A TIME IN IRAQ BEFORE SADDAM AND THE PRESENT ANARCHY – VISIT OF IRAQI PRINCE TO PAKISTAN AND CHUGHTAIS PAINTING.
Little is known about King Faisal of Iraq and this can be understood: “Faisal II (Arabic: الملك فيصل الثاني Al-Malik Fayṣal Ath-thānī) (2 May 1935 – 14 July 1958) was the last King of Iraq. He reigned from 4 April 1939 until July 1958, when he was executed during the 14 July Revolution together with numerous members of his family. This regicide marked the end of the thirty-seven-year-old Hashemite monarchy in Iraq, which then became a republic. “
He was cousin of King Hussain of Jordan, and belonged to the prestigious Hashemite kingdom of Islam. He was always accompanied by his uncle Prince Abdullah, who was his regent. Prince visited Pakistan and was presented with a Chughtais painting. A version of his famous painting “Morning Star”. Most probably the painting destroyed in the regicide against his rule, but one does not know. We have a photograph of the Prince with his uncle Prince Abdullah, and our own famous diplomat Pitras Bokhari receiving him in state. Little known facts are on record with us.
The tragic end is on record: The monarchy’s end was quite similar to the regicide of the Russian Tsarist autocracy in 1917. On July 14, 1958, a coup d’état, orchestrated by officers who called themselves the “Free Officers” (inspired by the Egyptian Free Officers who overthrew the Egyptian Monarchy in 1952), raided the Qasr al-Zuhur (Palace of Roses) and directed the royal family to the courtyard, under the pretense that a helicopter would pick them up. Instead, they were lined up, facing the palace walls, and machine-gunned. Among the dead were Faisal; Abdul Ilah; Princess Nafeesa, Abdul Ilah’s mother; Princess Abadiya, Faisal’s aunt; and Princess Hiyam, Abdul Ilah’s wife. Mob mentality ensued and took over Baghdad; Faisal and Abdul Ilah’s bodies were dragged through the streets and hung outside the Ministry of Defense as evidence that Iraq had been liberated from its Western ties. And these people were the custodians of Holy places from times immemorial, the famous Hashims of Khana Kaaba.
THE VARIOUS THESIS ALTERNATIVES OF TAJ MAHAL – CREATION OF ESTEEMED DR ABDULLAH CHAGHATAI
The famous but rare thesis done in Paris on Taj Mahal. Versions many. Well here they are for the first time at one place:
The thesis on Taj Mahal presented in Paris with his signatures on it. Dated 1937.
The printed thesis on Taj Mahal printed in Brussels in 1938. Very few copies printed and hardly ten brought to Lahore. Some presented here and there. The edition in Brussels lost during the World war. Chughtai Museum has a copy. There is a copy in the National library, Islamabad, formerly in the library of Dr Abdullah Chaghatai himself. Perhaps on or two in India. Rarest of rare books. Hardly quoted anywhere. Written in Urdu and translated into French. The speculation is that his friend Dr Hameedullah did that in Paris. Details not known. He never shared this with others.
The Urdu edition of the Taj Mahal printed in Lahore in 1963. A 1000 copies printed, never printed again. Rarely available but exists here and there.
The English edition planned to be printed. Translated under his guidance with the help of Ahad Chughtai, his architect son. It is very unfortunate that it never got printed and the manuscript lost in issues pertaining his home after his death. It should be printed, even with some lapses pertaining to his character. He wanted to be one to discover Ustad Ahmad Mimar and it was not his luck, that the Diwan of Lutufullah Muhandis reached the writer Mazhmud Bangloree, before he could do so. Something he knew at home, and became second place in his research. His deep resentment against Mahmud Bangaloree rechedc in his tirade against Lutufullah himself.
We will be covering a lot on Dr Abdullah Chaghatai very soon. To reveal the special inside story on him. Well done!
THE MALIGNANT ESTRANGEMENT BETWEEN DARA SHIKOH AND MIAN SAADULLAH – FANTASTIC INFORMATION GIVEN BY FRANCOIS BERNIER AND NICHOLAS MANNUCI.
