Munir Niazi (1928-2006): Mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi

Posted on December 26, 2006
Filed Under >Adil Najam, People, Poetry, Urdu
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Adil Najam

Yet another stalwart of Urdu literature is no more. Munir Niazi passed away at the age of 78.

As regular readers of this blog know, Munir Niazi is a particular favorite of mine. We have written about him and his poetry earlier (wondering whether it was him in the wonderful re-making of Mehdi Hasan’s ‘yeh watan tumhara hai‘; in thinking about song and poetry; and in terms of his literary rivalry with Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, who died just a few months before him). We will, no doubt, write about it again later.

His ‘mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi, yeh kuch din baad meiN ho gi’ and ‘humaisha dair kar daita houN meiN’ are especially poignant and I find his following Punjabi qata so often relevant to my own travails:

kujh unj we raawaN aukhiaN sann
kujh gall icch gham da tauq ve see
kujh shehr dey louk ve zalim sann
kujh sanouN marran da souq ve see

Yes, the path I chose was hard
Yes, there was the noose of grief around my neck
Yes, the citizenry was also so cruel
But, ultimately, we too wanted to get killed

(coloquial for the last line: ‘we were suckers for punishment’; this is NOT a translation, just conveying the essential meaning)

Another favorite of mine is the following:

Kisee ko apnay amal ka jawab kiya daytay,
Swal saray ghalat thay jawab kiya daytay

Here are the details of his passing from The News (27 December, 2006; excerpts):

Renowned Urdu and Punjabi poet Munir Niazi died of cardiac arrest at Jinnah Hospital on Tuesday. He was 78. Family sources said Munir complained of some breathing problem on Tuesday noon and was taken to Jinnah Hospital where his condition deteriorated rapidly and he died during treatment. His Namaz-e-Janaza will be held at Alquds Mosque, Sector A1, Township Lahore at 2.00 pm on Wednesday (today).

The only child of his parents, Niazi was born in Khanpur (Hoshiyarpur, Indian Punjab) on April 9, 1927. After the creation of Pakistan, the family migrated to Sahiwal and settled there. While living in India, Munir also served in the Royal Indian Navy for some time. Twice married, Niazi was issueless. He started as an editor of a newspaper “Saat rang” (seven colours). Niazi has to his credit 14 collections of poetry both in Urdu and Punjabi. Shy, soft-spoken and a person of few words and great self-belief, he was a poet of distinction.

Munir Niazi had a vision of hope and love for his country and its people. Love, he said, is the most enduring quality and poetry reflects the most sublime side of life. His poetry influenced an entire generation of young writers and poets and they should be grateful to him for having set such an exceptional and powerful style in poetry. His works include “Dushmanoon Key Darmiyan”, “Mah-e-Munir”, “Aghaz-e-Zamastan Main Dobara” and “Aik Musalsal.”

Equally proficient in Urdu and Punjabi, Munir Niazi’s poetry had great depth and he advanced the tradition of realism with great sensibility and force of imagination. Words were always slaves to his vision, creation and criticism. In the sixties he also contributed songs to Pakistani films. “Us baiwafa ka shehr hay” sung by the late Nasim Begum for the film “Shaheed” still stirs up memories of a period gone by…. The film industry had its own culture and cruelties. Munir once narrated that for his famous song “Us bewafa ka shahr hai aur ham hain dosto”, he was promised Rs 2,000 but received only Rs 200.

He is acclaimed as a trendsetter with his unique diction, style and thought-content and made an enduring contribution to literature of the post-Independence period. Munir deeply influenced his contemporaries and later generations of poets and is respected by the reading public. His works have been translated into many other languages. For his literary achievements Munir Niazi was awarded ‘Kamal-e-Funn Award for the year 2002 by Pakistan Academy of Letters and the ‘President’s Award for Pride of Performance” in 1992 and ‘Sitara-i-Imtiaz’ in 1998.

Munir Niazi’s poetry will, no doubt, live on.

34 Comments on “Munir Niazi (1928-2006): Mohabbat abb nahiN ho gi

  1. Samdani says:
    December 27th, 2006 12:26 am

    A tragic loss. This has not been a good year for Pakistan’s literary giants.

