Jamia ka tarana: anthem of hope


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IF there is one thing which truly and vividly captures the founding and ongoing sprit of Jamia that is the tarana of Jamia (Dayar e shauq mera, Shehr e aarzoo mera). Each verse of the poem explains how Jamia came into being and what it stands for. In other words, Jamia Ka Tarana (the anthem of Jamia) is nothing short of both preamble and charter of the idea of Jamia. Not surprisingly, any important occasion of the institution is incomplete without its recital. The importance of tarana in Jamia’s life and the lives of its community, Jamia Biradari – students, teachers, staff and alumni, can be gauged from the words/sentiment expressed by Jamia alumni and employee, Mohammad Yusuf.

‘I did my primary/secondary level schooling at Jamia School, then went to Jamia University and then got employed here on various positions in the administration. I have lived my entire life in Jamia and then one day, I will be buried here at the Jamia Qabristan (graveyard),’ shares Mohammad Yusuf with pride. He sings very well and was a part of Jamia tarana/parcham team since school. ‘Now, students get uniforms for programmes, earlier tarana team used to carry their own clothes for official programmes,’ he says.

Tarana and Parcham are essential elements of Jamia tehzeeb (culture) and tradition.

The Urdu language has three words – naghma, geet and tarana – that have commonly been used to refer to poetic verses set to musical tunes.


Tarana is a Persian word, John T. Platts (1884), traces it into the Sanskrit root ‘taru’, and gives as its primary meaning: ‘Modulation, melody’. He also mentions its use as the name of a kind of song – the well known genre of tarana in the North Indian style of classical music. Syed Ahmad Dehlavi, in Farhang-e Asafiya (1918, 2nd edition) states the following: ‘Literal meaning, a handsome man; melody, song; a particular kind of song commonly referred to as Tillana.’ Naghma, on the other hand, is of Arabic origin, and its only glosses, in both dictionaries, are the same as the primary meanings of Tarana, i.e. ‘melody, song’.1

Massey (2004) says, tarana was invented by Amir Khusro (1253-1325 CE). For him, it is a type of composition in Hindustani classical vocal music in which certain words and syllables (e.g. ‘odani’, ‘todani’, ‘tadeem’ and ‘yalali’) based on Persian and Arabic phonemes are rendered at a medium (madhya laya) or fast (drut laya).2

Poet Muhammad Iqbal titled his famous poem, ‘saare jahan se accha hindustan hamara’ as ‘Tarana-e Hind’ (The Indian Anthem). The genre of tarana was used when Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) adopted Majaz’s poem, Nazr e Aligarh (1933), as official anthem of the university and a university student, Khan Ishtiaq Mohammad, composed the song in 1955.

Mohammad Khaliq Siddiqui (right). He is the author of Jamia Ka Tarana. (Courtesy: Jamia’s Premchand Archives and Literary Centre.)


On Jamia Millia Islamia’s 44th Foundation Day in 1964, Mohammad Khaliq Siddiqui (1922-1981) published a poem in the journal Jamia (as Gumnam Jamaii’/ Anonymous Jamaii). The poem became very popular. Jamia’s then music teacher Hilal Ahmed Khan composed a tune for the poem and it became Jamia Millia Islamia’s tarana or official anthem. Khaliq Siddiqui’s name was revealed later by his friends.

Dayar e shauq mera, Dayar e shauq mera / Shehr e aarzoo mera, Shehr e aarzoo mera / Hue’ the aake yahin khemazan woh deewane’ / Uthhe the sun ke jo aawaz e rehbaran e watan / Yaheen se shauq ki be-rabtiyo’n ko rabt mila / Isi ne hosh ko bakhsha junoo’n ka pairahan / Yahin se lala e sehra ko ye suraagh mila / Ke dil ke daagh ko kis tarah rakhte hain roshan / Dayar e shauq mera, Shehr e aarzoo mera / Ye ehl e shauq ki basti, ye sarphiro’n ka dayar / Yahan ki subah nirali, yahan ki shaam nayi / Yahan ki rasmo’rah’e maikashi juda sab se / Yahan ke jaam naye tarhe’ raqs e jaam nayi / Yahan pe tashna labi maikashi ka haasil hai / Ye bazm e dil hai yahan ki sala e aam nayi / Dayar e shauq mera, Shehr e aarzoo mera / Yahan pe shamm’ e hidayat hai sirf apna zameer / Yahan pe qibla e imaa’n kaba e dil hai / Safar hai deen yahan kufr hai qayam yahan / Yahan pe raah’ ravi khud husool e manzil hai / Shanawari ka taqaza hai nau ba nau toofan / Kinar e mauj mein aasoodgi e sahil hai.


