Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Brief History of the Origin of Urdu Language

A Brief History of the Origin of Urdu Language
Ms.  Samreen Fakhar (PhD Scholar)
Department of Linguistics
Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India, 202002


This paper presents a brief history of the origin of Urdu language. It presents two studies aiming at briefly discussing the origin of Urdu; the main character of this paper. One study addresses origin of Urdu, the other looks into the various views of the scholars regarding Urdu.

Key words: 1) Urdu 2) Origin 3) Rekhta 4) Views 5) Ghalib 6) Poetry 7) History

It is to be believed that Urdu language was first originated in North India i.e. in and around Delhi at the end of the 12th century A.D. (1193), which belongs to the New-Indo Aryan languages of India. Urdu emerges from Shaurseni Apabhramsha, which was spoken in Northern India.
History of Origin:
During the time in power of Muslim rules, Delhi was made the capital of India. The local peoples and immigrants have frequent opportunities to get together. As a result of the political, social and cultural contacts between the two speeches communities, there evolved a mixed form of language known as ‘Rekhta’.
There is no doubt that Urdu is mixed with Persian and Arabic words. The basic structure of Urdu is Indic or Indo-Aryan. The rules of Urdu grammar are also Indic and the basic lexical items are also Indic. The base of which supplied by khari Boli; a dialect of western Hindi. Urdu is unique in the sense that its written specimens are found in the form of Khari Boli, which are not only rich and varied but are spread over the period of many centuries.
Urdu writing in its various primitive forms can be traced to Amir Khusrau (1253-1325 AD). Khusrau basically was a persian poet, he calls his language ‘Zuban-e-Dehlvi’ i.e., the Delhi-speech. Khusrau also calls his language as ‘Hindi’ and ‘Hindavi’. But as a matter of fact his language is ‘Rekhta’ in the true sense of the word because his language is the mixture of Persian and Hindavi.
Views of Rambabu Saksena:
Ram Babu Saksena also of the view that. “In the early period poets writing in a language half Persian and half Urdu and the dialect were very poor and had a limited vocabulary. It had not attained the status of a language and was crude and unrefined in capable of expressing subtleties and varieties of thoughts though it had beauties of its own.
As Urdu started flourishing in the kingdoms of Golconda and Bijiapur, the earliest writings in Urdu are in the Dakhni (Deccani) dialect. The Sufi saints were the earliest promoters of the Dakhni Urdu. The sufi-saint Hazrat khwaja Banda Nawaz Gesudaraz is considered to be the first prose writer of Dakhi Urdu. The first literary work in Urdu is that of Bidar poet Fakhruddin Nizami’s masnavi ‘kadam Rao padam rao’ written between 1421 and 1434 A.D. kamal khan rustami (khawar nama) and Nusrati (Gulshan-e-Ishq, Ali Nama and Tarikh-e-Sikandari) were two great poets of Bijapur. Mohd Quli Qutub shah, the greatest of Golconda kings, who was a distinguished poet. His poetry focused on love, nature and social life of the day. Among the other important writers of Dakhni Urdu were shah Miranji shamsul ushaq (khush nama and khush naghz) mullah wajhi (Qutub Mushtari and sabras), ibn-e-Nishati (phul ban). Wajhi’s sabras is considered to be a masterpiece of great literary and philosophical merit. Wali mohd or wali Dakhni was one of the most prolific Dakhni poets of the medieval period. He was developed the form of the ghazal. When his Diwan collection of Ghazals and other poetic generous) reached Delhi, (1700 AD), the poets of Delhi, who were engaged in composing poetry in Persian language.
Views of Mirza Khalil A. Beg:
Mirza khalil A. beg has also of the view that ‘wali’s visit to Delhi in 1700 AD, has a profound impact on the literary atmosphere of this city. The contemporary poets of Delhi like Mir Shamsuddin (faqir), Mirza Ali Quli khan (Nadim), Tek chand (Bahar), Anand ram (Mukhlis), sirajuddin Ali Khan (Arzu), and Mirza Abdul qadir (Bedil), who were writing primarily in Persian but they were inspired by wali and switched over to the Urdu language and his poetic composition in Urdu. Before the advent of wali to Delhi, the language was lower in prestige and poorer in quality’.   
The medival Urdu poetry grew under the shadow of Persian poetry. Unlike the Hindi poetry, which grew out of the Indian soil, Urdu poetry was initially fed with Persian words and imagery, sirajuddin Ali khanArzu and shaizj sadullah Gulshan were the earliest promoters of Urdu language in North India. By the beginning of the 18th century a more sophisticated North Indian variation of the Urdu language began to evolve through the writings of sheikh zahooruddin Hatim (1699-1781 A.D.), Mir Taqi Mir (1722-1810 A.D.), khwaja Mir Dard (1719-1985 A.D.), Mirza Hazhar Jan-e-Jana (1699-1781 A.D.), Mir Hasan (1727-1786 A.D.), and Mohd. Rafi sauda (1713-1780 A.D.). Sauda has been described as the foremost satirist of Urdu literature during the 18th century. Sauda’s ‘Shahr Ashub’ and ‘Qasida Tazheek-e-Rozgar’ are considered as masterpieces of urdu literature. He is considered to be the most outstanding composer of qasidas (panegyrics). Mir Hasan’s masnavi sehr-ul-bayan and Mir taqi Mir’s masnavies provided a distinct Indian touch to the language. Mis works, aprts from his six Diwans, include Nikat-ush-shora  (tazkira) and Zikr-e-Mir (Autobiography). Mir Babar Ali Anees (1802-1874) excelled in the art of writing marsiyas.
