Urdu itself as a language might be called a bundle of anomalies, beginning with the fact that this language of many virtues has no true homeland. It originated from the early stages of Muslim conquest of India as the lingua franca of the camp. It was a mixture of the Arabicized Persian used by the invaders, themselves a miscellany of Turks and other, with some of the still unformed Hindi dialects of the upper Gangetic valley. In verb structure it was native Indian, a fact which entitles it to be classed as an Indian language, and in vocabulary largely foreign.
It began as a pidgin dialect or hybrid and gradually evolved into a self-sufficient language with special qualities derived from its mixed antecedents, qualities of contrast and modulation of great significance for poetry. Urdu can thus combine the harmony of Persian with the energy of Arabic and the simplicity of rustic Hindi. Almost any Persian noun or adjective may be brought into an Urdu verse. Persian syntax too, notably the use of izafat to join a noun either with its adjective or with its possessive, is retained to a great extent in Urdu poetry.
When the Mughal empire faded, and with it the old cultural links with Persia, it was chiefly the poetic part of the legacy of Persian that Urdu fell heir to. The Muslim community, socially an unbalanced one of feudal cast, with only an embryonic middle class, has few professional or commercial men with reason to write prose; and fallen from power, unable for long to adapt itself to new times, it had stronger feelings than thoughts, an impulsion towards emotional verse more than towards rational prose. A language like Urdu, with a small prose content, has so to speak a lower boiling point, and boils up into poetry - or vaporizes into verse- more readily.
Excerpt: By Victor Kiernan