There is an official English translation of Tarana by Professor M. Zakir but the following one is rendered by me:

This is the home of my passions’ / This is the land of my desires’ / Impassioned camped here, / Listening to leaders of the land, they arose, / Incoherent thoughts found clear articulation here, / Sense got draped in frenzy of passion here, / Tulips of desert learnt, / To illuminate wounds of the heart, / This is the home of my passions’ / This is the Land of my desires’ / Refuge of people of love, this place of the wild, / Morning here is novel, evening is exceptional, / This tavern has diverse manners, / Different here are the cups, different is their dance, / Drinking does not quench the thirst here, / This assembly of hearts has distinct greetings, / This is the home of my passions’ / This is the Land of my desires’ / Guiding light is the Conscience, / Mecca of the heart gives direction of faith here, / Movement is the belief; sin is to pause here, / Wandering leads to destination here, / Swimming pursues newer storms, / Restlessness of waves carries serenity of shores.’

Poet Mohammad Khaliq Siddiqui used his verse to drape a sense in frenzy of passion (i.e. Hosh ko bakhsha junoon ka pairahan).


Jamia tarana beautifully encapsulates Jamia’s spirit of idealism and dissent. Born in 1922 at Rudauli, Mohammed Khaliq Siddiqui (he did not use his surname) was an economist. He did his graduation and postgraduation in Economics from Lucknow University. He came to Jamia in 1952 and joined the Department of Education. He started teaching at Jamia College in 1964 and was appointed Lecturer in 1970. He died at the age of fifty-nine in 1981.

Mohammad Khaliq is also the father of noted political scientist, Professor Zoya Hasan (Professor Emerita, Jawaharlal Nehru University). Zoya Hasan commenting on her father’s poem Tarana in her personal essay, ‘Abbu’ writes, ‘Khaliq was a man of letters, well read in world literature, and especially, Urdu literature and poetry which was his enduring passion... Mohammed Khaliq wrote the Jamia Tarana or Jamia’s anthem which is a rendering of beautiful and very interesting lyrics. It uses an enchanting mix of Muslim imagery with themes popular in Urdu (but not Islamic) of wine and taverns etc. and recalls Jamia’s formation in answer to the nationalist call, and passion and quest for knowledge and freedom.’


Jamia Millia Islamia selects ehl e shauq (people of passion) for the tarana team. There is a music team (separate for school and university) with both boys and girls. Auditions for selecting students for the music team are a regular affair. The numbers can vary from ten to twelve (it usually has more girls in the group 08-09 and 04-06 boys but can vary on different occasions). There is a dress code for the team as well – white kurta shalwar with colourful dupattas for girls, sherwani or pant/shirt with blazer for boys. Jamia tarana is sung at all official functions (foundation day/ convocation/prize distribution/on visits by guests, political leaders/foreign dignitaries).

On the occasion of Foundation Day (29 October)3 the Vice Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia, receives a guard of honour by NCC cadets of Jamia. This is followed by a flag hoisting ceremony where the poem ‘Jamia ka Parcham’ (flag of Jamia), written by Shafi Uddin Nayyar, is sung by students. This poem was written a day before Jamia’s 25th Foundation Day in 1945. Shafi Uddin Nayyar used to write stories and poems for children. He had left Modern School to teach at Jamia in 1945.4 Jamia ka Parcham was the official poem (tarana) for functions before the present Dayar e Shauq’ tarana was adopted as the official tarana for Jamia Millia Islamia. Parcham still continues as the flag hoisting song on Foundation Day.

Taleem o tarbiyat ka naqsha jama raha hai / Ilm o amal ka seedha rasta dikha raha hai / Kuch is tarah fiza mein ye lehlaha raha hai / Khidmat ki simt goya humko bula raha hai / Ye Jamia ka parcham, ye Jamia ka parcham / Humko bata raha hai raaz e urooj e millat / Humko jata raha hai ehsaas ki zaroorat / Lazim hai ye ke seekhein hum farz e aadmiyat / Qudrat ki yavari ka mozhdah suna raha hai / Ye Jamia ka parcham, ye Jamia ka parcham / Iski bulandiyo’n se zahir hai ye ishara / Shayad yehi hai apni taqdeer ka sitara / Toote hue dilo’n ka is des mein sahara / Ankhon mein bas raha hai dil mein sama raha hai / Ye Jamia ka parcham, ye Jamia ka parcham

(Etching maps of knowledge and culture, / Showing straight paths of action and learning, / In the air, fluttering, / To serve is the Calling / This flag of Jamia, this flag of Jamia / Revealing rise of the Community, / Emphasizing on empathy, / Making certain, we learn humanity, / Narrating Nature’s strength / This flag of Jamia, this flag of Jamia / Pinnacle is a sign, / Perhaps, star of our fortune, / Solace for broken hearted of the land, / Embossed in sight, engraved on hearts, / This flag of Jamia, this flag of Jamia.)


