Format of Ghazal

A Ghazal has several vital elements. These are as follows:

Sher – this is a poem of two lines. A Ghazal is made up of these couplets, usually but not necessarily, between seven and twelve of them. These couplets are complete poems in themselves and do not rely on the other Shers to convey their meaning. One Ghazal, therefore, can cover a whole range of topics.

Beher – this is the meter or length of the Sher. Both lines of the Sher must be of the same Beher and all the Shers in a Ghazal must also be of the same Beher.

But this is not enough. In order to be considered a Ghazal, a collection of Shers must also follow the rules of Radif and Qafia.

Radif – the second line of each of the Shers must end with same word or words. This is the Radif of the Ghazal.

Qafia – the words before the Radif must follow a strict rhyming pattern. The rhyme is established in the opening Sher, or Matla. The words which come before the Radif in the opening Sher must have a rhyme in the second line of all other Shers in the Ghazal.

And finally we have the rules of Matla and Maqta.

Matla – this is the opening Sher of the Ghazal. This must have the Radif in both its lines and this Radif is then repeated at the end of the second line of all the other Shers in the Ghazal.

Maqta – this is the last Sher of the Ghazal and usually includes the Penname of the poet.