THE FIRST VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER LIAQUAT ALI KHAN TO USA; A CHUGHTAI’S PAINTING PRESENTED TO TRUMAN AT BLAIR HOUSE.
History was in the making. So much fanfare was created by the first visit of a Pakistani Prime Minister to USA. A lot of photo snaps are on record, of both Prime Minister and his wife. It was reported at that time and it came in the newspapers later too, that a painting of M.A. Rahman Chughtai had been presented to the US President Truman. It set a tradition of presentations of Chughtai Art Works to foreign Heads of State. It was diplomacy at its height on that evening on 3rd May, 1950. On 25th, February, 1950, US Ambassador Avra M. Warren presented his credentials to Governor General of Pakistan, Khawaja Nazimuddin.
The interesting part is that very recently then Khawaja Nazimuddin had inaugurated an exhibition of M.A. Rahman Chughtai at Alhamra Lahore, which was also the inauguration of the Lahore Arts Council. And sometime later in 1950, on the visit of the Shahinshah of Iran, Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan had also visited the exhibition. Prime Minister was well familiar with Chughtai Art and had expressed an interest in acquiring Chughtai Art works for presentation to Heads of State. So, it was done by the Foreign Office.
It was a great mission of peace but it did not go well. In fact, Avra M. Warren reported that:
“After hearing this from the U.S. Ambassador Avra Warren, Khan’s mood was much more aggressive, and he reportedly said: “Pakistan has annexed half of Kashmir without American support and would be able to take the other half too”.
לאחר ששמע את הדברים הללו משגריר ארצות הברית, אברה וורן, הפך מצב רוחו לתוקפני יותר ועל פי המדווח הוא אמר: “פקיסטן סיפחה את מחצית שטחה של קשמיר ללא תמיכת האמריקאים והיא מסוגלת להשיג את השליטה על החצי השני
The result we all know. A sad day for Pakistan, with the assassination of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Where is this painting now? We did contact the US State Department and they talk of four Chughtai Art works in the State Department itself, but could not provide images. We then contacted the Truman library too. No progress made. Although some other works are in account. Like the one presented by President Ayub Khan, is in the Kennedy Memorial in Boston, USA. Our job to keep track, and enrich our archives for the future. Yes, our job is well done!
TWO AMERICAN AMBASSADORS AT CHUGHTAI MUSEUM AT SAME TIME; YES, INDIA AND PAKISTAN AND LITERALLY FREE ATMOSPHERE IN 1987-88
Ambassador Arnold Raphael came to Pakistan at the end of 1987. Amongst the languages he knew, both Urdu and Persian were there. He was very interested in Art and called with a small group here. Wife Robin Raphael was there too. I presented him and Robin with a copy of Amal-e-Chughtai on themes of Dr Allama Iqbal. He was very happy with his visit and kept in touch. Indeed, he was an exceptional man.
Later John Gunther Dean, the American Ambassador to India was the guest of Arnold Raphael, and Raphael decided to bring Ambassador Dean to Chughtai Museum. It was a strange coincidence. Two American Ambassadors, to India and Pakistan, sitting with me in my office and freely talking about both countries. Ambassador Dean was very surprised when I presented a copy of Amal-e-Chughtai to him too. He never forgot and back in Delhi, he sent me a letter of thanks, which is in our archives. Another exceptional diplomat.
One could never know what would happen to them that year in 1988. Arnold Raphael died in a plane crash with President Zia-ul-Haque. Ambassador Gunther Dean revolted against the official policy of his country and was declared psychologically insane by the State Department. Later status restored. Both Ambassadors were of Jewish background and both blamed Israel for their troubles. The death of Arnold Raphael so much unsettled John Gunter Dean, that he left his job and went back. Strange indeed! The legend was that:
“Dean’s suspicions that Israeli agents may have also been involved in the mysterious plane crash in 1988 that killed President of Pakistan, General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, led finally to a decision in Washington to declare him mentally unfit, which forced his resignation from the foreign service after a thirty-year career. Later he was rehabilitated by the State Department, given a distinguished service medal and the insanity charge was confirmed to be phony by a former head of the department’s medical service.“
We love Pakistan and we sowed our love in both Ambassadors. And they in a sense sided with our view and both suffered in all way. God bless them! Both are dead by now. One buried in Islamabad, the other died in 2019 at age of 93. The memory is still strong!
