Special Reports

Profile: Maulana Hasrat Mohani

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Maulana Hasrat Mohani (1875-1951) was a romantic poet of Urdu language, journalist, politician, parliamentarian and a fearless freedom fighter of the Indo-Pak Subcontinent. His real name was Syed Fazlul Hasan. He was born in 1875 at Mohaan in Unnao district of U.P.

He was a brilliant student as well as a topper in his first state level exams. Later, he studied in Aligarh Muslim University, where some of his colleagues were Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Shaukat Ali, etc. His teachers in poetry were Tasleem Lucknawi and Naseem Dehlvi. A few of his books are Kulliyat-e-Hasrat Mohani (Collection of Hasrat Mohani’s poetry), Sharh-e-Kalam-e-Ghalib (Explanation of Ghalib’s poetry), Nukaat-e-Sukhan (Important aspects of poetry), Mushahidaat-e-Zindaan (Observations in Prison), etc. A very popular ghazal sung by Ghulam Ali, Chupke Chupke raat din… was penned by Hasrat Mohani.

Hasrat Mohani participated in the struggle for Indian Independence and was jailed for many years by the British authorities. He was the first person in Indian history who demanded ‘Complete Independence’ (Azadi-e-Kaamil) in 1921 as he presided over an annual session of the All India Muslim League.

He was not only a practising Muslim but also a strong supporter of the communist ideology, as he could see that British could possibly be defeated by following communist principles. Therefore, he was among the founders of the Communist Party of India. He was also imprisoned for promoting anti-British ideas especially for publishing an article against British policies in Egypt, in his magazine Urdu-e-Mualla.

Palestine Conference in Cairo in 1938, (Clockwise from top): Chowdhery Khaliquzzaman, Abdul Rehman Siddiqui, Hasrat Mohani

After Independence, unlike some Urdu poets like Josh Malihabadi and Nasir Kazmi and many Muslim leaders, he chose to live in India rather than move to Pakistan in order to represent the left-over Indian Muslims on various platforms.

In recognition for his efforts, he was made a member of the constituent assembly which drafted the Indian Constitution. But unlike other members, he never signed it since he saw hypocrisy towards Muslim minorities writ large in it.

According to Akhtar Payami, Hasrat’s poetic genius has been acclaimed by many writers and critics. In the not too distant past (beginning and the first half of the 20th century), Hasrat, Jigar and Asghar formed a constellation of emerging poets in a crucial period of India’s history. Major political developments were taking place in the subcontinent and the sun was about to set on the British Empire. As conscious members of society, poets and writers do not remain indifferent to the changes in their socio-political milieu. Not only India but the whole world was in a state of flux.

Maulana died on 13 May, 1951 in Lucknow. Hasrat Mohani Memorial Society was founded by Maulana Nusrat Mohani in 1951. In Karachi, a Memorial Hall and Library have been established by Hasrat Mohani Memorial Society. Every year, on his death anniversary, a memorial meeting is held by this Trust as well as many other organisations in India and Pakistan. Hasrat Mohani Colony, at Korangi Town in Karachi, Pakistan, was named after Maulana Hasrat Mohani.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 September 2012 on page no. 12

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