Padshah of Urdu; People mourn death of Shemsur Rehman Faruqi

Legendary Urdu poet and critic Shamsur Rahman Faruqi passed away on Friday at his Allahabad home, a month after recovering from COVID-19.

His daughter Mehr Farooqi tweeted about her father’s demise: “We reached Allahabad and father transitioned peacefully,” she wrote.

“It’s not just the world of Urdu, I feel I’ve been orphaned again,” historian Rana Safvi sent her condolences.

Writer and historian William Dalrymple took to Twitter to mourn the demise of Faruqi, calling him “one of the last great Padshahs of the Urdu literary world.”

Sanjiv Saraf, the founder of Urdu festival Jashn-e-Rekhta, also condoled the death of “the century’s most iconic figure in the realm of Urdu literature”.

“His demise has left us bereaved as an entire generation of literature lovers mourn this loss. I extend heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones,” Saraf said.

“Shamsur Rehman Farooqui’s demise is a big loss to the world of scholarship, and adab. His work built many bridges across India’s diverse traditions. He was immensely valuable to us in so many ways and will be sorely missed, ” said CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury.

“Am just gutted. Shamsur Rehman Faaroqui saheb has passed away. Innalillahi wa inna ilayhi rajeeon. May allah grant him jannat..aameen,” wrote journalist Rana Ayyub.

“His modernist style had irked the traditionalists and contemporaries in the sixties, seventies. But he wasn’t just a critic and theorist, whenever he took to fiction, he created magic. And, his Allahabad home had been the nucleus of Urdu literary world, for over half-a-century,” wrote journalist Shamsur Rehman Alavi in a condolence note.


A profile of his on Caravan Magazine alluded to his immense and immeasurable contribution to Urdu literature.

Shemsur Rehman began writing in 1960. Initially he worked for the Indian postal service (1960–1968), and then as a chief postmaster-general and member of the Postal Services Board, New Delhi until 1994. He was also editor of his literary magazine Shabkhoon and part-time professor at the South Asia Regional Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

An expert in classical prosody and ‘ilm-e bayan (the science of poetic discourse), he has contributed to modern literary discourse with a profundity rarely seen in contemporary Urdu critics. His most recent books, The Mirror of Beauty (translated into English from the Urdu Kai Chaand The Sar-e-Aasmaan in 2006), and The Sun That Rose From The Earth (Penguin India, 2014), have been highly critically acclaimed. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Most recently he was awarded the prestigious Saraswati Samman for his work She`r-e Shor-Angez, a four-volume study of the eighteenth-century poet Mir Taqi Mir.

He was awarded the Saraswati Samman, an Indian literary award, in 1996. The Government of India awarded him the civilian honour of Padma Shri in 2009.