With reading, you can open your mind to new worlds. This is the reason why George R.R. Martin says: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies“.
Therefore, I have compiled a list of the 10 best books in Urdu that you should read. So, let’s dive into the topic without further introductions.
For your knowledge, let me tell you that a book is a vital resource that changes the way you think. Books shape our society and they take a reader to another world.
In this article, I am about to share with you the written masterpieces of some Urdu writers about which the people are unaware.
Urdu literature has flourished for centuries because of a reason. It has given people a way to transfer their ideas and thoughts from person to person.
It is important to read books in Urdu because they encourage us for a change, they motivate us to achieve something big and they allow us to take the right path.
The Best Books in Urdu:
Raja Gidh is a novel by Banu Qudsia which is widely read. Banu Qudsia is a writer and a spiritualist and this novel, Raja Gidh, is the reason for her fame.
The word “Gidh” refers to a vulture (Gidh is an Urdu word) and “Raja” is a Hindu synonym for King. Therefore, the title of the novel refers to the kingdom of vultures.
You should know that a vulture is an animal that feeds on the carcasses of dead animals. This is used as a metaphor (representative or symbolic) to portray the trespassing (exceeding) of moral and ethical limits imposed by religion or society.
Banu Qudsia has written this novel based on the Islamic concept of Halal (permitted) and Haram (forbidden). According to Banu Qudsia, Haram transmits genetically. To support her theory, she elaborates that whether Haram is discharged financially, morally or emotionally, it affects a person.
I love the way the novel contains multiple psychological and social aspects that we all need to understand. Banu Qudsia is one of the writers who narrates her theory in a way that is acceptable to all of the readers (or to most at least). In fact, a reader finds similarities between themselves and one of the characters.
The plot of the story contains Seemin Shah (who belongs to an upper-middle-class family) who loves her class fellow, Aftab. Seemin Shah is a very attractive girl, and that is why she attracts a lot of men around her.
Although Aftab (a young Kashmiri boy) also loves her, yet he is very sensitive when it comes to the prestige (respect) of his family. Therefore, he cannot marry her because he cannot ignore his family values (of marrying a girl who is not acceptable to his parents).
Thus, the lengthy story of separation starts. Therefore, Raja Gidh is a story of romance and morality that is unique in its own way. So, do give it a read. I am sure you will understand why this book is on the number one spot on this list.
Now, let me introduce you to “Over Coat”.
Although Over Coat is a short story, yet it is included among the best books in Urdu because the lessons it contains are very big.
This Urdu story is penned by Ghulam Abbas, who is one of the most prominent writers of Urdu.
The story highlights important themes such as showoff and the exhibitionist attitude of the people. The main character of the story is a young man who is poor but he wears an overcoat to hide his garments.
This is because he does not want people to interpret (find out) his financial status. When this young man comes into an accident with a lorry, his reality is exposed to the people.
For me, the main reason Ghulam Abbas writes this story is to highlight the class conscious society that tries to pretend what they are not. If I explain this with the help of the story, the young man wanted to show himself as “rich” to be considered a part of society.
In terms of description, Ghulam Abbas beautifully explains the emotions (of the characters) and the environment. The narration is easy to understand and this is the reason, the “overcoat” is one of the best short stories that you should read.
More About Ghulam Abbas:
Ghulam Abbas was a short story writer who was born in Amritsar, India. The stories he wrote have prominent status in Urdu literature. He was a man who was never greedy for fame. He was a literary genius and he earned respect due to his writings.
Apart from overcoat, Aanandi is also one of the reasons for his fame.
Aag Ka Darya:
This is one of the best Urdu (fiction) novels of the twentieth century. The novel was first published in 1959 and it is about the fate of four characters over two and half millennia. The four characters are:
- Gautam (Buddhist)
- Champa (Hindu)
- Kamal (Muslim)
- Cyril (Christian)
The book talks about the different relations between the different eras. Some of them are:
- War and Romance
- Possession and dispossession
- Dramas, letters and diaries.
According to many people, the writer’s style is witty (funny) and lyrical and she questions the relevance of religion in the life of the Indians. This is a thought-provoking book (highlighting the history of the Indians). The writer beautifully explains the cultural diversity in India and emerges as a voice of the Indians.
