The ghazal ( Punjabi: , Urdu: ? , Hindi: , Persian: , Pashto: , Bengali: ) is a form of amatory poem or ode, originating in Arabic poetry. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.
A ghazal commonly consists of between five and fifteen couplets, which are independent, but are linked - abstractly, in their theme; and more strictly in their poetic form. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet[unreliable source?]. In style and content, due to its highly allusive nature, the ghazal has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation[unreliable source?].
The ghazal is one of the most widespread and popular poetic forms, especially across the Middle East and South Asia. Readings or musical renditions of Ghazals are well attended in these countries, even by the laity. In a similar manner to Haiku, the Ghazal is gaining popularity among western poetry readers.
The Arabic word ?azal is pronounced ['?azal], roughly like the English word guzzle, but with the ? pronounced without a complete closure between the tongue and the soft palate[unreliable source?]. In English, the word is pronounced  or .
The ghazal originated in Arabia in the 7th century, evolving from the qasida, a much older pre-Islamic Arabic poetic form.Qadas were typically much longer poems, with up to 100 couplets. Thematically, qadas did not include love, and were usually panegyrics for a tribe or ruler, lampoons, or moral maxims. However, the qada's opening prelude, called the nas?b, was typically nostalgic and/or romantic in theme, and highly ornamented and stylized in form. In time, the nas?b began to be written as standalone, shorter poems, which became the ghazal.
The ghazal came into its own as a poetic genre during the Ummayyad Era (661-750) and continued to flower and develop in the early Abbasid Era. The Arabic ghazal inherited the formal verse structure of the qada, specifically, a strict adherence to meter and the use of the Qaafiyaa, a common end rhyme on each couplet (called a bayt in Arabic and a sher in Persian).
The nature of the ghazals also changed to meet the demands of musical presentation, becoming briefer in length. Lighter poetic meters, such as khafîf, ramal, and muqtarab were preferred, instead of longer, more ponderous meters favored for qadas (such as kâmil, basît, and rajaz). Topically, the ghazal focus also changed from nostalgic reminisces of the homeland and loved-ones, towards romantic or erotic themes - These included sub-genres with themes of courtly love (udharî), eroticism (hissî), homoeroticism (mudhakkar), and as a highly stylized introduction to a larger poem (tamhîdî).
With the spread of Islam, the Arabian ghazal spread both westwards, into Africa and Spain, as well as eastwards, into Persia. The popularity of ghazals in a particular region was usually preceded by a spread of the Arabic language in that country. In medieval Spain, ghazals written in Hebrew as well as Arabic have been found as far back the 11th century. It is possible that ghazals were also written in the Mozarabic language. Ghazals in the Arabic form have also been written in a number of major West African literary languages like Hausa and Fulfulde.
However, the most significant changes to the ghazal occurred in its introduction into Iran in the 10th century. The early Persian ghazals largely imitated the themes and form of the Arabian ghazal. These "Arabo-Persian" ghazals introduced two differences compared to their Arabian poetic roots. Firstly, the Persian ghazals did not employ radical enjambment between the two halves of the couplet, and secondly, the Persian ghazals formalized the use of the common rhyme in both lines of the opening couplet ("matla"). The imitation of Arabian forms in Persia extended to the qada, which was also popular in Persia.
Because of its comparative brevity, thematic variety and suggestive richness, the ghazal soon eclipsed the qada, and became the most popular poetry form in Persia. Much like Arabian ghazals, early Persian ghazals typically employed more musical meters compared to other Persian poetry forms.Rudaki (858-941 CE) is considered the most important Persian ghazal poet of this period, and the founder of classical Persian literature.
The Persian ghazal evolved into its own distinctive form between the 12th and 13th centuries. Many of those innovations created what we now recognize as the archetypical ghazal form. These changes occurred in two periods, separated by the Mongol Invasion of Persia from 1219-1221 AD.
The 'Early Persian poetry' period spanned approximately one century, from the Ghaznavid era (which lasted until 1187) till a little after the Mongol Invasion. Apart from the movement towards brevity, this period also saw two significant and lasting changes to the ghazal form.
The first change was the adoption of the Takhallus, the practice of mentioning the poet's pen-name in the final couplet (called the maqta). The adoption of the takhallus became a gradually accepted part of the ghazal form, and by the time of Saadi Shirazi (1210-1291 AD), the most important ghazal poet of this period, it had become de rigueur. The second marked change from Arabian ghazal form in Persian ghazals was a movement towards far greater autonomy between the couplets.
The ghazal later spread throughout the Middle East and South Asia. It was famous all around the Indian subcontinent in the 18th and 19th centuries[unreliable source?]
