It's a common assumption that Urdu was born in the Mughal camps of Emperor Mohammad Shah Jahan (1628–58) some time during the first half of the seventeenth century. It's hardly surprising that this is so wide spread because the proponents of the theory are such stalwarts as Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Mir Aman Dehlvi. These lines are written to keep the record straight and give the reader a general idea about this highly debatable, contentious and interesting issue.
It's not an easy job to dig out the roots any language, it can be likened to pinpointing the origin of a river : you can get entirely different results from following different courses. But the case of Urdu is a little different, which makes the job doubly difficult, as we shall explore in the following lines.
Like most other languages of the world, Urdu too started its literature through poetry. Now if we pin down the first Urdu poet, we should be able to trace down the origins of the language to a fair degree. So the million dollar question : Who was the first Urdu poet?
Various answers have been given to this question: Maulana Mohammad Hussain Azad wrote in the monumental Aab-e-Hayat' (Water of Life) asserts that Wali Deccani (1644-1707) is the "Bava Adam" (founding father) of Urdu poetry. The line was stretched further back by subsequent research and the honor was handed over to Quli Qutub Shah (1565-1610), a King of Golkanda.
Modern research, however, has dug even deeper and now Khawaja Masud Saad Salman a celebrated Persian poet whose era spans the 12th century AD is generally acknowledged as the first Urdu poet. The predicament here is that we don't have any written Kalaam, i.e. written work, of Khawaja with us, not even a single shair (stanza) ! All we know of his writing in Urdu (the language was certainly not known by this name in those times) is a statement by Amir Khusrau (1253-1325) who reports in the preface of his famous book 'Ghuratul Kamal' that Khawaja Masud Saad Salman had his Dewan (poetry collections) in three languages : Persian, Turkish and Urdu.
Khawaja Masud Saad Salman was a resident of Lahore, which was the capital of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi and his predecessors from 413H to 583H, i.e 979-1030 AD. The first active interaction of South Asian languages with Persian must have started during this period because large number of Persian speaking Muslims flocked to Punjab. The army comprised of both the local and migrant soldiers. A fair number of preachers and Sufis, for example Hazrat Ali Hujveri popularly know as Data Ganj Bakhsh (died 465) and Shah Yousuf (died 550) started spreading the message of Islam to the local population. A lot of intermarriages must have taken place. The lively interaction between the cultures must have necessitated a common language. It's thought that even Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi may have some acquaintance with the local languages because his royal stamp bore an inscription in Sanskrit on one side and Arabic on the other side. Some Hindu poets had also written Qasidas (Eulogies) in honor of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi in Sanskrit.
Professor Hafiz Mahmud Shirani in his historic book "Punjab Mein Urdu" (Urdu in Punjab) stresses that this interaction between the local languages of Punjab with Persian of the settlers gave birth to a proto language. When Sultan Qutb-ud-Din Aibak (1150-1210) shifted capital from Lahore to Delhi in 1193, hundreds of thousands of people - soldiers, scholars, writers, tribes, merchants, government employees, artists, Sufis and others -- migrated en masse with him and took this proto language with them. This language when interacted with the local dialects of Delhi and surrounding areas gradually developed into modern Urdu.
A crucial question arises at this juncture: which was or were the languages being spoken in Delhi at that time? To answer this question, we have to delve a little deeper into history in fact, right into the Stone Age!
It's generally assumed that the Dravidians were the original inhabitants of South Asia and the Aryans displaced them. But excavations at various sites in South Asia have shown that the Dravidians themselves were the invaders from Iran and they occupied the South Asia long before the Moenjodaro and Harrappa civilizations. The aboriginal people of South Asia are known as the Munda tribes, which are thought to be related to the Aborigines of Australia. The Munda people spoke various languages like Bhel, Svara, Kaul, etc. The languages of the two civilizations intermixed and gave rise to new languages. It's interesting to note that many word we used commonly in Urdu jhoNpaRee (hut), naanaa (grandfather), saalaa (brother-in-law), aaNchal (scarf), gehnaa (bracelot), kos (mile), dhatooraa, karailaa (Zucchini), phaaTak (door), DanDaa (stick), daalaan, DheeT (stubborn), aRos paRos, dhoom dhaam (lavish celebration) etc. actually date back to that Munda period, thousands of years ago. The interaction of the invading Dravidian with the Munda must have created some new languages, called the Dravidian languages.