So, do give it a read because it has been translated in English as well (under the name of “River of Fire). And, it is also one of the best-known novels of the Indian sub-continent.
More about the author (Qurratulain Hyder):
She was a short story writer, an academic and a journalist. The book “Aag Ka Darya” (River of Fire) is one of the reasons for her fame. She belonged to a writer family.
Her father Sajjad Haider was a prominent figure (and he also penned some of the best books in Urdu) in India and he was a short story writer. Moreover, her mother (Nazar Zahra) was also a novelist. Therefore, her childhood had a significant impact on her as she assimilated the language skills from her father and mother.
Peer-e-Kamil (The Perfect Mentor):
This is one of the best Urdu novels by Umera Ahmad that focuses on one’s journey for right or wrong. The protagonist (the main character) of the story of Salaar Sikander who has an outstanding IQ.
Umera Ahmad repeatedly says that Salaar has an IQ level of more than 150. Her critics say that the repetition of this expression is very annoying. The truth is that Umera Ahmad develops the character with this trick.
For your knowledge, let me tell you that Salaar Sikander gets married to Imama Hashmi who is a brilliant medical student and she unexpectedly leads Salaar to the righteous path, the path of the last and final Prophet of Islam.
The novel discusses the fact that it is upon a person to select the path, whether it is right or not. She emphasises that the spiritual awakening of Salaar was due to his effort to follow the path of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
The title, Peer-e-Kamil (The perfect Mentor) refers to the final Prophet who is a role model for every Muslim in each and every aspect of life. Therefore, a Muslim can only attain the love of God if he follows the path told by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Umera Ahmad is one of those Urdu writers that know how to grab the attention of her readers. She does not hesitate to produce wonderful novels and this is the reason for her fame. Peer-e-Kamil is one of her books that is considered one of the best books in Urdu.
With this, it is time to move on to the next book which is “Diwan e Ghalib”.
Diwan e Ghalib (Poetry):
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib is one of those names of Urdu that everyone is familiar with. He is a man who used to write simply as well as complex poetry. He was a classic Urdu and Persian poet from India.
Diwan e Ghalib is one of his best work. Ghalib presents around 104 Ghazals, 7 varied Nazms and 68 selected letters in the Urdu language (with parallel translation in English and translation in Roman script for the Persians who are not familiar with the Urdu script).
The book also provides an introduction to Mirza Ghalib and his work. Similarly, the significant events of his life are also mentioned in Diwan e Ghalib.
The sensual poetry of Ghalib and his sarcasm (irony) is a reason that people like to read his work. Even his works that were written hundreds of years ago are still relevant to the date.
He explains his emotions and feelings in detail but still for a lot of people, he is a very difficult poet (to understand) who has written some best books in Urdu. Note that it is said that it is the only book written by Ghalib.
So if you want to learn about the style of this great Urdu writer, do give it a read. I have included this in the list because he is the writer who has contributed a lot (when it comes to Urdu writings).
Moving on, it is time to introduce you to “Muhammad Bin Qasim” by Naseem Hijazi.
Muhammad Bin Qasim (by Naseem Hijazi):
Sharif Hussain (also known as Naseem Hijazi) earned fame due to his historical Islamic writings. He was a man who did great research before he wrote anything and this is the reason, he managed to writes books such as Muhammad Bin Qasim.
Moving on to the storyline, Hajjaj Bin Yusuf asked his nephew, Muhammad Bin Qasim, to save the pilgrims who were captured in Sindh by Raja Dahir and his forces. Muhammad Bin Qasim attacked the ship of Raja Dahir and he rescued the pilgrims.
Muhammad Bin Qasim later captured the entire Sindh and introduced Islam in the Middle East. “Bab-ul-Islam” was the title that was given to Sindh which means “The Gateway of Islam”.
Why Read Muhammad Bin Qasim?
Naseem Hijazi beautifully elaborates the Islamic history of Muhammad Bin Qasim capturing his. The description of the characters and their emotions is one of the best things about this book.
This is a must-read book for lovers of historical fiction. Furthermore, he captured the golden moments from history in a remarkable way. Therefore, you will read some great descriptions in this book.
