Ibn-e-Insha: nagri nagri phira musafir

Posted on February 6, 2008
Filed Under >A for [Pine]Apple, History, Humor, Poetry, Urdu
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Asma Mirza

sadd rang meri mauj hay, main tab’ey rawaa’n hoon

This verse always crosses my mind whenever the name of Ibn-e-Insha is mentioned around. A poet, columnist, humorist, and travelogue writer loved for past five decades by Urdu language readers around the globe.

I still remember the first time I got introduced to Insha Ji’s witty writings. Twelve or thirteen years back while going through my sister’s Urdu text book, I came across a lesson taken from a strangely named book “Urdu Ki Aakhri Kitab”. The name of book was catchy enough for me, I read the whole lesson within few minutes. From then on, there was no stopping to the admiration nurtured within me for this great unique writer.

Born as Sher Muhammad Khan on June 15, 1927 in Jalandhar (Indian Punjab), he did his BA from Punjab University and MA from Urdu College Karachi (Federal Urdu University of now). Then, remained associated with Radio Pakistan - a strong medium of Mass Communication in 50’s and 60’s. Later, he joined UN for some time and from that association came the travelogues widely read and liked, such as Awara Gard ki Diary, Duniya Gol Hay, Ibn e Batuta kay Taa’qub May, Chaltay ho tu Cheen ko Chaliyay and Nagri Nagri Phira Musafir.

Changing the trends of Urdu travelogue writing, he encompassed cultural trends and various interesting traits of people living all around, introduced us to Japan, UK, USA, Malaysia, Russia (Soviet Union), India, Turkey, France, China, Iran, and others, in a detailed manner; but not forgetting to maintain the humor.

Sharing an enlightening excerpt from his last travelogue “Nagri Nagri Phirra Musafir”:

His observation and the ability to capture picture-perfectly in travelogues is remarkable. I havent been to Japan, havent seen much in pictures too; still it seems a place visited.

Muhtaq Ahmad Yusufi once said of Ibn-e-Insha:

“Yah unkay mazaah ka karishma nahi’n tu kiya hay kay unhon nay al’aam e siyasat ko bhi saada dil bandon kay liyay aaasan bana diyya.”

And how true. Ibn-e-Insha wrote for masses – the common man.

Interestingly, you’ll find his prose and poetry starkly opposite to each other. The poet of famous ghazals as “Insha Ji utho Abb kooch karo” and “Kal chaudhween ki raat thi, shab bhar raha charcha tera” kept the gloom and dark side of life in his poetry. His poetry collections, Iss basti kay ikk koochay may, Chand Nagar, and Dil-e-Wahshi are filled with turns of life: flavors of love added in. A roller-coaster ride of emotions.

A poet of unique placement in Urdu Literature but when you open the prose, you will find yourself in an altogether different world. He touched common topics from my life and your life, left us to laugh for few minutes and thoughts for hours.

In Urdu ki Aakhri Kitab (which remains one of my most favorite books), he introduces us to the “geographical” situation of Pakistan like this:

ironically the research continues. We’re still facing the same challenges, and suffering from same hurdles, differences. A topic ATP has touched and discussed at length in previous many months. I wonder if Ibn-e-Insha was foreseeing the destabilized nation and country.

Moving on to another excerpt (from Khumar-e-Gandum), a research associate once asked Ibn-e-Insha about his Family Tree (shajrah-e-nasb) and that’s what he tells:

In Nagri Nagri Phira Musafir, Ibn-e-Insha’s last of the books, his last letter to his readers is also included. Khalid Hasan, one of his friends and renowned columnist, shares it like this:

“The other day, we had barely had that tube they have stuck in our nostrils taken out, when in walked Faiz sahib who is in London. If there was to be some certainty that Faiz sahib will come to look you up, that is reason enough to undergo an operation … There is nothing to surgery these days. Even if you don’t need it, doctors perform it out of a sense of fun. There was this gentleman with a cough who went to pick up a linctus. The doctor operated his calf instead. And while it is true that the pain in his calf became a permanent feature thereafter, the cough disappeared completely … There is an array of buttons at the bottom of our bed about whose precise use we remain in the dark. Whenever we have attempted to push one of them, the result has invariably been contrary to what we intended. Often, by mistake when we press something, a machine comes to life. Result? The head gets lowered while our feet point skywards. This is a veritable devil’s workshop. In our hospitals at home, all they have is a simple winding mechanism. Even more surefire is the method whereby a couple of bricks are placed under the feet of the end that needs to be raised. In the event that no bricks are at hand, books can do nicely. Under one foot of the bed you have ‘Behishti Zaiwar’ and under the other ‘Alipur ka Aili’. Obviously books have their uses.”

