Syed Ahmad Shah (Urdu: سید احمد شاہ), better known by his pen name Ahmed Faraz, (Urdu: احمد فراز 12 January 1931 – 25 August 2008)was a Pakistani Urdu poet, scriptwriter and chairman of Pakistan Academy of Letters. He wrote his poetry under pseudonym Faraz.During his lifetime, he criticised military rule and coup d’état in the country and was displaced by the military dictators.He was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz. On 25 August 2008, he died in Islamabad, and later Government of Pakistan conferred Hilal-e-Pakistan posthumously upon Faraz for his contribution to poetry and Urdu literature.
Faraz was of Hindkowan background. His brother is Syed Masood Kausar. He moved to Peshawar with his family. He studied at Edwardes College, Peshawar and received his Master’s degree in Urdu and Persian from Peshawar University. During his college life, the two prominent poets Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ali Sardar Jafri influenced him and became Faraz’s role models.
Faraz began his poetry career during his college life with the Tanha Tanha gazal collection. Love and beauty were the main themes of his poetry. His poems were used by the singers, including Mehdi Hasan who sung Ranjish he sahi gazal. His poem Silsilay Tor Gaya was sung by Noor Jahan. Faraz is credited for writing renowned poems, including Pas Andaaz, Sab Awazain Meri, Khuwab Gul, Janan Janan, and Ghazal Bahana Karon.
Ahmad Faraz’s poetry was highly popular among the general public in Pakistan, India as well as among the subcontinent’s immigrant populations overseas. He was a poet in high demand at social gatherings (mushairas) where he would recite his poetry in his own voice. Ahmad Faraz was often compared to Muhammad Iqbal and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
Singers like Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali, Jagjit Singh and Runa Laila greatly popularized his poetry by singing his ghazals in films and in concerts.
Ahmad Faraz served as Chairman of the National Book Foundation in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Faraz was arrested for writing poems that criticised military rulers in Pakistan during the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq. Following that arrest, he went into a self-imposed exile.He stayed for 6 years in Britain, Canada, and Europe before returning to Pakistan, where he was initially appointed as Chairman of the Pakistan Academy of Letters and later chairperson of the Islamabad-based National Book Foundation for several years. He has been awarded numerous national and international awards. In 2006, he returned the Hilal-e-Imtiaz award he was given in 2004.
Death and legacy
Earlier in 2008, after a fall in Baltimore, Maryland, there were false rumors of his death while he was being treated in a Chicago hospital. But he was able to return to his homeland, Pakistan. Then later, Ahmad Faraz died of kidney failure, confirmed by his son Shibli Faraz, in a private hospital in Islamabad on 25 August 2008. His funeral was held on the evening of 26 August, among many admirers and government officials at H-8 Graveyard, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ahmad Faraz is highly regarded among the long list of revolutionary poets of Urdu language.