Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Akbar Alhabadi

Akbar Allahabadi (b. 1846 - d.1921) was a famous Urdu poet, who was born as Syed Akbar Hussain at Allahabad on 16th November, 1846. Though initially educated only in madrasas (religious school), he later studied law and finally retired as a session judge in Allahabad High Court. He lived through tumultuous times, which is evident in his poetry, witessing the first war of independence in 1857, first world war and even the initial part of Gandhi's peaceful movement.

Akbar's ustad was Waheed, who was the shagird of Aatish. Akbar is the pioneer in the field of humour and sarcasm; before him there were only serious poets who ocassionly had one or two ash'ar of that kind in their ghazals. For Akbar humour was not only a style but an instrument to clearly understand the social change. He conveys his message in his own original style without losing the humorous feel.

Like Iqbal he was also a poet of the mind, they both used their poetry to awaken the sleeping masses, but there is a sharp contrast in their styles. Underneath the wave of humour, we find the poet's pain - pain that this society is changing for the worst, pain that Muslims are forgetting their true values. Whereas Iqbal went on the define the causes and the solutions to those problems, Akbar style went more on defining the causes.

takeed-e-ibaadat pay yeH sab kahte haiN laRhke
peeri meiN bhi AKBAR ki zarafat nahiN jaati
[takeed-e-ibaadat = to remind for prayers, peeri= old age]

Akbar had great understanding and control of the Urdu language. He used simple language with very effective use. He also used English words in his poetry with interesting results, which was also to make fun of the Hindustanis who pretend to be British; a subculture that had thrived in the era of Akbar.

Another aspect of his poetry is the strict criticism of so called religious figures who destroyed the dignity of islam by playing double standards. His poetry is the mouth piece of the modern culture at that time and clearly portrays his indepth knowledge with what was happened and the transition in cultural values.

He died in 1921 in Allahabad, the city of his birth.

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