Amir Khusrow Biography
Amir Khusro was a Sufi musician, poet and scholar regarded as the "father of Qawwali". An expert in many styles of Persian poetry, he has written in many verse forms including ghazal, masnavi, qata, rubai, do-baiti and tarkib-band. He played a significant role in the development of the arts and culture in the Indian subcontinent and is considered an iconic figure in the cultural history of the region. Credited to have introduced the ghazal style of song into India, he was also the one who introduced Persian, Arabic and Turkish elements into Indian classical music. Khusro was introduced to Sufism and music at an early age by his father. Bright and talented, he began composing verses from the time when he was just eight. He was raised in an intellectually stimulating atmosphere and received training in the arts and literature as well as Fiqh, astronomy, grammar, philosophy, logic, religion, mysticism and history. He went on to become an acclaimed poet who was greatly respected by the rulers of the land; he was associated with the royal courts of more than seven rulers of the Delhi Sultanate. He wrote primarily in Persian and Hindustani, though he had also composed a war ballad in Punjabi. Centuries after his death, his poetry is still sung today at Sufi shrines throughout Pakistan and India.
- He was born as Ab'ul Hasan Yamīn ud-Dīn K͟husrau in 1253 in Patiyali in Kasganj, Uttar Pradesh. His father, Amīr Saif-ud-Dīn Mahmūd was a high official at the court of Sultan Shamsuddin Iltutmish. His mother Bibi Daulatnaz was the daughter of Rawat Arz and hailed from an Indian Rajput family. Khusro had two brothers and one sister.
- He was an intelligent child who developed an early interest in poetry and music. He lost his father when he was just nine years old and was then brought up in his maternal grandfather, Nawab Imadul Mulk’s care.
- He received a good education and learned the arts and literature as well as Fiqh, astronomy, grammar, philosophy, logic, religion, mysticism and history. He became well versed in the Turkish, Persian and Arabic languages and also acquired proficiency in various Indian dialects in the multi-ethnic environment of Delhi. He also became a spiritual disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya of Delhi.
- Amir Khusro’s grandfather died in 1271. Khusro then joined as a soldier in the army of Malik Chajju, a nephew of Sultan Balban. By this time he had composed a lot of poetry and this position helped him gain attention as a poet.
- Malik Chajju appointed him the court poet in 1272. A few years later, Khusro started working for Bughra Khan, son of Balban, in 1276. Amir Khusro saw the rise and fall of several kingdoms in Delhi, yet he was respected and honored by each of the successive monarchies. He earned the title of Tut-i Hind (Parrot of India) in recognition of his scholarly achievements, wisdom, and purity of heart.
- As court poet, he focused on his literary works and composed ghazals in quick succession. During the reign of Alauddin Khilji, he wrote the ‘Khaza'in ul-Futuh’ (The treasures of victory) recording Alauddin’s construction works, wars, and administrative services.
- During this period he also composed a quintet (khamsa) with five masnavis which covered ethical and Sufi themes, romance, and heroic deeds of famous warriors. Khilji was highly impressed by these works and rewarded Khusro handsomely.
- After Alauddin Khilji's death, his son Qutubuddin Mubarak Shah succeeded him as the king. Khusro composed a masnavi on Mubarak Shah titled ‘Nuh Sipihr’ (Nine Skies), which he classified into nine chapters, each part considered as a sky.
- In 1321 Mubarak Shah was murdered and Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq came to the throne. Khusro composed the ‘Tughlaq Namah’ to commemorate his reign and that of other Tughlaq rulers. He then went to Bengal with Tughlaq and stayed there for some time before returning to Delhi upon hearing the sad news of the death of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, his spiritual guide.
- In his ‘Nuh Sipihr’, he gave a vivid account of India and its flora and fauna, environment, culture, and scholars. He appreciated some aspects of Hindu religion and customs in the work which reflected his Sufi orientation. As a poet he was renowned for the originality with which he created new metaphors and similes.
- He made significant contributions to the development of ghazal. He introduced the ghazal style of song to the Indian subcontinent where it still remains a popular musical genre. He also had tremendous influence on the popularization of Qawwali—a devotional music form of the Sufis—because of which he earned the title of "father of Qawwali".
- Amir Khusro was married with children. His son Malik Muhammad inherited his father’s aptitude for poetry.
- When Khusro was with Sultan Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq on an expedition to Bengal, he received the news of his spiritual guide Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's death. Heartbroken, Khusro returned to Delhi and began to spend most of his time at Auliya’s grave. He could not survive without his guide for long and breathed his last in October 1325. Amir Khusro was buried a small distance away from the resting place of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
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