Josh Malihabadi (born as Shabbir Hasan Khan ) (December 5, 1894 – February 22, 1982) was a noted Urdu poet born in British India. 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 (literally, "Passion" or "Intensity")
Josh was born to an Urdu-speaking Muslim family of Afridi Pashtun origin in Malihabad, United Provinces, British India. 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, essays, ...) to their name.
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 from the state for writing a nazm against the Nizam of Hyderabad, the then ruler of the state. Soon thereafter, he founded the magazine, Kaleem (literally, "interlocutor" in Urdu), in which he openly wrote articles in favour of independence from the British Raj in India. As his reputation spread, he came to be called 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 British Raj in India (1947), Josh became the editor of the publication Aaj-Kal .
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 the Urdu language in India, where he thought the Hindu majority would encourage the use of Hindi rather than Urdu. After migration, Josh settled in Karachi and rigorously worked for Anjuman-i-Tarraqi-i-Urdu with Maulvi Abdul Haq. He remained in Pakistan until he died on February 22, 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.
Josh Malihabadi's granddaughter Tabassum Akhlaq has carried over the legacy of his poetry. Josh Memorial Committee was formed in 1986 by Tabassum Akhlaq and she is the current chairperson as well. The committee organizes seminars on the personality, history and literary work of Josh Malihabadi. These seminars are usually held on the birthday and death anniversary of Josh Malihabadi on 5 December and 22 Februaury respectively. In August 2012, Government of Pakistan announced Hilal-e-Pakistan for Josh Malihabadi. This award will be 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 Presidency on Pakistan Day 23 March 2013.
His poetry and publications
Josh is reputed to have had a masterful command over Urdu and was quite strict about respecting the grammar and rules of the language. This is the reason he is also referred to as the King of Urdu language. The first collection of his poetry was published in 1921.
- Yaadon ki baraat (autobiography)
On the advice of film director W.Z. Ahmed, he also wrote songs for Shalimar Pictures. One of the pictures is Aag ka darya. During this time, he was staying in Pune. Josh finally mentioned that his real believe is Humanism and he accepts the different ideologies according to that aspect.
He was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 1954. 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 Awaard was announced for Hazrat Josh Mallihabadi by The Old Boys Association EMERSON College ,Multan in 1999. He will also be honored with Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan on 23 March 2013..