Obituary: Hanif Akhgar

By Afzal Usmani

Jo hai Taazgi meri zaat mein, wahi zikr-o-fikr chaman mein hai
Ke wajood mera kaheen bhi ho, meri rooh mere watan mein hai

Hanif Akhgar Malihabadi

hanifAkhgar The last symbol of the Jigar Muradabadi school of Urdu ghazal, and the flag bearer of Urdu ghazal in North America, Hanif Akhgar Malihabadi, is no longer with us.

He died on 31st May, 2009 at his residence in Dallas, Texas. His sad demise has created a vacuum in the entire Urdu world. He was a classical poet of ghazal and his ghazals were an extension of Jigara Muradabadi and Asghar Gondvi.

Syed Muhammad Hanif Akhgar Malihabadi was born on September 3rd, 1928, in the family of Qazi Syed Muhammad Shareef ‘Asar Kasmandvi’ and Mohtarma Raziun-Nisa Begum in the town of Malihabad, close to Lucknow in undivided India.

He completed his primary education in Malihabad and finished his “Munshi-Fazil” from Sulaimania College in Bhopal. On 29th December, 1950, his family migrated to Karachi, Pakistan.

Hanif Akhgar completed his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the Institute of Business Administration, University of Karachi. He also completed his Diploma in Industrial Financing from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.  He joined the United Nations (UN) as International Civil Servant (I.C.S.) in 1971 and served in different parts of world and retired on May 2nd, 1989 as Division Chief of the United Nations Capital Development Fund Division for Asia Pacific, Latin America and Arab States and settled down in New York with his family. He was also a permanent representative of World Assembly of small and medium Enterprises (WASME) in United Nations at New York.

Syed Muhammad Hanif became Syed Muhammad Hanif “Akhgar” at a very young age when he won 1st prize in a `Tarahi-Mushaira` at Amir-ud-Daulah Islamia College in 1945. Hanif Akhgar was perhaps the last of the quintessentially romantic poets in the tradition of Jigar Murabadabadi and Asghar Gondvi, and none among the  huge range of South Asian poets in North America and the western countries even came close to his stature. His reputation had gone far beyond  these shores and he was considered a mature and seasoned poet in South Asia and all the countries where people who speak Urdu and understand and love Urdu poetry reside. His booming and captivating ‘Lahan’ absolutely  enthralled and mesmerized his audiences.

Hanif Akhgar Malihabadi A deeply religious man, his eyes would often become moist when he recited his naats. He was by far the most beloved and admired poet among all those who  came from India/Pakistan and those from North America who participated in  the Mushairas of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations across the US.

He will be sorely missed by all who care about the future of Urdu poetry.  Urdu poetry was his passion and his first collection of Ghazal “Chiragaa(n) “ was published in 1989. In 1997, his second collection “Khayaabaa(n)” was published. His last book came as collection of “Naat”, as Khalq-eMujassam in 2003.  He also completed his Autobiography, Aetraaf-wa-Inkashaf. He attended Almi Urdu Conference at New Delhi and received Khawaja Meer Dard Award. Since 1975, when the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC started organizing Mushaira in the DC area, he has been a regular participant of the annual Mushaira of Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC. On several occasions he chaired Qaid-e-Azam Mushaira of Karachi, Pakistan and other major mushaira in and outside of North America. Aligarh Alumni Associations of Arizona, Northern California, Houston, and San Antonio invited him for their annual Mushaira on several occasions. He also started “Halqa-e-Adab” in New York area and organized several literary events and Mushaira.

Wherever he had visited, his poetry and his sweet and humble personality made a huge fan and followings. He was a regular to the annual mushairas of Aligarh Alumni Association of New York, Washington DC, and quite often in Greater Chicago and Northern California.

Due to some health issues, Hanif Akhgar moved to Dallas Texas in 2007 and since then he was living Dallas Texas till his last breath. He left behind, his wife, seven daughters and 4 son and number of grandson and grand daughters. His sad demised will be felt for a long time among the Urdu lovers in the continent of America and all across the Urdu speaking world.

Janaza prayers were held after dhuhr prayer on June 1st 2009 at Richardson Mosque in Richardson Texas and buried to Richardson cemetery.


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