Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi

Posted on June 20, 2009
Filed Under >Shahran Asim, Art & Literature, Humor, People, Urdu
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Shahran Asim

Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi is one of the most famous humorist and a humanist from Pakistan. The subtlety of his satire laced with an unlaboured and chaste Urdu idiom is his speciality that distinguishes him from others in the field.

A couple of months ago, he was in New York. He was invited as the keynote speaker in an event organized by Aligarh Alumni, USA. Since I have been an avid reader of his books therefore I always had this image of him in my mind that he must be a very talkative and witty person. Somebody, who could never be forced to keep quite. But when I met him that evening , my first impression of him was of extreme modesty. He came across as a very sober person to me. When he started his talk, there were a number of moments where his humor did its usual cut and the audience were split into smiles and laughter. I observed that whenever his humor got closer to crossing the thin line of vulgarity, Yousufi saheb masterfully dusguised it with his choice of literary words such that the meaning stayed intact but created huge giggles among the audience.

What do others have to say about him?

Ibn-i-Insha, who was himself a great Urdu satirist and humourist, wrote about Yousufi Sahib:

…if ever we could give a name to the literary humour of our time, then the only name that comes to mind is that of Yousufi!

Another scholar, Dr Zaheer Fatehpuri, wrote:

We are living in the ‘Yousufi era’ of Urdu literary humour…

As Zamir Badayuni says in his artilcle on Yousufi:

Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi is basically a humorist who plays with the language and paints a picture of man, decentralized and imperfect. He combines all the styles, pre-modern, modern and post-modern. Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui is pre-modern; Pitras is modern and Yusufi is post-modern. Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui generally writes on cultural trends and style of living such as Tanga and Charpai. The language used by him is narrative and he paints the picture of our society in a very realistic way and without exaggeration. But his keen observation presents minute details with photographic details. He always tries to avoid the language of the masses or the language of the man in the street. Literary language is different from masses’ expressions. He writes in an elevated language full of literary references but he does not peep into the depths and social behaviours of man. But his humorous writings contain literary values.

Modern humour writing begins with Pitrus Bokhari. He writes light essays and uses elevated modernized language. He is a modern humour writer influenced by western literature and not deeply rooted in our culture. His light essays such as Bicycle, Lahore ka Geographia and other essays present his individualized style different from other humorists. However, he is a significant writer who will be regarded as a modernist in the history of Urdu Literature.

Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi is a humorist with unified sensibility. He combines pre-modern, modern and post-modern sensibility in such a way that no other writer can paint the picture of man and society as he has painted it. His objects of humour are man, society and nature. From Charagh Talay to Aab-e-Gum, we have the best humour available in recent times.


Born in Tonk State in Rajhastan in 1923.

Son of Abdul Karim Khan Yousufi, chairman of the Jaipur Municipality, and later Speaker of the Jaipur Legislative Assembly.


Intermediate, Rajputana and Central India Board of Education;

B.A., Agra University;

M.A. in Philosophy, Muslim University, Aligarh. LLB, Aligarh.

Banking career:

Joined Muslim Commercial Bank in 1950, became Deputy General Manager.

Joined Allied Bank Ltd in 1965 as Managing Director.

In 1974 he became President of United Bank Ltd.

In 1977 became Chairman of the Pakistan Banking Council.

Awarded Quaid-i-Azam Memorial Medal for distinguished services in banking.

His Books:

(1) Charagh talay (1961),
(2) Khakam ba dahn (1969),
(3) Zarguzasht (1976) and
(4) Aab-i-gum (1990).

First two won Adamjee Prize, while last one got the Hijra Award as well as Pakistan Academy of Letters Award for the best book, 1990.

He was also awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz.

The Yousufi era started in with his first book Charagh talay . So far 11 editions of this book have appeared. It has a foreword titled ‘pehla pathhar’ written by the author himself plus 12 satirical and humorous articles.

Yousufi Sahib’s second book was Khakim ba-dahn which was dedicated to his wife, Idrees Fatema. So far 14 editions of this book have been printed. It has eight articles, in addition to a foreword written by the author.

A few lines from this book:

“…No sooner had I received the salary, I bought grocery and other items for the household so that the dog I had brought home could guard these items. For us parents I pointed out the advantage of having a dog by submitting that after all it was an Englishman’s dog… even an illiterate person in our country gives an English name to his dog and always calls him or reprimands him in English, therefore, it was obvious that because of this dog our children would learn English!”

Yousufi’s third book Zarguzasht has 11 articles in addition to the foreword titled, ‘Tuzk-i-Yousufi’.

His fourth book, Aab-i-gum is dedicated to his children, Arshad, Sarosh, Rukhsana and Seema. It runs into 404 pages and has five articles, in addition to the foreword.