Insha in Zia Moheyuddin‘s voice …!

As, I’m writing this post, my mind’s filtering a fortune of his writings, different angles to life in his perception and the way pen related it to us; all that I want to share here but I’m afraid Ibn e Insha is too giant of a personality to be covered in one single post. His columns written in 60’s and 70’s stand firm even now, telling the same day-to-day problems a common Pakistani faces.

Decades passed, new generation grew up in the country, read his book and thought the same way. It’s interesting for every generation when they find how the writer had written something that fits the current situation in the country. Since 70’s, so many things have changed in our country: the ever-rising poverty line, out of reach commodity prices, differences in name of religion and faiths, social frustration. Still, not to forget so many positive things that have changed the outlook of Pakistan; the infrastructural advancements, varying industries, telecom boom, flourishing IT, competent financial institutions. Our generation, though decades old, extracts the same essence from his writings. Look around the social or political problems in Pakistan, it seems everything is in stand-sill state.

Its utter hard for anyone to do justice with his poetry and prose in one post. His humor with a unique flavor of satire, undoubtedly, moves your heart in a strange way. Richness of his thoughts and sheer simplicity to reflect them makes Insha what he was and what he is now. By reading him, I met a Pakistani, who gets saddened at the same reasons I find disturbing but Ibn e Insha had the knack to wrap the bitter in sweet. Ending on his dua :

Ya Allah! Khanay ko Roti Day
Pahananay Ko kapra day
rahnay ko Makaan day
Izzat aur Assodgi ki zindagi day
Mian Yah bhi koi manganay ki cheez hay,
Khuch aur maanga kar!
Baba ji aap kiya mangatay hain?
May yah cheezein nahi mangata.
May tu kahta hoon Allah miyan mujhay Iiman day,
naik amal karnay ki tofeeq day!
Baba ji aap theek maangtay hain
Insaan wohi cheez tu mangta hay
Jo uskay paas nahi hoti.

37 Comments on “Ibn-e-Insha: nagri nagri phira musafir

  1. Owais Mughal says:
    February 6th, 2008 1:03 am

    my favourite line from one of Ibn-e-Insha books is:

    “aasmaan pe taaray aisay chaaye hoay the jaisay …..akhbaar meiN matric ka result shaaya hoa ho”

    :) I find the tashbeeh of ‘stars in the sky’ with ‘thousands of passing seat numbers’ published in a newspaper as matric result toooooo hilarious

  2. temporal says:
    February 6th, 2008 1:32 am


    what a wonderful tribute to one of the great humorists in Urdu after ahmed shah patras bukhari

    as mushtaque ahmed yusufi wrote:

    bichchoo ka kaata rOta aur saaNp ka kaat sOta hay. inshaji ka kaata sOtay maiN muskurata bhee hay!

  3. February 6th, 2008 2:05 am

    A great tibute to one of the most humorist writer of Urdu. I like him very much especially his ghazal
    Inshaa Ji Uthoo
    ab kooch karo
    is shar mein dil ka lagana kia

  4. Aadil says:
    February 6th, 2008 5:46 am

    It is heartening to see this post in remeberance of one of the greatest literary talent of yesteryears in Pakistan.
    Quite an informative peice! Well done Asma and ATP!

  5. Junaid says:
    February 6th, 2008 7:15 am


    Thanks for the wonderful article.

    Can you also please write a review on Patras Bukhari. He is my all time favourite.

    Kind Regards


  6. February 6th, 2008 7:16 am

    He was a great man

  7. shahran says:
    February 6th, 2008 7:39 am

    Ibne Insha was one of the leading humorist of urdu. Although he was passed long before I was able to read his books, I remembered him from quite early because he was the father of my friend and the teachers used to refer him INSHA jee’s son so he used to get quite an attention in our class. I even visited his house once in Allama Iqbal Town Karachi when I was in school and still remember “Chand Nagar” inscribed in the front of his house.