  2. Nadeem Ahmad says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:15 am

    [quote comment="20639"]A tragic loss. This has not been a good year for Pakistan’s literary giants.[/quote]
    The Clock stops!!!

    “Zinda Rahain to Kiya He Maar Jaaein Hum To Kia”

    Life of a mystic comes to an end.His works remain…

  3. Tahir says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:18 am

    Munir Niazi was one of the sun between many stars.No doubt urdu has proud on him,Munir used simple words to say many things selection of simple and meaningful words was his speciality first nizm of munir I read when i was young and still i remeber all words

    kul woh mili jo bachpan main meray bhai say khaila kurti thi
    janay jub kia baat thi woh mujh say buhat darti thi
    phir kia hoa woh kahan gay kon yeah batain janta hai

    koon itni dori say bhala shakloon ko pahchanta hai
    pur ab mili hay mujh say to aisa kabhi na socha tha
    us ko itni chah thi meri aisa kabhi na daikha the
    naam bhi usnay bachay ka meray hi naam per rakha tha
    phir kahin us say bichar na jaoon aisay mujh ko takti thi
    us ki chup aur pagal aankhin dahak rahi thin shiddat say
    main to such much darnay laga tha is khamoosh muhabat say

    beilieve me,I read this poem when i was 18 this is the beauty of the poem and the words selected by munir that i still remember most of lines i am sure that all writen above are correct but it might be possible that i changed some thing if its true forgive me for my weak memory,
    we have lost a great man who was not only the poet but a kind,sincer and a sensitive person who feel problems of common man in his own words.

  4. Ibrahim says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:24 am

    Salamalikum,

    Ø¥Ù

  5. Asma says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:24 am

    Inna lillahe wa inna alyhe rajeyoon

    A tragic loss indeed … he served his age very well … I simply adored his poetry … and these lines from his Punjabi poetry are my all-time favs too …

    kujh unj we raawaN aukhiaN sann
    kujh gall icch gham da tauq ve see
    kujh shehr dey louk ve zalim sann
    kujh sanouN marran da souq ve see

  6. December 27th, 2006 2:30 am

    OH, How did i forget the famous “Mohabbat Nahi hogi..”. For a long time, I kept assuming that it was written by Iftikhar Arif.

    It was sung by somone[I don't remember] as a background score of an old PTV drama. I couldn’t find that clip yet.

  7. Naveed says:
    December 27th, 2006 2:52 am

    Adil – A befitting tribute. I was in a meeting with a senior banker and just when we were concluding our discussion, he revealed his great love for Munir Niazi and he quoted the punjabi poem which you have translated as well ie., “we were suckers for punishment” and we mourned the passing away of a whole school of desi poetry where penchant for pain and salvation in Love were the basic themes.

    What irony that Parveen Shakir also passed away on the same date so yesterday there were tributes on most channels eulogizing the services rendered by Ms. Shakir and Mr. Niazi.

    I would love to learn about the filmi songs written by Munir Niazi; i know that “kaisay kaisay log hamaray gee ko jalanay aa jatay hain” and probably “jab tairay shehar say guzarta hoon” are by Mr. Niazi. What innate desiness we find in “Uss baywafa ka shehar hai”… I wonder what Munir sb thought of Nasir Kazmi since I find the expression so candid so simple and endearing. May his soul rest in Peace. Ameen

  8. December 27th, 2006 3:12 am

    Naveed, I already have a post nearly ready on his film songs. I plan to put it up in a day or so … to keep this conversation and his memory going and to celebrate his work.

    I always think of him as a nazm poet first, but his ghazals are also memorable. For example:

    aadat hii banaa lii hai tum ne to Munir apanii
    jis shahar maiN bhii rahanaa uktaaye hue rahanaa

    Or this one, alreday quoted by Nadeem Ahmad above:

    zindaa rahaiN to kyaa hai jo mar jaayaiN hum to kyaa
    duniyaa meiN Khaamoshii se guzar jaayaiN hum to kyaa

  9. Indscribe says:
    December 27th, 2006 6:47 am

    One after the other the doyens of Urdu literature have been passing and not only Pakistan but the entire sub-continent.
    Munir Niazi was not just a Pakistani poet. He was a major Urdu poet of the sub-continent.
    Just a couple of days back Shaukat Siddiqui died. Earlier, veteran poet Akhtar Saeed Khan died in India. Now this is another tragedy.
    Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi ka gham abhi taaza hi thaa aur Umar Ansari, Rashid Hasan Khan, Jazbi, Jagannath Azad, Irfan Siddiqui ke liye aansuu khushk nahiiN hue the ki yeh naya saaniha ho gaya….

