THE SECOND MARRIAGE OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI; 11TH MARCH 1944 KISHWAR IQBAL BANO IN AMRITSAR
Life is a series of coincidences. The maternal (from his mother’s side) cousin of Abdur Rahman Chughtai, mainly Meraj ud din, was very concerned about his beloved cousin and friend. The marriage in 1911 with Wazeer un nisa had borne a son, who died at birth. The lady was never again in a position to conceive. Even she was lonely without children in the house and also imposed on her husband, to seek another marriage for children. Paa Maja (Meraj ud din) along with his wife were trying their best for same. A marriage proposal of a would-be bride in Amritsar, whose name was Kishwar, was under consideration. A party went to the house of this lady Kishwar, whose father used to work in the Railways. The proposal did not work out. At that reception was also present Bhou Din Muhammed, also a Railway Goods Clerk, who liked the presence of Chughtai Sahib. He asked them to pay a visit to their house, for a possible marriage, with his daughter. The visit materialized, and the wife of Bhou Din Muhammed, namely Ayesha Bibi, also liked the prospective groom, and accepted the proposal of marriage. The daughter was Kishwar Iqbal Bano, destined to be the wife of the artist, by a mere coincidence.
The marriage took place on 11th March, 1944. The wedding party came back to Lahore, and Meraj ud din hosted them at his house in Shahi Mohalla. The first wife insisted that the newly wed wife be brought to the house and arrangements were made for her. From the house of Meraj ud din, Kishwar Iqbal Bano, shifted to the Chabuk Sawaran house in Lahore. Soon after the shifting was done to the newer house. A new era in the life of the artist had begun. But many were unhappy with this development, as they eyed the wealth of the artist for personal gain. And this marriage proved a threat to their ideas. But that is a separate tragic story. This marriage had brought the legacy of M.A. Rahman Chughtai to a new footing. Kishwar Iqbal Bano brought not only happiness in the life of the artist, but enhanced the legacy of the family with a next generation. Blessings of Allah be upon all who made this possible!
THE TRADITION OF CLOTH PUNKAS IN LAHORE – HUMAN LABOUR IN MOVING SAME FOR HOURS
As time rolls, we completely forget the previous circumstances of life. Today for comfort we have so many facilities. Air-conditioned rooms for summers, as well as heaters for winters. Obviously change of weather affected all of us. To find a solution for it different systems were tried by people. I remember not long ago, in Lahore city, you could still see cloth fans fixed on ceilings and moved by the ladies as well by the children of the house. It used to amuse us with electric fans in our houses. But going back these were common in the region, but in aristocratic houses. We tried to trace some images, and even found one of an old man in Lahore, who used to pull these fans. Sharing them is real fun in our times, when the amount of labour required to move them was phenomenal. Surely such kind of hard work cannot even be imagined in our times. So share the fun of another time in our times of affluence.
A VERY SAD DEATH OF AYMANN AL-TAHER IN JORDAN 15TH NOVEMBER 2020 – SON IN LAW OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI, EX-HUSBAND MUSSARAT CHUGHTAI
An emergency death of the son in law of M.A. Rahman Chughtai, and husband of his daughter, Mussarat Chughtai. A true son in soil of Pakistan, and in tradition of support of Quaid e Azam for the state of Palestine, M.A. Rahman Chughtai allowed this marriage, with the late Aymann, who was a Palestinian driven from his home in Nablus by occupation. He was the father of Saffi al-Taher and Osama al-Taher. It is easy to talk about ideals, and difficult to implement them in real life. May the soul of Aymann rest in peace! The Blessings of Allah be upon him!
ALLAMA IQBAL’S FIRST FAMILY MISSED BY OUR JOURNALISTS – FOR REASONS UNKNOWN. AFTAB IQBAL INTELLECTUAL SON.
A couple of days back, an unknown Sabahat Khan asked me for identifying the photograph of Aftab Iqbal. I had written about this family back in 2006 on Facebook, instead of my usual blog. So, I thought the best thing would be to clarify things again. Obviously, there are many family members, but they miss the media hype generated by others in same family. M.A. Rahman Chughtai had great respect for Aftab Iqbal and shared with him his publication, Amal e Chughtai. It is a decent family and deserves love and respect of the people. There was tension between Allama Iqbal and his son Aftab Iqbal, and Aftab Iqbal with great love for his mother Kareem Bibi, protested the next marriage of Allama Iqbal. But that does not mean anything more than a personal family issue. Marriages were a routine in those times. No harm was done anywhere. In their own way, both father and son, were right.