Like Muslim invasion of the Indus valley at the turn of the millennium, a similar invasion of South Asia had taken place around 3500 years ago: the invasion of the fair, tall, horse-wielding warriors from Eurasian steppes, the Aryans. The Aryans came in several waves, over a period of several hundred years. Upon their entry in South Asia the Aryans encountered the Dravidian languages. It is interesting to note that Brahui, a living language spoken in Balochistan province of Pakistan, is also a Dravidian language, as are many Dravidian languages like Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, etc. in the southern region of South Asia.
Aryans spoke pure Aryan language which later split into Sanskrit spoken by Aryans in South Asia and Avestan by Aryans of Iran. It is commonly believed that Aryan tribes from Eurasia invaded Iran and South Asia and they were closely related. Sanskrit was the language spoken by Aryan invaders and local inhabitants spoke various dialects of Dravidian and Munda languages. Naturally, over time, language of the rulers got mixed up with the local languages the scenario being not very different from what happened with the invasion of Muslim millennia later. The languages produced after this interaction are called Prakrits. Since different Dravidian languages were spoken in different part of the country, many kinds of Prakrits came into existence.
These Prakrits became the standard literary languages and the elite started exploiting them for religious and political purposes. At the same time, another type of languages, called the Up Bhransas, were slowly emerging. While the Prakrits were greatly influenced by Sanskrit, the Up Bharansas, being the vernacular, stood widely apart from Sanskrit.
The Up Bharansa languages have three major groups:
1. The Dravidian group : with contained Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Brahui, etc.
2. The Pushachi group : encompassing Khari Boli, Sindhi, Punjabi, Siraiki, Hindko, Kashmiri, Hariyanvi, etc.
3. The Darda group : which contains Pakhtun and Balochi.
The Pushachi group had a language called 'Khari Boli' which originated from a kind of Prakrit, called the Shorseni Prakrit. The name Khari Boli means "the standing language", which denotes that most verbs end at an "a", like khaayaa, aayaa, etc. at which differentiates it from other languages, which are called Pari Bolis "the sitting language", where the verbs usually end at "o", like khaa'io, aa'io, etc.
Most linguists think that this Khari Boli, rather than Brij Bhasha, was the language that was spoken in Delhi when Muslim arrived.
Now Khari Boli was an isolated, limited language, compared to other languages in nearby areas. Because both languages belonged to the Pushachi group, the Khari Boli and Punjabi were very similar. When the Punjabi speaking Muslims entered Delhi, they found Khari Boli very similar to Punjabi, which they had learned during their stay of near two century old sojourn in Punjab. They could relate to it easily and managed to learn it very quickly. They gave the language a new life by adopting it and introduced new vocabulary and idiom. Being the language of the ruling class, the language soon evolved to be the forerunner of modern Urdu. In those early times, it had a strong influence of Punjabi, but as time passed, it starting developing its own character.
More than any other sector of a society, the religious scholars and preachers need to be in touch with the masses. The Islamic Sufis also did the same thing; they addressed common folk in their own language. The first incidence of usage of Urdu as we know it came from a well known Sufi, Baba Fareed Ganj Shakar. Pir Shamsuddin Sabzwari (1241-1356), Pir Sadruddin (1300-1416), Pir Hasan Kabiruddin (1341-1449), Pir Tajuddin (d. 1449) and Syed Imam Shah, (d. 1520) were also Sufis who wrote poetry in Urdu.
The first recorded Urdu sentence that we know of came in the form of a dialogue between Baba Fareed (died 1264) and the maid of another famous Sufi, Khawaja Burhanuddin. Baba Fareed has also the distinction of writing the first piece of Urdu poetry.
Baba Fareed was quickly succeeded by an imposing figure, Amir Khusrau (1253-1325). His was a multi dimensional personality in the true sense of the word. Besides being a great Islamic Sufi, a splendid Persian poet and probably the greatest maestro in the history of South Asia, Amir Khusrau stands tall in the world of Urdu as well. Although doubts persist over the authorship of several of his Urdu works, he undoubtedly played an important role in bridging the gap between the language of the elite and the folks. Many of his Geet (songs), Paheliyaan (puzzles) and keh-mukarniyaan still prevail.