The Western world as well as the Hindu world are so fond of quoting foreign travelers to the region of Hindustan. They rest not on peace as they go on telling us what these people saw here. But what is not in their interest, they erase from their memories and studies at will. One is the statement made by both Francois Bernier and Nicholas Mannuci, that Dara Shikoh felt threat from the closeness of Emperor Shah Jahan to his Prime Minister Nawab Saadullah Khan, and secretly poisoned the intellectual of Shah Jahani’s age, out of existence.
There is no doubt that the phenomenal rise of Saadullah Khan from an ordinary immigrant to the city of Lahore to the post of Prime Minister of the country, disturbed the existing hierarchy. Dara Shikoh was disturbed most, as he felt that Saadullah favoured Shah Shuja as a worthy inheritor of the kingship. So Dara Shikoh started making complaints to the Emperor about the honesty of the Nawab. After thorough investigation, it was found that it was just a foolish blame, as Saadullah was scrupulously honest in his job. This did not stop Dara Shikoh from further intrigue. He continued to fill his father’s mind with notions against the Prime Minister. This went to the extent that Shah Jahan took Dara Shikoh with him to inquire about the health of the sick Nawab to dispel such an impression. But that was not to go. Shah Jahan understood the foolish gesture of his son Dara Shikoh well. But could do nothing. Both Bernier and Manucci say that the Emperor knew of this poisoning bid of Dara Shikoh on the life of the great man of this region. Arrogance and foolishness swept away by Hindu Pandits carried him to hell himself. His end was exactly according to Allah’s Law of Mukafat. So the two bit scholars who talk of objectivity lose the same even in the short run. No money in telling the truth!
ANTI AESTHETIC PRIESTS DESTROYING OUR CULTURE ONE BY ONE – SAD END OF AN ICONIC MOSQUE OF LAHORE, MASJID IFRAZ KHAN
Kocha Chabuk Sawaran is our traditional mohalla in Lahore city. Documents in our possession prove that if nothing else, we were in our traditional house, at least from 1759 to 1938, if not more. Our stay in city as citizens of Lahore is something in excess of 450 years. We have documents to prove our point. This mosque was wall to wall with the famous Havelli Mian Khan, that is Havelli of Lutufullah Khan (often confused with Hafeezullah Khan) son of Saadullah Khan. But the many inscriptions on the mosque, point to the fact that IFRAZ KHAN was perhaps not in any way attached to the court, but was a private person of Lahore. Perhaps an architect himself, who made this mosque as a gift to Lahore. It is also possible that the mosque was made by the third son of Saadullah Khan, that is Inayatullah Khan, who had various titles in his life time. Possibly the title of Ifraz Khan not recorded in the official Maaseray Alamgeeri, although some other titles are recorded. We are checking them out. The mosque started in 1079 AH, got near completion in 1080 AH and was finally completed in 1082 AH. All three dates are confirmed by inscriptions on the mosque, destroyed by moronic priests. Look at our preserved record. Vow to our official hierarchy, who did nothing to stop the destruction of a mosque which was in aesthetic league with the Wazeer Khan mosque itself. In fact it had some points, which no other mosque has, and that is its plan of construction. Superior to all that was done before this construction. Laws are made and not implemented. Beautiful mosques even today are being destroyed to be replaced by monstrocities of concrete and steel. Allah saves us from uneducated morons of the world!
HISTORY OF LAHORE IS TALES OF WAR AND PEACE – AMAZING ATISH-HUKAS (GRENADES) OF LAHORE
History has left us remnants of various times in Lahore. There are clear cut things and there are matters of speculation. We find objects related to war all the time. Broken swords, bows and arrows, personal armour, daggers, huge axes and fancy war things. The most unrecognized things are the concept of Atish hukas, or the grenades of Lahore. These are not just limited to Lahore, but we find such remnants in Rawalpindi and Peshawar areas. Not that these are also found in Afghanistan, which shows the origin of these Atish hukas. Probably Ghazni and Ghor are responsible for them. Their use obvious in battle.