YES, HALAKU KHAN INDEED DECIMATED A PUTRID STATE OF ISLAM – AND HOW PURE ISLAM CONQUERED SAME FAMILY OF MONGOLS: CONQUESTS AND CONVERSIONS THE NEW DIALOGUE OF HISTORY
Islamic history is full of contradictions. It is clear from this that history of Islamic civilization is distorted in many ways. Various historians at work so that the truth never comes to light. The main reason was that the last days of the city of Baghdad tells us clearly that the wholeness of Islam was put to test by rancid sectarianism. It is clear from the famous legend that when Halaku Khan with his army was outside the city of Baghdad, there was heated discussion going on in mosques by the Maulvis of that time, whether the word Ameen should be uttered in loud manner or in a slow whisper. Understand the confusion in the minds of that putrid state of Islamic capital. The Caliph was encroached in administration by sects not happy with an important factual record.
The whole record of the Government in previous hands, from the Prophet (PBUH) himself, to the first and later Caliphs was there in black and white. Literally miles of record keeping under sacred hands and clearly going contra to the various Hadees manufactured otherwise. Halaku Kham would not have even an idea of this but the ministers of the Caliph, as well as the advisers of Halaku Khan were in cahoots with each other. To retard Islam’s progress, there was a need to put this record on fire. And it was done most ruthlessly. It was not the library which was the target, for there is record of manuscripts discovered, which were there in the library itself. Even some manuscripts were discovered floating in water. The famous astronomer Nasiruddin Tusi was part of the set-up. People still hesitate talking of this important aspect. It is proverbial how the Caliph was wrapped in a carpet and crushed under the hoof of the horses of the Mongols. But then the strangest thing happened. The ferocious Mongols soon saw the spirituality of Islam and within a few decades many of them had embraced Islam. One civilization crushed under hoofs, and another civilization born, to spread Islam all over the world. But that is another story.
A FOREIGNER GERTRUDE BELL’S TRAVEL DIARIES IN LAHORE 1905 – PASSING REFERENCE TO PERCY BROWN OF MAYO SCHOOL OF ARTS
A reference dated 28th January, 1903, of Gertrude Bell, with reference to Percy Brown, of Lahore. First read the original note, near Wazeerabad.
Diary dated 28th January, 1903. Wed 28. [28 January 1903] We were separated, I in a carriage to myself. Chota Hazri at Wazirabad where I fed the crows and kites on my toast. H [Hugo]’s travelling companion was Percy Brown of Lahore. He fished me out at 9 to come and talk to him. A keen intelligent young man with no hs. He has been away for a year travelling over India for the Durbar Exhibits. He says the Burman is the finest artist, but like an artist he works when he pleases. The Sikh is a good man but a bit thick headed. The best they get in the N is the Muhammadan like Sher Muhammad. He seems most anxious to follow in L. Kipling’s steps and his object is to turn out men like his. They get more boys now, he doesn’t pay much attention to the lowest class, but when they get into the second he begins to keep his eye on them. He discourages non attendance and turns out all but the regular boys.
A first-hand report by a travelling lady in a carriage near Wazeerabad, where she met Percy Brown of Lahore, and heard his comments about the famous Master Sher Muhammed of Mayo School of Arts, who later became the Vice Principal of the school. This kind of first hand reports are rare in art literature. This report is rare too:
AN URDU MAGAZINE OF LAHORE CITY PRINTING PHOTOGRAPHS – LAHORI IMAGES RECOVERED FROM FADED OLD LITHO BLOCKS
An Urdu magazine on medicine printed by a Chughtai family of Lahore of Gujar Gali, with remedy treatments for different diseases and discourses on varied subject. Block printing at that time but not that common. Plates of personalities printed in magazine discarded to the rubbish dump. We used to see one such old press on Aibak road known as Patanga Press. It is probably still there under new machinery. But printing came in vogue long time back. But Photo-lithography was rarer than that.
