A Note on the Origins of Hali's Musaddas-e Madd-o Jazr-e Islām

Eve Tignol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Downloads (Pure)


Published in 1879 in the Tahzīb ul-Akhlāq as well as in book form, Maulana Altaf Husain Hali's Musaddas on the Ebb and Flow of Islam (better known as Musaddas-e Hālī) is a unique text. The poem, which recalls a glorious Islamic past and mourns its decline in India, both drew on the Urdu shahr āshob tradition that had developed since the eighteenth century as well as innovatively developed a very Arabic “flavour” and style that was uncommon at the time. While C. Shackle and J. Majeed have analysed Hali's use of typical Arabic literary devices in their excellent study and edition of the Musaddas, they conceded that “the overt influence of Arabic poetry is less easy to establish”. However, new evidence from the Aligarh Institute Gazette of 1878 brings another piece to the puzzle and enables us to situate Hali's Musaddas in its broader historical and literary context: indeed, two articles written by Sayyid Ahmad Khan in January of that year show that Hali's masterpiece was in fact conceived as an Urdu re-adaptation of an Arabic classic, al-Rundi's famous Lament for the fall of Seville.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2016

Cite this