Urdu Poetry – A Historical Perspective in Pakistan


The term’Urdu’and its origin 

The term Urdu derives from a Turkish word ordu meaning camp or army. The Urdu language developed between the Muslim dogfaces of the Mughals armies who belonged to colorful races like Turks, Arabs, Persians, Pathans, Balochis, Rajputs, Jats, and Afghans. These dogfaces lived in close contact with each other and communicated in different cants, which sluggishly and gradationally evolved into present-day Urdu. It’s for this reason that Urdu is also appertained to as Lashkari Zaban or language of the army. 

During its development Urdu language also assumed colorful names like the term Urdu-e-Maullah meaning the exalted army which was given by Emperor Shah Jahan and the term Rekhta meaning scattered (with Persian words) which was chased by the scholars for Urdu poetry. 

 History and Elaboration of Urdu Language 

 Elaboration and development of any language are dependent on the elaboration and development of a society where that language is spoken. Colorful irruptions and vanquishing on a place affect the development of its language. Urdu is no exception as it also passed colorful stages of development.  Urdu belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages. Urdu by origin is considered to be a child of Saur Scenic Prakrit. The term Prakriti means root or base. It’s a latter interpretation of Sanskrit. As Prakrit language began to develop, it was told by Western Hindi cants of Khari Boli, Brij Bhasa, and Haryanvi. 

With the coming of Insha’s Darya-e-Latafat *, a need was felt to separate Urdu from other languages, especially Hindi. It came to a Hindi-Urdu contestation and as a result, Khari Boli and Devanagari came to the identity of Indians while Urdu and Persian of Muslims like Forty Rules of Love. In this environment, Persian and Arabic words replaced with Sanskrit served the purpose of secerning Hindi from Urdu. 

Urdu surfaced as a distinct language after the 1193 Announcement-the time of the Muslim’s subjection. When the Muslims conquered this part of the mainland, they made Persian the functionary and artistic language of India. As a result of the admixture of original cants and the language of the raiders-which was either Persian, Arabic, or Turkish, a new language evolved which latterly came to Urdu.

During the Mughals reign, Urdu was spoken in palaces and courts and till the end of the Mughal rule; Urdu was the sanctioned language of the utmost of Mughal countries. This was the time when Urdu had come Persianized and amended with Persian words, expressions, and indeed script and alphabet. With the coming of the British, new English words also came as part of the Urdu language. Numerous English words were accepted in their real form while others were accepted after some variations. 

 Presently, Urdu vocabulary contains roughly 70 Persian words and the rest are an admixture of Arabic and Turkish words. Still, there are also traces of the French, Portuguese and Dutch languages in Urdu. But these influences are little. 

Urdu was taken to another corridor of the country by dogfaces, saints, and Sufis and by the common people. As a result of the political, social, and artistic connections amongst the people of different speech and cants, a mixed form of language was formed called’Rekhta’ (Urdu and Persian in mixed form). Soon people started to use the new language in their speech and in literature which redounded in the enrichment of Urdu language and literature. 

Urdu Literature 

 The origin of Urdu literature dates back to the 13th century in India during the Mughal rule. One of the most prestigious foremost muses who made the operation of Urdu in his poetry is Amir Khusro who can be called the father of the Urdu language. In literature, Urdu was generally used alongside Persian. Mughal lords were the great patrons of art and literature and it was under their rule that the Urdu language reached its meridian. There used to be a tradition of’Sheri Mehfils’ ( lyrical gatherings) in the lords’ courts. Abul Fazal Faizi and Abdul Rahim Khankhana were the notorious Urdu muses of the Mughal court. Likewise, Mirza Ghalib, Allama Iqbal, Hakim Momin, Ibrahim Zauq, Mir Taqi Mir,  Umera Ahmed   , Ibn-e-Insha, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz have contributed to the elaboration of the Urdu language through their erudite workshop. 

It’s indeed true that Hindi and Urdu are descendants of the same language i.e. Prakrit, but where the Hindi took influence from Sanskrit and espoused Devanagri script of jotting, Urdu absorbed words from Persian, Turkish, and Arabic languages and espoused Persian-Arabic script and Nastaliq calligraphic style of jotting and surfaced as a separate language. But besides common strain, the two languages are as different as can be. There are pronounced grammatical, phonological, and verbal differences in both languages. 

Urdu was also used as a tool by the Muslims for freedom struggle and for creating mindfulness among Muslim communities in South Asia to unite under the banner of Independence from the British Raj. For this, the services of Maulana Hali, Hashim Nadeem, and Allama Iqbal are notable, who through their poetry and prose provoked the necessary spark in the lives of the Muslims. Urdu was chosen to come to the public language of Pakistan at the time of Independence from British. Urdu is now the public language of Pakistan, spoken and understood completely by the maturity of the population. 

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