This family of Hakeems traditionally known as Bindri-gars were actually descendant of the Kabul group of Qazi Lutufullah who came to Lahore in Mughal times. The famous Gumti group of painters belonged to this family and thy were related to M.A. Rahman Chughtai by marriage. Even his eldest brother Muhammed Hussain was married into the same family. Girls from this family were traditionally considered absolutely beautiful and had the ‘maina’ eyes, which were extremely seductive to boys and men of those times. Budding Casanovas passed the street in hope of catching a glimpse of them. Perhaps some of the photographs are of that family. Files of the magazine preserved were later sold to second hand book sellers. A legacy lost in time.
THE EMERGENCE OF THE DOUBLE DOME IN INDO-PAKISTANI REGION – BULBOUS DOME VERY DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS SULTANATE DOMES
A certain kind of dome on Mughal building is evident from the architecture of those who built same. Some of the domes which come in mind are related to the Taj Mahal of Agra, Mausoleum of Rabia Durrani in Aurangabad, Mausoleum of Asif Khan in Lahore, as well as the Badshahi Mosque of Lahore. A study of these domes show that these domes are generated by the same family of Ustad Ahmad Mimar Lahori. But these are all later dated. If we try to go back to the origin of all of them, we come to the Pirzada Masjid, in Haryana, India. And here is the first bulbous dome of the region. And who made it, it is no other than Ustad Yusuf Mimar, who came to this region with Emperor Babar.
Very few creations of Babar are known in this region, and the Babari Masjid has become controversial under the hands of extremist Hindus. But there is another Babari Masjid in Haryana, Punjab, and rather unknown by most. It is not even a protected monument, although two inscriptions found on it, record it as having been made in 1529. Milk sellers surround the place, with their cattle (cows and buffaloes), bent upon bringing it down, and occupying the place. Not only they are in a qabza frenzy, they have made walls, and literally destroyed the inscriptions. If it was not for Professor S.R. PHOGAT, who recorded same, everything would have been lost. One of the inscriptions is recorded in the professor’s book on Haryana. The other seem totally lost. Let us first study the one saved:
“In the time of the reign of his Majesty the king of kings, the refuge of the world Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar. “Ghazi Badshah-may God perpetuate his kingdom and his reign!
The slave of the court of the Sun,
“The humble, base Janyu Sunu Agha, son of Shaikh Sunu, an inhabitant of the town of the joy, (Hisar)
“Through the grace of God Almighty found grace to build the mosque of the town of Mahim-May God Almighty, “Make him accepted and favoured through His kindness and His wisdom- On the fifth Rabi’al awal 936, (7th November 1529].”
Strangely although the other is lost, it is remembered and written by most people, as having the name of Sheikh Yusuf of Hisar as the builder of the mosque. Hisar-e-Firoza is the name of the Fort of the Tughlaq period. Now who is Janyu Sunu Agha. Agha is a title given by Turks to their Military and Civil Officers, so here we have a link to Turkey. Turkish historians record two architects who were students of Ustad Sinan of Turkey, and it seems with Babar here in 1529, these two are linked to the same. And who was Sheikh Yusuf of Hisar? Simply Yusuf, the fugitive architect, who was trying to find patrons in this region. Ended up in Lahore and getting married here. He begotted a son here, who he named Ahmad. Not knowing that this child would make waves in this region, by becoming Ustad Ahmad Mimar Lahori, the architect of the Taj Mahal of Agra.
Now the shape of the domes can be better understood. Bulbous domes the specialty of the Mimar family of Lahore. This was the new addition to the architecture in the region. Starting from a square base, the same evolved into octagonal settings. Innovation part of any evolution. Lutufullah Ahmad Muhandis in an exercise in his famous book Khulasat ul Hisab, gives the fundamentals of making a bulbous dome in architecture. Well done family!
THE STRANGEST PERSONALITY OF DR ABDULLAH CHAGHATAI – BROTHER OF M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI, EXEMPLARY SCHOLAR.
As time passes history is often lost. When people do not write about events in their life, or in the life of the icons of the country, sooner or later facts turn into myths, and more often into a bunch of unrelated facts and figures. So much has been written about the artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai in his life time and afterwards, but the majority of information known today is based on the research of Chughtai Museum itself. Even the previous writers writing about him, knew some aspects and hardly knew more. The dearth of knowledge stands there.
