Najm Hosain Syed

Poet, Playwright, Linguist and Literary Critic Najm Hosain Syed (born 1936) is unique for having created the greatest positive impact on Punjabi literature, language, and the movement for the integrity of Punjabi in West Punjab. The author of over 22 literary titles, Najm Hosain Syed runs weekly ‘Sangat Shah Husain’ since the Seventies, a literary gathering that is may be the highest school of learning that Pakistan can offer. Classic Punjabi poets such as Shah Madhulal Husain, Bulleh Shah, Gurunanak, Waris Shah and Damoodar are read, interpreted and discussed line by line over months and years. [1]

Najm Hosain Syed was born in 1936 in an influential Qadri family of Batala in East Punjab. The Syeds moved to Lahore after the partition where young Najm was educated. In 1958, he completed his Masters in English at Forman Christian College. He joined the Pakistan civil services building a distinguished career from which he retired in 1995. [2]

Najm Hosain Syed started writing early and his first book was published in 1965. Around this time, he also founded Majlis Shah Hussain and Punjabi Adabi Sangat and firmly established them with the support of writers and activists such as Asif Khan (d. 2000) and Shafqat Tanvir Mirza (b.1932). [2]

In addition, Najm Hosain Syed has written several plays. Jungle da Rakha (The Protector of Jungle, 1967) is a satire on how the powerful people convince the weak to follow them; Takhat Lahore (The Throne of Lahore, 1970) celebrates a rebellion associated with a Punjabi hero, Dullah Bhatti, against the Emperor Akbar; Ikk Rat Ravi di (A Night of Ravi, 1983) reconstructs Ahmad Khan Kharal’s rebellion against the British in 1857; Harh de Phull (The Flowers of Summer, 1989) portrays the failure of leftist movement in Pakistan; and Alfu Paerni di Var (Ballad of Alfu Paerni, 2002) demythologizes the history of Punjab. [2]

Syed’s has also made significant contribution in the area of literary criticism. His Recurrent Patterns in Punjabi Poetry (1968) laid the foundations of literary criticism in Punjabi. In this book, he examines the poetry of Baba Farid, Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Varish Shah, Mian Mohammad Baksh, and others. His other critical works are in Punjabi and include Sedhan (The Directions, 1967), Saran (The Awareness, 1974), Sachch Sada Abadi Karna (Always Cultivate the Truth, 1988), Akath Kahani (The Untellable Tale, 1990), Khako Jed na Koe (No One is above Dust, 1995), Rang (Colors, 2000), Ahean vichun Nahean (Consent within Dissent, 2003); and Lokan Kamleyan Nun Qissa Hushiyar (A Story of Awareness for the Unaware, 2004). These books present a perceptive analysis of Punjabi poetry that ranges from classical to qissa poets, while establishing the norms in Punjabi criticism. [2]

To sum up, here is literary giant who has made a multi-faceted contribution to Punjabi literature and life. His critical essays shed fresh light on Punjabi literature and his creative writings present a wide variety of themes and issues and revive pre-Partition use of the Pothohari dialect. By writing about professions that are on their way to extinction, he has preserved for posterity rich glimpses of Punjabi culture. For him the revival of Punjabi language is necessary for the survival of Punjabi people. His plays constantly echo the rebellious tradition of Punjab and there is little doubt that he would like to see the revival of that tradition in the emergence of a society without corruption and suppression. [2]


1. KafiaN, Poetry, 1965

2. Jungle da Rakha, Stage Play, Tran. Saeed Ahmad’s Bengali play, 1968

3. Shish Mahl de Vaar, Poetry, 1993

4. Aam DinaN de NaaN, Poetry, 1994

5. Kaal Thaal, Poetry, 1998

6. Baar Di Vaar, Poetry, 1969

7. Ek Raat Ravi De, Stage Play, 1983

8. Takht Lhore, Stage Play, 2000

9. Rung, Literary Criticism, 2000

10. Qissae, Poetry, 2001

11. Kial key Khial, Poetry, 2002

12. Alfo Pairni de Vaar, Stage Play, 2002

13. Chandan Rukh te VehRa, Poetry, 1968

14. Rut De Kamm, Poetry, 1976

15. AieaN VichoN NaieaN, Literary Criticism, 2003

16. Recurrent Patterns in Punjabi Poetry,Literary Criticism,

17. Lokan Kamlian nu Qissa Hoisar, Literary Criticism, 2004

18. Akth Khani, Literary Criticism, 2005

19. Akna Naieen Loon, Poetry, 2005

20. Jit Aahr Jig Uhdary, Poetry, 2007

21. Such Sada Abadi Karna, Literary Criticism, 1988

22. Haku Jait Na koi, Literary Criticism, 1995

23. SaaraaN, Literary Criticism, 1974

24. SaidhaN, Literary Criticism, 1967

25. Harr de Phul, Stage Play, 1989

26. Khapae, Poetry, 1986

27. Talib Qissae Di, Literary Criticism, 2008