In 1326, fearing an eminent attack from the barbarian Mongols, the eccentric Delhi Sultan Mohammad Tughlaq ordered the entire population of Delhi to migrate to the Southern city of Daulatabad nearly 1100 km away. The decree was so all encompassing that for a long time, the streets of Delhi were inhabited by jackals and hyenas.
Thousands of people died on their way, many more reached their new homeland. These people took with them, among other things, their language also, and soon Urdu was reverberating in the alien environs of Deccan, where the Indo-Aryan and Perso-Arabic Urdu must have been total stranger in an area dominated by Dravidian languages. The southern Behmanis Dynasty soon severed ties with the north and, declaring Deccan as an independent state. This secluded environment of Deccan served as a catalyst for the growth of Urdu, which was subsequently named Deccani. As always, the Sufis played their linguistic role and Urdu literature started appearing. Some people think that 'Mairajul Aashiqeen' by Khawaja Banda Nawaz Gaisu Draz (died, 1421), is the first Urdu prose book. This book was written sometime in early fifteenth century. There is evidence that the Behmani rulers used Urdu as a state language, a factor that greatly contributed to its growth. In fact, the first 'Sahib-e-Dewan' (Person of poetic collection) Urdu poet, Sultan Quli Qutub Shah (1565-1610), was a king of the Deccan state of Golkanda. Sultan Quli Qutub was a prolific poet and has left more than 50,000 couplets in Deccani, Telugu and Persian.
Sultan Quli Qutub Shah's contemporary and his courtier Mullah Wajhi is a landmark figure in the history of Urdu prose. Considered as the first important Urdu prose work, his immortal book 'Sab Ras' is still taught in MA Urdu courses in some Universities of both South Asia. Although translated from a Persian book, 'Sab Ras' tells an allegorical tale with consummate fluency and is considered a literary marvel across the board.
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-Iskandari) were two great Urdu poets of Bijapur.
All these advances paved the way for Wali Deccani (1635-1707) , the first poet in our selection of 100 books. He visited Delhi some time in early eighteenth century and created quite a stir in the stagnant water of Northern Urdu literature, which had deteriorated under the influence of the state-sponsored Persian. As mentioned earlier, Wali is often called the Adam of Urdu poetry. Urdu poets like Siraj Aurangabadi (1715-1763) also deserves mention.
Wali's stopover in Delhi was so inspirational that it immediately bore fruit in the form of the so called Golden Period of Urdu poetry. Such giants as Shaikh Zahuruddin Hatim (1699-1781 AD), Mirza Mazhar Jan-e-Janan (1699-1781 AD), Mir Taqi Mir (1723-1810), Mirza Mohammad Rafi Sauda (1713-80), Khwaja Mir Dard (1721-85), and Mir Hasan (1727- 1786 AD) were among a galaxy of other names that lived in that period. Each of these is still to be surpassed in their respective genres: Mir in Ghazal, Sauda in Qasida, Dard in Sufi poetry and Mir Hassan in Masnavi.
The 'Ghazal' in Urdu represents the most popular form of subjective poetry, while the 'Nazm' exemplifies the objective kind, often reserved for narrative, descriptive, didactic or satirical purposes. Under the broad head of the Nazm we may also include the classical forms of poems known by specific names such as 'Masnavi' (a long narrative poem in rhyming couplets on any theme: romantic, religious, or didactic), 'Marsia' (an elegy traditionally meant to commemorate the martyrdom of Hazrat Imam Hussain, grandson of Prophet Mohammad, and his comrades of the Karbala fame), or 'Qasida' (a panegyric written in praise of a king or a nobleman), for all these poems have a single presiding subject, logically developed and concluded. However, these poetic species have an old world aura about their subject and style, and are different from the modern Nazm, supposed to have come into vogue in the later part of the nineteenth century.