So when Aleena Javed of the University of Punjab called here with a M. Phil topic on Dr Abdullah Chaghatai, I realized how little is available on Dr Abdullah Chaghatai. The people who knew him are dead, the books he wrote no longer available at usual places, the articles in various newspapers totally not traceable, and even his grave in Miani qabarastan untraceable by most. The two PTV interviews probably not saved at all. Not even one memorial volume or article on him. And the major reason was that his next generations were least interested in him. The reason he lived in his own house at 15 F Gulberg 2, Lahore, but he had no enormous bank balances to show for his life dedicated to history of Islamic Art and Architecture. And, certainly to the city of his ancestors, Lahore. In real terms his family in materialistic terms thought he wasted his life in needless pursuits. They were not proud of his heritage is proven by the fact that obviously his library got sold (National Library Islamabad), but the other books, manuscripts, archives, correspondence, certificates, photographs, inscriptional direct copies (of most Islamic buildings in Indian region), real pack loads of material, disappeared in the air. His grandsons sold his shop in Urdu Bazaar for a huge sum. Some material given to kabarias, and his unsold books forsaken to radi walas. Not one family member can be approached to get information. The last living son a heart patient, no longer accessible to others. Can actually speak little. And himself sad at the state of affairs. This was immediately realized by Aleena Javed. I feel sad in him being forsaken. There is no doubt that he was most dedicated to his subject and spent whatever he had on his mission to write a splendid history of Islamic civilization. All must salute him for that. But he was hot tempered, and made few friends in his life. In this extent his sibling rivalry with his elder brother was phenomenal. He opposed his brother throughout his life, can be understood from the fact, that when President Ayub Khan visited the house of the artist in 1959, Dr Abdullah Chaghatai could fume with rage and wrote against the visit in “Imroze” newspaper. Up to the best of my knowledge he did not talk with his brother for perhaps something like 30 years, a life time indeed. A few days before his death M.A. Rahman Chughtai made a personal request to him to come and pay him a visit and he did, and instead of being friendly and sympathetic, ended up fighting with him again, when he was literally on his death bed. I was a witness to all this and later on when on a visit to London, his son Ahad Chughtai told me a completely false tale, that Chughtai sahib had invited his brother to beg forgiveness for the trouble given to him and his wife all his life. That was indeed very malignant, when I knew better. That was the reason that M.A. Rahman Chughtai in a published book of short stories, ‘Kajal’ , directly accused his brother of always opposing his writings. But the opposition was definitely for a reason. The aim was that M.A Rahman Chughtai was without children and after his death, his property would be inherited amongst others, by Dr Abdullah Chaghatai himself. So, by fate of luck, M.A. Rahman Chughtai did get married and had children, it was a cruel blow to those who were planning otherwise. There was real resentment behind all this for the wrong reasons. In 1938 all three brothers shifted from the Chabuk Sawaran house to the new house, and lived together. But the brother’s marriage in 1944, prompted Abdullah to leave the house in actual disgust, and went back to his ancestral house in Kocha Chabuk Sawaran. Later he shifted to the residence in Gulberg, and the calamity fell on the house in Chabuk Sawaran, for a water tap was left open, the water filled the house, and finally the house collapsed one day. There were ancestral relics and things still in the house.