The ghazal was spread from Persia into South Asia in the 12th century[unreliable source?] by the influence of Sufi mystics and the courts of the new Islamic sultanates[unreliable source?]. This period coincided with the early Islamic Sultanates in India, through the wave of Islamic invasions into the region in that period. The 13th century poet and musician Ameer Khusrow is considered the first Urdu poet.
All the lines of a ghazal have the same meter[unreliable source?]. It is common in ghazals for the poet's name (known as takhallus) to be featured in the last verse (a convention known as the maqta)[unreliable source?].
Can usually be interpreted for a higher being or for a mortal beloved. Love is always viewed as something that will complete a human being, and if attained will lift him or her into the ranks of the wise, or will bring satisfaction to the soul of the poet. Traditional ghazal law may or may not have an explicit element of sexual desire in it, and the love may be spiritual. The love may be directed to either a man or a woman.
The ghazal is always written from the point of view of the unrequited lover whose beloved is portrayed as unattainable[unreliable source?]. Most often, either the beloved has not returned the poet's love or returns it without sincerity or else the societal circumstances do not allow it. The lover is aware and resigned to this fate but continues loving nonetheless; the lyrical impetus of the poem derives from this tension. Representations of the lover's powerlessness to resist his feelings often include lyrically exaggerated violence. The beloved's power to captivate the speaker may be represented in extended metaphors about the "arrows of his eyes", or by referring to the beloved as an assassin or a killer. Take, for example, the following couplets from Amir Khusro's Persian ghazal Nami danam chi manzil buud shab:
nemidanam che manzel bood shab jayi ke man boodam;
I wonder what was the place where I was last night,
Many of the major historical ghazal poets were either avowed Sufis themselves (like Rumi or Hafiz), or were sympathizers with Sufi ideas. Most ghazals can be viewed in a spiritual context, with the Beloved being a metaphor for God or the poet's spiritual master. It is the intense Divine Love of Sufism that serves as a model for all the forms of love found in ghazal poetry.
Most ghazal scholars today recognize that some ghazal couplets are exclusively about Divine Love (ishq-e-haqiqi). Others are about "earthly love" (ishq-e-majazi), but many of them can be interpreted in either context.
Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Afghan, Pakistani, and Indian musicians. The form has roots in seventh-century Arabia[unreliable source?], and gained prominence in the thirteenth- and fourteenth-century, thanks to such Persian poets as Rumi and Hafiz, and later to Indian poets such as Mirza Ghalib. In the eighteenth-century, the ghazal was used by poets writing in Urdu. Among these poets, Ghalib is the recognized master[unreliable source?].
Ghazals were written by Rumi, Hafiz and Saadi Shirazi of Persia; the Azerbaijani Turkish poet Fuzûlî in the Ottoman Empire; Mirza Ghalib and Muhammad Iqbal of North India; and Kazi Nazrul Islam of Bengal. Through the influence of Goethe (1749-1832), the ghazal became very popular in Germany during the 19th century; the form was used extensively by Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866) and August von Platen (1796-1835). The Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali was a proponent of the form, both in English and in other languages; he edited a volume of "real Ghazals in English". Ghazals were also written by Moti Ram Bhatta (1866-1896), the pioneer of Nepali ghazal writing in Nepali. Ghazals were also written by Hamza Shinwari, He is known as the father of Pashto Ghazals[better source needed]
In Persian, prominent and acclaimed ghazal poets include Hafiz, Rumi, Saadi Shirazi, Fakhr-al-Din Iraqi, Khwaju Kermani, Saib Tabrizi, Hossein Monzavi, Maryam Jafari Azarmani, Wali Mohammed Wali, Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Momin Khan Momin, Daagh Dehlvi, Khwaja Haidar Ali Aatish, Jan Nisar Akhtar, Khwaja Mir Dard, Jaun Elia, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Ahmad Faraz, Firaq Gorakhpuri, Muhammad Iqbal, Syed Amin Ashraf, Qamar Jalalabadi, Shakeb Jalali, Nasir Kazmi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Hasrat Mohani, Makhdoom Mohiuddin, Jigar Moradabadi, Saghar Siddiqui, Munir Niazi, Mirza Rafi Sauda, Qateel Shifai, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Dushyant Kumar, Syed Waheed Ashraf, Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq, Madan Pal and Kashmiri Lal Zakir.
Enormous collections of ghazal have been created by hundreds of well-known poets over the past thousand years in Persian, Turkish, and Urdu as well as in the Central Asian Turkic languages. Ghazal poems are performed in Uzbek-Tajik Shashmakom, Turkish Makam, Persian Dastgah and Uyghur Muqam. There are many published translations from Persian and Turkish by Annemarie Schimmel, Arthur John Arberry and many others.
