Momin Khan (Urdu: مومن خان) was an Indian poet known for his Urdu ghazals and used "Momin" as his takhallus (the Urdu word for nom de plume). He was a contemporary of Mirza Ghalib and Zauq, today his grave lies near the parking area near Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi.
Momin Khan Momin was born in Delhi. He was also called "Hakeem Khan" because he was a physician also. Hakeem is an Urdu word for physician.
Momin is known for his particular Persianized style and the beautiful use of his takhllus. According to legend, Mirza Ghalib (his contemporary and also a rival) offered Momin his entire diwan (collection of poetry) in exchange for a particular verse of Momin. The couplet in question was:
"Tum mere paas hote ho goya / Jab koi doosra nahi hota" which translates to: "You are close to me [as if] / when no one else is." This couplet's beauty is in its succinctness and multiple layers of meaning. One of the meanings is "When you're with me(on my mind), noone else is" and a second meaning/interpretation is "You're with me(on my side), when noone else is." The two meanings emerge by the use of words goya and jab(when)."
One of his very famous ghazals starts with the following matla (the first line of the opening couplet of a ghazal).
"Woh jo hum mein tum mein qaraar tha, tumheiN yaad ho ke na yaad hoo
Vohee yaani va'ada nibah ka, tumhaiN yaad ho ke na yaad ho"
"That understanding which we had between us... whether you remember it or not...
That promise of trust and faithfulness...whether you remember it or not..."
He is also famed in Pakistan for the saying:
"Umar sari toh kati ishq-e-butaN mein Momin/
Aakhri waqt mein kya khak MusalmaN hoNgay?",
The translation - "You spent all your life in the love of Idols Momin / In the end, will the sand be muslim?"
The word "khak" translates to "sand" or "dust". It refers to the sand that is used for burial of muslim bodies. The poet here refers to the sand in which his body will become mixed to, after burial.
"All your life you spent in love for idols o Momin [Believer] / In the last moment, how can you become a Muslim?"
NOTE: The meaning of the first line is perceived to be: "All your life you lived in non-Muslim ways"
and the second line would mean: "in your last times, how will you prove Yourself as a Muslim" Ishq means love/faith & ButaN (plural for "but" that means statue), however, the term ISHQ-E-BUTAN suggests love/faith in statues of God (which is considered sin in Islam), though the literal translation of ISHQ-E-BUTAN is "love for statues or idols".
John Fuller is an English poet and author, and Fellow Emeritus at Magdalen College, Oxford.
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