THE GOLDEN PERIOD OF MUSLIM RULE IN HINDUSTAN, THE TUGHLAQ KINGS AND THEIR LEGACY OF THE QURAN: IRRITATING RELIGIOUS PRIESTS AND BEFRIENDING HINDUS.
Anybody’s quest for knowledge gets easily frustrated when seeking facts and figures, you get historical manipulation on most subjects. Searching for Muslim history even in the area of Hindustan drives you crazy. Most of the research say on Muslim Sultans is there with access to hundreds of Hindu writers. One can only wonder the obsession of Hindu writers to Muslim Sultans. When you try to look for Muslim writers, you hardly find any, or even if it is famous research, no copy of the book is available anywhere. Not even a free download. Not even in libraries. ACCESS to famous libraries costs a lot of money. This is fact, not speculation. But then it becomes an adventure. Unraveling facts from fiction.
Not much has been done on the Tughlaqs but there are important research books. Agha Mahdi Husain has an excellent book on Muhammed Tughlaq, “The Rise and Fall of Sultan Muhammed Tuqhluq”, and years after written, is still standard reading on subject. Habibullah of Allahabad University, as well as even Ameer Khusrow himself done a good version with the Tughlaq nama of olden times. Contemporary Muslim writers carry different views. The details are too many and there is no need to go through them. Our approach is to get the attitude of those people, and why the Muslims ruled in this region for a 1000 years and survived, and an extremist Prime Minister in India, with his extreme prejudices, is all set to break his country into pieces. The best reason is the dictates of Islam to have the patience and tolerance to co-exist with different ways of life.
It all starts with Malik Tughluq, who with his brothers came from Khurasan to this region. His son Ghiyasuddin Tughluq was one of the Turkish slaves of King Ghiyasuddin Balban, and was conceived through a local Jat family. In an inscription on a mosque he built in Multan, he himself says that he fought the Tartars 29 times, and after defeating them, came to be known as Malik Ghazi for his bravery. An old man himself, Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tuqhlaq was obviously a good warrior but had to become a good administrator too. He himself was tolerant to the Hindus, unless directly implicated in some plot. However the religious lobby were not happy with the Sultan. But he had fell foul of Nizamuddin Auliya himself. Nizamuddin Auliya was ordered to refund what he had received as gift from previous usurper. Nizamuddin Auliya was not in a position, or in a mood to do so. The next bold step was the Sultan’s order to Nizamuddin Auliya to vacate Delhi before his arrival there from Bengal. The famous quote DELHI HANUZ DUR AST (Delhi is yet distant) has become historically famous. And something unusual happened on the Sultan’s return from Bengal. A wooden canopy was constructed and in welcoming the Sultan through a parade of elephants, the canopy broke and the Sultan and one of his son died underneath the rubble. The incident is quoted as a conspiracy by all and it is attributed that the Sultan’s son Jauna Khan Ulugh Beg (later Muhammed bin Tughluq) as responsible for the parricide. Agha Mahdi Husain researches on the subject and tells us:
“All that is known about the character of Ulugh Khan, both as prince and Sultan, militates against the charges brought against him. He was much too strong a man to succumb to the temptation of murdering his father in order to win the throne. He would not have acted against his conscience even if his life had been at stake. But here neither his life was in danger nor his crown. He was decidedly the best of all the sons of Sultan Ghiyasuddin, and had been an heir apparent. There was no rival claimant to the throne. The case of Ulugh Khan was entirely different, for he was the acknowledged heir.”
The suspicions cast on the Prince simply was the reason of the quarrel with the Ulama. The highly coloured reports were no doubt generated by the disciples of Nizamuddin Auliya, who had taken offense at the popularity of the Sultan with the people. Few people were bold enough to speak on this aspect. Husam Khan, Sujan Rai and W.H. Sleeman took the bold step of saying that the Sultan came to grief because of his quarrel with the Saint. But even common sense dictates the fight between the Sultan and the Saint was an obvious link to the per-planned murder. It is past but it shows an important aspect, the Quranic rule versus the religious aspect and connotation. Let us first quote an incident mentioned by Ibn Battutta to prove the stature of the son himself.