And if you are the one who wants to improve his vocabulary and learn about history, do give this book a read.
Shikwa and Jawab-i-Shikwa by Allama Iqbal:
The word “Shikwa” means complaint and in this, Iqbal complains with God. “Jawab-i-Shikwa” means “the answer to the complaint“. Although most of Iqbal’s poetry was in Persian, some of his Urdu writings are a masterpiece.
In Shikwa (1909), Allama Iqbal put forward his views regarding Islam and he talks about the lost legacy (power) of Islam and the Muslims. He reminds Muslims about their wonderful past and he encourages Muslim to take pride in it.
Therefore, Shikwa is Iqbal’s complaint to God about the downfall of the Muslims. However, when Iqbal wrote this, he faced a lot of criticism.
To clear the doubts of the Muslim scholars, he wrote Jawab-i-Shikwa (1913). It is God’s reply to Iqbal’s complaint. He clears the fact to the Muslims that God has not forgotten them, instead the Muslims have forgotten God.
This is among the best books in Urdu as Iqbal closely observed his religion and the day-to-day practices of the Muslims. So, it is a must-read if you want to learn about one of the greatest Urdu poets and writers, Allama Iqbal.
This Urdu novel is written by Banu Qudsia who talks about one’s destiny. The title implies “One Day” in English. This story is very close to reality as it is based on social reformation. Banu Qudsia writes the novel in a classic (old) way.
She shows “Time” and how circumstances (situation) change with time. Therefore with time, the feelings, emotions and the association with things also change. Moreover, the story highlights an important aspect of fate that sometimes man thinks something else and something else happens.
Banu Qudsia elaborates how small events in life can completely change the course of life. In short, the tragedy with Amjad teaches important lessons about Fate (destiny) and its link with humanity.
Therefore, this is among the best books in Urdu for Youth as the concept of destiny is directed beautifully by Banu Qudsia. In short, do give this book a read.
And trust me, you will learn a lot from this book. Now, let’s talk about another book that is known as “Humsafar“.
This is a romantic novel written by Farhat Ishtiaq. The story is about Ashar and Khirad’s relationship with their daughter Hareem who unexpectedly bridges the gap between the two.
The writer uses the technique of flashbacks repeatedly with Ashar and Khirad. This story was adapted and later dramas and movies were produced on the same topic.
In the story, Hareem suffers from Congenital heart disease and therefore she requires immediate surgery. The novel also tells about the marriage of Ashar and Kharid in unusual (uncommon) circumstances.
The disease of Hareem brings Ashar and Khirad close to each other dispute a lot of misunderstandings. The book is a wonderful example of how a writer puts life into the characters.
The book is based upon the reality that how misunderstandings can ruin strong bonds and relationships.
The writer depicts the emotions of all the characters wonderfully and it is above the scope of this article to explain each and every aspect of this book and this is why it is among the best books in Urdu.
I recommend you to read this book because the character development and description of things (and ideas) in this book are perfect. This makes it worth reading!
Bano By Razia Butt:
This is a novel by Razia Butt who was an Urdu novelist and playwright from Pakistan. The novel talks about the days before and after the partition of the Indian subcontinent and the emotions of the people related to it.
Similarly, the events of the Partition have an important effect on the story.
If you are interested in reading this book, recall the sad reality of partition that many people lost their lives. And Razia Butt elaborates on the patriotism among the people at that moment. as well.
The book also talks (in detail) about the reasons for partition (and the creation of Pakistan) and how did the people play their role to achieve it. The sacrifices of the ancestors are also discussed which gives the reader chills.
This is included in the list because the novel plays an important role in increasing the patriotism of the Youth. We need to understand that violence is not the solution to any problem.
Instead, a possible approach should be adopted as partition was accepted by the Indian leaders to settle the disputes among the Muslims and the Hindus.
With this, the article on the best books in Urdu has come to an end. It is very important to revive the culture of book reading because the Urdu writers have penned some masterpieces that we should review.
Now I turn it over to you.
Which book in this list you are planning to read. And from the information I gave to you, which book do you think seems to be the most interesting? Do let me know.
Thank you very much for reading and staying with me till the end. Stay tuned for more,