Ameer Minai is one of the most prolific and well known Sufi poets in modern history. He has made Urdu a part of his life’s work and has achieved much success in his career. He is said to be the first Urdu poet to interweave Christian and Muslim elements in his work.
Several other Sufi poets also have made their own mark on the Urdu poetic tradition. But, Ameer Minai Shawqi had an important role to play in early days. He was born in 1829 in Lucknow, India and took his final breath over here, in Hyderabad, India a few decades ago. But, even now, at an advanced age, he is still busy in penning ameer minai rekhta (or poems). These poems form an important part of the corpus of Urdu literary works which are still read today many of them are still not published outside Asia.
Among those who knew him best, his most famous poetry includes ‘Atibar’ and ‘Nazaraimlar’. He is one of the very few prominent poets including Mirza Ghalib in the city of Lucknow, who wrote about his home town. Many other poets like Mirza Dabeer had also created popular fictions based on their Lucknow residence, for example, ‘Koi dil ke red aatha’ and ‘Rab Mausoleum.’
There have been several attempts to revive and modernize after minai poetry in Urdu, most notably by Mirza Ghalib. He wrote about his experiences in post-partition Lucknow as a student in 18ZA. After his graduation he moved to Pakistan. There he produced a number of poignant stories of life in Pakistan and the creation of families. Some of his most popular stories include ‘Sikka Pakistan’ and’Karachi hummel angel’.
Mirza Ghalib’s poetry is notable for its elegantly expressive style of writing, which has earned him many loyal followers. However, his poems are most famous for the way in which he depicts the tragic events of his early years in detail. The story of his separation from his beloved wife takes him through different stages of his life in just over a page. His poetry is best appreciated when it is read aloud. Though his work is mainly written in English, some of it has been published in Urdu and Hindi.
Most of his fans are women from Lucknow. His beautiful and heart-touching words of love have endeared him to them. The late Maqbool Fida Husain is a prominent lady poet from Lucknow. She is popularly known as the Queen of Ameer poetry in Urdu. She was very fond of Ameer minai and she dedicated many poems to the Mughal King.
Another important Urdu poet, Zafar Ahmed is well known for his hilarious and wise writings. Born in 1924, Ahmed is another Urdu poet who lived in the shadow of a famous poet, Mulk Raj Anand. He too earned a great deal of success and popularity as an author and also a successful theatre personality. His most famous play, ‘Aabara’ or ‘The apple of our eyes’, was based on a true story and was made famous by Shahid Badar. This film was one of the first Urdu movies that showed the darker side of the Punjabi culture and went on to win eight Film Farewell Awards.
There is no doubt that there are plenty of talented and funny Urdu poets. But it is undeniable that some of the best and brightest stars of Lucknow have their roots in Ameer. They have been blessed with such wonderful characters and have managed to make their presence felt in Urdu through their wittiness and heartiness. Thus we can conclude that without the presence of such poets, there would have been no difference in the culture and lifestyles in Lucknow and Ameer.