Ahmad, in 1992. Kamal-e-Sukhan Award was announced for Hazrat Josh Mallihabadi by The Old Boys Association EMERSON College, Multan in 1999. He was honoured with Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan on 23 March 2013.[15]


  1., published 7 November 2009, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  2. "Josh in Old Delhi...". The Hindu newspaper. Chennai, India. 6 March 2016.
  3. "Malihabad set for a 'power'ful poll battle – The Times of India, Retrieved 6 March 2016". The Times of India.
  4. "A Biblical Connection". Times of India. 11 March 2008. Retrieved 6 March 2016.
  5., Retrieved 6 March 2016
  6. Ghulam Akbar, He was not hanged, Midas (1989), p. 109
  7., Biography of Josh Malihabadi on website, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  8. "Partition's unresolved business". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 6 March 2016.
  9., Retrieved 7 March 2016
  10., Biography of Josh Malihabadi on Dawn newspaper, Karachi, published 19 Feb 2011, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  11., Tributes paid to Josh Malihabadi, published 23 Feb 2014, Retrieved 6 March 2016
  12., Josh Malihabadi's film song on YouTube, Retrieved 7 March 2016
  13., Josh Malihabadi's film song on IMDb website, Retrieved 7 March 2016
  14. "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  15., Hilal-i-Imtiaz Award conferred on Josh, The Nation newspaper, published 24 March 2013, Retrieved 6 March 2016
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