N. M. Rashed's New Work

Mir, Mohammad Safdar. Rashed's Satiric Verse. May. 29, 1969. 2 pp. 2 sheets. 8 x 13". Newsprint. Review of N. M. Rashed's Īrān meñ ajnabī. Appeared in The Pakistan Times. English. Box 2. Folder 2: Articles written on NMR in various newspapers and magazines (clippings), English, and Urdu. 002. Digitized by Zahra Sabri. Catalogued by Zain Mian. Donated (2015) by Yasmin Rashed Hassan to the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal. Full item here.
In 1969, Mohammad Safdar Mir (1922-1998) reviewed N.M. Rashed's Lā=Insān. Mir was a journalist, poet, and playwright, most famous for his work with The Pakistan Times, where he authored a weekly column under the name "Zeno." Mir worked for the Times from 1961-1977, before which he was a professor of English Literature at Government College, Lahore. He would later go on to write for The Muslim, MAG, and Dawn, before his eventual passing in 1998.

Lā=Insān is Rashed's third collection of poetry. It was published by Munir Niazi's Al-Misāl Press in 1969. The publication of Lā=Insān formed a pivotal moment in Rashed's career. Following the lukewarm reception of Irān meñ ajnabī, Rashed was weary of being written off as a marhūm (dead) poet. Thankfully, his concerns were eased as Lā=Insān raised a storm in Pakistani literary circles ("Pākistān ke adabī halaqoñ meñ khāsī halchal machā dī hai!").1 Rashed exclaims as much in a letter to his daughter Yasmin Hassan, which we review here.

Mir's review was one of many positive ones for Lā=Insān. A summary follows:
Mir highlights the immense impact Rashed's Māwarā had on the sensibility of his contemporaries. He compares Rashed to Faiz and Miraji, and proclaims them the "holy trinity" of a new movement in Urdu literature. Mir notes that while Faiz's poetry remained traditional in its technique and Miraji's in its metaphoric structure, Rashed revolutionized both technique and allusive structure in his work.

Mir admires Rashed's trenchant critique of colonialism. He notes that Rashed has expanded his political landscape to include "the entire Afro-Asian colonial reality." For Mir, it is Rashed's commitment to clearly-defined values that makes his work great. Mir notes that Rashed is committed to the notion of "cosmopolitanism" as opposed to that of "internationalism." He champions the inclusive humanity inherent in Rashed's work, and finds that Rashed's intensity has grown and his sensibility has mellowed.

Mir notes that the introduction to Rashed's book takes the form of an interview he conducted with students of Urdu in the U.S. He mentions that while certain poems in the collection have appeared previously, most of the material is new and unpublished. It exhibits a "philosophical" mood and a "materialistic mysticism" that is in keeping with Rashed's style. He likens Rashed's desire "to see life in its totality" to that shared by Ibn al-‘Arabi and Rumi. Furthermore, he feels that Rashed's book will leave a lasting impression on the new movement in Urdu poetry, even as it does not retain the pure shock value inherent in Māwarā.
This review was one of three Mir wrote in summer of that year. The others focused on Rashed's first two books, Māwarā and ;Irān meñ ajnabī, which had just been reprinted by Al-Misāl alongside the first edition of Lā=Insān. Indeed, it is possible that Munir Niazi himself requested Mir to review the Al-Misāl editions of Rashed's work. This seems somewhat more likely given the lavish praise Mir heaps on Niazi in his review of Māwarā. Not only does Mir write that Niazi should be "congratulated for making a bold venture in book production" but also that his edition of Māwarā makes the first look "almost pedestrian."2 Niazi also attached Mir's review of Lā=Insān to one of his letters to Rashed, telling the poet not to worry about the kharīd o farokht (buying and selling) of his book.3

These reviews were not the only times Mir wrote on Rashed. Mir was a prolific writer and given his inclinations as a poet, it is not surprising that we have extensive writings by him both on Urdu literature and on Rashed. The archive holds, for example, a copy of Mir's review of Rashed's appearance at the Halqā-i-Arbāb-i-Zauq, as well another describing the ceremony at the Pakistan Council on the 24th of May 1969, where Rashed's Lā=Insān was introduced. 4 5

Plentiful evidence also suggests that Mir held a good working relationship with Rashed, and that the poet appreciated his work. Rashed and Mir collaborated on several translations together, an example of which is reviewed here. Furthermore, Rashed also forwarded some of Mir's reviews to the American poet Carolyn Kizer, recognising that Mir's reaction to the "new generation" of poets was worth noting. 6 Indeed, Rashed's recognition of Mir went so far that, in 1970, Rashed requested permission to translate some of his reviews in Urdu. To this Mir replied that it was "a matter of great honour" (‘izzat-afzā'i) that Rashed had requested his work. For him, there was no need for Rashed to have asked. That the poet did so in any case, spoke only to his own magnanimity and fairness.7

1 Letter from N.M. Rashed to Yasmin Hassan, May 7th, 1969. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

2 Mir, Safdar. "Rediscovering Rashed's Mavara." The Pakistan Times. April 20th, 1969. Review in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

3 Letter from Munir Niazi to N.M. Rashed, April 10th, 1969. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

4 Mir, Safdar. ""N.M. Rashed and New Generation Politics."" The Pakistan Times. Undated. Review in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

5 Mir, Safdar. "Return of N.M. Rashed: Poor Girls." The Pakistan Times. May 24th, 1969. Review in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

6 Letter from N.M. Rashed to Carolyn Kizer. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive

7 Letter from Safdar Mir to N.M. Rashed, September 1st, 1970. Letter in Noon Meem Rashed Archive.

Article by Zain Mian
October 6, 2015

To Cite the Article

Mian, Zain. "N. M. Rashed's New Work." Noon Meem Rashed Archive, Oct 6, 2015.

To Cite the Item:

Mir, Mohammad Safdar, “N. M. Rashed's New Work,” Noon Meem Rashed Archive, accessed May 27, 2024, https://nmrashedarchive.com/item/NMRArch-02-02-003-mir-insan-review.




[no text]


[no text]


[no text]


IsRelatedTo NMRArch-2-08-014-letter-niazi-nmr






Mir, Mohammad Safdar


[no text]


[no text]


[no text]


[no text]



Folder No.


Folder Name

Articles written on NMR in various newspapers and magazines (clippings), English, and Urdu

Item No.



Review of N. M. Rashed's Lā=Insān. Appeared in The Pakistan Times.





No. of Files


No. of Pages


No. of Sheets


Physical Dimensions

8 x 13"


Zahra Sabri


Zain Mian


Yasmin Rashed Hassan

Year of Donation



Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, Montreal