Fahmida Riaz

Fahmida Riaz

فہمیدہ ریاض
28 July 1946


28 July 1946




Fahmida Riaz was a prominent Pakistani Urdu poet, writer, and feminist known for her bold and progressive literary contributions. Born on July 28, 1946, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, she later migrated to Pakistan after the partition in 1947. Riaz’s literary work is characterized by its rebellious and revolutionary tone, challenging societal norms and advocating for social justice, women’s rights, and freedom of expression.

Her poetry often delves into themes such as love, feminism, politics, and human rights, employing a direct and fearless style that made her a controversial figure in conservative circles. Riaz’s notable works include “Badan Dareeda,” “Khatt-e Marmuz,” and “Dhoop.” She also ventured into prose, writing novels, essays, and translations.

Riaz faced censorship and criticism for her outspoken views but remained steadfast in her commitment to using her words to advocate for change and challenge the status quo. She passed away on November 21, 2018, leaving behind a rich legacy of influential and thought-provoking literary works that continue to inspire readers and writers in Pakistan and beyond. Her contribution to Urdu literature, especially in advocating for social justice and women’s rights, remains significant and influential.

Early life

Fahmida Riaz, a prominent Urdu poet, writer, and feminist, was born on July 28, 1946, in the town of Meerut, British India (now in India). Her family migrated to Pakistan during the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947. Riaz spent her early years in various cities in present-day Pakistan, including Hyderabad and Lahore.

Her upbringing was marked by a progressive and intellectual environment. She was encouraged by her family to pursue education and writing, which greatly influenced her later career as a poet and writer. Riaz was an ardent advocate for women’s rights, and her early experiences and exposure to societal disparities and gender issues in Pakistan shaped her perspective and the themes she addressed in her poetry.

Fahmida Riaz became a pioneering figure in Urdu literature, known for her bold, outspoken, and unconventional approach to poetry, especially for challenging societal norms and traditions. Her work often confronted social taboos, including female sexuality, patriarchy, and the oppressive structures within society.

Throughout her life, Riaz remained an influential voice, not just in the realm of poetry but also in social and political activism, using her words and actions to advocate for change and progress in Pakistani society. She passed away on November 21, 2018, leaving behind a legacy of literary brilliance and activism.

Story behind the name

Fahmida Riaz, the eminent Pakistani poet, writer, and human rights activist, was born on July 28, 1946, in the town of Mehmoodabad in Uttar Pradesh, India. Her name, “Fahmida,” carries a significant meaning derived from the Arabic language. “Fahmida” translates to “intellectual,” “wise,” or “learned.” This name reflects her family’s aspirations and hopes for her to grow up to be knowledgeable and learned.

The name “Riaz” holds Persian roots and typically signifies a beautiful garden or an orchard. It’s often associated with lush greenery, blooming flowers, and natural beauty, evoking a sense of fertility and growth.

Her parents chose this name as a wish for her to become a knowledgeable and wise person while also symbolizing beauty and growth in her life.

Throughout her life, Fahmida Riaz became renowned for her literary contributions, expressing bold and progressive ideas through her poetry, prose, and activism. Her name, in a way, reflected her journey as an intellectual who used her wisdom to nurture and cultivate progressive thoughts and ideas within the cultural landscape of Pakistan and beyond.


Fahmida Riaz was a renowned Pakistani Urdu poet, writer, and feminist. She was known for her bold and unapologetic expression of ideas and thoughts in her poetry. Some of her notable works include:

1. “Badan Dareeda” (The Torn Body): This collection of poetry addresses themes of social injustice, patriarchy, and women’s rights.

2. “Khatt-e Marmuz” (The Wounded Letter): This collection explores the complexities of human emotions, love, and societal issues.

3. “Dhoop” (Sunlight): Another collection of her poetry reflecting on various societal and personal issues, often using vivid and powerful imagery.

4. “Apna Jurm Sabit Hai” (My Crime Is Proven): This is a thought-provoking piece by Riaz that touches on the struggles faced by women in a patriarchal society.

