Jaan hai to jahaan hai – Urdu expressions

There are some expressions that have become part of our language, so much so that very few of us know the origin or even the full couplet where they come from. Muhammad Ramzan Abdul Shakoor has made it easy for us to find those ashaar by compiling them all in one book.

Here are some samples:

Gul phenke hain aalam ki taraf balke samar bhi
ai khana bar andaaz-e-chaman kuchh to idhar bhi — Sauda

mat sahal hamein jano phirta hai falak barsoN
tab khaak ke parde se insaan nikalte hain — Meer

na chherh ai nikhat baad-e-bahari, rah tak apni
tujhe aTkheliyaaN soojhti haiN ham bezaar baithe haiN — Inshaullah Khan Insha



“Jaan hai to jahaan hai pyaare” is from a Meer sher. A tempo in Delhi in 2011 displays a slightly modified line. [Photo: TwoCircles.net]

baja kahiye jisse aalam, usse baja samjho
zabaan-e-khalq ko naqaara-e-khuda samjho — Zauq

ye kahaaN ki dosti hai ke bane haiN dost naaseh
koi charah-saaz hota, koi gham-gusaar hota — Ghalib

panchviN pusht hai shabbir ki maddahi meiN
umr guzri hai iss dasht ki sayyahi meiN — Meer Anees

iss ghairat-e-nahid ki har taan hai deepak
sho’la sa lapak jaaye hai aawaz to dekho – Momin

ham aah bhi karte haiN to ho jaate haiN badnaam
wo qatl bhi karte hain to charcha nahi hota — Akbar Ilahabadi

vai-e-nakaami mataa-e-karvaaN jata raha
karvaaN ke dil se ehsas-e-ziyaaN jata raha — Allama Iqbal

khird ka naam junooN parh gaya, junooN ka khird
jo chaahe aap ka husn-e-karishma saaz kare – Hasrat Mohani

dil ki basti purani dilli hai
jo bhi guzra hai ussne loota hai — Basheer Badr

qatl-e-hussain asl meiN marg-e-yazeed hai
islam zinda hota hai har karbala ke baad — Muhammad Ali Jauhar

Book: She’ri jawaharaat aur zarbul misaal
Pages: 148
Price : Rs. 50
Edition: 2008
Address: 447, Dasvin Gali, Islampura, Malegaon (Maharashtra).

or contact Urdu Book Review (urdubookreview@gmail.com)

Whose Urdu is it anyway?

Urdu has an identity crisis in India -is it an Indian language or just a Muslim language? Liberals will claim that it is a secular language and list names of non-Muslim writers and poets who are still counted among the legends of Urdu. But if it is a secular language and belongs as much to non-Muslims as Muslims of India then “where are the non-Muslim writers, poets, and intellectuals who love Urdu language and literature and have made teaching Urdu a mission of their lives?” asks Arif Iqbal, editor of Urdu Book Review in the Apri-June 2011 issue of the magazine.

Urdu bazar sign

Urdu Bazar Road sign in Delhi, but where is Urdu? [Photo: TwoCircles.net]

But then is it right to say Urdu is a Muslim language? Iqbal asks how many Darul Ulooms have separate departments of Urdu established? and “what are their contributions in collecting and protecting Urdu’s knowledge capital?”

We have been busy discussing in futile debates like what should be Urdu’s script or whether this language should be linked to employment.

There haven been some sensible suggestions e.g. instead of asking for Urdu-medium schools rather ask Urdu to be made an elective subject in school, colleges, and universities. But then Arif Iqbal asks “who will start this struggle?”

Read more about Arif Iqbal and Urdu Book Review here.

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Ramadan series: Ramadan vs. Ramzan

Firsts of all, Ramadan vs. Ramzan debate is not the same as Allah Hafiz vs. Khuda Hafiz debate. If anything, usage of the word Ramadan shows the move of Muslims of India from Urdu towards English.

First time I saw the word “Ramadan” was in a letter sent by an American cousin of mine when we were still living in India. I was confused and asked about it and got the reply that this is how it is written in English. Of course, I have seen English newspapers in India write “Ramzan” so I assumed it must be the American way but not sure why. Years later, I learned that the correct Arabic pronunciation of ????? is Ramadan and not Ramzan.


[Photo by Mudassir Rizwan]

Therefore when writing or talking in English, I would go with a choice that has become a standard way of writing the word in English and closer to the original Arabic word rather than its usage in Persian or Urdu.

Having said that, I do recognize that ????? is a proper word in Urdu that though originally came from Arabic and hence it spelling continue to be the Arabic but hundreds of years of usage has given Urdu readers the right to say it the way they want it.

So don’t frown if someone says Ramadan or Ramzan or even Ramjan. The last one is a Hindi word.

Language Paves The Way To Unity

Languages remain one of the most potent weapons in the fight against bigotry and intolerance. They have played a significant role in bringing people and have withstood the assault of those who try to create artificial divides. In the Indian sub-continent’s context Urdu and Hindi have been the pillars of the composite Ganga-Jamuni civilization. Continue reading Language Paves The Way To Unity