Akbar Allahabadi

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Akbar Allahabadi
Akbar Allahabadi
Akbar Allahabadi
Native name
اکبر الہ آبادی
BornSyed Akbar Hussain[1]
(1846-11-16)16 November 1846[1]
Bara, North-Western Provinces, British India
Died9 September 1921(1921-09-09) (aged 74)[1]
Allahabad, United Provinces, British India
NationalityBritish Indian
GenreGhazal, Masnavi, Qita, Rubaʿi Nazam
SubjectLove, philosophy, religion, social reform, satire, British rule

Syed Akbar Hussain, popularly known as Akbar Allahabadi (16 November 1846 – 9 September 1921) was an Indian Urdu poet in the genre of satire.[2] The most popular of Akbar's verse poked fun at the cultural dilemma posed by the onslaught of Western British culture. His ire was mostly directed towards the natives he considered to be outlandishly pseudo-western. In the Indian community he became known as 'Lisanu'l-Asr' ( Poet of the age.)[3]

Life and career[edit]

Early Life[edit]

Akbar Allahabadi was born in the town of Bara, eleven miles from Allahabad, to a family of Sayyads who originally came to India from Persia as soldiers.[4] His grandfather, Sayyid Fazl-i-Mohmmad, had Shia leanings but his three sons, Wasil 'Ali, Waris 'Ali and Tafazzul Husain were all Sunnis. Akbar's father, Moulvi Tafazzul Hussain served as a Naib Tehsildar to his brother Waris ' Ali, who was the Tehsildar, and his mother belonged to a zamindar family of Jagdishpur village from the Gaya district in Bihar.[4]

Akbar received his early education in Arabic, Persian and Mathematics from his father at home. In 1855, his mother moved to Allahabad and settled in Mohalla Chowk. Akbar was admitted to the Jamuna Mission School for an English education in 1856, but he abandoned his school education in 1859. However, he continued to study English and read widely.[4]


On leaving school, Akbar joined the Railway Engineering Department as a clerk. While in service, he passed the exam qualifying him as a Vakeel (barrister) and subsequently worked as a Tehsildar and a munsif, and ultimately, as a sessions court judge. To commemorate his work in judicial services, he was bestowed with the title, Khan Bahadur.[4]


Akbar's first marriage was at the age of 15 and arranged by his parents. His wife's name was Khadija Khatun, who was four years older than him. This was not a successful marriage and Akbar took no pleasure in it despite having two sons with Khadija named Nazir Husain and Abid Husain. After divorcing their mother, Akbar didn't really pay these three any attention and they had to make do with a sum of forty rupees a month, which he gave as alimony. Both of these sons due to lack of support from their father, didn't fare well in life and not much is known about them.[5]

His second marriage to Fatima Sughra (died 1910) was a lot more successful and brought him a lot of happiness. Together they had two sons, Ishrat Husain and Hashim Husain. Ishrat was sent to England for three years to become a lawyer but didn't return even after six. but he barely passed his B.A from Cambridge and never sat for the Bar examinations. Instead he fancied himself a person of the arts and applied to be a playwright and an actor without any success. This he attributed to the prejudice against Hindustanis in England of that time. He became too Anglicised in his ways of thinking and living for Akbar's liking. Later in life Ishrat became a Collector. [6]

The Younger son Hashim pleased his father and stayed with him until his death in 1931.


Akbar retired in 1905 and lived on in Allahabad. He died of a fever on September 9, 1921 and was buried in Himmatganj locality of Allahabad.[4]


"Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa" is a popular ghazal, written by Akbar Allahabadi and most prominently sung by Ghulam Ali. Verses from his poetry also found their way into the famous qawwali “Tum ik Gorakh Dhanda Ho” by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. A number of Akbar Allahabadi's poems were used in the 2015 Hindi film Masaan.[7] Explaining this as a conscious tribute, the film's lyrics writer Varun Grover explained that he wanted to show one of the female leads Shaalu (played by Shweta Tripathi) as a person whose hobby is to read Hindi poetry and Shayri.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ a b c "Akbar Allahabadi". urdupoetry.com. 22 November 2001. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  2. ^ Bose, Sugata; Jalal, Ayesha, eds. (1998). Nationalism, democracy and development : state and politics in India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195644425. OCLC 38764810.
  3. ^ Dihalvi, Muhammad Rahim. Hazrat-i-Akbar ke Shab-o-Roz. p. 36.
  4. ^ a b c d e Allahabadi, Talib. Akbar Allahabadi. Allahabad. pp. 17–394.
  5. ^ Badayuni, Qamru'd-Din Ahmad (1944). Bazm-i-Akbar (23-24 ed.). Anjuman-i-Taraqqi-i-Urdu, Delhi.
  6. ^ Chaghatai, Mohammad Ikram (2015). Dr. Daud Rahbar - His English Writings. Pakistan Writers Cooperative Society.
  7. ^ Lakhani, Somya (11 September 2016). "Secret Love: How Hindi poetry has become 'cool'". The Indian Express. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Hindi Kavita - Kuch ban jaate hain - Uday Prakash: Varun Grover in Hindi Studio with Manish Gupta". Hindi Kavita. 25 October 2015.
  9. ^ Pal, Sanchari. "Meet the NRI Who Returned To India To Make Millions Fall in Love with Hindi Poetry". www.thebetterindia.com. The Better India. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  10. ^ Grover, Varun. "How the magic of Dushyant Kumar's poetry inspired this Bollywood lyricist". The Indian Express. Retrieved 17 April 2019.

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