The star on the top of the logo of Jamia Millia Islamia (on parcham/flag) says ‘Allahu Akbar’, meaning God is (the) greatest. ‘The star of Allah O Akbar is the guiding star of Jamia. Its eyes are fixed on this star which shows it the path in the darkening world. It reflects the truth that Allah is the greatest and he who bows his head before Him only, discovers the truth’, wrote Dr Zakir Husain.5

Allammal Insaana Maalam Yalam (taught humanity what they knew not)6 is the inscription on the book below the star. The book taught humans about things in the world and beyond regarding which they had no understanding. Knowledge led humans from darkness towards light. The first word of the Holy Book Quran (sent through angel Gabriel to Prophet Mohammad) was Iqra, meaning, ‘read’. The emphasis on the book serves the purpose of exhorting everyone to follow the path of education which would lead to empowerment for all.


The date trees on both sides of the book represent how date trees grow even in barren terrain, symbolizing one should never give up hope. The crescent moon is at the bottom which expands into full moon after a passage of time. The crescent symbolized the early days of Jamia. In the future, Jamia Millia Islamia will grow into a beautiful full moon and be a source of light and solace for everyone.

Jamia’s logo was first introduced in 1920 at Aligarh; the first artist to join Jamia, Akhtar Hasan Faruqui, modified the logo which was used till 1991.

Jamia Millia Islamia’s logo introduced in Aligarh, in 1920

In Arabic the logo translates as Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh 1339 (AH)

This is Jamia’s logo introduced in 1925, Delhi

In Arabic the logo also translates as Jamia Millia Islamic, 1339 (AH)

This is the logo which was in use till 1991

It was later modified as it was felt that the Arabic script needed aesthetic improvement, and the Kufic script was not in alignment with the crescent.

Screenshot taken from Ghazanfar Zaidi’s film, History of Jamia Millia Islamia Logo and Description of its Elements.7

Screenshot taken from Ghazanfar Zaidi’s film.’8

In 1991, some minor changes were done manually by Ghazanfar Zaidi and later in 2002, the logo was digitized by him which is currently being used as the official logo of Jamia Millia Islamia.

The verse Hue the aake yahain khemazan ‘woh deewane from tarana, meaning this is where the impassioned had camped, captures how Jamia Millia Islamia was established as part of the nationalist movement (it originally started in a makeshift tent at Aligarh, United Province, in 1920). In July 1925, Jamia shifted from Aligarh to Karol Bagh. In 1935, foundation of the school building was laid down in Okhla village, South of Delhi.


No surprise that the British government did not recognize Jamia Millia Islamia as a university, as it started out as a nationalist institution opposed to imperial rule. Students who studied here had no assurance of employment as its degree was not recognized. Jamia’s pedagogy was designed on Gandhiji’s Nai Taleem philosophy with an emphasis on the ethical/moral development of an individual. Education was not just a means for employment or economic growth but an endeavour for personal growth. Jamia had no money to pay salaries to its employees; it ran on donations.

‘26th January was celebrated at Jamia even before it became the official Republic Day, as Congress party had given the call for Purna Swaraj (complete freedom) from British Rule on this day. Nationalism has always been a dominant force here’, remarks Professor Sadiqur Rehman Kidwai.9 Kidwai lived with his parents at the Karol Bagh campus and joined the Primary School in the first standard. He shifted to Jamia Primary School at the Okhla campus in 1941.

‘The newly employed used to take an oath that they would work without any conditions whatsoever. The working conditions were harsh with no comforts, even basic amenities like water and electricity came to Jamia after many years. Jamia campus had no transport facility, no shops around the campus. People used to visit shehar (Shahajanabad/Purani Dilli) once a week in a lorry to get essential supplies or used to visit Lajpat Nagar. It was idealism and passion that sustained Jamia Millia Islamia’, believes Prof Kidwai. It was only in the 1970s that Jamia and the area around the university started to develop.

Professor Mujeeb, Dr Zakir Husain, Dr Abid Hussain were some of the scholar stalwarts who had experience of foreign education and under whose guidance and support Jamia developed as an institution.


