Difference Between Ghazal and Nazm

Ghazal vs Nazm

Urdu poetry is appreciated and loved by even those who do not understand a single written word in Urdu. This is because Urdu poetry is very melodious and meaningful and becomes very powerful when it gets the support of a musical composition. There are many different forms of Urdu poetry and the most popular ones are ghazal and nazm. While there are many similarities between the two poetry forms confusing those who do not understand the intricacies of Urdu poetry, there are differences that will be highlighted in this article.


Urdu poetry, though drawing heavily from Arabic and Persian influences, has a typical Hindustani flavor with this form of poetry taking strong roots in the Indian subcontinent. Some of the greatest Urdu poets such as Meer, Ghalib, 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 Kasturi deer. Kasturi is a deer that has a fragrance in its body that is not known to him. 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 he 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 is always portrays the word from the point of view of a lover who has not been able to get his lover in the physical sense of the word. The description of the lover and her 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 giving a message. Rhythm in ghazal is expressed through 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 Makta. Radeef is an important part of a ghazal that refers to congruency of pattern of words in the second line of a sher.


Nazm is a popular poetry form in Urdu. Nazm can be written both in rhyming verses or prose. There are no limitations on the size of a nazm and it can be of any length from 12 to 186 lines. There are no compulsions of 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.

What is the difference between Ghazal and Nazm?

• Ghazals are short whereas Nazms can be short as well as very long.

• Ending of a Ghazal takes place with 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.

• Ghazal is manly written as a more poignant form of poetry than a Nazm.

• Ghazal is much older than Nazm.