The South Asian tradition of 'marsiya' is rich and textured. Originating in Iran, a 'marsiya' is a kind of poetry that eulogizes the martyrdom of Imam Hussain and his companions in Karbala. While the art of the 'marsiya' is a borrowed one (the Persians picked it up from the Arabs), the Urdu 'marsiya' is unique in it's sentiment, grace, vocabulary and performance.
Some of the greatest Urdu 'marsiya' writers include Mir Anees, Josh Malihabadi, Mir Hasan and more. Over the years, this form of poetry has been popularized by contemporary reciters such as Syed Tanvirul Hasan, Talat Hussain and Zia Moheyuddin.
More recently, Ahsan Khan recited one of Josh Malihabadi's marsiyas as 'teht-ul-lafz' for the Muharram transmission of Hum TV.
Ahsan Khan is now set to appear in an academic webinar on the art form. Titled Hussain Aur Inquilab, the live online event will consist of two parts. In the first part, Ally Adnan will provide an overview of the institution of marsiya, covering its evolution from pre-Islamic Arabia to present times. His talk will cover a number of topics related to marsiya, including poetics, performance styles, prominent marsiya writers, majalis-e-azaa , and introduce the elegiacal works of Josh Malihabadi. In the second part of the event, Ahsan Khan will recite excerpts from Josh Malihabadi’s seminal marsiya, Hussain Aur Inquilab, in the traditional declamatory teht-ul-lafz style.
“I have always been fond of Hussain Aur Inquilab,” said Ahsan Khan. “Josh wrote nine Marsiyas but this one has always been my favorite. Very few people realize the important part it played in galvanizing the local populace to oust the British from united India but, once one listens to Josh’s electrifying poetry, its veritable value as a source of strength becomes obvious. I recently recorded a few short excerpts from the marsiya for a local television and have since been inundated to recite longer sections of the marsiya. I am glad to have a second opportunity to recite Josh’s captivating verse.”
“The power of Hussain Aur Inquilab to energize, motivate and inspire cannot be overstated,” believes Ally Adnan. “Eighty years after its publication, the poem continues to retain its capacity to energize listeners, rouse emotions, and evoke revolutionary feelings, using the battle of Karbala as a source of inspiration, guidance and strength. In the upcoming webinar, I will be presenting the origin, history and development of marsiya through the centuries, and take listeners through the journey which culminated with Josh Malihabadi establishing modern marsiya as a form as important as classical marsiya.”
The webinar will be held between 09:00 and 10:00PM Pakistan Standard Time on Sunday, the fifth of September. Save the date!
Will be posting updates on our Instagram page.