Social responsibility was pursued as Jamia opened centres for adult education and for women’s education. Vocational training was also provided at these centres. Azra Kidwai who came to live in the desolate Jamia campus in 1966 after marriage, did her Masters in Sociology from the Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. She shares how Jamia provided equal opportunities to everyone. ‘There was no gender or class segregation here. Children of Jamia staff (those at lower positions) also gained access to education and subsequently went on to do well in their lives.’

She shares the example of Prof Mujeeb’s driver’s daughter who excelled academically and went on to teach at the Chemistry department of Jamia. ‘Women used to actively participate in cultural programmes. For women, there was not much emphasis on purdah. The environment here enabled women to leave their traditional roles and participate as equals. Jamia Millia Islamia was a movement that transformed lives.’


In the words of Mirza Ghalib:

Hai kahan tamanna ka doosra qadam ya Rabb

Humne dasht e imkan ko ek naqsh e pa’ paaya

Where is the second step of longing, O Lord (how can the extensiveness of our longing be described?)

Whole world and all its possibilities we covered in one step.


* Note: All translations by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

** I would like to thank Mahtab Alam and Jamal Kidwai for this opportunity to contribute an article on my alma mater. I am grateful to the wonderful Jamia community for being gracious with their time and for sharing their JMI experiences, Prof Sadiqur Rahman Kidwai, Azra Kidwai, Mohammad Yusuf, Tehreema Farouqui, Qutubuddin Wahidi, Prof Seeme Murtaza and Afzaal ur Rehman. Indebted for help with sources and references to Mohammad Usman, Dr Saif Mahmood and Mahtab Alam for all the help and inputs. Thankful to Prof Zoya Hasan, Amera Khatoon, Areeb Rizvi for being generous and sharing their unpublished works. Highly obliged to Shams for helping with the drafts of Tarana and Parcham translations.


1. https://cmnaim.com/2015/07/19/tarana-naghma-anthem-whats-in-a-name/

2. Reginald Massey, India’s Dances. Abhinav Publications, 2004, p. 13, quoted by Naim (2015), link: https://cmnaim.com/2015/07/19/tarana-naghma-anthem-whats-in-a-name/

3. Jamia Middle School organizes the Foundation Day programme. It has been an old tradition at Jamia Millia Islamia.

4. Jamia ki Kahani (2004), p. 359.

5. https://www.jmi.ac.in/aboutjamia/profile/jamia-motto

6. Quran: Surah Al-Alaq (The Clot), Chapter 96, Ayat 05, Dr Mustafa Khattab, the Clear Quran. ‘Verses 1-5 are known to be the first ever revealed of the Quran. Prophet was retreating at a cave in the outskirts of Mecca when angel Gabriel appeared to him, squeezing him tightly and ordering him to read. Since the Prophet was unlettered, he responded, ‘I cannot read.’ Ultimately, Gabriel taught him: ‘Read in the Name of your Lord …’ https://quran.com/96

7. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v= BX8PjgtnybQ

8. Ibid.

9. Prof Sadiq ur Rehman Kidwai (Former Dean, School of Languages, Jawaharlal Nehru University). He is also the President of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Hind.



Abdul Ghaffar Mudholi, Jamia ki Kahani. Maktaba Jamia, New Delhi, 1964.

Shameem Hanafi, Shahab Uddin Ansari and Shamsul Haq Usmani (eds.), Jamia Millia Islamia Takhleeq o Tanqeed ki Dastavez. Zakir Hussain Institute of Islamic Studies, New Delhi, 2006.

Zoya Hasan, Abbu (unpublished).

Amera Khatoon, Mohammad Khaliq Siddiqui Ek Tarruf (unpublished).

Sughara Mehdi, Hamari Jamia: Taleemi, Tehzeebi Aur Samaji Saga. Maktaba Jamia, New Delhi, 2013.

Areeb Rizvi, ‘Jamia Millia Islamia Through History’, M.A. Dissertation (unpublished), 2017.

https://www.jmi.ac.in/aboutjamia/profile/jamia-motto accessed on 26 January 2021.

https://quran.com/96 accessed on 27 January 2021.

https://cmnaim.com/2015/07/19/tarana-naghma-anthem-whats-in-a-name/ accessed on 24th Jan 2021.

https://scroll.in/article/740951/contested-verses-was-pakistans-first-national-anthem-written-by-a-lahore-based-hindu accessed on 24 January 2021.

Ghazanfar Zaidi’s film ‘History of Jamia Millia Islamia’ logo and Description of its Elements’ on JMI logo. https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=BX8PjgtnybQ accessed on 27 January 2021.