Top on the walls of the fort to discourage warriors trying to breach the fort. Outside warriors trying to breach the fort gates. Or even horse riders discouraging advancing troops. Symbols of it being dangerous there too, like an elliptical figure. All that is possible. It is basically a very thick-walled pottery piece, with scales on it so that it does not slip from the hands. A cotton wick dripped in oil is put in it and then it is filled with gun powder or even some flammable liquid. The wick is lighted manually and within a given discourse of time, the thing thrown at the enemy for results. At times it fires, at times it does not, and perhaps at times explode at the wrong time, injuring those not meant to be hurt. The usual material is black clay, so hardened by some process to be like iron in strength. But the amazing part is still there.
]Atish hukas for common soldiers, and beautiful Atish hukas for those in power, like the Generals or the Kings themselves. We have a sample of one of these, shaped like a fish. It is a work of pure art. Various armies used these in ancient times, but none as pretty as the Sultani Atish huka of Lahore. Well done Lahore in aesthetics!
THE ROYAL CHAMAR SWEEPERS OF SHAHJAHANABAD RED FORT – REAL OWNERS OF PROPERTIES INTERMINGLING WITH MUGHALS – A SMALL STEP TOWARDS RACIAL INTEGRATION IN THE REGION.
We normally talk of people with nobility background, and rarely see the big picture through the eyes of ordinary people. A stack of documents related to Shahjahanabad and dated variously, with an average of 1824, 1827, 1841, 1846, 1853, 1854, 1859, 1861, 1868, 1869, 1877, 1888, and 1898. The property ownership is basically with Mirza Awaiz Baig, Risaldar in Mughal regiment. Various people styled as Chamars and Changars are not only his tenants, but also owners of portions of the havellis mentioned in same. Documents exist under the seal of Mufti Kamal ud din of Shahjahanabad. The regiment is attached to some French army people. It may interest people to know that there was even a Chamar regiment made by the British in India.
There were large houses in Lahore which were occupied by the Sweepers of Lahore, but basically we hear about them in terms of being tenants to the house owners. Not much ownership here at all. Some of these houses were near the mosque of Mai Moran in Papar Mandi, Lahore. But being financially okay was not in the luck of Lahori sweepers. Then how did the Royal Sweepers of Shahjahanabad made it, where elsewhere it was not possible. The strangest thing was told to me by a resident of Shahjahanabad, who migrated to Karachi, after independence. His name Muhammed Yusuf. A very interesting and informed man, he was a very old man, when we communicated last. Not known if he is alive or not today. He told me that the Mughals in the Red Fort, regularly ate gold, with their meals. This was usually in the form of kushtas, as well as marabas. The marabas were eaten with hammer beaten gold as warqs on the same. This gold warq was used in manuscripts as well as miniatures, but here it was also food for the Mughals. The Sweepers knew this very well, and what they did was to collect the crap of the Mughals, pan it and took the gold out. This was easy as all the crap went through channels to singular places, here it was washed and gold separated from the rest. Even in today’s medicine world gold is recommended for many illness. It was fortunate that the attendants of Maharaja Ranjit Singh saved the Kohinoor from perishing, as Maharaja was advised by some hakeems to crush the Kohinoor (reputed largest diamond in the world) and as a remedy for his illness, for the Maharajah to eat the same. This is hundred percent fact, and not any illusion.
Men do the strangest things possible in times of crisis. Chamars were basically people who worked in the leather industry, and as their work was such, that the profession entailed lots of obnoxious smells. Chamar is from Chamara workers. The name was given to all racial groupings which entailed bad smells in their work, and the shit cleaners smelled the worst. In 5000 years of Indian history, the segment of society ostracized from the rest. Massive conversions took place with the Christian missionaries patronizing them. At the turn of century many such people also embraced Islam under the Imam of Badshahi Mosque Lahore and there are registers of such conversions. We also possess some registers like like that.There was a complete record of various conversions done by the Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore. A regular record was created, in which a form of conversion was given to the converted person, with the record of his old name, as well as the new one. On the back of the duplicate receipt was either the signature of the converted, or the thumb impressions, as well as a certificate of the Imam himself. Of the various record lost, the record for the year 1908 is still preserved with us. A total of 187 conversions at least in that year, with full record of them. We publish an image of one of these conversions. We will do more in future. It is one of the strangest record of all times.