Ghazal "Gayaki", the art of singing or performing the ghazal in the Indian classical tradition, is very old. Singers like Ustad Barkat Ali and many other singers in the past used to practice it, but the lack of historical records make many names anonymous. It was with Begum Akhtar and later on Ustad Mehdi Hassan that classical rendering of ghazals became popular in the masses. The categorization of ghazal singing as a form of "light classical" music is a misconception.
Classical ghazals are difficult to render because of the varying moods of the "shers" or couplets in the ghazal. Amanat Ali Khan, Begum Akhtar, Talat Mahmood, Mehdi Hassan, Abida Parveen, Jagjit Singh, Farida Khanum and Ustad Ghulam Ali, Moinuddin Ahamed, are popular classical ghazal singers.
Understanding the complex lyrics of ghazals required education typically available only to the upper classes. The traditional classical r?gas in which the lyrics were rendered were also difficult to understand. The Ghazal has undergone some simplification in terms of words and phrasings, which helps it to reach a larger audience around the world. Most of the ghazals are now sung in styles that are not limited to khay?l, thumri, r?ga, t?la and other classical and light classical genres.
However, those forms of the ghazal are looked down on by purists of the Indian classical tradition. In Pakistan, Noor Jehan, Iqbal Bano, Abida Parveen, Farida Khanum, Ghulam Ali, Ahmed Rushdi, Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and Mehdi Hassan are known for ghazal renditions. Singers like Jagjit Singh (who first used a guitar in ghazals), Ahmed and Mohammed Hussain, Hariharan, Adithya Srinivasan, Mohammad Rafi, Pankaj Udhas, Satyam Anandjee and many others have been able to give a new shape to the ghazal by incorporating elements of Western music.
In North India, in addition to Hindustani, ghazals have been very popular in the Gujarati language. For around a century, starting with Balashankar Kantharia, there have been many notable Gujarati ghazal writers like Kalapi, Barkat Virani 'Befaam', Aasim Randeri, Shunya Palanpuri, Amrut Ghayal, Khalil Dhantejvi and many more. Some notable ghazals of those prominent writers have been sung by Bollywood playback singer Manhar Udhas.
Renowned ghazal singer, and pioneer of Telugu ghazals, Ghazal Srinivas popularized the ghazal in Telugu. Srinivas also introduced ghazal singing in Kannada, and Ghazals in Kannada were written by Markandapuram Srinivas.
After nearly a century of "false starts", the early experiments of James Clarence Mangan, James Elroy Flecker, Adrienne Rich, Phyllis Webb, etc., many of whom did not adhere wholly or in part to the traditional principles of the form, experiments dubbed as "the bastard Ghazal", the ghazal finally began to be recognized as a viable closed form in poetry of the English language some time in the early to mid-1990s. It came about largely as a result of serious, true-to-form examples being published by noted American poets John Hollander, W. S. Merwin and Elise Paschen as well as by Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali, who had been teaching and spreading word of the Ghazal at American universities over the previous two decades. Jim Harrison created his own free-form Ghazal true to his poetic vision in Outlyer and Ghazals (1971).
In 1996, Ali compiled and edited the world's first anthology of English-language Ghazals, published by Wesleyan University Press in 2000, as Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English. (Fewer than one in ten of the ghazals collected in Real Ghazals in English observe the constraints of the form.) Devi Panthi of Nepal started composing ghazals claiming himself the pioneer of English ghazals since 2006.
A ghazal is composed of couplets, five or more. The couplets may have nothing to do with one another except for the formal unity derived from a strict rhyme and rhythm pattern.
A ghazal in English observes the traditional restrictions of the form:
Where are you now? Who lies beneath your spell tonight?
Whom else from rapture's road will you expel tonight?
Those "Fabrics of Cashmere--" "to make Me beautiful--"
"Trinket"-- to gem- "Me to adorn- How- tell"-- tonight?
I beg for haven: Prisons, let open your gates-
A refugee from Belief seeks a cell tonight.
God's vintage loneliness has turned to vinegar-
All the archangels- their wings frozen- fell tonight.
Lord, cried out the idols, Don't let us be broken
Only we can convert the infidel tonight.
Mughal ceilings, let your mirrored convexities
multiply me at once under your spell tonight.
He's freed some fire from ice in pity for Heaven.
He's left open- for God- the doors of Hell tonight.
In the heart's veined temple, all statues have been smashed
No priest in saffron's left to toll its knell tonight
God, limit these punishments, there's still Judgment Day-
I'm a mere sinner, I'm no infidel tonight.
Executioners near the woman at the window.
Damn you, Elijah, I'll bless Jezebel tonight.
The hunt is over, and I hear the Call to Prayer
fade into that of the wounded gazelle tonight.
My rivals for your love- you've invited them all?
This is mere insult, this is no farewell tonight.
And I, Shahid, only am escaped to tell thee-
God sobs in my arms. Call me Ishmael tonight.
Some notable ghazal singers are: