DR ANJUM REHMANI VERSUS DR ABDULLAH CHAGHATAI – FIGHT OF SCHOLARS HAS BECOME ROUTINE IN OUR TIMES.
Dr Abdullah Chaghatai in his life time quoted an incident from a history book, that is “Tarikh Daudi”, about a wicked man living in a Serai in the city of Lahore, in the times of Sultan Islam Shah Suri, son of Sher Shah Suri. The wicked man used to lure rich men to his home, with a story of having a beautiful daughter, who he wishes to get married as an act of responsibility. Once at his home, he used to assassinate the person, and would take possession of his assets. The story is mentioned in reference to the old Sultani Serai in the mausoleum of Emperor Jahangeer.
Dr Anjum Rehmani considers it a confusion of Dr Abdullah Chaghatai, and quotes that the wicked man was living in a Serai in the confines of Lahore city, and that the reference to the Sultani Serai is a figment of his imagination. And that is quoted by him in very disparaging terms. Certainly not fit for scholars to stoop low in language.
I wanted to get my hands on a copy of the famous Tarikh Daudi, so I can actually refer to the actual paragraph. Finally, I was able to obtain a copy and I translate the actual paragraph to the best of my ability. It goes like this, on page 285 of this translation of the book. It says:
“Devil like old man. In Lahore City lived a certain kind of man, who lived in the mosque of CARAVAN SERAI. His home in same direction on bank of river Ravi in a village. Whenever a moneyed person came in the mosque, and inquired from old man, whether his home was in the Serai. Old man used to reply my home is nearby. I live in that village. A very important work is my responsibility. The traveler asked ‘what is this important work’ ? “
The confusion is generated by use of the word Lahore City. If we just forgo that reference as vague, then Dr Abdullah Chagatai is certainly hundred percent right. For certainly the present walled city is a product of Emperor Akbar and a later reference. If we stick to the word as Lahore City, then the rest is confusing too. The reference that the man’s home was in same direction on bank of river Ravi in a village, means different interpretation. That he lived in a mosque of a Serai which was on the bank of river Ravi. Jahangeer’s mausoleum too was on the bank of river Ravi, as even shown in old maps, and the destruction caused by its overflow to the Serai itself. The word used for Serai is Caravan Serai, which certainly means a big serai, fit for a Caravan to camp in it. No big serais even in Lahore city at that time. So, the verdict will become ambiguous. It is just a poor use of words, and not even a clarification to the actual name of the Serai. The whole Tarikh Daudi is full of even greater mistakes, as well as even wrong references. So, we just give the two scholars to cool down. History itself makes many mistakes. One cannot refute another with choice of words alone. The mosque and the serai are still in front of us. Everyone can make their own judgement. But gentlemen, learn to be polite!
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No need for acrimony in research.