Among the other important writers of Deccani Urdu were Shah Miranji Shamsul Ushaq (Khush Nama and Khush Naghz), Shah Burhanuddin Janam, Mullah Wajhi (Qutb Mushtari and Sabras), Ghawasi (Saiful Mulook-O- Badi-Ul-Jamal and Tuti Nama), Ibn-e-Nishati (Phul Ban) and Tabai (Bhahram-O-Guldandam). Wajhi's Sabras is considered to be a masterpiece of great literary and philosophical merit. Vali Mohammed or Vali Deccani (Diwan) was one of the most prolific Deccani poets of the medieval period. He developed the form of the Ghazal. When his Diwan (Collection of Ghazals and other poetic genres) reached philosophical, the poets of Delhi who were engaged in composing poetry in Persian language, were much impressed and they also started writing poetry in Urdu, which they named Rekhta.
When the Persian King Nadir Shah (1688-1747) invaded and captured Delhi in 1739, many people, including Urdu writers, left Delhi and settled in Lucknow, which soon developed as the new hub of Urdu literature. In the peaceful environment of Lucknow, not only poetry but prose also thrived. Inshaullah Khan Insha wrote a magnificent tale, 'Rani Ketki Ki Kahani', in a language deliberately devoid of even a single word of Persian and Arabic. Some people opine that Rani Ketki in fact the first Urdu short story. Lucknow made its way as the third important centre of Urdu poetry with Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi (1725-1824), Inshallah Khan Insha (1757-1817), Khwaja Haidar Ali Atish (1778-1846), Iman Baksh Nasikh (1787-1838), Mir Babr Ali Anis (1802-74) and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabir (1803-1875). It reached its height of excellence during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, drama started appearing at Urdu scene. The first dramatist is believed to be Amant Lucknowi, and his drama Indar Sabha is considered as the first Urdu drama.
The last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was a poet with unique style, typified by difficult rhymes, excessive word play and use of idiomatic language. He has authored four voluminous Dewans. Before the national uprising of 1857, the reign of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar witnessed the luxurious spring of Urdu poetry immediately followed by the chilly winds of autumn. Shaik Ibrahim Zauq was the Shah's mentor in poetry. Next to Sauda he is considered to be the most outstanding composer of Qasidas (panegyrics). Hakim Momin Khan Momin wrote ghazals in a style peculiar to him. He used ghazal exclusively for expressing emotions of love. Any description of Urdu literature can never be complete without the mention of Mirza Asadullah 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 of idiom and simplicity of language and thought.
Modern Urdu literature covers the time from the last quarter of the 19th century to the present day and can be divided into two periods: the period of the Aligarh Movement started by Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) and the period influenced by Sir Mohammed Iqbal (1877-1938) followed by the Progressive Movement and movements of Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zouq, Modernism and Post modernism. However, Altaf Hussain Hali (1837-1914) is the actual innovator of the modern spirit in Urdu poetry. Hali's works include : 'Dewan-e-Hali', 'Madd-o-Jazr-e-Islam', 'Musaddas-e-Hali' (1879), 'Shakwa-e-Hind' (1887), 'Munajat-e-Beva' (1886) and 'Chup ki Dad' (1905). Hali showered the art of writing biographies with a critical approach in his biographies 'Hayat-e-Saadi' and 'Hayat-e-Jaweed'. Hali was the pioneer of modern criticism. His 'Muqaddama-e-Sher-o-Shaeri' is the foundation stone of Urdu criticism.
