Hakim Ahmad Shuja

Khan Bahadur S. Hakim Ahmad Shuja (also sometimes written as 'Hakeem Ahmed Shujah' and 'Hakim Ahmad Shuja Pasha') (4 November 1893 – 4 January 1969), MBE, was a famous Urdu and Persian poet, playwright, writer, film writer and lyricist, scholar and mystic, from former British India, later Pakistan.[1][2]

Hakim Ahmad Shuja
Ahmad Shuja

4 November 1893
Died4 January 1969 (aged 76)[1]
Resting placeMiani Sahib Graveyard, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
RelativesFather of Anwar Kamal Pasha,[1] pioneer film producer/director of Pakistan


Hakim Ahmad Shuja belonged to an old and prominent family of mystics and Islamic religious scholars, who had migrated from Arabia,[dubious ]Afghanistan and Turkey to India, between the 10th-12th centuries AD.[3][4] During the times of the Sultans of Delhi, the family came to prominence as religious divines and Hakims i.e. practitioners of the traditional Hikmat (the Unani, or Greek system of medicine) and by the time of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great (c.1542-1605) they were established as Court Physicians at Lahore, in the Bhati Gate area of the Old City. Later, family members served as Chief Qazis (or Qadis) at Lahore and Kashmir under Afghan (Durrani) rule, and a branch were ministers during Ranjit Singh's Sikh rule.[5][6] Ahmad Shuja's father, Hakim Shuja-ed-din, was a Sufi mystic of the Chishtiya Order and one of the early pioneers of the Urdu literary press in Lahore, bringing out the famous Shor-i-Mahshar journal and participating actively in the work of the Anjuman-i-Himayat-i-Islam and Anjuman i Punjab associations.[7][8][9]

Early life and careerEdit

Hakim Ahmad Shuja was the only son of his parents, who both died when he was still a minor[10] and he was brought up largely by an elder cousin, Hakim Amin-ed-din, Barrister. After a basic education in Arabic and Quranic studies at home, and initial Sufic training under various notable mystics in both Chishti and Qadiri systems, he was then admitted for 'English education' to the old Central Model School, Lahore and later went to the famous Aligarh Muslim University, from where he graduated with honours.[1][11] For some time, Hakim Ahmad Shuja then worked as a lecturer at the Osmania University in Hyderabad state (Deccan) but was not happy and returned to Lahore to seek employment there. After several journalistic and academic ventures,[12] he eventually settled down to regular service in the secretariat of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, finally retiring as Secretary to the Punjab Assembly in the 1950s.


Hakim Ahmad Shuja was a very prolific and versatile writer indeed, producing several collections of Urdu and Persian poetry, countless essays and belles-lettres published in newspapers and journals throughout India (and later Pakistan), one of the earliest translations of the Quran in Punjabi language, several dramatic works in collaboration with Imtiaz Ali Taj, Agha Hashar Kashmiri and other theatrical producers, and, later on, screenplays and lyrics for the early Indo-Pakistan cinema.[13] However, his fame today rests chiefly on these noted works: "Lahore ka Chelsea" (1967; 1989 reprint), a collection of memoirs of Old Lahore;[14] "Khoon-Baha" (1962), some of his other personal memoirs; "Gard-i-Karvan" (1950s; reprint 1960), a collection of poems and essays in praise of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and the 'Ahl i Bayt' (members of the Prophet's family) as exemplars of the 'Ideal' Muslim character; and his lovely, lyrical poems, some of which were later successfully adapted for film songs.[15] These works reflect his idealism and humane and deeply mystical faith and a Romanticism which reflects both the typical Urdu and Persian poetic traditions, as well as the influence of Western writers such as Shelley, Thomas Carlyle, Goethe and Victor Hugo.[16]

Later life and legacyEdit

Hakim Ahmad Shuja continued to write even until the time of his death in 1969. Between the 1950s and 1960s, he became especially interested in the potentialities of film-making and cinema.[17][18] In many ways, thus, he had a direct influence and bearing upon the development of both early Indian and Pakistani literature and cinema.[19] In addition, he also made a significant contribution to the early development of Urdu language, linguistics and etymology as permanent secretary and one of the main compilers/editors of Pakistan's Official Language Committee, 1949, responsible for the standardization of official and court terms, from English to Urdu.[20]

