A glance at the development of Urdu literature and language in the history of
Indian culture clearly demonstrates that even the poets who were the ambassadors of
this nation began to write poetry in their own language, which actually meant the
awakening of national identity of the people. This signified that the Urdu realized
their national dignity.
The reflection of national, democratic and anti-imperialist motives in Urdu poetry
in the genre of shahrashub opens entirely a new page in the history of this kind of
poetry. Meanwhile, this genre, which from the very beginning has focused on
describing the desires and goals of the middle class, becomes a worthy arena for the
fighting determination of the Urdu people.
At one time, scholars considered Urdu literature devoid of national and
democratic elements that could not go beyond the framework of classical Persian and
Indian literature. The existence of these motifs in Urdu poetry was first mentioned by
Ram Babu Saxena in his book "History of Urdu Literature" printed in 1927, which
was later deepened in the studies of Said Ehtisham Hussein. Democratic ideas, the
embodiment of people's lives in poetry were alien to Urdu literature until the 18th
century. It is in this century that major political, economic and ideological changes
are taking place in India. The crisis of the feudal system, the invasion of foreigners
into the country, and afterwards British dependence broke the patience of the people.
People, fed up with the invasion, resorted to riots, and this mood of people is
reflected in literature, primarily in shahrashubs. The increasingly powerful appeals of
Urdu poets allowed new poets-shahrashub writers to emerge.
In 1770, 10 million people died of starvation in Bengalia. Art and professionals
became an army of the unemployed. These tragic events are reflected in shahrashubs.
It is no coincidence that new terms appeared at this time with parallels to shahrashub:
Dahrashub, Falakashub, Alamashub. The point is that it becomes unsatisfactory to
talk about the pain and suffering of one city. The scope, themes and ideas of the
genre expands over time. A stable circle of topics of shahrashub emerges: as a hero
of poetry, the "black people" is highlighted, the desire for equality and freedom of all
people, regardless of position and origin, are expressed, intolerance to English
exploitation is proclaimed in poetic language, where local feudal lords and judges are
leeches, sucking the blood of the people.
On the one hand, this becomes a decisive step in Urdu poetry in finding its “I” in
world literature, on the other, it turns to the highest stage in the evolution of the
genre of shahrashub.
Towards the end of the 18th century, the tradition of Delhi's becoming the center
of Urdu literature came to an end. The weakening of the Mughal Empire led to the
emergence of independent feudal principalities in the country. A number of famous
Delhi poets left the city to earn a living and traveled to cities such as Azimabad,
Hyderabad and Rampur.
Famous poets such as Mir Hasan, Sauda, Mir Taki Mir, Mushafi, Juraat, Insha
gather in Lukhnau and found a new literary school distinct with a new style and a
unique thematic. Among these poets, Saud stands out. It is no coincidence that this poet,
known as Mirza Sauda, has been recognized by experts as the creator of the
satire genre in Urdu poetry. Delhi which was destroyed also in shahrashub of
Mushafi who was related to Lucknow regarding his entire literary activity, comes to
life with its miserable appearance. Nazir Akbarabadi, an eminent representative of
18th century Urdu poetry, also wrote interesting poems about people's lives and
In 1849, British colonists occupied the Punjab, ending the conquest of all of
India. The last traces of national independence disappears in the country. Thus, in the
mid 19th century, a country with the most ancient center of civilization loses its most
precious wealth - freedom. Although the popular uprising of 1857 did not end with
the overthrow of the foreign government, it awakened the national consciousness
even more and gave a powerful impetus to the development of the national liberation
movement. These feelings and moods of people are reflected in poetry and, above
all, in shahrashubs.
“Shahrashub-e Islam” by Shibli Nemani becomes one of the most necessary and
courageous steps taken in the formation of a new trend in Urdu poetry, called “civic
poetry”. It is interesting that it was the poets-shahrashub writers and their
shahrashubs who created and strengthened this trend in Urdu literature.
Examples of the genre of shahrashub in Urdu literature need further study.
Because these poems can be perceived as not only a real mirror of social and political
life, but also as a poetic chronicle of the Urdu people's struggle for freedom.