biogrphyy of urdu poet ibrahim zauq

Sheikh Mohd. Ibrahim ‘Zauq’ was born in Nabi Karim area of Delhi in 1789. His father, ‘Shaikh Mohammed Ramzan’ was a lowly placed soldier in the Mughal army. He started studying in a Maktab run by ‘Hafiz Ghulam Rasool’. Hafiz himself was a poet and groomed Zhauq as his Shagird. Under his influence the young Mohammed Ibrahim also got attracted towards poetry. Hafiz provided the required encouragement, took him as his pupil in poetry too and suggested ‘Zauq’ as his Takhallus. Zauq could not continue his education but had a strong lineage towards shairi and started writing ghazals. He took Islaah(correction) from ‘Shah Naseer’. In those days Shah Naseer was the most famous master poet of Delhi. Naseer recognized his natural talent and made him his pupil. Gradually, Zauq began participating in the mushairas. His natural bent of mind towards poetry coupled with his singular obsession to excel in the pursuit brought him fame and fortune. His growing popularity and appreciation he got in the mushairas more than his mentor Shah Naseer irked his mentor. Shah Naseer got very annoyed and terminated his relations with Zauq. Zauq, thereafter, relied only on his talent and continued writing poetry.

Zauq got a chance to enter the Mughal Royal Courts through his friend ‘Meer Kazim Husain Beqarar’ who was another poet and was also the mentor of Mughal Prince ‘Zafar’. Zauq started participating in the Mushairas organized in Royal courts. Prince Zafar appointed Zauq as his mentor when Beqarar left for a job in the Office of ‘John Elphinstone’. Zauq got a monthly salary of Rs. 4. When ‘Bahadur Shah Zafar’ ascended the throne his salary was raised to Rs.100. Zauq remained the poet laureate of the Qila-e-Mualla (Royal Fort) till his death in 1854.

Zauq was a prominent contemporary of Ghalib and in the history of Urdu poetry the rivalry of the two poets is quite well known. Zauq's reputation in Urdu poetry is because of his eulogies that reflect his command over the language and his expertise in composing poetry in extremely difficult meters. Since he got associated with the royal court right from his teens and remained there till his death, he had to write mostly eulogies to seek the patronage and rewards from the princes and the King. Many critics regard him a great eulogy writer next only to ‘Mirza Sauda’. Bahadur Shah Zafar was a good poet himself. He was fond of using simple and colloquial diction. Zauq too composed his ghazals using simple words, phrases of everyday use and similes rooted in the common culture.

Zauq was a contemporary of poets of the caliber of ‘Ghalib’ and ‘Momin’ in the golden age of Urdu poetry. But not even a single collection of his poetry could be published during his lifetime. Major portion of Zauq's poetical output got lost during the disturbance at the time of independence movement of 1857. ‘Maulana Muhammad Hussain Azad’ compiled a slim volume of his poetry with the help of his pupils like ‘Hafiz’, ‘Veeran’, ‘Anwar’ and ‘Zaheer’ that contains twelve hundred couplets of Ghazals and fifteen Eulogies. Even though much of his work was lost, he left behind a legacy of Ghazal, Qasida, and Mukhammas.

The Qasida was his special forte. Zauq's idioms were homely, but no one has a greater number of signal phrases memorable for thought or music. His language was polished and his diction elegant. He used several styles successfully with melodious flow of language.

He passed away in 1854. In a way, he was fortunate that he didn't see his beloved Delhi getting ravaged by the British after the struggle of 1857. Zauq’s grave today lies in the by-lanes of Paharganj, Delhi. His grave was restored after the Supreme Court orders in early 2000s.


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  1. Where are qaseeda that I wanted???

    1. I wanted those for doing my project....