Faruqi’s Urdu novel ‘Kai Chand the Sar-e-Aasman’

Hardly any novel in Urdu has generated so much heat in recent years as renowned litterateur Shamsur Rahman Faruqi’s ‘Kaii Chaand thay Sar-e-Aasmaan’, which is probably the first literary work in Urdu published by Penguin.

Faruqi’s literary standing is such that Urdu world naturally expected a magnum opus from him. The fact that he is a critic, a poet, a linguist and former publisher of the now-defunct Shabkhoon, apart from having received awards like Saraswati Samman, it is not unjust that we expected the novel to be truly outstanding.

Shamsur Rehman Faruqi

At the function to release the novel sometime back, encomiums were poured on the novel, which Ahmad Mahfooz termed as a ‘Jadeed Aab-e-Hayat’. Syed Hamid said that it will help the reader in understanding the Indo-Islamic culture.

The central characters of the novel are Yusuf Saadakar, his daughter Wazeer Khanum and their family. It starts from Yusuf’s grandfather Makhsus Ullah and the last generation is Wazeer Khanum’s grandson Waseem Jafar.

The novel starts from Kishangarh where Makhsus Ullah, an artist lived, and one day he draws the picture of a woman ‘Bani Thani’ (bedecked woman), which has a strange resemblance with the daughter of the Maharawal. It remains a mystery how the painting has such resemblance with the photograph of Manmohini.

The family is forced out of the princely state and they move from Uttar Pradesh to Kashmir. The story continues with Makhsus Ullah’s son Yahya Badgami and later his sons Dawood and Yaqoob. Circa 1803, British take upon themselves the task to rescue Emperor Shah Alam from the ‘captivity’ of Marathas and the brothers fight on the side of the English.

The families of Dawood and Yaqub are killed and only the latter’s son Yusuf, who is a 10-year-old survives the war. A tawaif, Akbari, brings him up and marries her daughter Asghari to him. Asghari’s daughters, Anwari, Umda Khanam and Chhoti Begam, take the story forward.


The eldest gets married to Maulvi Nazir. Nawab Syed Yusuf Ali Khan Bahadur liked Umda Khanam and she went to live with him without marriage. The youngest of the three, turned out to be a rebel. Due to the death of her mother, she was closer to her grandmother and this naturally influenced her ways. She says to her sister, ‘Jo mard aayega, chakhungi, pasand aaya to rakhungi’.

She starts living with an Englishman Morriston Black. They plan to marry in 1829 but he dies in a riot. She returns from Jaipur to Delhi and is sought by Resident William Fraser and also Nawab Shamsuddin. She goes with the latter and they have a son Nawab Mirza. After Shamsuddin is exectured for suspicion of killing Fraser, she gets married to Mirza Fakhru, who had his upbringing in the Qila-e-Moalla in the era of Bahadur Shah Zafar…

Faruqui is unquestionably the biggest name in Urdu linguistics and the ease with which he has brought the language used in 18th and 19th century to the pages of the novel written in 21st century, is simply amazing. The depiction of the era especially the exploitation of Indian peasantry and masses during British rule, is remarkable.

Such is his mastery in depicting the sexual encounters and love scenes that if the novel was written in modern Urdu, it would have sold by lakhs, says Haider Qureshi, an eminent poet. As it is a novel about Indo-Islamic culture and Mughals, the finest couplets of Urdu and Persian poetry abound in the book.

In fact, the novel enlivens the entire culture and the bygone era in front of the reader. The book is published in Pakistan also where it has attracted the Urdu lovers. ‘Kai Chaand the Sare Asman’ is a novel worth buying. You can get it from Shabkhoon Kitabghar, Post Box Number 13, 313, Ranimandi, Allahabad 211003 (Uttar Pradesh) India.



31 Responses

  1. Hi Indiscribe,

    I really like your blog. I wanted to ask you where (apart from the address mentioned) can one get a copy of kaii chand… in Delhi? Do you know if Penguin is making any efforts to distribute its urdu and hindi books in bookstores?




  4. is tabsra meN mazkoora novel par meray mazmoon ka aik barra hissa shamil kia gia hay lekin afsos keh mera naam mention nahiN kia gia.kia itefaqan aisa hua hay ya jaan boojh kar mera tajzia to shamil kia gia hay magar naam hazaf kar dia gia hay?

