Khawaja Altaf Hussain Hali, a contemporary of Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib and Sir Syed Ahmed khan was born at Panipat in 1837. His father died when he was nine years old. Despite problems and setbacks in his early life, Hali continued his education of Arabic and Persian grammar and elementary logic at Delhi. In 1856, he got petty clerical post at Hisar. After the War of Independence, he lost his job and remained without employment for four years. This period provided him with enough time to study Islamic history, traditions, philosophy, logic and Arabic literature. During this period he began composing his poetry under the guidance of Ghalib. But he was more influenced by Nawab Mustafa khan Shaifta and he once remarked, ‘I learnt more from Shaifta.’ He remained in Shaifta’s services till 1869.
After his death, he joined Punjab Government Book Depot at Lahore to revise the text of Urdu translations of English works. The helped him to grasp the linchpin of European literature that influenced him a lot. In association with Maulana Muhammad Hussain Azad and being encouraged by the English officials of the Education Department, he found new school of Urdu poetry. He created a new mode in the thinking patterns of the intellectuals of the Punjab. With the help of Azad, he initiated the modern Nazam in the country and adopted realistic themes related to Indian life and background. His famous mathnawis, Munajaat-e-Bewa, Barkha rut and Hubb-i-watn belonged to this period. He also influenced the genre of ghazul and added an ethical tone to it.
Hali was greatly impressed by Sir Syed Ahmed khan whose Aligarh movement entailed educational and social reformation of the Muslim India. He began to support this movement in his articles in 1811. When Hali moved to Delhi and further came close to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who asked him to write for the Muslims. He complied with his wish