Fahmida Riaz: The Progressive Writer and Poet of Sindh

Fahmida Riaz (Urdu: فہمیدہ ریاض‎) is a popular Progressive Urdu writer, poet, and feminist of the state Pakistan. Fahmida Riaz is the proposed author of Godaavari, Khatt-e Marmuz, and Khana e Aab O Gil, the 1st translation of the Masnavi of Jalaluddin Rumi from the language of Persian into Urdu. She has also translated the works of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Sheikh Ayaz from the language of Sindhi to Urdu.

Early life of Fahmida Riaz

Fahmida Riaz was born on the day of 28 July 1946 in a literary rich family of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, state India. Her father, Riaz-ud-Din Ahmed, was a famous educationist, who had an impact in mapping and developing the modern education system for the province of Sindh. Her family settled in the city of Hyderabad following her father’s transfer to the province of Sindh. She learned about the Urdu and Sindhi literature in the proposed childhood and after that learnt the language of Persian.

Her initial life was marked by the death of her father when she was merely 4 years old. She had already been writing the influential poetry at this young age. Her mother, Husna Begum, supported the family through entrepreneurial attempts until Riaz stepped into the college, when she began work as a newscaster for Radio Pakistan. Her 1st poetry collection was written at this period.

Family and work

Fahmida Riaz was encouraged and persuaded by her family to step into an arranged marriage after the graduation from college, and spent some years in the United Kingdom with her 1st husband before coming back to the state Pakistan after a divorce. During this period she worked with the BBC Urdu service (Radio) and got a degree in film making. She has 1 daughter from this marriage.

Fahmida Riaz worked in an advertising agency in the city of Karachi before beginning her own Urdu publication Awaz. She met and married Zafar Ali Ujan, a leftist impressive political worker and had 2 kids with him. The liberal and politically charged content of Awaz grabbed the attention of the Zia era and both Fahmida and Zafar were charged with various cases—the magazine shut down and Zafar was imprisoned in the jail. Fahmida was bailed out by a fan of her amazing works before she could be imprisoned to jail and fled to the state India with her 2 small kids and sister on the excuse of a Mushaira invitation. She had relatives in the state of India and her husband after that joined her there after his release from jail. The family spent nearly 7 years in exile before coming back to Pakistan on the event of Benazir Bhutto’s wedding reception. During this period, Riaz had been poet in the residence for a university in the city of Delhi.

Fahmida Riaz was elected as the MD of the National Book Foundation during the Benazir Bhutto’s 1st tenure and was after that persecuted by the 1st Nawaz Sharif government, labeled an Indian agent and made virtually unemployable due to this threat. She worked 3 consecutive jobs to support the requirements of her growing kids at this time. In the 2nd tenure of Benazir’s government, she was offered a post at the Quaed e Azam Academy. When Benazir’s government toppled a 2nd time, Riaz was again persona non grata for the city of Islamabad.

Fahmida Riaz lost her son Kabeer in the month of October 2007. He was drowned while having swimming with friends on a picnic. This was soon after Riaz had translated 50 of Rumi’s poems from the language of Persian into Urdu, dedicated to Shams Tabriz. She was MD on the Urdu Dictionary Board from the time period of 2000–11.


Fahmida Riaz took active part in social and political works throughout her academic life. She spoke and wrote influnetially against the University Ordinance and the ban on the students’ union during the Ayub Khan era. She spent several years in exile in the state of India in the time period of 1980s during the dictatorship of General Zia ul Haq, living in the city of Delhi and teaching at Jamia Millia Islamia. She amused the patronage of the Indian Government. Her husband, an activist of Sindhi nationalism, had also accompanied her to the state of India.

Literary work

Her 1st poem was released in Funoon of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi, when she was 15. Her 1st collection of poetry occurred at the age of 22.

  • Pathar ki Zaban
  • Godavari
  • Khatt-e Marmuz
  • Karachi
  • Kya tum poora chand na dekho ge
  • Gulabi kabotar
  • Dhoop
  • Badan darida
  • Khulay dareeche se
  • Halqa meri zanjeer ka
  • Aadmi ki zindagi
  • Adhoora aadmi
  • Qafle parindon ke
  • Pakistan, literature and society
  • Ye Khana e Aab O Gil


  • Hemmet Hellman Award for Resistance Literature from Human Rights Watch
  • Sheikh Ayaz Award for Literature: Poetry from Sindh Government
  • Al Muftah Award for Literature: Poetry
  • Sitara -e- Imtiaz on the day of 23 March 2010 by the President of Pakistan
  • Presidential Pride of Performance Award for Literature: Poetry



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