History of Ghazal Urdu Shayari

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Poetry is usually associated with love and all that is associated with this emotion. Ghazals are the romantic form of Urdu Poetry. They are short poems that consist of couplets that rhyme and a refrain. Ghazals are usually written to express the feelings of pain that result from the loss or separation from a loved one. They also express the beauty of love that is still present even in the face of incredible pain.

Ghazals trace their origin to the 6th century. They were first developed as Arabic verse. These form of Arabic poetry spread throughout the Southern Asian region in the 12th century. This was mainly because of the influence of the Islamic Sultan courts as well as the Sufi mystics. Ghazals were adopted by Persian poets and mystics in the 13th century.

In the study of the general history of Urdu poetry, it is noted that Urdu as a language and its literature have been greatly influenced by both Arabic and Persian culture and literature. Urdu was spoken and heard in historical times more than it was written of read. The writing of the Urdu language was borrowed from Arabic writing. The language was later influenced by the Persians resulting in modern day Urdu. It is therefore not surprising to find that Ghazals trace their origins back to Arabic culture and have developed borrowing heavily from Persian influences.


Although Ghazals are considered an integral part of Urdu poetry and Pakistani culture, they have had great influence on literature of other countries around the world. These Urdu poems become very popular in Germany in the 19th century. This was thanks to the influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 1832). This form of Urdu poetry was adopted by various famous German poets of the time and those who were to come later. Notable poets such as August con Platen and Friedrich Ruckert used the form to write poems in German.

Over the years, collections of several classical Urdu poems have been collected. Many of these poems are Ghazals. These Urdu poems spanning over several thousands of years have collected in various languages including Urdu, Turkish and Persian. The poems are performed by classical poetry artists and have gained popularity internationally. The performance of these Urdu poems was adopted from India where the poems were sung in classical Indian tradition. This art of singing Ghazals is known as Gayaki. This was a common practice in Indian tradition. However, there is no record of names of old Indian artists who practiced this art since no records were kept.


Modern interest in Ghazlas has increased internationally especially amongst the upper classes. This is mainly because the traditional lyrics of these Urdu poems are considered difficult to understand. The understanding of these lyrics requires education which remains a privileged available only to those in the upper classes of society. However, this form of Urdu poetry has undergone several changes which include simplification. This has enabled it to gain a larger audience globally.

Basit Habib is the author of this article on Ghazals.
Find more information on Urdu Shayari here.




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