Nazar Muhammad Rashed (Urdu: نذر مُحَمَّد راشِد‎), (1 August 1910 – 9 October 1975) commonly known as Noon Meem Rashed (Urdu: ن۔ م۔ راشد) or N.M. Rashed, was an influential Pakistani poet of modern Urdu poetry.[1]

Early years

Rashed was born as Nazar Muhammad in a Janjua family in the village of Kot Bhaaga, Akaal Garh (now Alipur Chatha),[2] Wazirabad, Gujranwala District, Punjab, and earned a master's degree in economics from the Government College Lahore.[3]


He served for a short time in the Royal Indian Army during the Second World War, attaining the rank of Captain. Before independence of Pakistan in 1947, he worked with All India Radio in New Delhi and Lucknow starting in 1942. He was transferred to Peshawar in 1947 where he worked until 1953. Later he was hired by Voice of America and had to move to New York City for this job. Then, for a short while, he lived in Iran. Later on, he worked for the United Nations in New York.[3]

Rashed served the UN and worked in many countries. He is considered to be the 'father of Modernism' in Urdu Literature. Along with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, he is one of the great progressive poets in Pakistani literature.[3]

His themes run from the struggle against oppression to the relationship between words and meanings, between language and awareness and the creative process that produces poetry and other arts. Though intellectually deep, he is often attacked for his unconventional views and life-style. In an age when Pakistani literature and culture acknowledge their Middle Eastern roots, Rashed highlighted the Persian element in the making of his nation's history and psyche. Rashed edited an anthology of modern Iranian poetry which contained not only his own translations of the selected works but also a detailed introductory essay. He rebelled against the traditional form of 'ghazal' and became the first major exponent of 'free verse' in Urdu literature. While his first book, Mavra, introduced free verse and is more technically accomplished and lyrical. Urdu literary world was shocked when he used the theme of sex in his poems. Any discussion of sex was still considered a taboo back then. His main intellectual and political ideals reached maturity in his last two books.

His readership is limited and recent social changes have further hurt his stature and there seems to be a concerted effort to not to promote his poetry. His first book of free verse, Mavra, was published in 1940 and established him as a pioneering figure in 'free form' Urdu poetry.[3]

He retired to England in 1973 and died in a London hospital in 1975.[1] His body was cremated, though no such request appears in his will. This created an outcry in conservative Pakistani circles and he was branded an infidel. Anyhow, he is considered a great figure in progressive Urdu literature.


N M Rashed was often attacked for his unconventional views and life style. According to Zia Mohyeddin, a friend of Rashed, "In the time when everybody was in quest of learning English, which was a must for getting some decent job, Rashed was busy in making paintings or poetry."

The themes of Rashed's poetry run from the struggle against domination to the relationship between words and meanings, between language and awareness and the creative process that produces poetry and other arts.

Initially his poetry appeared to have the influence of John Keats, Robert Browning and Matthew Arnold and he wrote many sonnets on their pattern, but later on he managed to maintain his own style. These were his initial exercises of poetry, which could not last for a longer period of time, and so ultimately he developed and maintained his own style.

He rebelled against the traditional form of the 'ghazal' and became the first major exponent of free verse in Urdu Literature. His first book, 'Mavra', introduced free verse and is technically accomplished and lyrical.

Family and children

Rashed's first wife Safia died in 1961 at the age of 46, of an incorrectly administered B-complex injection in Karachi. His second marriage, to Sheila Angelini, an Italian, took place in 1964.

Rashed had several children. His eldest Nasrin Rashed lives in Islamabad and is retired from her work with the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation. The second daughter Yasmin Hassan resides in Montreal, and has two children, Ali and Nauroz. His nephew (sister's son) and son-in-law (Yasmin Hassan's husband) Faruq Hassan was a teacher at Dawson College and McGill University. Faruq Hassan died on 11 November 2011.[4] The third daughter, Shahin Sheikh, now deceased, lived in Washington and worked for the Voice of America. She has two children in the US. Rashed's youngest daughter, Tamzin Rashed Jans, lives in Belgium and has two sons.

His eldest son Shahryar Rashed died on 7 December 1998, serving as the Pakistani Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The younger, Nazeil, lives in New York.


His poem "Zindagi sey dartey ho" was set to music in the 2010 Bollywood movie, Peepli Live. It was performed by the Indian music band, Indian Ocean, and received critical appreciation as "hard-hitting" and "a gem of a track" that "everyone is meant to sing, and mean, at some point in life".[5][6]


  • Mavraa (Beyond)-1940[7]
  • Iran Main Ajnabi (A stranger in Iran)
  • La Musawi Insaan (Unequal man)- 1969
  • Gumaan ka Mumkin (Speculations) was published after his death in 1976 [7]
  • Maqalat (Essays)- Ed. Shima Majeed, 2002.

College hall named after him

At Government College Lahore.,[3] a hall is named after him as "Noon Meem Rashid Hall" at Postgraduate Block Basement.


  1. ^ a b c https://rekhta.org/poets/noon-meem-rashid/profile, Profile of Noon Meem Rashid on rekhta.org website, Retrieved 23 July 2016
  2. ^ "Map of Alipur Chatha, Noon Meem Rashed's birthplace". Wikimapia. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Poets". Encyclopedia of Pakistan. Overseas Pakistanis Foundation. December 2006. Archived from the original on 22 September 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Hussain, Azim. "Faruq Hassan, Noon Meem Rashid's nephew and son-in-law". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 23 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Ruchika Kher (18 July 2010), "Peepli Live: Music Review", Indiatimes, ... Then comes the dark and edgy "Zindagi se darte ho", which makes you sit up and take notice. The hard-hitting song has Indian Ocean behind the mike. The song is basically a poem by Noon Meem Rashed. The seven-minute-long song is soaked in a rock flavour that makes it even more interesting ... 
  6. ^ Rachna N. (3 August 2010), "Peepli Live: Music Review", Bollycurry, ... Zindagi Se Darte Ho is another track of candid facts ... A gem of a track, and a song everyone is meant to sing, and mean, at some point in life ... 
  7. ^ a b http://www.the-south-asian.com/Jan2002/Pakistani-Literature2-Poetry.htm, Profile of Noon Meem Rashid on the-south-asian.com website, Published January 2002, Retrieved 23 July 2016

External links