Shabbir Hassan Khan Josh Malihabadi was born on 05th December 1898 in Malihabad (a sub-division of Lucknow about 13 miles from it on the main Lucknow - Sandela Road). His great grand father Nawab Faqir Mohammad Khan Boya was from the Ali Khel sub-branch of Adam Khel clan of Afridi tribe.
On migration to Oudh he was appointed commander-in-chief of its forces and settled in Malihabad. Malihabad is a purely Pathan town about which a British Deputy Commissioner had said that ‘Malihabad is that part of Khyber Pass which has still not been amalgamated with India.’
After preliminary education at home, during which he was tutored in Arabic by Mirza Muhammad Hadi Ruswa, in Urdu and Farsi by Maulana Qudratulla Beg, Moulvi Niaz Ali and Maulana Tahir and English by Master Gommti Parshad, he took further education at Sitapur, then again at Lucknow in 1908.
Here, at the young age about ten years he commenced going to mushairaas. The first mushaira in which he recited his verses was hosted by Maulana Raza Farangi Mahli in 1910 or 1911 in which his following verse was greatly appreciated.
After Hussain abad High School Lucknow, he joined the school section of M.A.O. College Aligarh in 1912 but could not continue there for long. He then came back to Lucknow and joined, in succession, Jubilee Mission School, the Church Mission School and Red Christian Collegiate School.
He then joined St. Peters College at Agra in 1914 from where he passed Senior Cambridge. After that he went to ‘SHANTINUKAITUN’ near Calcutta and spent six months there.
He went to Hyderabad in 1924 where he rendered valuable services in ‘DARUL TARJUMA’ until the left Hyderabad in 1934. It was there that the developed friendship, amongst others, with Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi. Could not stay long in Hyderabad because he wrote a very severally critical poem about the Nizam and did not apologize when suggested to do so by his well-wishers.
From Hyderabad he moved to Delhi and brought out a magazine and named it ‘KALEEM’ at the suggestion of Mr Z.A. Bukhari. This enterprise ended in 1939.
The next year he commenced editing ‘NAYA ABAD’ for about a year and in 1943 he joined the film world at the instance of Mr W.Z. Ahmad, the owner of SHALIMAR PICTURES and moved to Poona and engaged himself in writing songs for the films. Krishan Chandar, Sham Tevari and Bharat Bhoshan were his contemporaries and colleagues at Poona. ‘Mun Ki Jeet’ and ‘Ghulami’ were two of the most outstanding pictures of this era whose songs were written by Josh.
This experiment in life ended in 1948 when Mr Ahmad moved to Pakistan after partition. Josh then moved to Bombay but could not adjust himself there.
In 1948 he commenced editing at Delhi a government publication of the Ministry of Information, titled ‘AAJ KAL’ .He was acknowledged as a great poet quite early in life.
Besides, he was also a versatile prose writer. He was the greatest revolutionary poet of pre-independence period and as early as 1930 he had earned the title of ‘SHA-IR-E-INQIL.AB’, ‘SHAKIST-E-ZANDAAN KA KHAWAB’, ‘EAST INDIA KAI FARZANDON SAl KHITAAB’ and ‘TALAASHI’ were some of his most popular revolutionary poems. Some of these poems were even broadcast from German Radio during Second World War both in original as well as in German translation. He was also known as ‘SHA-IR-E-SHABAAB’ and ‘MUSAWWAR-E-SHABMB’.
He was greatly respected in public, Literary as well as in official circles after independence the Indian government, in recognition of his literary merit and his services towards the freedom struggle, conferred upon him the highly respected literary award of ‘PADMA BHOSHAH’.
Disgusted at the Sanskritisation of the simple language Josh migrated to Pakistan in January 1956 and initially made Karachi his home. He was welcomed by the literary circles and the government circles with open hands. ‘TARAQQIYE URDU BOARD’ had been recently constituted with headquarters at Karachi with the aim of promoting the Urdu language (the Board has since been re-designated as ‘URDU DICTIONARY BOARD’).
The main work of the Board was to compile an Urdu dictionary but it was also publishing a literary monthly magazine ‘URDU NAAMA’, Josh joined the Board as ‘literary adviser’ ‘editor’ of the dictionary and ‘editor-in-chief of the magazine.
His association with the Board continued until 1959. Josh did not associate with the ‘PAKISTAN WRITERS GUILD’ when it was formed in 1959, mainly because it was formed under official patronage and was not an independent body.
He moved to Islamabad in or about 1973 and stayed there until his death on 22nd February 1982. There he was associated with the Ministry of Information which was headed by Maulana Kausar Niazi who was himself a poet of high calibre and an admirer of Josh.
This association continued until the Martial Law of General Ziaul Haq in 1977. Since then he passed a retired, and rather a melancholy life until his death. During his period he often signed his name as ‘JOSH MARHOOM’ . The following is the list of his literary works.
BOOK DATE OF PUBLISHING
- Rooh-e-adab 1921
- Maqalaat-e-zareen(Prose) 1921
- Auraq-e-sahar (Prose) 1921
- Shaa-ir-ki-raatain 1933
- Naqsh-o-nigar (Prose) 1936
- Shola-o-shabnam 1936
- Fikr-o-nishaat 1937
- Junoon-o-hikmat 1937
- Harf-o-hikayat 1938
- Aayaat-o-naghmaat 1941
- lsharaat (Prose) 1942
- Arsh-o-farsh 1944
- Raamish-o-rung 1945
- Sumbul-o-salasul 1947
- Saif-o-suboo 1947
- Surood-o-kharosh 1953
- Sumoom-o-saba 1953
- Moojid-oo-fikr 1953
- Tuloo-e-fikr 1957
- Sabr kai moti 1965
- Illhaam-o-afkaar 1966
- Najoom-o-jawahar 1967
- Yadon ki baaraat(Prose: Authobiogrpahy) 1972
- Joah kaai marsee aei 1980
- Mehraab-o-mizraab 1993
To commemorate the renowned poet Pakistan Post Office is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs 5 on December 5, 1999.