Ali ibn Abu Talib says:
“A man can be judged by his words.”
And that is what this site is all about… It judges Mir Babar Ali Anees the man who awarded the title of Khuda-e-Sukhan, the Creator of words.
Indeed, some readers will reckon that Mir Anees can be judged as the best poet in the Urdu language only, however that is a shortsighted view of this great man’s phenomenal and unparalleled feat with words.
Poetry is not only about language, its about the perfect balance between each and every line that is composed. Thorough poetry is the beauty that originates in the flow of the words when they are read out… the rhythmic sounds that enter the heart through the ears.
A passionate fan of Mir Anees said about his poetry, “It seems as though my heart has tasted honey, a heavenly drink, through my ears.” Sometimes people do not understand the rare words used by Mir Anees in his poem, but satisfy the thirst of eloquence and elocution by just listening to the rhythm of his flowing words.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (First Prime Minister of India) had once said that Mir Anees was his essential reading on the day of Ashura only to let him shed more of his insularity.
According to Shibli Nomani no other poet has used as many words in their poetry as Mir Anees. And this doesn’t apply to urdu poets only. It applies to poets of all languages. Shibli Nomani also says that the poetic qualities and merits of Anees are not matched by any other poet.
Josh Maliahabadi has paid a rich tribute to Meer Anees in poetry. He says:
Teri har mouj-e-nafas rooh-ul-amee’n ki jaa’n hai
tu meri urdu zubaa’n ka bolta Qura’n hai
Every breath of yours is the life of Gabrielle
You are the speakin Quran of the urdu language
Even though most of the non-Urdu speaking nations will not understand his speech. For the beauty of his melodic poems will be like the pleasant sound of a flowing rivulet, that relaxes the body and soul of the listener.
Mir Babar Ali Anees, a Musavi sayyed i.e. decendent of the 7th Holy Imam Hazrat Moosa Kazim(as), belonged to a family of poets. In his book ‘Khandaan- e-Mir Anees ke Naamwar Sho’ara’ (Famous Poets from the family of Mir Anees), Sayyed Zamer Akhtar Naqvi has listed twenty-two poets from Mir Anees’ family and their poetry. Mir Anees was a fifth generation poet and he has mentioned this fact in the first stanza of his famous marsiya “Namak-e-Khwaan-e-Takallum hai Fasaahat meri.” He says:
Namak-e-Khwaan-e-Takallum hai Fasaahat meri
Naatqein band hai’n sun sun ke balaaghat meri
Rang udte hain wo rangee’n hai ibarat meri
Shor jiska hai wo darya hai tabeeyat meri
Umr guzri hai isi dasht ki saiyaahi mei’n
Paanchvi pusht hai Shappir ki maddaahi mei’n
My eloquence is the salt of the food of thought
The eloquents are mute when my style they hear
Fly colours when the colour of my ink I jot
The sound of the seas are my ideas clear
Hunting in this forest (for words) spent life I mine
Praising Hussain, fifth in progeny line
Mir Anees’ father, Mir Khaleeq who was a famous poet and litterateur, took personal interest in the education and upbringing of his son, and entrusted him to the care of reputed contemporary teachers, Mir Najaf Ali Faizabadi and Maulvi Hyder Ali Lucknavi. In addition, Anees's mother who was an educated and pious lady, played a significant role in shaping the personality of the boy poet. But above all, it was the boy's own instinctive urge for learning and literature that made him an accomplished poet, proficient in Arabic and Persian scriptures, and well-versed in logic, literature and philosophy. Poetry came to him as ancestral heritage, for his forbears, going back to his great grandfather, were eminent poets and men of letters. Mir Anees was the grandson of Mir Hasan who is remembered for his immortal Masnavi, Sehir-ul-Bayaan. Mir Zaahak, great grandfather of Mir Anees, was also a poet. Mir Anees has mentioned him in the verse below as Jadd-e-Aali. Other poets from his family are his uncles, his father Mir Khaleeq’s brothers, Mir Khulq and Mir Makhlooq. Mir Anees’ younger brothers Mir Uns and Mir Monis too were known for their marsiyas. Mir Anees groomed his sons into fine poets. Their names are Mir Raees, Mir Nafees and Mir Salees. Among his nephews Mir Waheed, son of Mir Uns, was famous. His parents had migrated in their old age to Lucknow, where he spent the best part of his life. Mir Anees was very proud of his family. In the same marsiya he praises his. He says:
Is sanakhwaa’n ke buzurgo’n mei’n hai’n kya kya maddaah
Jadd-e-Aali se na hoga koi aala maddaah
Baap maddaah ka maddaah hai, dada maddaah
Um zee qadr sanakhwaano’n mei’n yakta maddaah
Jo inaayaat-e-Ilahi se hua naik hua
Naam badhta gaya jab aik ke baad aik hua
Great appraisers in the sires of this appraiser
Greater than great grandfather is no appraiser
Father appraiser of appraiser, grandfather appraiser
Uncle of all great appraisers, unique appraiser
By Your mercy O’Lord every scion was born good
More the name famed when one after another stood
Bhai Khush Fikrat o Khush Lehja o Paakeeza Khisaal
Jin ka seena gauhar-e-ilm se hai maala maal
Ye fasaahat, ye balaahagt, ye salaasat, ye kamaal
Maujiza gar na ise kahiye to hai seher-e-halaal
Apne mauqe pe jise dekhiye la-saani hai
Lutf Hazrat ka ye hai rehmat-e-Yazdaani
Great thinker with grand accent pure charactered Brother!
With a chest full of pearls of wisdom and treasures other
This eloquence, this wonder like him couldn't be another
If not miracle then call it permissible magic rather
Each one is matchless in a way of his very own
This is the love of Hussain, mercy of Allah we’re shown
Mir Anees had started writing poetry quite early in his life right at Faizabad, though he perfected his art in Lucknow under the supervision of Imam Baksh Nasikh. In fact his first sher came as a child when he was weeping inconsolably at the death of his pet goat. Like all small children he loved his pets very much. With tears in his eyes and his father trying to pacify him, he said:
Afsos ke duniya se safar kar gayi bakri
Aankhe’ to khuli reh gayi’n aur mar gayi bakri
Alas, has left this world my dear goat, but do you note?
The eyes are still open and is dead my goat, O’ how I dote!
(Note: When a goat dies, its eyes remain open) He was about four years old when he said this.
Mir Anees did initially write a few ghazals, but changed over, on his father’s advice, to the writing of marsias. This advice turned out to be a blessing in disguise because Mir Anees established the highest possible reputation in this domain equaled by none else. Anees broadened the scope of this genre by including in its body, in addition to the customary lamentation and mourning, realistic scenes of the battlefield, graphic delineations of the hero's face and physique, lively portrayals of the emotional states of the combatants, accurate descriptions of the landscape, and occasional interludes of moral edification. Anees was a master of simple, natural utterance, with a superb command on the language, which was always adequate to express a large variety of moods, scenes, characters and situations. He is specially notable for presenting the same scene or situation, over and over again, in different words or phrases, without letting it appear monotonous. Besides being a master of the marsia, Anees was also a specialist of the rubai, the shortest complete poem in Urdu, containing only four lines.
Anees died in 1874 at the age of 72.
Mir Muhazzab was Mir Anees’ great grandson who wrote the famous urdu dictionary ‘Muhazzab ul Lughaat’. The dictionary has several volumes, one volume for each alphabet.
Sayyed Zameer Akhtar Naqvi, set about producing great work on Mir Anees. Between the years 1970-74, he travelled all over Pakistan and spoke to scholars and students and created awareness about Meer Anees and his works.
Various organizations were established in Islamabad and Karachi with the name: Dabistan-e-Anees. These organizations solicited articles from all prominent scholars on Anees and his work which were later published in the form of Anees Centenary Numbers. Zameer Akhtar himself produced numerous works on Anees and on Marsiya. In his book Urdu Marsiya Pakistan Mein, he lists all the poets of Pakistan who have tried their hand at marsiya; among them are poets like Faiz Ahmad Faiz and writers like Shawkat Thanawi. Zameer Akhtar's other books are Khandaan- E-Mir Anees ke Naamwar Sho’ara and Mir Anees ki Sha’ery mein rango’n ka Istemal.
Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast was born eight years after the death of Mir Anees. It can be argued that Chakbast was so influenced by the literary environment of his city, Lucknow, that he wrote in the prevailing style — an example being Chakbasts’s poetic depiction of parts of Ramayan in the same manner the war of Karbala was covered by his colleagues. As an example how Mir Anees wrote about Ali Akbar seeking permission of his father Imam Hussain to go to fight in the war of Karbala, and Chakbast portrayed similar feelings of mother and son when Shri Ram is bidding farewell to his mother. He writes:
Rukhsat hua jo baap se lekar Khuda ka naam
Raah-e-Khuda mei’n manzil-e-awwal hui tamaam
Majboor tha jo maa ki ziyaarat ka intezaam
Daaman se ashk pochh ke dil se kiya kalaam
Izhaar-e-bekasi se sitam hoga aur bhi
Dekha humei’n udaas to ghum hoga aur bhi
Dil ko sambhaalta hua aakhir wo naunihaal
Khamosh maa ke paas gaya surat-e-khayaal
Dekha ke aik dar mei’n wo baithi hai khasta haal
Sakta sa ho gaya ye hai shiddat-e-malaal
Tan mei’n lahu ka naam nahi, zard rang hai
Goya basher nahi, koi tasveer-e-sang hai
Ram Babu Sexsena in his book Tareekh-e-Adab-e-Urdu says “Though urdu was a poetic language it was underused and unknown. There was nothing in this language which could match Iliad by Homer, Mahabharat by Vyaas, Ramayan by Valmiki of Shahnama by Firdosi. These shortcomings were overcome by the Marsiyas of Mir Anees”
Dr. David Matthews (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) has translated the complete marsiya Jab Qata ki Musaafat-e-Shab Aaftaab ne into English verse. The standard marsiya of Meer Anees is organized in six line stanzas and the rhyming pattern is aaaabb. Matthews has done an excellent job in his translation. He has, however, changed the rhyming pattern to ababcc.
Shibli No'mani (Famous Islamic Scholar of the Sunni Sect) In his book titled Mwazna-E-Aness O Dabeer, he overloads Mir Anees with accolades. According to him no other poet has used as many words in their poetry as Mir Anees has.
Mawlana Hali (1837-1914) also has commented on Meer Anees's work in his Muqaddama-e-Sher o Shaa'eri.
S.R. Faruqi wrote an excellent commentary on one of Anees's marsiya (Ba Khuda Faaris-e-Maidaan-e-Tahawwur tha Hur) in his article: Meer Anees ke ek marsiye main Ista'are ka nezam. Faruqi has argued that every great poet usually concentrates on one metaphor for one piece of poetry. In that marsiya, Faruqi has argued, the central metaphor is NOOR (LIGHT). He quotes numerous examples from the long marsiya to support his thesis.
In Pakistan, after a long gap, work was restarted on Meer Anees. Notable writings are those by: Farman Fatehpuri (Karachi University), Ahsan Faruqi (Karachi University), Syed Amir Imam, Syed Ghulam Abbas (Jamia Millia, Karachi), Dr. Mazhar Ali Khan (Peshawar University), Professor Karrar Husain (ex-vice chancellor Quetta University), and Dr. Mahmood Husain (ex-vice chancellor of Dacca and Karachi universities).
Ghulam Imam of Lucknow (Lawyer). The title of his book is Shakespeare and Anees, 1950, Lucknow. In this work, the author has listed selections from Mir Anees' poetry and has found comparable work from Shakespeare. It is a very interesting book.
Shamsur Rahman Faruqi in 'How to read Iqbal?' on comparing Iqbal with Nazir Akbarabadi says that "Iqbal was placed better because he had, among others, B1dil (1644–1720) in Persian and Mir Anees (1802–1874) in Urdu." to inherit the rich tradition of urdu nazm. He firther asserts that, "The mention of Mir Anees may surprise some of us until we realize it that Mir Anees’s mariyas are the best premodern model in Urdu of narrative-historical, narrative-lyrical, and oral-dramatic poetry, and Iqbal’s poetry extends and exploits the possibilities created by Anees.