Josh Malihabadi was born as Shabbir Hasan Khan on 5th December, 1898 at Malihabad. He did his senior Cambridge from St. Peter's College, Agra in 1914. In 1918, he spent about six months at Shantiniketan. He studied Arabic and Persian. Due to the death of his father, Bashir Ahmed Khan, in 1916, Josh was unable to avail of a college education.
In 1925, Josh started work at the Osmania University, supervising translation work. He was exiled from the state of Hyderabad for writing a nazm against the Nizam. He then started the newsletter/magazine called the 'Kaleem' in which he openly wrote articles in favour of independence and against the British. Soon, he was being called "shaayar-e-inquilaab". He also got actively involved in the freedom struggle and became close to quite a few of the political leaders of that era, specially Jawahar Lal Nehru.
On the advice of director W.Z.Ahmed, he also wrote songs for Shalimar Pictures. During this time, he was staying in Pune. After independence, he became the editor of 'Aajkal'. He was later honoured with the Padmabhushan. Josh spent the latter part of his years in Pakistan.He passed away on 22nd February, 1982 in Islamabad. Some of Josh's important works are: Shola-o-Shabnam, Junoon-o-Hikmat, Fikr-o-Nishaat, Sunbal-o-Salaasal, Harf-o-Hikaayat, Sarod-o-Kharosh. His autobiography is titled "Yaadon ki Baarat".