The historian Peter Jackson writes the grand character of Muhammed Bin Tuqhlaq:
“An anecdote related by Ibn Battuta may carry greater weight. He tells how a Hindu chief brought a charge against Muhammad b. Tughlaq himself that he had killed his (the chief’s) brother without cause, and cited him to appear before the qadi. The sultan duly went, unarmed and on foot, having an advance forbidden the qadi to show him any of the deference due to his rank, and remained standing while the qadi gave judgement against him and ordered him to make reparation to his accuser. This is an isolated instance and the purpose of the story is to highlight the sultan’s humility and sense of equity, but it harmonizes with the general picture of Muhammad as a ruler who in the first half of his reign, took care to cultivate the Hindu, and if it embodies authentic fact, it demonstrates that one Hindu of some standing, recognized the authority of the Muslim qadi.” (page 281)
Even today the Quran battles against religious orthodoxy . It is not for us to pass judgement, but to analyze the facts available to us. Everybody can base analysis on factual information.
A CONTEMPORARY SUBJECT OF PAKISTANI GIRLS, MODERN PAINTINGS BY M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
All three paintings are not with us but we carry archives of them. Number one was with the wife of Muhammed Ali Bogra, once Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Provence of the second one is not known but probably sold in Karachi to some collector. The third one was gifted to UNITED NATIONS by Raana Liaquat Ali Khan in 1954. It is no longer in the UNO Headquarters, reputed to be stolen from there by some staff of UNO, along with the other one that is “Sultan and the Saint”. The third one “Jahangeer and Nur Jehan” is still there according to last information.
Reported to Secretary General UNO as well as Pakistani Ambassador but no one took notice of the issue. If things can be stolen from there, imagine condition of other places. That is life! Our moronic leaders (more often) go to UNO many times, but no one even asks about the condition of the Gift of Government of Pakistan to United Nations. An unprecedented prestige at that given time, only four painters represented at UNO. Reviewed by leading American critic at that time, Jacob Baal Teshuva. The works were hung in an important place, in a cafe, just outside where the UNO meet in issues facing the world. Kofi Anan used to dance on New Year Ball in front of them. Memories are there with many, but originals where?
THE MOST REMARKABLE GRAVE IN ISLAMIC HISTORY; A SCULPTURE OF DOG ON GRAVE OF AN ARCHITECT.
Some things are unbelievable but as they exist, so record of them is essential too. This is more particular with narrations of Islamic architecture, and related to not only Emperors and Queens, but also more so with the greatest Islamic architects of history. Our reference is to the Shrine of Gazar Gah in Herat, now Afghanistan, and the Shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Ansari, the great Sufi of Afghanistan. And the grave of Qawamuddin Mimar, of Emperor Shah Rukh and Queen Gohar Shad.
Noticed by travelers from centuries, and mentioned in their travelogues, the grave has confused many. Some thought of it as a marble sculpture of a tiger. Legend has it that it is that of a dog. And so beautifully carved that it out do sculptures of lions in Islamic history. Yates mention same in his history book. Ferrier mentions same too, later in the years. Even guide books like ‘Lonely Planet’ stress same. What is the background of same? Abdullah Ansari the great saint of Herat was icon of many Emperors and Queens. Emperor Shah Rukh was a great follower of the Saint, and wanted an exceptional construction on his shrine. So, he requested Qavam ud din to do the same:
“The architect Qavam al-Din Shirazi had traveled from his hometown of Shiraz to the northern parts of Iran. Some of his work during this period includes the madrasa for Shah Rukh at Herat, the congregational mosque for Gawhar Shad at Mashhad, and the madrasa Ghiyathiyah at Khargird. By the time he was commissioned by Shah Rukh to build the shrine, he had developed his own architectural style that integrated Iranian, Turanian, and his own personal stylistic elements.”
Some buildings fell down in history, but some still survive in full. Shrine was damaged by flood and it was repaired in 1499, by architect Zain ud din. However, the name of the architect Qavam ud din is on one of the gateways itself. As the architect was a great admirer of the Saint, he requested his burial to be in front of the shrine, and requested that the statue of a dog be built on the grave, so that on the judgement day, he would be recognized as a dog of the Saint. And so, it was done, although he died much later after completing same in 1425, that was in the year 1438. In any case variations in years are there at various sources. It does not deter us from our fantasy of the architects grave with a dog statue on it.