  10. December 27th, 2006 8:09 am

    We should all be thankful to Shaan and Mobilink for teaming up and capturing the lasting image of Munir Niazi in the last year of his life.

  11. December 27th, 2006 11:17 am

    For those unable to read Urdu, here is a ‘Humaisha der kar daita houN maiN’ in Roman script:

    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    zaruurii baat kahanii ho
    koii vaadaa nibhaanaa ho
    use aavaaz denii ho
    use vaapas bulaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    madad karanii ho usakii
    yaar kii dhaa.Das ba.Ndhaanaa ho
    bahut deriinaa raasto.n par
    kisii se milane jaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    [deriinaa=very old/praachiin]

    badalate mausamo.n kii sair me.n
    dil ko lagaanaa ho
    kisii ko yaad rakhanaa ho
    kisii ko bhuul jaanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

    kisii ko maut se pahale
    kisii Gam se bachaanaa ho
    haqiiqat aur thii kuchh
    us ko jaa ke ye bataanaa ho
    hameshaa der kar detaa huu.N mai.n

  12. Adnan Ahmad says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:35 pm

    It is a sad day. In my opinion he was a complete poet. He did justice to whatever topic he wrote about whether it was classical or what people call modern. Also I liked both his ghazals and his nazms. Write now I am remembering his nazm “baaghi beta” because I heard it recently and his famous hamdiya and naatiya lines and his punjabi nazm asma mentioned above.

    jab shaam ke taaray jaaney lagein
    asaar seher ke aaney lagein
    uss waqt tum Uss ko yaad karo
    aur shaam ke khaali khaakey mein
    aur shab ke kisi elaaqey mein

  13. Adnan Ahmad says:
    December 27th, 2006 1:44 pm

    Anwar Seen Rayai wrote a terrific azaad nazm on Jon Elia’s death 4 years ago on bbc site. I am pasting that link below not becuase there is a key mention and a deep nuance about Munir Niazi or poets of his calibre in the poem but because I am sad and I think this poem could well be written about Munir Niazi.

    See link here.

  14. December 27th, 2006 1:47 pm

    26th Dec is also the death anniversary of parween shakir.

    Since we re talking about Urdu adab and associated celebrities, I would like to add that this year we have lost some great names like Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi,Ziaul Haq Qasmi,Shokat Siddiqi and now Muneer Niazi. Too much death news reminds a misra by Munir Sahib[If I am not wrong]:

    Ban Karti Auratain Ronaqain hain Maut ki

  15. December 27th, 2006 1:56 pm

    You are right this has been a sad year in terms of the loss of major literary figures of the sub-continent. The coincidence with the death anniversary of Parveen Shakir is eerie. I had missed that connection initially. Just went back and re-read the post Naveed E. had done on Parveen Shakir. Brought back even more memories flooding in.

  16. December 27th, 2006 5:47 pm

    [...] I have spent much of today reading, remembering and listening to the poetry of Munir Niazi, who died yesterday. [...]

  17. ahmed says:
    December 29th, 2006 12:35 pm

    A verse from Nasir Kazmi:
    Could be a suitable epitaph::

    Woh hijr ki raat ka sitara, woh hum naffs, hum-sukhun hamara
    Sadaa rahay uska naam pyara
    Sunna hai kal raat margya woh

  18. Ghalib says:
    December 30th, 2006 8:47 pm

    nice epitaph by ahmed!!
    a true legend is gone! Inallah Wa Inaelihi Rajion..ameen may Allah bless his soul in heavens!

    His poems “mohabat ab nai hogi” and “honi de heelay( kujh unjh we rahwan oukhiyan san)” are simply halmark of his greatness! and he knew it himself! his self belief was impacable!

    Urdu/Punjabi poetry has lost one of its torch bears a great star!!

