Altaf Hussain Hali

Altaf Hussain Hali

مولانا الطاف حسین حالیؔ ‎






Born in 1837 and dying in 1914, Altaf Hussain Hali was a well-known poet, philosopher, and biographer in the Indian subcontinent during the late 19th and early 20th century in Urdu. His groundbreaking work, “Hayat-e-Javed,” a biographical biography of the renowned Persian and Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, is what made him most famous for his contributions to Urdu literature.Hali was a major contributor to the growth of Urdu poetry and writing during the British colonial era. He was a member of the “Ghazal” tradition, and themes of love, grief, and the human condition were frequently explored in his poetry. Being a follower of Ghalib, he meticulously examined the poet’s life and works, resulting in the extensive biography “Hayat-e-Javed,” which is still a fundamental resource for anybody with an interest in Ghalib’s poetry or life.In addition to his literary accomplishments, Altaf Hussain Hali was renowned for his critical thinking and philosophical views. He supported social change and thought that education might improve society. Hali’s views and writings had a significant influence on the intellectual and literary climate of his day, and his imprint is still felt in modern Urdu literature and philosophy.

Early life

Maulana Khurshid Hassan, also known as Altaf Hussain Hali, was a well-known poet and biographer in Urdu who was also a key player in the Urdu literary scene throughout the 19th century. He was born in Panipat, India, in 1837, the year of the British colonization. Early in youth, Hali showed a strong interest in poetry and literature. He also received instruction in Persian and Arabic.

After relocating to Delhi, Hali pursued his study there and finally worked as a student of Mirza Ghalib, one of the most well-known Urdu poets of the day. Hali’s creative abilities blossomed under Ghalib’s tutelage, and he gained a profound comprehension of both traditional and contemporary Urdu poetry.

Hali actively participated in the social and political issues of his day in addition to his creative endeavors. He played a significant role in the Indian independence movement and was greatly impacted by the socio-political and cultural upheavals that occurred in India in the 1800s.

The most well-known work of Hali is “Muqaddama-e-Shair-o-Shairi,” which is regarded as a seminal work in the annals of Urdu literary criticism. He covered the development of Urdu poetry, its many forms, and the contributions of well-known poets in this work. Hali’s critical observations and analysis of Urdu poetry had a significant impact and helped shape contemporary Urdu literary criticism.

Altaf Hussain Hali made a substantial contribution to the advancement of Urdu literature and culture during his lifetime, and his writings are still praised for their literary and intellectual merit.

Story behind the name

In British India in the late 19th and early 20th century, Altaf Hussain Hali, who was born in 1837 and died in 1914, was a well-known poet and scholar in the Urdu language. “Hali” was a takhallus, or pen name, he took on in keeping with the Urdu and Persian poetry traditions; his true name was Altaf Hussain.

Takhallus, or selecting a pen name for one’s poetry compositions, is a custom among South Asian poets. These names frequently have deeper connotations or convey the feelings, ideas, or personality of the poet. “Hali” is a compound term formed from the Persian word “Hal” or “Hala,” meaning “passion” or “enthusiasm.” Poets tended to choose names that expressed their feelings or philosophies; “Hali” probably symbolized his enthusiasm for poetry and books.

The well-known book “Musaam-e-Guzishta” (The Bygone Eras), written by Altaf Hussain Hali, is a critical and biographical analysis of the great classical poets of the Indian subcontinent, particularly Mirza Ghalib. During a period of profound social and political upheaval, Hali’s efforts were crucial in preserving and renewing the subcontinent’s literary and cultural legacy. The fact that he chose to write under the pen name “Hali” is a minor but significant aspect of his poetic identity. His contributions to Urdu literature and poetry have left a long legacy.


Known for his poetry and biographies, Altaf Hussain Hali (1837–1914) was a leading figure in the 19th-century classical Urdu literary tradition. His biography of one of the most renowned Urdu poets, Mirza Ghalib, “Hayat-e-Jawed,” is his most well-known book.

The life and works of Hali can be summed up as follows:

1. Early Life:

In Panipat, which is today in Haryana, India, Altaf Hussain Hali was born in 1837. His early schooling involved reading Persian and Arabic literature.

2. Friendship with Mirza Ghalib:

The well-known Persian and Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib had a significant effect on Hali. Hali and Ghalib became great friends, and this friendship had a big influence on Hali’s poetry and writing career.

3. “Majalis-e-Hali”:

Hali was renowned for his modernizing Urdu poetry and reformist beliefs. He thought poetry had the ability to influence society. In “Majalis-e-Hali,” a compilation of prose and poetry, he addressed literary, political, and social themes of the day.

4. “Hayat-e-Jawed”:

Hali’s most well-known composition is the Mirza Ghalib biography, “Hayat-e-Jawed.” This biography serves as both a memorial to Ghalib and a valuable resource for knowledge about the poet’s life and times. It is regarded as an important work of Urdu literature.

5. Literary Contributions:

Hali was a talented poet in addition to being a biography. He composed poetry in a variety of traditional styles, and themes of love, mysticism, and social reform frequently appeared in his poems.

6. Reformist Concepts:

Throughout the 1800s, Hali participated in the South Asian reformist movement. He criticized several long-standing traditions and practices while supporting social and educational improvements. His works frequently expressed his worries for societal improvement.