    Urdu ki Akhri kitab is still quite valid and in perspective with the current situation prevailing in Pakistan.

  8. Shahran says:
    February 6th, 2008 8:40 am

    Here is a link where you can read a book which has collection of Ibne Insha’s weekly columns.


    We have consolidated a wide collection of Urdu links where you can read books starting from Kulyiaat-e-Akbar Illahabadi to Deputy Nazeer Ahmed to Mumtaz Mufti, Ibne Insha and Qamar Ali Abbasi
    visit us here: http://abnchicago.org/hotlinks.html

  9. Adnan Ahmad says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:00 am

    Bas aik motee si chab dikha ker bas aik meethi si dhun suna ker
    Sitaara’ya shaam bun kai aayaa barang-e-khaab-e-seher guya wo

  10. Asma says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:01 am

    Thanks a lot everyone for liking the post … its utterly hard to sum up the literary brilliance of Insha ji in one post …. just managed to touch some.

    You can see some of his works on my blog, Bayaaz, too.

  11. Asma says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:03 am

    corr: the category Ibn e Insha.

  12. Owais Mughal says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:13 am

    Junaid, we had an earlier post on Patras Bukhari which can be seen here.

  13. Owais Mughal says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:20 am

    Shahran, where is Allama Iqbal town? Somehow I thought Ibn-e-Insha lived in Paposh Nagar. Are these two localities the same or nearby?

  14. Ayaz Siddiqui says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:35 am

    Jamiluddin Aali once correctly remarked that we have not yet understood the place of Insha Jee in urdu adab. The quality of his humor and the depth of his poetry make him a giant among a lot of minions. Usually we just regard him as a humor writer but his poetry is among one of the most romantic poetry i read in urdu. Than Baghdad ki eik raat and yeh bacha kis ka bacha hai are one of the finest examples of political poetry. But this was not his field. He still remains one of the finest romantic poet of Urdu.

  15. Shahran says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:37 am

    Owais ,

    Allama Iqbal Town is on the border of North Nazimabad /Paposh Nagar, it is actually North Nazimabad Block “W”.

    If you go towards the Banaras Chowk from Nazimabad bridge, his house was on the last lane on our left hand side before the Roundabout.

  16. Owais Mughal says:
    February 6th, 2008 10:42 am

    Shahran. makes sense :) It is on the fringes of Paposh Nagar.

  17. February 6th, 2008 11:02 am

    great :) I have also read “insha ji utho” in my text books.

  18. February 6th, 2008 2:11 pm

    What about ‘sab maaya hai’ – just magic I say.

  19. temporal says:
    February 6th, 2008 2:51 pm

    asma i went to your blog

    no mushtaque yusufi there?

  20. February 6th, 2008 4:00 pm

    His nasr is excellent and quite witty, but I tend to think his poetry is just something else, but I might be in a minority here.. Thanks for an excellent piece on Inshaa Ji

  21. Darwaish says:
    February 6th, 2008 5:02 pm

    What an excellent article on Insha Ji. Kia yaad kara diya Asma ;).

    More than 15 years ago, my father got me Chalte Ho To Cheen Ko Chalaye and after that I must have read almost everything that Insha Ji wrote ;). A small book with red cover.

    I also think that Insh Ji’s poetry got far less appreciation than it deserved. Even today, most people know him through his nasr, travelogues mainly, and know very little about his wonderful poetry.

    Insha Ji Utho sung by Ustaad Amanat Ali Khan is one of my all time favorites. You can never get tired of listening to it.

  22. Zia says:
    February 6th, 2008 7:01 pm

    Good one Asma!. I am a fan of Insha from childhood when I read ‘Urdu ki Aakhri Kitaab’. He was as good in travelogue as he was in humor or emotional poetry. I think in Insha’s period Pakistan’s literary scene was so rich and even then he stood out as a multi dimensional personality.

    About Columbus discovering America he wrote “…agar yeh ghalti thee tou buhat sangeen ghalti thee. Columbus tou mur gaya, us ka khamyaza hum bhugut rahey hein” :-D

  23. Yasir Aziz says:
    February 7th, 2008 4:30 am

    Well done Asma. A very nice piece of article on Insha Ji. In fact I am a fan of him because of his poetry. He is mind blowing in poetry. May be majority of poeple don’t agree with me, but my perception is based on my thinking.

