biography urdu poet hasrat-mohani

Hasrat Mohani was born in 1878 in the middle class family of Syed ‘Azhar Hasan’ in Mohan town of Unnao district of U.P. His real name was Syed Fazl ul Hasan. He completed his primary education from a Maktab in Mohan and acquired the knowledge of Urdu, Persian and Arabic from his teachers Ghulam Ali Mohani and Bulaqi Mohani. He was a brilliant and hardworking student. He passed his middle school from Mohan middle school and secured First position in entire state of Central Province in 1894. In 1899, he completed his High School from Government High School of Fatehpur with Honors, was awarded scholarship and joined Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh (now Aligarh Muslim University). His contemporaries in the college were ‘Syed Sajjad Haider’ ‘Yaldaram’, ‘Maulana Shaukat Ali’, ‘Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar’, ‘Khan Bahadur Syed Abu Muhammad’ and ‘Zarif Dahri’. He wrote some ghazals which were very popular and he gained reputation of a respected poet and owing to his simple and religious personality, became famous as ‘Maulana Hasrat Mohani’.

He completed his Intermediate examination in 1901 and joined B.A with Arabic and Mathematics as optional subject. He was a nationalist, so once when College Cricket team beat an English team, Hasrat Mohani led the celebration. He organised a grand Mushaira at the College which was attended by famous Urdu poets like ‘Mehdi Majrooh’ and ‘Gustakh Ranipuri’. The authorities of the college objected to the alleged indelicacy of some of the poems recited on the occasion. Hasrat had to bear the brunt of displeasure of British establishment in the college and they rusticated him. He fought back and got re-instated but was not allowed to live in hostel so he moved to a rented place in Rasal-Ganj area of Aligarh city. During those days in college he started taking interest in national politics which was also not accepted by College administration and he was rusticated again, but this time again he fought for truth and came back to college to complete his education. In 1903 he completed his B.A. from University of Allahabad (MAO College was affiliated with University of Allahabad at that time).

He was an ardent supporter of Aligarh Movement and mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his personality was a true interpretation of the product of Aligarh Movement. He believed what Sir Syed had dreamed to follow the religion with full faith and integrity and at the same time take part in the individual and community growth to live a better life.

Hasrat got married to a well- educated ‘Nishat-un-Nisa Begum’ in 1903. He started taking interest in literary and cultural activities. His interest in Urdu journalism inspired him to start “Urdu-e-Moalla” in 1903 and settled down in Aligarh city. During this time he published few rarely available literary books and started studying literature and political science and became a pioneer in Urdu Journalism. He made journalism and politics as his mission and struggled for the causes of Muslims and other oppressed people of the society for his entire life.

He joined the Indian National Congress in 1904 and continued to participate in its session as a delegate until 1907 (Surat session). He also used to publish the reports of various Congress sessions like Calcutta, Benaras, Bombay etc. in his Urdu-e-Moalla. This was the time when “Swadesi Movement” was launched and Maulana Hasrat Mohani became an active participant in the movement. In 1905, he took active participation in ‘All India Industrial Conference’ and became a campaigner of Swadesi Movement. He published several articles in ‘Urdu-e-Moalla’ to support the Movement. To promote the Swadesi Movement, he also started a ‘Swadesi Store’ which was run by his wife and due to their efforts the store became a successful venture. Hasrat was such great supporter of Swadesi that he even refused to use a foreign blanket in a cold December night when he had to sleep in Suleman Nadvi's office. Maulana Suleman Nadvi himself has narrated this event. Hasrat Mohani spent whole night shivering but did not use the blanket.