  19. usman says:
    March 22nd, 2007 3:42 pm

    Can some one send me the whole nazm

    kujh unj we rahwaan ukihyaan sen

  20. Maddoc says:
    August 4th, 2007 8:55 am

    Hi.
    I want to know if the poem with these lines
    ‘Ainaan akhiyaan di lali dasdi ai,roy tusi wi o,roy assi wi hain’ was written Bu Munir Niazi marhum?If yes,what is the name of the book and the poem?And if not,does anyone know who wrote it?

  21. Abu Sufyan says:
    September 5th, 2007 4:36 am

    haaaa hah!!
    Maqdoor ho tu khak say poochoon k laeem!!
    Tu nay woh ganj hay giraan maya kia kiye??
    ………..Remebering Munir Niazi [the greate]
    Aik or daryaa ka samna tha munir mugh ko
    Main aik darya k paar utra tu mainay daikha

  22. zahid says:
    September 16th, 2007 12:10 pm

    bahot der kar deta hoon mein.

  23. zaidi says:
    October 30th, 2007 1:20 pm

    i lv u sir!

  24. December 26th, 2007 5:48 pm

    Today is Munir Niazi’s first death anniversary. Just as this Eid was clouded by the horrible murder of Gulgee, last years Eid was clouded by the death of this giant.

    We have added a new anniversary video at the right hand top of the page. Also, we have some memorable musharia videos of Munir Niazi here (humaisha dair kar daita houn meiN) and one of his wonderful film song (uss bewafa ka shehr) here.

    Do visit and remember this literary giant today.

  25. December 26th, 2007 5:57 pm

    zaroori baat kehni ho
    koee waada nibhana ho
    kissi ko yaad rakhna ho
    kissi ko bhool jaana ho

    hamaisha dari kar daita houN meiN

  26. -Farid says:
    September 11th, 2008 1:07 pm

    I’ve known the last two lines of the qata for years but never knew the full thing, nor who wrote it.

    I just googled for “kuch sheher de lok we zalam sun” and lo and behold ! I’m back at Pakistaniat.

    Thank you so much for this post!

  27. September 11th, 2008 9:39 pm

    hamesha dair kar daita houn mein…. is a wonderful poem. here’s my attempt at translating it in English:

    i keep delaying everything
    the thing I must say
    the promise I must obey
    the one I must call
    the one who turned away

    i keep delaying everything

    the shoulder I must offer
    the hand I must provide
    the long lost ways I must walk
    the one that I set aside

    i keep delaying everything

    the stroll in the varying seasons
    to please myself
    the remembrance of someone
    to forget someone else

    i keep delaying everything

    to save someone
    from sorrow till eternity
    to let someone know
    what was the reality

    i keep delaying everything

  28. Zia Zafir says:
    September 12th, 2008 8:09 pm

    Adil,
    The correct word is hisaab in the first misra of the following couplet.

    Kisee ko apnay amal ka (hisaab) kiya daytay,
    Sawal saray ghalat thay jawab kiya daytay

  29. fahim ch says:
    January 3rd, 2009 7:23 pm

    can any body send me the complete munir niazi punjabi nazam :kujh unj v rahwan okhian sann”

  30. Aman Tur says:
    April 28th, 2009 10:35 pm

    Adat Hi Bana Li Hai Tumne To Munir Apni,
    Jis Sehar Mein Bhi Rehna Uktaie Hue Rehna

    The first introduction of Munir Sahib was through this ghazal (Bechain Bahut Phirna..) in Ghulam Ali’s melodious voice. May Allah rest him in peace.

  31. Muneer's Fan says:
    June 25th, 2009 12:47 am

    Cohta sa ik gaon tha jis main
    diye thy kam aur bohat undhera
    bohat shajar thay thory ghar thay
    jin ko tha doori nay ghera
    itni bari tanhai thi jis main
    jagta rehta tha dil mera
    bohat qadeem faraq tha jis main
    aik mukarar had say agay
    soch na sakta tha dil mera
    aisi soorat main phir dil ko dehan ata kis Khowab main tera
    jag na sakta tha dil mera
    raz jo had say bahar main tha
    apna ap dekhata kaisy
    sapnay ki bhi had thi akhir
    sapna agay jata kesy

  32. Athar Masood says:
    December 28th, 2009 1:41 pm
  33. munir says:
    August 9th, 2010 2:35 am

    munir niazi

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