One of the greatest Urdu poets of all times, Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq is regarded as one of the pioneers of Urdu poetry. He was born in 1789 in a poor family and had a very ordinary education. Yet his treasure of Urdu poem and ghazals were immense and are considered priceless today. Zauq was the pen name of Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim and he composed his ghazals and poems under this pseudonym. In his later years, he went on to learn some tradition, history and astrology. Most of his brilliant compositions were lost during the wars fought for India's independence. Yet, he left behind numerous compositions and a rich legacy of ghazals, mukhammus and many poems. To know more about Zauq, continue to read this insightful biography on him.
Zauq’s father Shaikh Mohammed Ramzan was a lowly placed soldier in the Mughal army. This meant that Zauq did not have proper means to grow up with. He fell prey to small pox when he was a little child, but miraculously survived it even though his family did not even have enough money to get him properly treated. He was not sent to a fancy school like his contemporaries but instead went to a religious school. Elementary religious schools were called maktab in those times. This particular school that zauq went to was run by Hafiz Ghulam Rasool. He himself was a poet and used shauq as his pen name. it was mainly under his influence that Zauq took liking to Urdu poetry in his young age. It was Hafiz who suggested the nom de plume of Zauq to young Mohammad Ibrahim. He guided him and took him as a pupil in poetry. Zauf did not finish his schooling and got hooked to poetry instead. He started showing his ghazals to Shah Naseer, a popular poet of his times. He took suggestions from him and Naseer found Zauq to be really talented. Naseer took Zauq under his guidance. It was zauq’s singular hard work and passion towards poetry that made him so successful and famous. There came a time when Zauq started to get more popularity than Naseer. This infuriated Naseer and he banned his entry into his group. This did not affect Zauq’s passion and he continued to rely on his natural talent and kept writing and reciting poetry.
His poet friend Meer Kazim Husain Beqarar was working in the royal court as a mentor to the young Crown Prince Zafar. It was through him that Zauq got entry into the royal court and he started to take part in royal mushairas. Later, Beqarar took up the job of royal accountant in the court and Zauq got the opportunity to mentor Zafar. He was paind 4 rupees as his monthly salary but later it was raised up to 100 rupees. He died as the poet laureate in the Mughal Court.
Zauq’s poetry is appreciated because of his impeccable control of the language and composition of poetry quite smoothly even under difficult meter. He was a poet at the royal court since a very young age and he was supposed to write poetry that would praise and appreciate the royalty, in order to benefit some profit from the emperor. He is still considered to be a great eulogy writer as much of his job as a court poet was to write eloquent eulogies. Bahadur Shah Zafar was a fan of simplicity in the language used in poetry; therefore Zauq used simple words, phrases, diction, sentences in his poetry. Even the similes used in his poetry were very simple, takes from the common surrounding culture. His poetry was also famous at the time for its spontaneity. He also used the subject of religion and ethics in his poetry because he was a deeply religious man. Therefore, sometimes his poetry sounds less melodious and preachier.
One very unique specialty of Zauq was qasida or idioms. He is credited with having the largest number of qasidas that were superb when combined with music. The qasida was a eulogistic composition in the praise of an Emperor or noblemen. A single qasida consisted of as many as 100 couplets and sometimes even more than 100. The language used by Zauq was cultured and his speech was sophisticated. He was considered as a rival to none other than Mirza Ghalib. Though he wasn't a great philosopher as Ghalib, yet the respect he acquired in his lifetime is commendable.
Zauq died in the year of 1854 as a poet laureate, in Delhi. His grave is in the Paharganj area in Delhi. It is said that his resident was also nearby that area on Nabi Karim but it was never really identified. His grave was only restored under the orders of the Supreme Court.