7. Later Life and Legacy:

Hali left a lasting impression on Urdu literature with his literary works and reformist beliefs. His significant literary legacy was left behind when he passed away in 1914. His writings are still studied today and valued for their literary and intellectual merit.

The life and works of Altaf Hussain Hali provide witness to his passion for writing and his desire to use his words and ideas to improve society. In the annals of Urdu literature, he is still a significant figure.


Known by his full name, Altaf Hussain Hali, he was a well-known poet and writer in Urdu during the 1800s. His biography of Mirza Ghalib, one of the most renowned Urdu poets of all time, is what made him most famous. In the context of Urdu literature and the late 19th-century resurgence of classical Urdu poetry, Hali’s contributions and legacy are noteworthy.

The following are some facets of the legacy of Altaf Hussain Hali:

1. Mirza Ghalib’s Biography: The most well-known work by Hali is “Yaadgar-e-Ghalib” (The Memorial of Ghalib), a biography detailing the poet’s life and poetry. This work is regarded as a foundational work in Urdu biography and literary criticism. It offered insightful information about Ghalib’s life and times and served to rekindle interest in his poetry.

2. Being a Well-Known Poet:

In addition to writing biographical pieces, Hali was a poet. He’s frequently linked to the ‘Nazm’ school of poetry. His artistic output reflects his views on contemporary moral, political, and social challenges. His poetry is renowned for its profundity and simplicity.

3. Contributions to Urdu Literature:

The advancement and growth of Urdu literature were greatly aided by Hali. His works and literary criticism influenced the era’s literary debate. He belonged to the “Ghazal revival” movement, which sought to bring back the vitality and modernity of traditional Urdu poetry.

4. Social and Educational Reforms:

Hali contributed to initiatives aimed at social and educational change. He supported the advancement of reasoned thought and the modernization of the Indian educational system. He thought poetry should be used to encourage constructive social change.

5. Influence on Later Writers:

Hali’s writings and concepts had a lasting impact on a large number of poets and authors. He was associated with the “Ghazal revival” movement, which also featured important individuals such as Shibli Nomani and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. The modernization and evolution of Urdu literature was aided by this trend.

6. Honors and Recognition:

Hali is regarded as a major player in the literary scene of the 19th century, and his contributions to Urdu writing have received widespread recognition. He has been recognized and honored posthumously for his contributions to literature and thought.

The literary and intellectual conversation of Altaf Hussain Hali’s age, his biographical work on Mirza Ghalib, and his contributions to Urdu poetry are what define his legacy. He is renowned for his work supporting social and educational change in 19th-century India and protecting and advancing ancient Urdu poetry.

Notable work

During the Mughal Empire in India, Altaf Hussain Hali (1837–1914) was a well-known Urdu poet, biographer, and academic. His most famous work is “Hayat-e-Javed” (The Life of Javed), a biographical account of the life of one of the most renowned Urdu poets in history, Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. “Hayat-e-Javed” is regarded as an important work of biography and literature in Urdu.

In addition to providing a thorough biography of Mirza Ghalib, Hali’s writings shed light on the sociopolitical and cultural climate of the day. The book is still a must-read for anybody interested in Mirza Ghalib’s life and works, having received accolades for both its literary merit and historical value.

Hali produced many more poems and essays besides “Hayat-e-Javed,” but this one sticks out as his most significant and enduring contribution to Urdu literature.

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Awards and recognition

Altaf Hussain Hali was a well-known Urdu poet and writer in the 19th century. He was born in 1837 and passed away in 1914. His contributions to Urdu poetry and literary criticism are what have made him most well-known. He might not have won many accolades or been acknowledged in the contemporary sense, but he is well-known for his contributions to Urdu writing. The following are some noteworthy facets of his efforts and recognition:

1. Shair-o-Shairi-Muqadama-e: Though possibly best known for his work “Muqadama-e-Shair-o-Shairi” (Introduction to the Art of Poetry), Hali is well-known for his literary critique. In the Urdu literary community, this work of literary critique is still studied and esteemed.

2. Darbar-e-Akbari : As a poet as well, Hali is renowned for his book “Darbar-e-Akbari,” which is regarded as a significant addition to traditional Urdu poetry.

3. Contributions to Urdu Literature: Hali made a major contribution to the advancement of contemporary Urdu writing. Notable poets such as Mirza Ghalib and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan were among his contemporaries, and he was deeply engaged in the literary trends of the day.

Scholars, poets, and literature fans throughout the Urdu-speaking world continue to celebrate and appreciate Hali’s effect on Urdu literature, as well as his contributions to poetry and literary criticism, even though he may not have earned the kind of specific honors or recognition that we see today.





Known by many names, Altaf Hussain Hali was a well-known poet and writer in Urdu who lived in British India in the 1800s. His most well-known book, “Musaasar-e-Hali,” is a critical and biographical examination of the well-known Persian and Urdu poets of the subcontinent. It is written in Urdu. The written language used by Altaf Hussain Hali is Urdu. South Asian language Urdu, written in Perso-Arabic script, originated in the Indian subcontinent. Hali is regarded as one of the major contributors to the growth of contemporary Urdu literature, and his literary works are written in the traditional prose and poetry of the language. The eloquence of Hali’s writings in “Musaasar-e-Hali” is well recognized, and he was a major force in the advancement of Urdu as a literary language in his day.

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