Racial prejudice is all over the world. Islam came with the idea of total egalitarianism. But even the so called greatest democracies of the world have not honoured. The idea that BLACK LIVES MATTER is not enough. All lives matter. It is greed and capitalism which makes for distinction between races. With an economic programme to benefit all, racial prejudices will end too. That is the message of Allah! These are flesh and blood people, deserving love and respect. Let us give it to them.
A REPORT OF FOREIGN PRESS ON M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI – THE LONDON TIMES 1976 WORLD OF ISLAM FESTIVAL ANALYSIS
Real professional art critics write for leading newspapers, compared to Pakistan, where role of art critics is not based on any merit, but just influences of certain people over other. We call it here “Sifarishi tattus”. Here we give references to an article at the World of Islam Festival in London by Dr James Dickie in 1976, a graduate from universities in art criticism and Islamic history, and gave his professional opinion about the Pakistan artist Chughtai. Our pleasure to list him. Although present whereabouts of Dr James Dickie is not known.
Dr James Dickie
“Thethird response was the way of the Pakistan artist Chughtai, who experienced at first hand all the West had to offer and assimilated some of it. Chughtai career is proof of Islam’s continued vitality. In some respects he excels Bihzad, the Rembrandt of Islamic art. Before Chughtai, Islamic painting had never developed beyond the anecdotal and the episodic, whereas by Chughtai’s brush it became interpretative. Until the emergence of Chughtai, painting had occupied the status of a minor art in Islam….but now as an interpretative art it bid fair to challenge the Christian and the Buddhist civilization. “ (The Times, London 1976)
P.S. Dr Yaqub Zaki, also known as James Dickie, was born in Scotland and is a graduate of the Universities of Glasgow, Barcelona, and Granada. He has taught at the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster and Harvard.
M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI’S DAILY COMPANIONS OF CHILDHOOD – PLAYING FRIENDS FROM MOTHERS SIDE, MERAJ UD DIN (PAA MAJA)
When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died, I was not a relative-oriented person. Yes, we knew some, but we hardly knew others. One reason was that the relatives were mostly from the side of our mothers, and the relative associated with my father, were not from his paternal side at all. Our direct ancestors were small family people. Although we know of some ancestors here and there, the general trend was small families. Mian Salah had two sons, Elahi Baksh (Natha) and Raheem Baksh. Raheem Baksh had just one son and one daughter. Kareem Baksh and Karam Nisa. Karam Nisa was married to Baba Miran Baksh. Kareem Baksh had one son Muhammed Hussain from first wife and three sons from second wife, Chiragh Bibi. That is Abdur Rahman, Abdullah and Abdur Raheem.
Around 1890s we see loss of Raheem Baksh as well as the wife of Kareem Baksh. Kareem Baksh with one son, was not in a position to cope with life alone. A search for a wife had started. The Mimar family was based on Mohalla Chabuk Sawaran. There was a Railway family stationed in their traditional havelli in Rara Tellian, Lahore. Who got the access to the Railway family? One does not know. There was no relation between the two families. Chiragh din was a craftsman in the Railways, as others in his family. He was approached for the second marriage of Mian Kareem Baksh Mimar, as his first wife had died, leaving behind a son, Muhammed Hussain. The marriage was arranged, and Mian Kareem Baksh was married to Chiragh Bibi. Two families which had no relation with each other, were joined together by this marriage. Even if you look at members of the two families, they look different from each other. A new era started from then on.