Her poetry is known for its feminist perspective, addressing taboo subjects and societal norms, and challenging the status quo. Fahmida Riaz’s works continue to be celebrated for their fearless and revolutionary nature, making a significant contribution to Urdu literature.


Fahmida Riaz was a prominent Pakistani progressive Urdu writer, poet, and feminist known for her significant contributions to literature and social activism. Her literary legacy and impact are profound, particularly in the context of Urdu poetry and feminist discourse in Pakistan. Here are some aspects of her legacy:

1. Poetic Contribution: Riaz’s poetry was characterized by its boldness, challenging societal norms, and advocating for social change. She often addressed taboo subjects like female desire, societal constraints, and the oppression of women. Her work resonated with many for its fearless critique of societal norms and patriarchal structures.

2. Feminism and Activism: Riaz was an outspoken feminist and activist, advocating for women’s rights and gender equality in a conservative society. Her writings and activism challenged the status quo and inspired many women to speak out and fight for their rights.

3. Controversy and Censorship: Some of her work was deemed controversial and faced censorship due to its bold and unapologetic portrayal of societal issues, women’s rights, and political dissent.

4. Literary Influence: Her contributions expanded the scope of Urdu literature by introducing modern and progressive themes, setting a precedent for younger generations of poets and writers to address societal issues through their work.

5. Resilience and Courage: Riaz’s courage in expressing unconventional thoughts, challenging norms, and facing censorship left a lasting impact, inspiring many to stand up for their beliefs despite societal and political pressures.

6. International Recognition: Her work has been translated into several languages, allowing her messages to reach audiences beyond Urdu-speaking regions, thus contributing to a global conversation on feminism, societal norms, and human rights.

Fahmida Riaz’s legacy persists through her writings and her influence on feminist discourse and progressive Urdu literature. Her boldness, fearlessness, and advocacy for social change continue to inspire many who seek to challenge oppressive structures and promote equality and justice.

Notable work

Fahmida Riaz was a prominent Pakistani progressive Urdu poet, writer, and human rights activist. She is celebrated for her bold and revolutionary poetry, which challenged social norms and conventions. One of her most notable works is a collection of poetry titled “Badan Dareeda,” published in 1973. This collection is known for its bold and unconventional style, addressing themes of female sexuality, societal taboos, and political issues. Her work often challenged traditional norms and stood out for its fearless exploration of themes considered controversial at the time. Riaz’s writings have left a lasting impact on Urdu literature, making her a significant figure in the literary landscape of Pakistan.

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Awards and recognition

Fahmida Riaz was a renowned Pakistani Urdu poet, author, and human rights activist. Throughout her lifetime, she received recognition for her literary contributions and activism. Some of the notable awards and honors she received include:

1. Adamjee Literary Award (1966): She won this award for her poetry collection “Pathar Ki Zaban.”

2. Amir Khusro Award: This award was given to her for her contribution to literature.

3. Pride of Performance Award (2009): Fahmida Riaz received this prestigious award from the Government of Pakistan for her significant contributions to Urdu literature.

4. Kamal-i-Fun Award: This award, one of the highest awards in Pakistan, was bestowed upon her in recognition of her achievements in the field of literature.

Fahmida Riaz was celebrated not only for her literary prowess but also for her unwavering stance on social and political issues, which earned her immense respect in both literary and activist circles in Pakistan and beyond.




Fahmida Riaz was a prominent Pakistani Urdu poet, author, and feminist. She was known for her bold and progressive writing style, often challenging societal norms and conventions, particularly regarding women’s rights and social justice issues. Her poetry often dealt with themes such as love, feminism, political oppression, and societal taboos. Riaz’s language was known for its directness, simplicity, and powerful imagery. She used Urdu, the national language of Pakistan, as her primary medium of expression, using its rich poetic traditions to convey her thoughts and emotions. Riaz’s work was characterized by a blend of traditional Urdu poetic forms with modern and innovative expressions, making her poetry accessible to a wide audience while maintaining depth and social relevance. Her writing style resonated with many for its courage in addressing controversial issues and its strong, emotive language.

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