Tahirih in Urdu

In the 20th century, over one-hundred authors, most writing in Urdu, wrote books, articles, and short stories about Tahirih.

A renowned journalist wrote in a Karachi newspaper: “There would seldom be any poet of the Urdu language who would not have said a poem following the style of Tahirih.”

The Urdu Encyclopedia of Islam published in 1964, and another Urdu encyclopedia in 1984, noted about Tahirih: “To summarize, she was matchless in the art of poetry.”

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Several of the mentions of Tahirih were due to her having been one of the subjects of the great thinker Muhammad Iqbal. Prof. Jagannath Azad, an expert on Iqbal, travelled to the United States and remembered:

“When I reached the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar (Baha’i Temple) of Chicago, I was charmed by the            atmosphere and freshness of its gardens. My friend Iftekhar Nasim chanted for me the poem of Qurratu’l-Ayn Tahirih “Gar bat u Uftadam Nazar…” and I lose myself in its melody and felt the same feeling that she cherished for the founder of the Baha’i Faith.”

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At the University of Punjab—the oldest university in a majority Muslim area of the Indian subcontinent[i]—two dissertations and a paper on Iqbal’s thought included Tahirih. An entire book published in Peshawar, Iqbal Aur Qurratu’l-Ayn, by another scholar, Dr. Syed Chiragh Hussain Shah, was devoted to the relationship between Iqbal and Tahirih.[ii]

University of Punjab photo

Tahirih was also the subject of short stories. Prof. Aziz Ahmad, a much-respected writer, wrote a short story about her, “Zarrin Taj,” which was published in a monthly literary magazine in Lahore. It was given a dramatic reading on Radio Pakistan in Rawalpindi, in 1963. Sheikh Manzoor Elahi, another well-respected short story writer produced a piece titled, “Qurratu’l-Ayn,” which appeared in print in Lahore in 1965.

[i] “University of the Punjab,” University of the Punjab, accessed November 1, 2013,


[ii] Afaqi, “Qurratu’l-‘Ayn Tahirih in Urdu literature,” 34.