Maulana Shibli Naumani (1857- 1914) 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- Nauman' (1892) and 'Al Faruq' (1899). Shibli also produced important works like 'Swanih Umari Maulana Rum', 'Ilmul Kalam' (1903), 'Muvazina-e- Anis-o-Dabir' (1907) and 'Sher-ul-Ajam' (1899). Mohammed Hussain Azad was an important writer and poet of this period. He laid the foundation of modern poem in Urdu. 'Aab-e-Hayat', 'Sukhandan-e-Pars', 'Darbar-e-Akbari' and 'Nazm-e-Azad' are some of his outstanding literary works. Other leading poets of modern period include Syyid Akbar Husain Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921), who had a flair for extempore composition of satiric and comic verses, Khushi Mohammed Nazir (1872-1944), who composed 'Jogi' and 'Pani Mein', Sir Allama Mohammed Iqbal (1873-1938), 'Durga Sahai Suroor' (d.1910), Mohammed Ali Jauhar (d.1931) and Hasrat Mohani (d.1951). Iqbal's poetry underwent several phases of evolution from Romanticism ('Nala-e-Yateem' and 'Abr-e-Guhar Bar') to South Asian Nationalism ('Tasvir-e-Dard', 'Naya Shivala' and 'Tarana-e-Hindi') and finally to Pan-Islamism ('Shakva', 'Sham-o-Shair', 'Jawab-e-Shakva', 'Khizr- e-Rah' and 'Tulu-e-Islam'). Fani Badayuni (1879-1941), Shad Azimabadi (1846-1927), Yagana Changezi (1884-1956), Asghar Gondavi (1884-1936), Jigar Moradabadi (1896-1982), Akhtar Shirani, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1912- 1985), Miraji (1912-1950), N.M.Rashid (1910-1976), Akhtarul-Iman (b.1915), Ali Sardar Jafri (b.1913), Makhdoom Mohiuddin (1908 -1969), Kaifi Azmi (b.1918), Jan Nisar Akhtar (1914-1979), Sahir Ludhianvi (1922-1980), Majrooh Sultanpuri (1919-2000), Asrarul Haq Majaz (1911- 1955), Nasir Kazmi, Ibn-e-Insha and Dr Kalim Ajiz have taken the Urdu poetry to new heights.
A new generation of poets emerged around the sixth decade of twentieth century. The leading poets of this generation include Khaleelur Rahman Aazmi, Himyat Ali Shair, Balraj Komal, Ameeq Hanafi, Kumar Pashi, Makhmoor Saidi, Mazhar Imam, Dr Mughni Tabassum, Bani, Munir Niyazi, Suleman Areeb, Aziz Qaisi, Saqi Faruqi, Iftekhar Arif, Saleem Ahmed, Qazi Saleem, Shafiq Fatima Shera, Bashar Nawaz, Akbar Hyderabadi, Waheed Akhter, Shaz Tamkanat, Zubair Razvi, Muztar Majaz, Mushaf Iqbal Tausifi, Zohra Nigah, Kishwar Naheed, Zahida Zaidi, Siddiqa Shabnam and others.
The short story in Urdu began with Munshi Premchand's 'Soz-e-Vatan' (1908). Premchand's short stories cover nearly a dozen volumes including Prem Pachisi, Prem Battisi, Prem Chalisi, 'Zad-e-Rah', 'Vardaat', 'Akhri Tuhfa' and 'Khak-e-Parvana'. Mohammed Hussan Askari and Khwaja Ahmed Abbas are counted among the leading lights of the Urdu Short story. The Progressive Movement in Urdu fiction gained momentum under Sajjad Zaheer (1905-1976), Ahmed Ali (1912-1994), Mahmood-uz- Zafar (1908-1994) and Rasheed Jahan (1905-1952). Urdu writers like Rajender Singh Bedi and Krishn Chander (1914-1977) showed commitment to the Marxist philosophy in their writings. Krishn Chander's 'Adhe Ghante Ka Khuda' is one of the most memorable stories in Urdu literature. His other renowned short stories include 'Zindagi Ke Mor Par', 'Kalu Bhangi' and 'Mahalaxmi Ka Pul'. Bedi's Garm 'Kot' and 'Lajvanti' are among the masterpieces of Urdu short story. Bedi's important works include collections of short stories, Dana-o-Daam Girhen, Kokh Jali and Apne Dukh Mujhe Dedo etc., collection of plays 'Saat Khel' and a novel Ek Chadar Maili Si (1972). Manto, Ismat Chughtai and Mumtaz Mufti form a different brand of Urdu writers who concentrated on the "psychological story" in contrast to the "sociological story" of Bedi and Krishn Chander. Some of Ismat Chughtai's leading short stories are 'Chauthi Ka Jora', 'Do Hath', 'Lehren' and 'Lihaf'. Manto dealt in an artistic way with many unconventional subjects, like sex, which were considered taboo by the Middle-class. His 'Thanda Gosht', which dealt with the subject of necrophilia, shocked the readers. Another of Manto's praise-worthy works was 'Khol Do', which tackled the horrors of partition. Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi (b.1915) is another leading name in Urdu short story. His important short stories include 'Alhamd-o- Lillah', 'Savab', 'Nasib' and others. In the post-1936 period, the writers belonging to the Halqa-e-Arbab-e-Zauq produced several good stories in Urdu. Upender Nath Ashk (Dachi), Ghulam Abbas (Anandi). Intezar Hussain, Anwar Sajjad, Balraj Mainra, Surender Parkash and Qurratul- ain Haider (Sitaroun Se Aage, Mere Sanam Khane) are the other leading lights of Urdu short story. Several leading fiction writers emerged from the city of Hyderabad in the contemporary times, which include Jeelani Bano, Iqbal Mateen, Awaz Sayeed, Kadeer Zaman, Mazhr-uz-Zaman and others.