Meraj-ud-din urf Paa Maja: It was early in the morning, someone rang the bell, and told us that “Paa Maja” had died in his home. This was the time when he used to live in his house in ‘Shahi Mohalla’, and had a working ‘Kharad’ of his own in ‘Paisa Akbar mohalla’. I rushed to inform my father, and saw him stunned with the news. In no time, both the brothers were gone to the house of Paa Maja. And it left me, a young boy, to ponder about the loss of a man, who was even my personal friend. We could recall him on many points. He would be there one day before Basant, to repair our kites, put the ‘tarawan’ on our kites, even test same by partial flying, and instructions for us how to wage kite fights in ‘boo-kata’ matches. Then there were the mechanical problems. We were fanatics about our engineering toys, like the ‘Meccano’, for which clips were always missing. He would try to make new clips for us on his kharad himself. But that was a small part of him. He was literally a fun guy. On any pleasant day, with a blooming weather, he wold turn up and stop everybody from the routine work and proclaim that it was a picnic day. Picnic day meant a day at the canal DEGH, by taking plenty to eat with us, and getting hold of our fishing tackles, and at times even rifle guns for hunting ‘murgabis’. The hunt, whether the flying ducks or the fishes, were cooked there on the spot and eaten, with rotis and nans from nearby tandoors. And all this not in any cars, but just plain tongas to take us there and tongas to bring us back. The picnic was not merely a men gathering, women were included in it fully. It was a family affair.
Initially the fishing tackles were simple strings and hooks, but after his return from England, M.A. Rahman Chughtsi had brought imported tackles from there, and portions of same, we still have even today. We were very afraid of the hooks, and they were not only plenty, but pretty sharp. And we did not even know, how to take them out of the fishes mouth. So our best bet as children was to use empty jam bottles to trap small tadpoles in them.
But the interaction of Meraj-ud-din and Chughtai Sahib was not limited to these encounters. They could play cricket together in Minto Park. They could see movies, dramas, or even dip in the Ravi, when it was not flooded at all. But this relation was a fun relation, and there was deep concern and love for each other. Meraj-ud-din was responsible for one important thing in the life of the artist. In his visit to Europe, M.A. Rahman Chughtai was lonely without end. A new cultural environment was being seen by him. His impressions of his surroundings, he would put in a letter, written to his beloved maternal cousin Meraj-ud-din. Sharing odds and ends literally every day. A bunch of his letters could have been lost, a bunch still with us. The artist had a plan to compile all this in a book form, entitled “Meraj kay nam London say khatoot”. A compilation was given to a local publisher, but the publisher had new political affiliations and never went ahead in printing same. This new group was allergic to Chughtai as well as Pakistan. History stops and starts with behaviour of people.
There was strong bonding between the two cousins. Chughtai Sahib was the maternal cousin of Meraj-ud-din, and no other relation, except love for each other. The first marriage of Chughtai Sahib resulted in the death of a son. The gracious lady had developed womb cancer and could never have a child again. Meraj-ud-din was worried about his maternal cousin. He convinced the artist to consider marriage again. To make this happen, he proposed the hands of a girl in Amritsar, from a Railway family, and a proposal party went there. But the parents refused the hands of the artist. Incidentally in the reception from the girls side was sitting Bhou Din Muhammed, a senior goods clerk in the Railways too. He took a fancy to the artist, and suggested the party to come to his house for other possibilities. The result just be sheer accident a proposal was accepted for Chughtai Sahib, in this new house, and the girl name was Iqbal Bano. But the artist was so attached to the name Kishwar by now, that he renamed his wife as Kishwar Iqbal Bano. The marriage took place, and that story deserves a blog on itself. These personal information are not recorded anywhere, and we do this for actual record for the future. P.S.We had a very nice photograph of Meraj-ud-din but it has been misplaced. So we hunted an old negative and it was full of erasures. Ejaz Sarwar volunteered to photo shop it and he did that. Thank you Ejaz Sarwar USA! Till a better result is obtained, this is the only visual image of Meraj-ud-din, the maternal cousin, available with us. Enjoy!