Any description of Urdu literature can never be complete without the mention of Mirza Asadullan Khan Ghalib (1797-1869), who is considered as the greatest of all the Urdu poets. With his passion for originality, Ghalib brought in a renaissance in Urdu poetry. In the post-Ghalib period, Dagh (b. 1831) emerged as a distinct poet, whose poetry was distinguished by its purity if idiom and simplicity of language and thought.
Modern Urdu literature covers the time from the last quarter of the 19th century till the present day and can be divided into two periods : the period of the Aligarh movement started by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and the period influenced by Sir Mohammad  Iqbal followed by the progressive movement and movements of Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq, Modernism and post modernism.[1] However, Altaf Husain hali (1937-1914) and Mohammad Husain Azad were the two great modernizers. They were forceful though not original thinkers and both were products of a more direct encounter with western educators than perhaps anyother writers of that time. Altaf Husain Hali is the actual innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu poetry. Hali’s works include diwan-e-hali, Madd-e-jazr-e-Islam or Musaddas-e-hali (1879), shak-wa-e-hind (1887), Munjat-e-Beva (1886) and chup ki Dad (1905). Hali showered the art of writing biographies with a critical approach in his biographies Hayat-e-sadi and Hayat-e-jawed. Hali was the pioneer of modern criticism. His Muqaddama-e-sher-o-shaeri is the foundation stone of Urdu criticism. Mohammad Husain Azad was an important writer and poet of this period who choce for himself the pen name Azad (free).[2] He laid the foundation of modern poem in Urdu. Ab-e-Hayat, sukhandan-e-paras, darbar-e-Akbari and Nazm-e-Azad are some of his outstanding literary works. Ab-e-hayat (1880) is the most significant works, which seemed to be an account of the under poets of renown and the linguistic and philological changes that occurred in the language of poetry over the years.                            
 Shibli Nomani (b. 1857) is considered as the father of Modern history in Urdu. He has produced several works based on historical research, especially on Islamic history like, seerat-un-Noman (1892) and Alfaruq (1899). Shibli also produced important works like Swanch Umari Maulan Rum, Ilmul Kalam (1903), Muvazina-e-Anis-o-Dabir (1907) and sher-ul-Ajam (1899). Iqbal’s poetry underwent several phases of evolution from Romanticism to Indian Nationalism and finally to pan-Islamism.
After Amir Khusrau not poets and writers are found in Urdu for about three hundred years. It is during the early 17th centrury that Urdu was again used for literary purpose. Some important specimens of Urdu, which shows that during the 17th century and 18th century, Urdu developed with greater speed includes Bikat kahani by Mohammad Afzal (d. 1625), Ashur nama written by roshan Ali (1668 A.D.). This look is not written in style of Rekhta. Ashur nama describes the events of karbala and Martyrdom (shahidi) of Hazrat Imam Hussain. Kaliq Bari written by Ziauddin Khusrau (1031-1621 A.D.). Do Qadim Masnaviya written by Ismail amrohi (1693-1703) lots of poems/marsias written by the poets like Salah, Qasim, Qurban, khadim, Hidayat, Kalim, Sadiq etc., are the important attested materials of the seventeenth century A.D. in the North India.
By the beginning of the 18th century A.D, Urdu prose was grew in the North has been very slow and limited and it was also very delayed. The earliest specimens of Urdu prose in the North includes karbal katha written in 1732-33. The author of this book is Fazal-e-Ali Fazli. It is not the original prose work in Urdu, it is the translation of the Persian book “Rauzatu sh-shuhda” by Mulla Hasain waiz kashfi. Qissa-e-Mehr Afroz-o-Dillbar by Iswi khan bahadur 91732-59 A.D.) Nau Tarz-e-Murassa (1775 A.D.) written by Mir Ata Husain khan Tahsin. Its language is very ornamental. Ajab-ul-qasa (1792-93 A.D.) by shah Alam II. Qaissa-e-Malik Mohammad-o-Geti Afroz (1793-94 A.D.) by Mehr chand Khatri. Silk-e-Gohar (1799-1800A.D.) written by Inshallah khan “Insha”. By the end of 18th century, these were the Urdu translation of holly Quran by shah Abdul Qadir and shah rafiuddin Dehlawi 1800. Fort William College in Kolkata. To back the Urdu language to the Britishers as Urdu was the common language at that time.    
Azad, Mohd Husain (2001): Ab-e-Hayat, New Delhi.
Beg, M.K.A (1988): Urdu Grammar – History and structure. New Delhi.
Beg. M.K.A, (1988): Urdu Grammar – History and structure, Behri publication, New Delhi. P.3.
Farooqi, Mehr afshan ( 2003): The Oxford Indian Anthology of Modern Urdu Literature.
Saksena, Ram Babu (1927): A History of Urdu literature P.7.
Zaidi, Shamshad (1989): Studies in Urdu linguistics. New Delhi

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