Novel writing in Urdu can be traced to Nazir Ahmed (1836-1912) who composed several novels like Mirat-ul-Urus (1869), Banat-un-Nash (1873), Taubat-un-Nasuh (1877), Fasana-e-Mubtala (1885), Ibn-ul-Waqt (1888), Ayama (1891) and others. Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar's (1845-1903) Fasana-e-Azad, Abdul Halim Sharar (1860-1920)'s Badr-un- Nisa Ki Musibat and Agha Sadiq ki Shadi, Mirza Muhammed Hadi Ruswa's Umrao Jan Ada (1899) are some of the great novels and novelettes written during the period. Niaz Fatehpuri (1887-1966) and Qazi Abdul Gaffar (1862-1956) were the other eminent early romantic novelists in the language. However, it was Premchand (1880-1936) who tried to introduce the trend of realism in Urdu novel. Premchand was a prolific writer who produced several books. His important novels include Bazare-e-Husn (1917), Gosha-e-Afiat, Chaugan-e-Hasti, Maidan- e-Amal and Godan. Premchand's realism was further strengthened by the writers of the South Asian Progressive Writers' Association like Sajjad Zaheer, Krishn Chander and Ismat Chughtai. Krishn Chander's Jab Khet Jage (1952), Ek Gadhe Ki Sarguzasht (1957) and Shikast are considered among the outstanding novels in Urdu literature. Ismat Chughtai's novel Terhi Lakir (1947) and Qurratul-ain Haider's novel Aag Ka Darya are considered as important works in the history of Urdu novel. Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Aziz Ahmed, Balwant Singh, Khadija Mastur, Intezar Hussain are the other important writers in Urdu in the contemporary times.
Urdu was not confined to only the Muslim writers. Several writers from other religions also wrote in Urdu. Prominent among them are Munshi Premchand, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Pandit Ratan Nath Sarshar (Fasana- e-Azad) and Brij Narain Chakbast (1882 - 1926), who composed Subh-e- Watan and Tilok Chand Mahrum (1887-1966), who composed Andhi and Utra Hua Darya, Krishn Chander, Rajindar Singh Bedi, Kanhaiyalal Kapur, Upendar Nath Ashk, Jagan Nath Azad, Jogender Pal, Balraj Komal and Kumar Pashi.
Akbar Allahabadi (1846-1921) was the pioneer among the Urdu humorists and satirists. Majeed Lahori, Mehdi Ali Khan, Patras Bokhari (1898- 1958), Mirza Farhatullah Beg, Shafiq-ur-Rahman, Azim Baig Chughtai, Ibn-e-Insha, Mushfiq Khwaja, Mushtaq Ahmed Yousifi, K.L.Kapur, Amjad Hussain, Mujtaba Hussain, Himayatullah and Talib Khundmeri are the other leading names in the field of humour.
Prof. Hafiz Mohammed Sheerani (1888-1945) devoted long years to the field of literary criticism. Others in this field include Shaikh Mohammed Ikram (1907-1976), Sayyid Ihtesham Hussain (1912 - 1976), Mohammed Hasan Askari, Ale-Ahmed Suroor, Mumtaz Husain, Masud Husain, Shams-ur-Rahman Faruqi, Gopichand Narang, Mughni Tabassum (b.1930) and others.
Farhang-e-Asifya is the first Urdu dictionary based on principles of the modern lexicography, which was produced by Maulana Sayyid Ahmed Dehlvi (1846-1920) in 1892.