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Jaun Elia

Jaun Elia (Urdu: جون ایلیا‎, December 14, 1931 – November 8, 2002) was a notable Pakistani Urdu-language poet, philosopher, biographer, and scholar. He was the brother of journalist and psychoanalyst Rais Amrohvi and journalist and philosopher Syed Muhammad Taqi, and husband of columnist Zahida Hina. He was fluent in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit and Hebrew.

Early life

Jaun Elia was born on 14 December 1931 in Amroha, Uttar Pradesh. He was the youngest of his siblings. His father, Shafiq Hasan Elia, was involved in art and literature and also an astrologer and a poet. This literary environment modeled him along the same lines, and he wrote his first Urdu couplet when he was just 8.[citation needed] As a young man he was interested in Islamic history.
A close relation of Elia's, Syed Mumtaz Saeed, recalled that Elia also went to Syed-ul-Madaris in Amroha, a Madrasah. Apart from Arabic and Persian that he had learned at the Madrasah, he acquired proficiency in English and a smattering of Hebrew.[citation needed]
During his youth, Pakistan gained independence as a Muslim state. Being a Communist, Elia was averse to the idea, but finally accepted it as a compromise. He migrated to Pakistan in 1957, and made Karachi his home. His poetry won him both acclaim and approbation in the local literary circle.[citation needed] Poet Pirzada Qasim said: "Jaun was very particular about language. While his diction is rooted in the classical tradition, he touches on new subjects. He remained in quest of an ideal all his life. Unable to find the ideal eventually, he became angry and frustrated. He felt, perhaps with reason, that he had squandered his talent."[this quote needs a citation]


His first poetry collection Shayad (an Urdu word which means "Maybe") was published in 1991, when he was 60. His preface in this collection provided deep insights into his works and the culture within which he was expressing his ideas. The preface can also be considered[by whom?] as a fine example of modern Urdu prose. The second collection of his poetry Ya'ani was published posthumously in 2003. Later his companion, Khalid Ansari, compiled and published his three consecutive collections, Gumaan (an Urdu word which means "Illusion") in 2004, Lekin in 2006 and Goya in 2008.[citation needed]
An eminent Urdu literary critic, Muhammad Ali Siddiqui, has called Elia one of the three most eminent ghazal poets of Urdu of the second half of the twentieth century.[citation needed]
Elia was an open anarchist and nihilist in generally a conservative and religious society. His elder brother Rais Amrohvi, himself a poet and influential intellectual, was murdered.[citation needed]

Other work

He briefly worked as an editor with Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. His translation of various Mautazalite treatises, a book on 12th century Fatimid revolutionary Hassan Bin Sabbah, and also various texts about the Ismaili sect in Islam are a major contribution to the Urdu language and literature.[citation needed] His prose and other translation of major Ismaili philosophical works can be found at Ismaili Tariqah Board libraries in Karachi.
He acquired knowledge of philosophy, logic, Islamic history, the Muslim Sufi tradition, Muslim religious sciences, Western literature, and Kabbala. His synthesis of this knowledge into his poetry differentiates him from his modern contemporaries.[citation needed]
He also edited the Urdu literary magazine Insha, through which he came to know another Urdu writer, Zahida Hina, whom he later married.[citation needed] Zahida Hina writes for Jang and Express on current political and social issues. He had two daughters and a son with her. Jaun and Zahida divorced in the mid-1980s which left him alcoholic and depressed.[citation needed] He died after a protracted illness on 8 November 2002 in Karachi.


Poetry collections

  • Shayad, 1991.  
  • Ya'ani, 2003.  
  • Gumaan, 2004.
  • Lekin, 2006.
  • Goya, 2008.
  • Farnood, 2012
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