    Here is example of some of his mind blowing pieces:

    Kal ham ne sapna dekha hai
    jo apna ho naheen sakta, Us sakhs ko apna dekha hai…………

    Sab maya hai.
    Is ishq mein hum ne kia khoya aur kia paya hai.
    Sab maya hai.

    Kal chawdvein ke raat thee…….

    and most importantly

    Insha jee utho ab kooch karo……

    Hats off to Insha Jee.

  24. Fakhar says:
    February 7th, 2008 4:58 am

    Kamal, Out Class

  25. AHsn says:
    February 7th, 2008 10:59 am

    “What about

  26. MK says:
    February 7th, 2008 3:28 pm

    Interesting post. I think Insha Ji is a prolific writer and his service in terms of his writing is huge to this nation and the language.

  27. sidhas says:
    February 7th, 2008 10:19 pm


    Ibne Insha ka naam muskurahat bekhair daite hai.

    Shukria yaad taaza karnay ka.

  28. Sajid says:
    February 10th, 2008 1:12 am

    Qateel Shifaai paid tribute to Insha Ji after his death…. and what a good tribute

    Yeh kis nay kaha tum kooch karo baatain na banao Insha Ji
    Yeh shehar tumhara aapna hai isay chor na jao Insha Ji

    Is phoolon jaisi basti main kis shaay ki kami mehsoos hoi
    kiyon chand nagar ko jatay ho itna to batao Insha Ji

    tum lakh siyahat kay ho dhani ik baat hamari bhi mano
    koi ja kay jahan say aata nahin us des na jao Insha Ji

    Bikhrate ho sona harfon ka tum chandi jaisay kaghaz par
    phir un main apnay zakhmon ka mat khot milao Insha Ji

    Ik raat to kiya woh hashar talak rakhay gi khula darwazay ko
    kab laut kay tum ghar aao gay sajni ko batao Insha Ji

  29. shahnawaz says:
    June 3rd, 2008 7:19 am

    Dear Asma jee.
    I write jee, because he was Insha jee , and you will be Asma jee,
    He was written for all but you wrote on him,
    No doubt that Insha jee was a great poet and writer, and if someone write on him, be very little, because he was so great.
    He is and will alive forever in our hearts.
    I appreciate you also.

  30. Ayaz K. says:
    June 23rd, 2008 9:09 pm

    An ardent fan of Ibn-e-Insha humor here.

    Where can I get all of those books written by Insha? — I am going to scour Amazon.com and other Urdu sites in the quest of those publications.

    Thanks for publishing this article.

  31. November 7th, 2008 5:55 am

    INSHA CHACHA ki baatein kar ke aap logon ne humein kiya kiya yaad na dilaya!
    Mere waled ne unke intiqaal ke baad…kuch ash’aar INSHA CHACHA ki nazar youn keeay;


    aur meri selection INSHA CHACHA ke bohat se sunheiri paroun mein se…ye hai jisse Nayyara ne bohat hee khubsoorti gaya bhi hai;

    IBNE INSHA’s classic geet;

    Jallay to jalao gori
    Peet ka allao gori
    Abhi na bhujhao gori……..
    Abhi se bhjhao naa
    Abhi se bhjhao naa
    Jallay to jalao gorieee

    Peet mai bijog bhi hai
    Kamna ka sog bhi hai
    Peet bura rog bhi hai………
    Galay to lagao naa
    Galay to lagao naa
    Jallay to jalao gorieee

    Raat ko udas dekhain
    Chand ko niras dekhain
    Tumhain jo na pas dekhain……..
    Aao pas aao naa
    Aao pas aao naa
    Jallay to jalao gorieee

    Aur bhi hazar hon gay
    Jo kay dawaedaar hongay
    Ap peh nisaar hon gay…….
    Kabhi azmao naa
    Kabhi azmao naa
    Jallay to jalao gorieeee

    Sheher mai nazeer thehre
    Jog mai kabeer thehre
    Kabhi se faqeer thehre……….
    Aur jee lagao naa
    Aur jee lagao naa
    Jallay to jalao gorieeeee

    Jallay to jalao gori
    Peet ka allao gori
    Abhi na bhujhao gori…….
    Abhi se bhujao na
    Abhi se bhujhao na.