  5. Dear Mr. Amitabh, Faruqi’s novel is available in many bookstores. We at Shabkhoon can supply copies whereever required.
    Yours Sincerely, Amin Akhter, Shabkhoon, 313 Ranimandi, Allahabad 211003

    • Dear Amin Akhter sb,
      I am looking for a copy of AAb-e-Hayaat, published by oxford University Press, original work of Muhammad Hussain sb, translated by FW Pritcett and SR Farouquiji.
      By any chance can I get a copy of this…… Yogesh (y.p@live.in), Delhi.

    • Hi
      Mr. Akhtar can you please mention the price and mailing costs for both air mail and surface mail for shipping to the U.S.? Harjinder. Dhaliwal

    • Salam, main USA main hoon main ye novel ”kai chand hain sare aasman”kaise hasil kar sakti hoon.mera e mail…nano_of12@hotmail.com

  6. wah wah wah

    kya baat hai

  7. wah mazedar novel to hai hi tabsira bhi jandar hai,

  8. novel wakai mein mein acha hay , title image kutch anokhi si kahani suna rahi hay

  9. Novel makes a sense of critics , reality and also increase passion about beauty

  10. A superb novel by Farooqi. Hard work paid as a mastery in urdu literature…… sare dilli kee saer kaa apna hi mazaa hai…… two thumbs way up for Shams ur rehman farooqi…..

  11. Kai Chaand the Sare Asman..Mairay khyal mai ye eik acha nowel hai..aaj he purchase krta hon isay šŸ™‚

  12. Is nazir ahmad of Nehtour referred here? the well known figure of his period, the companion of sir syed ahmad of aligarh movement and from the great ansari moulvi family of district bijnore, famous as moulvi nazeer ahmad………….

  13. ye novel is laihaz say bhi mery lye bht favorite hai k meri sab say favorite teacher mam sobia is par thesis kr rhe hn

  14. ye novel is laihaz say bhi mera bht favorite hai kyun k meri sab say favorite teacher mam sobia is novel par thesis kr rhe hn.

    • aap is novel par kam karahe ho kiya, our aap ka topic kiya hai? tanqidi jayezza ya our kuch?????? mai bhi isi novel par kam kar rha ho…

  15. please guide me how to get a
    pDF version of Kai chand the sare asman

  16. how can i get this book pls help me.
    vibhash jha raipur chhattisgarh

  17. mai kabhi novel nhi padha tha but mai is novel ko padhkar urdu adab ka diwana ho gaya hun ………..
    thanks to author……………………………………………

  18. is novel ko padhte waqt aisa lagta hai mano hum usi daur me ji rahe hain…..

  19. Indeed a very good novel of all times. I have been a student of Urdu literature but yet to read such a good historically correct fiction. The cruel and ujust expansionist designs of the British hasbeen described in a very subtle manner. Nawab Shamsuddin A Khan is a very strong character and is embodiment of the far superior Indian civilization when compared with the British or western civlization The belivers of Mughalia Tehzeen should be obliged to this colosal research work of Shams Farouqui.

  20. I pose a question being a new reader of Urdu Literature. Were all those pioneers of Urdu Literature Foreigners.i.e.. Taimouri Turks and Pathans.? and second whether it is an amalgamation of Farsi and Snaskirt/Hindi literatures….?

  21. ‘Kai Chand the Sar-e-Asman’ is an enchanting novel which keeps the reader spellbound. Undoubtedly, it is a beautiful narrative. The novelist artistically unfolds its plots and uniquely presents its characters which make it the masterpiece of Urdu fiction.
    Mirza Khalil Ahmad Beg on August 4, 2012 at 7: 40 said this.

  22. Where can I buy the Urdu version of this book. JNS Gurgaon

    • Penguin India has published both the Urdu original and English translation ( under a different title).It should be available in Delhi bookstores. Urdu Bookstores in Delhi, possibly in Chandni Chowk area might be your best bet. Cannot say for sure as I have been away from Delhi for decades. Some book stores in the Cannaught Place area used to stock Urdu books.

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