Distinguishing Ghazal & Nazm: Key Differences

Ghazal vs Nazm

Urdu poetry is cherished and admired by even those who cannot understand a single written word in Urdu. This is due to the fact that Urdu poetry is very melodious and meaningful, and becomes incredibly powerful when accompanied by a musical composition. There are numerous forms of Urdu poetry, and the most popular ones are ghazal and nazm. Although there are many similarities between the two poetry forms, which can be confusing for those who do not understand the intricacies of Urdu poetry, there are also differences that will be highlighted in this article.


Urdu poetry, despite being heavily influenced by Arabic and Persian, has a unique Hindustani flavor, with this form of poetry taking strong roots in the Indian subcontinent. Some of the greatest Urdu poets, such as Meer, Ghalib, and Faiz Ahmed Faiz, have all been Indians. A ghazal is a collection of couplets called shers that rhyme and have a common refrain.

The word ghazal comes from an Arabic word that means the mortal cry of the Kasturi deer. Kasturi is a deer that has a fragrance in its body that is unknown to the deer itself. The deer has to be killed to obtain this Kasturi fragrance. Ghazal is a poignant form of poetry that tries to capture the same mortal cry that comes out of the mouth of the deer when it is being killed for the fragrance.

The central theme of a ghazal is love, but it is capable of producing an extraordinary range of expressions with seemingly simple and ordinary words. This form of poetry always portrays the world from the perspective of a lover who has not been able to attain their lover in a physical sense. The description of the lover and their physical and emotional features is laden with metaphors, making ghazals very meaningful.

Ghazal contains several shers, and all of these shers are complete poems in themselves, conveying a message. Rhythm in ghazal is expressed through the matla (first sher), and a ghazal always ends with a takhallus, which is the pen name of the writer. This takhallus is contained in the last sher of the ghazal, which is called the makta. Radeef is an important part of a ghazal that refers to the congruency of the pattern of words in the second line of a sher.


Nazm is a popular poetry form in Urdu. Nazm can be written in both rhyming verses and prose. There are no limitations on the size of a nazm, and it can be any length from 12 to 186 lines. There are no requirements for makta and matla, as is the case with a ghazal. Unlike a ghazal, where different shers are complete poems in themselves, all verses in a nazm are interlinked and convey the same theme.

Key Takeaways

  • Ghazals are short, whereas Nazms can be short or very long.
  • The ending of a ghazal includes the pen name of the writer, called takhallus.
  • Ashaars are all independent in a ghazal, whereas all verses are interlinked, reflecting the same theme in a nazm.
Dmitri Ivanov
Dmitri Ivanovhttps://whats-different.com
Dmitri Ivanov, a writer and managing editor, was educated in Canada and holds a BS in Science. Dmitri loves doing research, writing, and teaching various courses.


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