  32. Fraz Tajammul says:
    November 20th, 2008 4:35 pm

    @ Thanks a lot Sajid for sharing. What a beautiful tribute by Qateel Shafai.

  33. annie says:
    February 17th, 2009 3:20 pm

    well done Asma….Insha jee is definitely a writer worth reading and worth loving be it his poetry,travelogues,columns.

    I am looking for an english translation of his last poem Ab umar ki naqdi khatam hui, can you help??

    many thanks

  34. asif khan says:
    May 6th, 2009 3:19 pm

    im really glad that still we have such people who knows about these great writers, i would like to share one thing with you , whenever i read khumare gandum i smile and laugh somtimes which seems like abnormal…. but what to do you cannot controle when you read IBN E INSHA
    thanks alot for giving us such valuable info about my favourite person

  35. August 7th, 2009 5:09 pm

    I heard someone raising a question ” Ibn Insha is a great writer and poet. Will somebody tell me why his writings are humorous while poems are ‘Udass’”

    Ibn-e-Insha is one of the best–a writer of great elegance and charm. He maintains his uniqueness in both prose and poetry. Urdu language is fortunate to have writers/humorists like A.S. Patras Bukhari, Dr Shafiq-ur-Rahman, Ibn-e-Insha and Mushtaq Ahmed Yousefi. No doubt that all of them are wonderful and at the same time distinctively different.

    I have read all writings (prose) of Ibn-e-Insha and found them perfectly rounded. Nonetheless, I have never been a big fan of his poetry; not tht I don’t like it but to me it seemed like that was not in his specific province. He can easily be compared with Ahmed Nadeem Qasimi who is originally an ‘afsana-nigar’ but wrote poetry too. His poetry did not get much attention despite it carried great sensibility and themes. Even some great poets of his time including Faiz did not consider him a poet. So, when it comes to Ibn-e-Insha, I think his poetry comes second to his prose. I would see it like grafting wings on to a creature that had been planned for walking only.

    Why Insha ji’s prose and poetry are so opposite to each other. I think this is a good topic to research by looking at his personality, his personal circumstances and then domestic scenes. I observed that too but never went further to investigate. Maybe some people did and found the reasons as to this difference. To me Insha ji is a serious person who turned to create humour in his writings, which he did to a perfect degree of subtlety. He, then chose poetry to express the real of him, an ‘udaas’ person. He added slightly unique diction (in his time) as he followed the diction and style of Amir Khusro rather than led in the field of poetry. He is almost certainly the only modern poet to create a distinctive diction of ancient classical Hindi-Urdu complex of languages.

    I see Insha ji as a ‘private poet’ like Jaun Elia (not comparing the poetry of the two). As with the Jaun, with the exception of a few pieces his most of the poetry was published after his death. If I remember correctly his first book was published when he was 58. Obviously he suffered from some complex or inhibition with regard to the publication of his poetry and therefore desisted from having it printed. The case of Insha is different when it comes to publication but if we group most of his poems under different headings we not only see the sadness in him but also some inhibition. One searches in vain for the more particular signs of romance and philosophy in the poetry of Ibn-e-Insha, they are not particularly found. Romance and poetic philosophy in the traditional sense at least, is not his special gift. Though his poetry is distinctive as regards its technique. His technique may be considered under different heads the use of words, metrical and rhyme patterns.

    To his prose I would say no other last century Urdu writer, neither Majeed Lahori nor Yousefi (etc.) ever equalled the writings of Insha. Patras Bukhari was of course a different ‘animal’.

    Note: The above post contains my personal opinion and is not backed by any research study. It is based on my limited knowledge and understanding of literature. Please feel free to correct me.

    Kind Regards,
    Faisal Hanif

    Guzergah-e-Khayal Urdu Forum

  36. Owais Mughal says:
    August 7th, 2009 6:43 pm

    Faisal Haneef Saheb, thanks for sharing analysis on Ibn-e-Insha here. i find your comment very informative.

  37. September 21st, 2009 12:54 pm

    Thank you Owais Mughal Saheb for liking my article on Insha ji.

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