THE CONCEPT OF KARUNS OF THE WORLD AND OBSESSION WITH WEALTH – THE QURAN TEACHES US WHAT ACCUMULATION DOES TO MINDS OF PEOPLE Even as children we heard references about the despicable nature of Karun’s lust for money. Some people think of him as Hamman of the Pharaohsand others refer to him as the King of Lydia. A reference says:“The Last King of an Anatolian civilization Lydia, CROESUS (known as KARUN in Turkish) is known as the inventor of first user of “coin” and referred as the richest ever man on earth. As the richest mortal in the world, he was 35 years old in 566 BC when he became the King of Lydia.” The strange part is that a portion of his vast treasure was discovered and a bone of contention between the Turkish government and the Metropolitan Museum of arts. But that is not our issue here. Our issue is that when one man or a group of men accumulate the wealth of the world, what happens? In fact nothing good can come out of it, for the Laws of Allah talk about sharing things and distributing what in excess that you have. By taking things which are rightfully others, you commit the greatest sin according to divine laws. The shame of today’s rich people is enormous but as their eyes are blanketed with greed, they cannot perceive the folly themselves. Our own rich people tyrannized others to get to this point. So did the worlds richest people. This treasure will burn their hearts out. With what shame we hear that one percent of the world, owns ninety-nine percent of resources. All the intellectuals muse over it, but can do nothing. For powerful people have the capacity to buy others out. When the richest and powerful turns up into criminal minds, the wrong top the world is multiplied by millions.
So much afraid of the Spirit of Islam, that pervert priests are hired by such lobbies to spread calumny about the way of life, which guarantees happiness and peace all over the world. Not one of these despicable priests talk of finer things of life, dealing with perverse meaningless issues, to confuse anyone’s interest in the Islamic way of life.
Allah tells is not to give up. The strong and mighty on wrong track will eventually fall into their own contrived destruction. Patience and have faith in the Laws of Allah. Forget about burning in hell, the will never see peace on Earth even!
THE TREASURE OF PENCIL SKETCHES OF LEAD SWORD: “IF I LIVE TO EIGHTY YEARS – I CANNOT ACTUALLY COMPLETE MY STARTED WORKS FOR ANOTHER EIGHTY YEARS” Individuals and Societies are inter related to each other. All societies have same kind of people ratio. Intelligent people and totally moronic people. But higher civilizations grasp the compassion for saving their culture by taking care of the icons of people. This is deliberately cultivated among the people. In Western capitals, I have seen ques of people and the long lines perplex me, as to what motivates the people to come to exhibition shows in storm and rain and what so ever climate. You see not only old people, you see young children as well thirsting to catch a glimpse of their culture at first hand. Once upon a time people from villages used to visit Lahore and you would hear them say about Lahore Museum (Ajaib ghar, known as Ajaib Kar) as much as they said about Lahore Zoo (Chiria ghar, known as Chiria Kar). And without a word of knowledge they would look at their civilizations with awe. Today ask a rickshaw wala about Ajaib Ghar and they would not know where to go. Simple for no one has bothered to do any promotion about it. This tradition goes to the momentous Ajaib ul Makulaqat manuscript found in ancient time.
Lahore Chabuk Sawaran was a difficult place to reach, as to the house of M.A. Rahman Chughtai. But people from all over the world went there, and there were people who could quickly guide them to the house. In course of years we at Chughtai museum reached famous as well as unknown travel guides, and we are listed everywhere. It was there in Murray’s Handbooks of Travel, but I saw same in PAN AM travel guide in 1951. Today Lonely Planet, Etude Paris, International Directory of Arts Berlin, all list us.We used to see literally flock of tourists at our house. And we saw them at the museum too. But times are changing. At this time all museums in the world are closed and all are working at home and on line too.
Exceptional people enrich culture with their extraordinary talents. But there has to be some one to take care of the legacy of the artist. In Pakistan the general run of the people are heartless about their culture and their cultural icons. We talk about that all the time, but proverbially “not even a lice scratch their head”. And these are the people who are destined to be zeros even in their life time but will not consider help of any kind to culture. In fact thy seek harm to those who think in those terms. Within our meager resources we do our best, but for how long? In the end the society has to take responsibility and if it does not, it is wiped out of cultural history within no time. We can only not hope but do our best in our life time. We take this opportunity to present you with a few selected pencil sketches of the artist. Obviously he did hundreds and we maintain them. We give an opportunity for visitors to see them but it is not always possible. Enjoy what Chughtai could do with his lead pencil, like a sword on paper. Delicate calligraphic unending line. And subjects a product of his unending creative imagination. The West was ready to kiss his toes, but the artist was not willing to leave his nation. Ideology is as important as life itself. Enjoy!