Not that other people who visited him came back enriched. He was reluctant to share books, share knowledge, or even give directions to others. He would borrow books, never to return them. Even Librarian Lahore Museum complained of this. He forcibly took a manuscript from Khalil-ur-Rahman Daudi, never to return. And even some archival material he could sell for peanuts, like the Iqballian letters he sold to Mumtaz Hassan. And, he could be normally pleasant to some people but he was allergic to researchers, and felt that they were encroaching upon his basic rights. I myself know that he would mislead people who asked for directions to the South, to give them directions to the North. It is a fact, that more often he even misquotes references, so that others may not reach the same point. And sometimes create historical facts and dates, which can be proven in his books even. Not only was he wrong about dates, he could create dates when it suited him. He possessive about his knowledge, and he was never in a mood to share it. The antagonism of researchers like Khalid Mahmood, and Dr Anjum Rehmani is well known, and can be understood by their tirade against him in their writings, which I feel is unfair. He did help them in a way. He irritated Sir Akbar Hydari, Prime Minister of Hyderabad Deccan, and was Persona non Grata to that place for some years. He annoyed Dr Nazir Ahmad of Aligarh terribly for writing about his family. Helping me was unthinkable. Not me. When I asked him to show me a book, he showed it to me in his own hands. I was amazed at this ruthlessness of research on his part. All the more when I shared with him hundreds of my independent findings on common subjects. When I asked him for documents, he said they can never be found. When I found them, he was ever ready to use them with two unplanned articles in “Nawai waqt” newspaper, Lahore; without any intimation to me. It went to the extent that he never gave me a clue to some information he had, although I requested him many times. He died with that valuable information intact. And the finale was that he had his son Abdul Khaliq turn me away at the door, when I visited him, with materials to give to him. The son told me never to visit their house again. The funny part is that after his death after many years, the son came to the museum premises and apologized for that happening (in fact he came many times before his operation). I said nothing and said it was okay. I do not carry grudges on my shoulders. Felt it was sweet of him to do so. I would not even mention same. All forgiven! Like his family members, he is a very honest person. It requires honesty to tell me that the next generation cares nothing about their family past.
But this is getting too long for one blog. I feel that there has to be a few more on him. Just wait for first time revelations on him and his career and his personality. There is no doubt that he was utmost hard working, honest, dedicated to his mission, but so possessive with what he had, that he would die before sharing it with others. Dr Abdullah Chaghatai took pride in spending so many years with Dr Allama Iqbal, but he was not Iqballian in his thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, in the end very sectarian in his views. Allah bless him! My view is that truth must be told before it gets lost in the annals of history itself. A scholar who was a Master of his subject, became controversial due to petty rivalries of his mind. With a walking stick in his hand, and a red Rumi topee on his head, he always made waves. We pray for him and his soul!
EXPLORING THE INSIDE OF THE DOME OF SAHIB JAMAL WIFE OF PRINCE SALEEM – DOME FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE REGION, LARGELY EMPTY, UNSEEN BOTTOM VIEW
The initial date of the mausoleum (or year of death) is 1008 AH or 1599 AD, and the next one is given as 1024 AH or 1615 AD. A Mughal Prince in 1599, and a full-fledged Emperor in 1615. The sorrow remained fresh for 16 years, and proves that the sentiments of royalty were not fickle and went away with time. Catherine B. Asher writes that:
“The tomb….has several features that depart from those of other Imperial tombs. A central domed chamber follows a familiar plan.”
But what is unusual is that in most mausoleum, standing in the central domed chamber, we see the inside of the dome high up the ceiling. Although the top layer is camouflaged by lower layer, but the inside layer is as curved as the upper one. Here the shape of the lower dome is more Sultanate in style, and the upper dome more bulbous. The later bulbous domes reveal all that. But inside the upper dome is a huge empty space, that we usually do not see in other similar architectural designs. We know that it has been studied by so many professionals, but they have not pointed out this aspect of the design. In my opinion it shows that there was a mausoleum made by the Prince for his wife Sahib Jamal, and later as an Emperor, he had it enlarged in true royal size. The dates seem to confirm that. For 16 years is too long a time for a mausoleum like that to be built under royalty.
In 1847 a map was made of Lahore, and at number 42, it shows Anar Kullee. But amazingly at 41, it shows Anar Kullee Nullah, that is the nullah which came from River Ravi was named after Anarkalli. But later on, we have Purani Anarkalli, where we still have an ages old police station, recently restored. And then the modern Anarkalli bazaar, which made the myth of Anarkalli famous in the inhabitants of Lahore. Then the drama writers, film makers, song writers took over the romance of the tale of a Prince with a slave girl (modified from the original that the slave girl was the concubine of his father and mother of his step brother).
The Nullah from river Ravi, the first pathway, and then the new bazaar, who was responsible for all this. Why? We know there was a Bagh Anaran here, full of Pomegranate trees. But these renaming things is certainly a conspiracy of the Gora Sahib in implementing fake history in this region, and there are plenty of examples of this hybrid war through the centuries.