In poetry, the ghazal (Arabic/Persian/Urdu: غزل; Hindi: ग़ज़ल; Turkish gazel) is a poetic form consisting of rhyming couplets and a refrain. Each line must share the same meter. The Arabic word "ghazal" is pronounced roughly like the English word "guzzle", but with the first, g-like consonant further back in the throat. A ghazal may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss or separation and the beauty of love in spite of that pain. The form is ancient, originating in 6th century pre-Islamic Arabic verse. It is derived from the Arabian panegyric qasida. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarcan sonnet. In its style and content it is a genre which has proved capable of an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms the Indo-Perso-Arabic civilization offered to the eastern Islamic world.
The ghazal spread into South Asia in the 12th century under the influence of the new Islamic Sultanate courts and Sufi mystics. Exotic to the region, as is indicated by the very sounds of the name itself when properly pronounced as ġazal, with its very un-Indic initial voiced velar fricative g. Although the ghazal is most prominently a form of Urdu poetry, today, it is found in the poetry of many languages.
Ghazals were written by the Persian mystics and poets Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (13th century) and Hafez (14th century), the Azeri poet Fuzuli (16th century), as well as Mirza Ghalib (1797–1869) and Muhammad Iqbal (1877–1938), who both wrote Ghazals in Persian and Urdu. Through the influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832), the ghazal became very popular in Germany in the 19th century, and the form was used extensively by Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866) and August von Platen (1796–1835). The Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali was a proponent of the form, both in English and in other languages; he edited a volume of "real ghazals in English."