On His Personal Life:

Yousufi Sahib does not like to talk about his personal life. At best he would share his bio-data with you! In an interview given in 1995 (published in the book Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi – Charagh talay se Aab-i-gum tak by Tariq Habeeb) he says:

If an author has to say something he should say it in his writings. If he cannot do that, then he is useless and not fit for an interview! How can you judge my writings by knowing what I wore on Eid and what are my favourite dishes?

Let me quote some lines at random from this book.

On his indifferent health:

This is the first time in recent months when a doctor present here has not asked me to undress. They carried out 26 medical tests for several health conditions on me a few weeks ago. I tested positive for all. Pregnancy was just about the only condition they didn’t test me for.

On aging:

At my age a man has usually known all kinds of pain, save labour. The generation I belong to was raised believing that it was your elders’ prayers that caused childbirth. In England, aged 60, I discovered they put on adult programmes on TV after 9pm. Pity, I didn’t know that a decade earlier. What I saw, however, reminded me of the only lessons I got in human anatomy and biology as a little boy from the curse words adults used back home.

On gender bias in Urdu poetry:

It’s unfair to judge a literary genre out of its context. Consider a politically correct version of Momin’s famous couplet: Tum mere paas hoti ho goya/ jab koi doosri nahin hoti’ (you are in my thoughts only when others (girls) are not).

On changing values:

‘Hafiz Jallundhri has wisely said: ye ajab marhala-i-umr hai ya Rab ke mujhe/ har buri baat buri nazar aati hai’ (At this strange juncture in life, every vice appears just that).

We are lucky indeed to be living in the Yousufi era!


The biography of Mushtaq Ahmed Yusufi has been written by “Tariq Habib” namely “Yusufiat” and published by “Dost Publications”.

Video Collection:




Zia Mohiuddin reads Yousufi on Pariye gar beemar

Audio Collection:

Yousufi on Bank
Here is the complete Complete audio of 45 mins of Yousufi Sahib event in NY

Photo Credits: M. Kamran at Flickr

21 Comments on “Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi”

  1. June 20th, 2009 4:03 am

    wow, atta post. Yes Yousafi is a master, and we are living in the Yousafi age of Urdu humor.

  2. shbn says:
    June 20th, 2009 4:05 am

    I must have read all of his books atleast three times.

    Great post and good to know that he’s doing well. One of the best urdu writers of our times.

  3. NARGIS says:
    June 20th, 2009 6:17 am

    He is an amazing writer and I laugh out loud justing thinking of his lines. Did not know that he was such a distinguished banker. Good post.

  4. June 20th, 2009 8:47 am

    Some comments left on this post at the ATP Facebook Page:

    - “great urdu scholar :)”
    - “One of those who have dedicatedly worked for URDU language. A great scholar n a visionary one”
    - “ache logo ki humre haa bohat kami hai…”
    - “aese he logo ne urdu ko hamesha zinda rakha hai….”
    - “Mushtaq Ahmed Yousafi n Admiral Shafiq-ur-Rehman. Best.”
    - “the great person”

  5. Nouman Alvi says:
    June 20th, 2009 10:41 am

    Yousufi Sahib is among the dying breed of proper , thorough gentleman which have been a treasure for Urdu. An ex ICS officer who chose to migrate to Pakistan and started from scratch.His was a career banker and leads a very quiet life– More than his literary skills , its the class of people and values , represented by him, which are non existent today.

    His books Khakum Badhan , Chiragh Talay and Zarghazishist and last but not the least Ab-e-gum are more than classics. He leaves Patras, Col. Khan , and others light years behind. The other humourists ( with due appologies) appear juvenile once you have read Yousafi.

    I have been reading them for the last 20 years now and taken them on person from Karachi to each and every single country I have moved. Once, when I had to dump some weight to catch a flight, I chose to throw some of my expensive medical books than part with my Yousafi Collection!!!!

    Its been more than 18 years since his last master piece Ab-e-Gum was published . Legend goes that he writes a book and puts it in the ‘palna’ for ten years to look it in the light of the day —-By that measure, we are late by eight years. May he live forever, but realistically this would be his last book and the ‘gold standard’ for urdu humour and satire for the future.

    I thought, I just could not , NOT , say anything about Yousafi Sahib—so thats my two cent.

  6. MQ says:
    June 20th, 2009 11:41 am

    I watched the videos. Simply hilarious!!!

  7. Ejaz says:
    June 20th, 2009 6:10 pm

    Great writer and great videos. Had never heard him speak. Is even more funny when he reads his stuff. Thank you for posting.

  8. Adnan Ahmad says:
    June 20th, 2009 10:46 pm

    There are now legends about his humor. One needs days to write a post on him but these four videos suffice as they show the depth of his lines. He is quite accurate on Jaun and there isn’t any exaggeration. Just the other day a friend was recalling how he flunked his college exam as he couldn’t wait to finish Yousafi’s book released a couple of days before the test.