A true patriot, Hasrat Mohani was committed to the ideal of total independence rejecting the concept of Home Rule. He was a radical thinker, more in tune with the revolutionaries like ‘Bal GangadharTilak’ and ‘Aurobindo Ghosh’, than with Mahatma Gandhi whose non-violent philosophy made little appeal to him. He always criticized ‘Motilal Nehru’, ‘Bal Krishna Gokhlay’ and other moderates of the party. In the Congress session of Surat in 1907, there was confrontation between naram dal (those who advocated soft approach) and garam dal (those who supported total freedom led by Tilak). When Bal Gangadhar Tilak left Indian National Congress, Hasrat Mohani followed him and he also left the Indian National Congress. Hasrat remained great advocate of garam dal after leaving the Congress and published articles in support of it in his magazine and argued that the only destiny of Indian subcontinent is complete freedom from British imperialism. Maulana never accepted pro-British stance of Muslim League. He severely criticized it in his articles in Urdu-e-Moalla.

In 1908, he published an article in Urdu-e-Moalla and criticized the policies of British rules in Egypt. British Government prosecuted him and jailed him for 2 years. He was released in 1910 and re-started Urdu-e-Moalla. This was the time Aligarh Movement leaders started the movement to form Muslim University which ought to be an independent institute of Muslims of India. Hasrat Mohani took an active part in the movement and wrote several articles in Urdu-e-Mualla for Muslim University. His ideology and methodology to raise the issues of Muslims of India lead him to house arrest in 1916. He did not obey the British orders so he was sent to Lalitpur Jail but soon he was released.

The Urdu-e-Moalla had invited British wrath for Hasrat’s writings during the agitation on the Kanpur Mosque demolition, resulting in a security demand for Rs 3,000 under the Vernacular Press Act impossible from a press, worth little more than Rs 50. Undeterred, however, he founded the “Tazkirat-ush Shuara” in place of the Urdu-e-Moalla.

Throughout his life, Hasrat was in dire financial constraints, but he refused financial assistance from anyone. Both Hasrat and his wife led a simple life and she helped her illustrious husband in all possible ways like getting his books published, reading the proofs, looking after the press and running the Swadesi store. A surprised ‘Maulana Shibli’ had quipped, "Are you a man or a changeling? You have changed from a poet to a politician, to a shop-keeper!"

In 1920 he along with ‘Maulana Shaukat Ali’, ‘Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar’, ‘Hakim Ajmal Khan’, ‘Dr. Mukhtar Ansari’, ‘Maulana Abdul Bari’, ‘Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’ and ‘Dr. Kichlu’ met ‘Lord Chelmsford’, Viceroy of India. In 1921 at Ahmadabad, annual session of INC, Maulana Hasrat Mohani was a member of the subject committee. During the meeting of subject committee and in open session he moved resolution for complete freedom for India whereas Gandhiji was yet not prepared for it and was talking of Home Rule under the British supremacy. However, Hasrat did not succeed in view of ‘Gandhiji's influence and his resolution was rejected.

Muslim league session also had taken place in Ahmedabad simultaneously. Undeterred by his discomfiture at the Ahmadabad session of Congress, the Maulana included his proposal in his Presidential Address to the All India Muslim League on December 30, 1921. He suggested that complete independence should be announced from January 1, 1922, and India be declared a Republic and it be named as United States of India, but there too Hasrat did not succeed. Gandhiji referred to this in Young India and said that Hasrat did not succeed in his attempt for full freedom both from the Congress and Muslim League platform. The Presidential Address was confiscated and Hasrat Mohani was prosecuted. The jury went for the defendant, but the Session Judge convicted the Maulana, sentencing him to two years’ rigorous imprisonment and putting him in a condemned cell. However, on a reference to the High Court, Justice Crump found that the Maulana was not “guilty of instigating and therefore abetting the waging of war”. Since the learned Judge found no incitement to violence in the Maulana’s Presidential Address, the earlier sentence was set aside and the Maulana set free.

