19 Oct 1911
5 Dec 1955
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Asrar ul Haq Majaz (Urdu: مجاز لکھنوی, Hindi: मजाज़ लखनवी) (19 October 1911 – 5 December 1955) was an Indian Urdu poet.[1] He was known for his romantic and revolutionary poetry. He composed ghazals and nazms in Urdu.

Born as Asrar ul Haq in Rudauli, Bara Banki, UP, India. He received his early education in Lucknow and Agra, and did his B.A. at Aligarh Muslim University. He considered Fani Badayuni as his ‘ustad’.

He hails from a family of poets and litterateurs. Muztar Khairabadi, one of the great masters of Urdu poetry and Usman Harooni, an early modern Sufi poet, were among his ancestors. He had a sister Safiya, who married Jan Nisar Akhtar, father of Javed Akhtar.

Majaz started writing poems while in Aligarh and soon became a popular among the masses and well respected among the literati. He became one of the front-ranking poets of the Taraqqi Pasand Tahreek or Progressive Writers’ Movement.

He is also well known for composing the anthem, tarana, for Aligarh Muslim University, ‘Ye meraa chaman, hai mera chaman, Main apne chaman ka bulbul huun.’ “Aahang” and “Saaz-e-Nau” are two of his poetry compilations.

Majaz lived and wrote in times which were exceptionally vibrant for poetry; poets such as Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Fani Badayuni, Jazbi, Makhdoom and Ali Sardar Jafri were among his peers. They were not merely his contemporaries but closest friends. Others such as Josh and Firaq knew him well. His first diwan, Ahang, is dedicated to Faiz and Jazbi whom he calls his “dil-o-jigar,” and to Sardar Jafri and Makhdoom, who are “mere dast-o-bazu.” Faiz wrote a thoughtful dibacha to Ahang.[3]

Majaz’s flair for writing Urdu poetry became apparent when he befriended two poets, Fani Badayuni and Jazbi. They were his classmates in St. John’s College, Agra in 1929-1931. The years were productive for poetry but everything else for Majaz went awry. He failed his exams badly and acquired bad habits that stayed with him for the rest of his life. Worried about his academic performance, his father got him admission at Aligarh University where he switched from the science stream to arts.

The years at Aligarh were the best, most productive ones for Majaz. Even though he failed at exams, he charmed everyone with his poetry and was made the editor of the prestigious Aligarh University Magazine. He composed many of his famous poems there, including the spirited, sparkling, “Nazr-e Aligarh” (composed 1935/36), which was subsequently set to music and has been the tarana or the official song of Aligarh University ever since:

yeh mera chaman hai mera chaman/main apne chaman ka bulbul hun. Jo taq-e haram mein roshan hai, voh shama yahan bhi jalti hai Is dasht ke gosheh gosheh se ek ju-e hayat ubalti hai Yan husn ki barq chamakti hai, yan nur ki barish hoti hai Har aah yahan ek naghma hai, har ashk yahan ek moti hai

Eventually, our poet graduated and was offered a position as assistant editor of Awaaz, the newly established journal of the All India Radio. The move from Aligarh to Delhi was not as favorable as it should have been. Majaz, who had such a large fan following of young female students at Aligarh, lost his heart to a married woman in Delhi who was his admirer. The lady in question belonged to a wealthy family and had no intentions of abandoning her well-connected husband for a penniless poet. But Majaz was hopelessly in love and he wrote some of his most beautiful, romantic poems in this phase of his life:

chalke teri ankhon se sharab aur ziyadah mahkein tere ariz ke gulab aur ziyadah Allah kare zor-e shabab aur ziyadah (“Unka Jashn-e Salgirah”) [4]

Majaz was madly in love with a woman. She married another man which he could not come to terms with. His poetry was greatly influenced by her and he remained unmarried all his life.

After the liberation of India, condition deteriorated and with the help of Josh Malihabadi, Majaz was sent to the mental hospital of Ranchi. There he met Kazi Nazrul Islam and recognized the poet. It is reported that he told the poet, “Why are you silent Nazrul, Lets go to Lahore/Dhaka, though they are in foreign country, there are asylums!”

Majaz, a heavy drinker, died alone in a tavern located in the Beldari Lane of Lalbagh, on the cold winter night of 5 December 1955 in the heart of the city of Lucknow. He was buried in Nishatgunj graveyard, Lucknow.

Elegy reads:

“Ab iskey baad subah hai aur subah-e-nau Majaz, Hum Pay hai khatam Sham-e-Gariban-e-Lucknow…..”
(اب اس کے بعد سبو ہے اور صبحِ نوِ مجاز۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔ ہم پہ ہے ختم شامِ غریبانِ لکھنوٰ)

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