  9. Owais Mughal says:
    June 20th, 2009 10:49 pm

    Shahran, Since yesterday I’ve watched these 4 videos atleast five to six times. Thank you.

  10. Shahran says:
    June 20th, 2009 11:51 pm

    Here is some more of Yousufi Sahib,

    Please listen this script from Mr. Yousufi at a brunch gathering arranged by Urdu Writers Society, Inc. (Los Angeles at Mr. Saad Shafi’s residence) on the selection of Khansama or “Cook”

  11. Shahran Asim says:
    June 21st, 2009 12:14 am

    I think Urdu Markaz Los Angeles must be given credit who presented this complete event on the web. I must say that the experience of attending Yousufi Sahib’s event was really remarkable and unexplainable.\

    Here the remaining parts of the event posted in the original blog.

    Part 6:

    Part 7 :

    Part 8 :

    Part 9 :

    Part 10 :

    On Karachi one of my favourite excerpts.

    Part 11:

  12. Parveen Ali says:
    June 21st, 2009 5:02 am

    Absolutely delightful. Brought back memories of his books and his crisp humour. And hearing him in the videos is a great treat.

  13. BaaZauq says:
    June 22nd, 2009 3:39 am

    I have started a blog on selected essays/quotes of Yousufi saheb. Check it here please:

  14. Wadood says:
    June 22nd, 2009 4:46 am

    I am so glad to find that he is still active and writing. I have not seen a new book from him for ages. Does anyone know if he has published anything recently.

  15. Nadeem says:
    June 22nd, 2009 7:09 am

    Aab E Gum, published in 1990, after this master piece, (infect the most rich and influential Urdu prose to date) nothing has been seen from Yousfi Sahib.. I think he has good family planning sense as there is always wise and width gape among all his books but this time he is really tasting our patience..

  16. Yasir Malik says:
    June 23rd, 2009 7:26 am

    Thanks for posting this. I am a big fan of him ever since he spoke at the convocation of our university LUMS in 2004.

  17. S.A.Jafri says:
    June 24th, 2009 11:51 pm

    I am glad to note that you posted it.
    Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi’s Grand services to Urdu language and Urdu literature are apprecited by all.
    I am happy to say that at the request of renowned urdu poetess,writer,organiser of the international literary functions/jashns Sabiha Saba ( chief editor of world’s largest urdu website : Urdu Manzil ) , the great writer Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi participated in the grand jashn e Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi by PAD Dubai in March , 2009.

    Saghier Ahmed Jafri
    Tel. # 00971 50 4454036

  18. June 25th, 2009 5:23 am

    Please read the second paragraph as under:-

    Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi

  19. June 25th, 2009 10:44 am

    For the interest of the Lovers of “URDU” who are always cooperating with us in Promotion of Urdu all over the World,please note that two very Important and Interesting “ADABI JASHN” or JASHNS were held in the Dubai (UAE) during the months of January and March , 2009.
    These were :-
    (1) – Jashn e Mushtaq Ahmad Yousufi – PAD (Jan. 09)

    (2)- Jashn e Farhat – Urdu Manzil (March , 09)

    During the year 2009 another ADABI JASHN and presentation of the Urdu Manzil Adabi Award in the UAE has been planned by Saghier Jafri and Sabiha Saba during their recent visit to Pakistan.

    For it,details will be announced after returning back to Dubai in early July , 2009.

  20. asad says:
    February 9th, 2010 8:47 am

    it was excellent …..
    thanks to Shahran Asim .

    thanks to your website as well…
    you people are really working on urdu…

    thank you very much.

  21. March 22nd, 2010 11:36 pm

    Dear Lovers of URDU Language and Dear Lovers of URDU Literature !
    You will be pleased to note that after the two Important ADABI/LITERARY JASNS in DUBAI :-

    “”Jahsn e Mushatq Ahmed Yousufi”"

    Saghier Ahmed Jafri

    “”Jashn e Farahat Parveen”" ,

    there will be another JASHN :-

    “”JASHN e AYUB KHAWAR , Presentation of Urdu Manzil Adabi/Literary Award to Ayub Khawar from Pakistan for his grand services for Urdu language and Urdu literature and Aalmi/ International Mushairah (Pakistani,American,Indian URDU poets,writers)in honor of Ayub”" in Bur Dubai Al Ibrahimi Restaurant on 25th. March , 2010 at 8 pm.

    The President of the Grand Jashn e Ayub Khawer will be Renowned writer,poetess Farhat Parveen from USA and Compere will be Renowned poetess,writer,journalist,editor Sabiha Saba who lives in the UAE and the organizers are Saghier Jafri , Sabiha Saba (Editor & Chief Editor of World’s Largest URDU website : Urdu Manzil :

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