Criticism books

Muqadma Sher O Shayari By Altaf Hussain Hali

Muqadma Sher O Shayari (مقدمہ شعرو شاعری)is the first book of Urdu criticism written by Altaf Hussain Hali (الطا ف حسین حالی). In the field of Urdu literary criticism, this book revolutionized things. It is considered to be the first scripture of criticism. Al Nazar publishers published it in 1879.

Altaf Hussain Hali is considered to be the first standard of modern Urdu criticism. He was the first critic of contemporary Urdu literature to formally formulate the principles of Urdu criticism.

Muqadma Sher O Shayari / مقدمہ شعر و شاعری
Muqaddamah Sher-o-Shayeri / مقدمہ شعر و شاعری

Muqadma Sher O Shayari Summary

There are two parts to the case of poetry. In the first part of the case of poetry, Hali presented critical principles. In the second part, he reviewed the Masnavi(مثنوی), Qasida(قصیدہ), Marsiya (مرثیہ)and other genres in the light of the same principles.

In this book, Hali provides his critical point of view on poetry and poems. These are three principles of poetry given below.

  • According to this book, he says that the virtue of good poetry is that it should have “simplicity”.  Imagination and simple words should be used to convey thoughts, not complicated jargon that confuses readers.
  • His second point of view is that a poem needs to be unpretentious and sentimental in order to arouse the emotions of the reader. This is why he is able to call it unpretentious.
  • The third should be “originality”. That is, the word should not be exaggerated and metaphorical, but should be described as such.

Hali rejects the old theory of literature for literature(ادب برائے ادب) and “art for skill(ادب برائے ہنر)” based on the demands of literature, instead of promoting the theory of “literature for life (ادب برئے زند گی).” Both of these theories are based on Aristotle and Plato.

Initially, no one seems to agree with this feature of Hali, because his contemporary Allama Shibli considers this feature to be very necessary and effective for poetry. Many have blamed the situation on Milton, and many have accused him of robbery. 

Regardless of all this, Hali has introduced Urdu literature to new art, following in the footsteps of which Urdu literature has formulated its critical principles.

Read this book:Yadgar E Ghalib By Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali


Altaf Hussain Hali’s Muqaddamah Sher-o-Shayeri was a pioneering work of Urdu literary criticism, published in 1879. It established principles of simplicity, naturalness, and originality in poetry, rejecting ornate language. Hali critiqued poetic genres based on these tenets. He also promoted a purposeful “literature for life” over “art for art’s sake.” Initial reception was mixed, but Hali’s critical approach took root in Urdu literature.

Despite some valid critiques, Muqaddamah Sher O Shayeri represented a major step forward in formulating Urdu critical theory. Its influence is evident in subsequent Urdu criticism. Thus, Hali’s seminal work marks a watershed moment, providing foundational principles that shaped modern Urdu literary analysis.

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