Shah Azimabadi (Urdu: شاہ عزیمبادی ) was one of the acknowledged masters of Urdu ghazal. He is counted among the illustrious poets of the Ghazal who have made a notable contibution to the growth and enrichment of this poetic form. He Lİberated the Ghazal from the superficial elegance produced by the linguistic acrobatics fo the Lucknow school, and infused into it a spirit of genuine passion and poetry. He was a friend and contemporary of such eminent wirters and remormes as Sir Sayeed AHmed Khan, Shibli, Hali, Akbar, Iqbal, Amir Meenai, Dagh and Hasrat Mohani, all of whome recoginse his worth as man and poet.
Shad Azimabadi was born at Azimabad (Patna), Bihar, India; in the house of his maternal grandparents. He belonged to a rich and respectable family, but because of his carefree, unworldly nature, he paid little attention to preserving, much less multiplying, his material assets. Consquently, in old age he had to pass through a period of economic difculty.
His real name was Nawab Syed Ali Mohammad and he received early education in the oriental style under shah Vilayat Hussain.
He was a whole-time poet, with and inborn gift for poetry. Early in his boyhood he had acquired a thorough grounding in Urdu, Persian and Arabic, which he had learnt from famous local teachers and scholars. He received poetic instruction from a number of masters, including, finally, Shah Ulfat Hussain Faryaad, who may be called his poetic preceptor.
He occupies a distinguished position in Urdu poetry, specially in 'gazal' and 'masnavi'. Besides, he wrote 'marsia', 'qatat', 'rubaiyat' and 'nazm'. He was diffident and discontented and remained frushtrated in life. His poetic sensibility loftly imagination, and sense of purpose kept him isolated.
He one of those few great poets who changed the trend of age. Nasikh, Imam Baksh, Dagh and Nawab Shamsuddin Khan (1831-1905) dominated the scene of poetry during those days, and greater stress was laid on stylistic beauty than on feeling. Exaggerated erotic sentiment and novelty of expression were supposed to be the hallmark of good poetry. Shad, however, blended feeling, thought and richness of expression in his poetry.
The importance of Shad's poetry lies in its mystical content, imaginative style, and blending of simple Hindi words in his diction. 'The act is that Shad sometimes goes ahead of Mir and Ghalib', said Kalimuddin once.
Shad felt deeply dissatisfied with the sort of response given to his poetry. In a number of verses he advises his son not adopt poetry as his exclusive vocation. This kind of discontent is perhaps the lot of all sensitive men of letters. Nevertheless, Shad is now given due recognition, and his Ghazals are included in the syllabi of schools and colleges.
To his credit a number of oft-quoted couplets speaks of the popularity of Shad Azimabadi’s ghazals, such as:
"I’ve been entangled in desires/what toys to keep me calm!"
Shad's Poetry makes and appeal both to the connoisseur and the commoner. This is because he gives us deep thoughts in simple, natural language. Though he generally deals with the traditional and universal themes of love and mysticism, these themes are charged with deep philosophical insights, conveyed through meaningful metaphors.
Though we can learn about his middle age but there is not enough informaiton about his Early life.
It is now claimed that Shad Azimabadi was the one who wrote the first novel in Urdu, published in 1876, under the title ‘Suratul Khyal’. The claim enjoys the backing of Khuda Baksh Library, and the man who has made this claim is the grandson of Shad Azimabadi. He died at the age of eighty-one.