Maulana Hasrat Mohani presided over the annual session of the ‘All India Khilafat Committee’ in 1923 and was elected President of the All India Muslim League in 1923. He was a zealous worker of the Muslim League and took a prominent part in its reorganization since 1936 and actively participated in the movement started by Muslim League to achieve the political emancipation of Indian Muslims and secure an honourable place for them in the socio-economic structure of India. Interestingly, it was at the instance of the Maulana that the All India Muslim League adopted “full independence” as its creed at Lucknow in 1937. The famous slogan of Indian freedom fighters ‘Inqilab Zindabad’ was coined by him. In the same year of 1937, Maulana lost his biggest support, his beloved wife Nishat-un-Nisa Begum.

In 1925 Hasrat Mohani played a key role to organize annual convention of All India Communist Party in Kanpur. He was chairman of the reception committee of the convention. His association with communist also never led him to deviate from his religious beliefs. In the same year, ‘Ibn-e- Saud’ attacked on ‘Hijaz’ (area of Mecca and Medina). This event displeased Maulana Hasrat Mohani and they formed “Anjuman Khuddam-e-Harmain” under the leadership of ‘Maulana Abdul Bari Firangi Mahli’ and organized ‘All India Hijaz Conference’ in Lucknow under its banners. In his presidential address Maulana Hasrat Mohani expressed his anger over the destruction and desecration of holy places in and around Hijaz.

In 1929 he started a daily newspaper “Mustaqil” from Kanpur. The newspaper did not survived for long time but he continued publishing Urdu-e-Moalla. In 1935 he launched an independent party with the support of ‘Shaikh Mushir Hasan Qidwai’, ‘Maulana Azad Subhani’, ‘Syed Zakir Ali’ and ‘Syed Hasan Riyaz’ to promote a Hindu-Muslim unity and mutual cooperation.

In 1945, he was elected as a member of UP Assembly and member of The Constituent Assembly as a representative of Muslim League. After the formation of Pakistan, he stayed behind in India in his opinion to face the aftermath and to safeguard the interests of Muslims in India. He was the lone member of the Indian Constituent Assembly who raised his voice of dissent to the proposed Indian Constitution. His struggle continued against injustice, poverty and ignorance. A person who had withstood the onslaught of British Imperialism in his entire life in the present century did not give serious consideration to the threats, intimidations and insinuations. Challenging Sardar Patel, in the Constituent Assembly, he had said, “You should not think that Muslims are orphans today. I am here to defend their rights against all odds and will fight for them till death”.

Hasrat Mohani, used to perform Haj every year and also visit ‘Brinda Ban’ on ‘Janm-Ashtami’ regularly. Some of the Firangi Mahli Ulama in Lucknow also held Lord Krishna in great respect. Hasrat Mohani's wife, who herself was a freedom fighter like her husband, was follower of one of these Firangi Mahli order.

Poetic Life

His involvement with literature and journalism brought into sharp focus the loving man who introduced a new trend in Urdu poetry, which was a mingling of the praiseworthy attributes of the schools of thought that existed in Delhi and Lucknow. He is deservedly called the preserver of the old and the pioneer of the new trends in Urdu ghazal. He has left behind him ten volumes of poetical works. His individuality as a poet is reflected in his poems throughout his career, but the best part of his contribution to Urdu Poetry was composed in jail, wherefrom each time when he was released, he used to bring out a volume of Urdu poems. Though he was not supplied with paper and ink in the jail, he memorized his couplets and released them to the press on the expiry of his term of imprisonment. He was the founder of the Modern Urdu Lyrics. After ‘Meer’, Hasrat Mohani may be classed as the best Urdu lyricist.

He went to jail several times and suffered the rough and tumble of political life for a long period. But neither the rigors of prison, nor the fret of politics, could suppress his aesthetic instincts, or disturb his cheerful faith in the goodness of life. In fact, his poetry draws strength and inspiration from his experience. His lyric composed in the Faizabad jail, carrying the following couplet, is a typical instance in point-

“Hai Mashq-E-Sukhan Jaari Chakki Ki Mushaqqat Bhi

 Ik Turfah Tamaasha Hai ‘Hasrat’ Ki Tabee’at Bhi”             

On 13th May 1951, this great son of the soil and man of his convictions and professions died in Lucknow and buried in the graveyard of ‘Anwaar Bagh’ in ‘Firangi Mahal’.

