This book is the first of its kind on the socio-political history of Urdu. It analyses the historiography of the language — narratives about its names, linguistic ancestry, place of birth — and relates it to the politics of identity-construction among the Hindus and Muslims of India during the last two centuries. More importantly, a historical account of the use of Urdu in social domains such as employment, education, printing and publishing, radio, films, and television etc. has been provided for the first time. These accounts are related to the expression of Hindu and Muslim identity-politics during the last two centuries. Evolution of Urdu from the language of the laity, both Hindus and Muslims, of the Indian subcontinent during the period between 15th—18th centuries to its standardization into two languages: Persianized Urdu and Sanskritized Hindi are highlighted here. The writer looks at narratives of the names, theories of genealogy, and places of origin of the language in relation to the political imperatives of identity-politics of Hindus and Muslims during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In a nutshell, historiography is analyzed with reference to its political and ideological dimensions—and a fresh analysis regarding the linguistic history of Urdu is provided.

Language(s) dealt with: ,


published by PCL-PRESS (Graz / Berlin)

February 22, 2021 | 456 pages | ISBN 978-3-753164-85-4

REPRINT of the book of the same title with kind permission of the author Prof. Tariq Rahman, HEC Distinguished National Professor at Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Pakistan.
This book was first published by Oxford University Press in 2011. The original edition is now out of print. It is being republished here to make it available to the scientific community for download. Downloadable as an e-book via .
Printed by (Berlin) and obtainable as printed copy via

Tariq Rahman PhD is presently Dean, School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. He is also HEC Distinguished National Professor and Professor Emeritus at the National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. Dr Rahman has been a guest professor in Denmark and Spain, and a Fulbright research scholar (1995-96) at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. He was also the first incumbent of the Pakistan Chair at University of California, Berkeley (2004-05). He has been a research fellow at the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies and the South Asia Institute at the University of Heidelberg. He is the recipient of several awards: the Presidential Pride of Performance (1994), HEC Lifetime Achievement Award, the highly prestigious Humboldt Research Award (2012) from Germany, and the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 2013. In 2014, he was awarded a D. Litt by the University of Sheffield for all of his published research.

The pictures on the front cover show examples of inscriptions in Urdu that are often found on Pakistan lorries. Many of them have a romantic content like these.
Picture 1 says: You, Sajid, keep reciting spells of love!
Picture 2 says: You do not have to sprinkle rose buds in my way; I will spread out my eyes there.

The individual chapters of the publication for viewing and download

Table of Contents, Dedications and Acknowledgements


pp. ixv |

Abbreviations, Translation and Transliteration, Usage of Oriental Words in this Book


pp. xvixix |

Chapter 1: Introduction


pp. 117 |

Chapter 2: Names


pp. 1754 |

Chapter 3: Age


pp. 5578 |

Chapter 4: Origins and Historiography


pp. 7997 |

Chapter 5: Identity: The Islamization of Urdu


pp. 98135 |

Chapter 6: Urdu as an Islamic Language


pp. 136163 |

Chapter 7: Urdu as Language of Love


pp. 164198 |

Chapter 8: The British and Hindustani


pp. 199226 |

Chapter 9: Urdu in the Princely States


pp. 227260 |

Chapter 10: Urdu as the Language of Employment


pp. 261277 |

Chapter 11: Urdu in Education


pp. 278316 |

Chapter 12: Urdu in Print


pp. 317347 |

Chapter 13: Urdu on the Radio


pp. 348365 |

Chapter 14: Urdu on the Screen


pp. 366388 |

Chapter 15: Conclusion


pp. 389399 |

Chapter 17: Bibliography


pp. 405446 |

Chapter 18: Index


pp. 447456 |