Hakim Ahmad Shuja was a contemporary of and associated with people like Agha Hashar Kashmiri, Imtiaz Ali Taj, Abul Kalam Azad, Allama Iqbal, Sir Sikandar Hayat Khan, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Sohrab Modi, and Muhammad Ali Jauhar.[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Sarwat Ali (8 January 2017). "A family tradition: Remembering Hakim Ahmad Shuja and his contributions for theatre, radio and film". The News International (newspaper). Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  2. ^ Not Irfana's latest, surely? Dawn (newspaper), Published 27 April 2002, Retrieved 18 April 2018
  3. ^ Hakim Ahmad Shuja, Khoon-Baha (Urdu: Memoirs), Lahore, 1962, pp. 12-17. Also see for detailed and authentic family pedigree : (a) Syed N.A. Mujadedi 'Khanwada i Hai jasta Lahor' (Persian: Notable families of Lahore) , pub. Lahore: Oriental Press, 1912, np; and R.L. Lazard 'Lahore, The Mogul City' pub Nottingham: Stubbs & Co , 1928, p 208
  4. ^ From his paternal side, he was a direct descendant of Shaykh Abdul-Qadir Gilani , Abu Ayyub al-Ansari and Shaykh Abdul Wahid bin Zaid and from his maternal side, of the Sadozai (Pashtun tribe) which at one time ruled Afghanistan. See Memoirs, p 12; also Lazard, above
  5. ^ The Hakim family, or 'Hakim-Khana' of Old Lahore were mostly Sunni Muslims but during the 18th and 19th centuries a branch the 'Fakir-Khana', became Shias. See Syed Ghayasuddin Ahmed, ICS, "Essays and Memories", Lahore, 1981, p. 9; also, article by Prof. Dr Riffat Hasan in the daily Dawn, 7 November 2002, at Columbia University Note[permanent dead link]. Please note that neither the Hakimkhana nor the Fakirkhana family have any relation to the notorious and disreputable Lt.Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, and any resemblance of names is purely coincidental.
  6. ^ For further information on the Fakir Khana Museum and the Fakirkhana or Fakir family of Lahore also see Fakir Khana Home and BBC Intro to Fakir Khana, In addition to the above, also pl see article on Wazir Khan Mosque for information about another relative of this family who built the famous mosque at Lahore
  7. ^ Hakim Ahmad Shuja, "Lahore ka Chelsea" (Urdu/Memories of Old Lahore), Lahore, 1967; reprinted Lahore, Packages Ltd, 1989.
  8. ^ For more details of the 'Anjuman-i-Punjab' please see the articles on Sir Roper Lethbridge and Dr Gottlieb Wilhelm Leitner on Wikipedia
  9. ^ Please also see List of families of Lahore
  10. ^ Hakim Ahmad Shuja, "Khoon-Baha" (Urdu/Memoirs), Lahore, c 1962
  11. ^ Memoirs
  12. ^ During which time he also remained Editor of the famous Urdu literary journal, "Hazar Dastaan" in 1922-23; see https://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/southasia/urdujournals.html
  13. ^ One of the very first Indian film societies was in fact established in Lahore, in March 1931 and later on became the base for the Lahore-based film production studios. See Mushtaq Gazdar "Pakistani Cinema: Fifty Years, 1947-1997", Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1997, for a detailed background and a fine exposition of its development
  14. ^ Please see further at Textual references and note on Lahore ka Chelsea
  15. ^ see Songs and Lyrics by Shuja and Some lyrics by Hakim Ahmad Shuja Archived 7 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ See Prof. Dr M.Sadiq, Interview, "The Pakistan Times", 1969; and for more general details his book "A History of Urdu Literature", Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1964; and revised edition of 1984, ISBN 0-19-577600-3
  17. ^ Perhaps because of the involvement of his son Anwar Kamal Pasha, one of South Asia's early and most renowned film directors, in this genre. Most of the very famous lyrics and songs of his super-hit films, such as Tu Laakh challay ri Gori and Ham bhi Parrhay hain Rahon mein etc, were in fact written originally as poems by Hakim-sahib and later adapted by him and his team of assistants for film. Some of these songs/lyrics are at times wrongly ascribed to some of these assistants, such as poet Qateel Shifai. On this topic, please see Prof. Gillani Kamran, Interview, "The Frontier Post", Lahore and Peshawar, 30 September 1988. Also, for details of the Pakistani film 'Sarfarosh', for which he wrote the story see Brief introduction about Pakistani super hit movie Sarfarosh December 2015
  18. ^ However, that Hakim sahib had already been involved to a lesser extent in writing songs/lyrics and also stories for Urdu/Hindi cinema even earlier, is borne by his early lyrics for the song "Hairaat-e-Nazzaraa Aakir", sung by the famous actor-singer Kundan Lal Saigal, see Lyrics by Shuja for KL Saigol Song Archived 16 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine in Songs Index in the Comprehensive Saigal Fans Website, and also his writing of the storylines of the Indian Bollywood films like Behram Khan (released 1945-46, starring and directed by Gajanan Jagirdar) and Sheesh Mahal (1950 film), directed by Sohrab Modi, as well as Shahida (film), the early Pakistani hit from 1949
  19. ^ For his influence on some other famous Urdu writers like Ahmed Shah Bokhari (Patras Bokhari), and thereby Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Noon Meem Rashid and others, see a very interesting history of the Government College, Lahore Dramatics Society at GCU Dramatic Society History
  20. ^ See Anwar S. Adil "Linguistic Studies in Pakistan" in Thomas Albert Sebeok (Ed.)Current Trends in Linguistics No 5: Linguistics in South Asia, Pub. The Netherlands: Mouton & Co, 1970, p.697. Library of Congress Catalog Card No: 64-3663

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