Hasrat Mohani Memorial Society was founded by ‘Maulana Nusrat Mohani’ in 1951. In Karachi, Pakistan, a Memorial Hall and Library have been established by Hasrat Mohani Memorial Society. Also Hasrat Mohani Colony, at Korangi Town in Karachi, Pakistan, was named after him.

As a whole, he was a versatile genius. He possessed a many-sided personality who acquired greatness in contradictory traits of character and spheres of life like poetry and politics; literature and religion, which is rather unparalleled in the history of Indo-Pak subcontinent. He was the very embodiment of truth and sincerity.

Poetic Work

“Kulliyat-e-Hasrat Mohani”, a collection of ghazals comprising of 13 "Diwans" and more than 750 ghazals and other poetic work written during the period 1903 and1950.

“Nukaat-e-Sukhan”, a book about the techniques of poetry with hundreds of examples and their explanations.

“Mushahidat-e-Zindaan”, a book depicting actual conditions and happenings within prison, in British Raj in India.

“Sharah-e-Deewan-e-Ghalib”, a rare literary work, written in 1904. It is the explanation of some ghazals of a great Urdu poet ‘Mirza Ghalib’.

“Intikhab-e-Urdu-e-Moalla”, a selection of articles and poetry by Maulana Hasrat Mohani (1903-1908).

"Selected Poems in English with Translation, a collection of selected poems / ghazals alongwith English translation carried out by Maulana himself".

List of literary work done on Maulana Hasrat Mohani

“Syed-ul-Ehrar” – Author: ‘Syed Ishtiaq Azhar’- A detailed account of the life and achievements of Maulana Hasrat Mohani.

“Halaat-e-Hasrat” – Author : ‘Maulana Arif Hasvi’ : A brief life history including the days in prison written by another freedom fighter, Arif Hasvi.

“Hasrat Mohani Ka Silsila-e-Sukhan” - Author: ‘Syed Ishtiaq Azhar’ : A research work based on an article in Urdu-e-Moalla .

“Hasrat Mohani Ki Naat Aur Manqabat Goi”- Compiled By: ‘S.M.Asghar Kazmi’ : Various articles relating to Hamd, Naat and Manqabat.

“Hasrat Ki Kahani Naeema Ki Zabani” – Author : ‘Naeema Begum’ : Some aspects of personal and family life of Hasrat Mohani, written by his daughter, Naeema Begum.

“Maulana Hasrat Mohani Ek Hama Jahet Shakhsiat”- Compiled By: ‘S.M.Asghar Kazmi’

“Moulana Hasrat Mohani Danishwaron Ki Nazar Mein”- Compiled By: ‘S.M.Asghar Kazmi’


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  1. Wah bahut khoob...a profound thought provoking artcle on such a great man. Alss! nobody is doing serious work making masses aware about such a great historical figure of our times...Shukriya.... shakil warsi

  2. Which one is correct year of Birth of Hasrath Mohani? It is 1875 or 1878 or As NBT publication says 1881? What is correct Day of birth of MOhani sab? it it January First? kinldy Clarify.
    With Regards
    Syed Naseer Ahamed.

  3. Dear Naseem
    There is some difference of opinion about the date of birth of Hasrat Mohani. Dr Rehana
    Siddiqui (Lucknow University), after research published her thesis 'Hasrat Mohani Shakhsiyat Aur Fun' in 2009. She mentioned about this confusion but after studying records of Hasrat's life time including records in his own hand-writings and his passport has arrived to the conclusion that 17 th, oct 1878 is the most authentic date of birth of Hasrat Mohani.
    Naseem Akhtar