THE ISLAMIC HINDUS OF LAHORE
KHARBOSA DEKH KAY KHARBOSA RANG PAKARTA HAI
A tale you will find nowhere else!
There is a saying in our culture. It says ‘Kharbosa dekh kay kharbosa rang pakarta hai’, which is plainly saying that if you put a melon , near another melon, that melon picks up the colour of the other melon. Lahore has always been a Muslim city, proven by documentation as well as archaeology. The mythical Lahore of a Hindu city, if it ever existed has not been discovered yet. And certainly somewhere else. The Muslims brought in their culture here with the advent of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi, although it is said that Arab quarters existed here even before that. The culture of the Sultans as well as the Mughals certainly effected the heart and minds of the Hindus which started co-existing with their Muslim companions here. Baihaqi (historian 11th century) talks of the Hindu Slave boys brought here, and how they were very much loved and pampered by the people. It was natural that cultures get through people with love and affection.
An Anarkali curio dealer, the late Manzoor Hussain Sahib was a man of many dimensions. He rang me one day of a Quran (plain, not decorated) which had been brought by a Pathan, residing in Qaiser Hotel Lahore. There was nothing special about the calligraphy, but it was written by a Hindu calligrapher of Lahore. Manzoor Sahib was reluctant about it, for he thought in terms of blasphemy, but I was very excited about it. I gave him permission to buy it, but the Pathan vendor slipped away, and our library was never able to acquire it. Of course there were many manuscripts being written in Lahore in Persian and Arabic by Hindu calligraphers, as proven by their presence. A number of QITAS are also there with Hindu names on it. I was offered a ‘Masnavi Maulana Rum’, written in Lahore, by a Hindu in Aurangzeb’s time. So much for the so called bigotry of Aurangzeb Alamgeer. And that was not enough!
We hear of a Kalyan Mimar son of Hira Mimar of Lahore making Islamic buildings in Aurangzeb’s time. The name is mentioned in many official documentation. Mausoleums as well as mosques were in his preview. Other Hindu Mimars were attached to the famous Ustad Ahmad Mimar’s family in Lahore, and attested to their involvement in Mughal buildings. The name of Hindu supervisors and administrators like Haibat Rai even refer to the construction of the Mausoleum of Rabia Durrani, wife of Aurangzeb Alamgeer at Aurangabad in Hyderabad Deccan. The architect was Attaullah Rushdi but the supervisor was Haibat Rai. But there is more!
Masjid Wazeer Khan Mosque Lahore was a scene of many MUSHAIRAS (poetry reading groups) and there is record of many such events in the mosque itself. One event is particularly recorded and published in book form. It is a mushaira known as NAATIA MUSHAIRA, which is a group of poets of the area, reciting their poems in praise of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). The said event is dated in 1875 AD, and records the name and poetic outlets of about 25 poets. Names as well as poems are given. All in praise of the prophet, and all such poems are called ‘NAATS’. The surprising part is that there are two Hindu names in it. The poet TARA HALWAI (of Chowk of the Masjid) with the poetic name of ‘Tara’, and ARORA RAI, known as ‘Rai’. Two Hindus of Lahore reciting poems in praise of the Muslim prophet. Incredible isn’t it!
M.A. Rahman Chughtai used to talk of his dear friend MALIK RAM, who was a resident of Chabuk Sawaran Lahore, too. With other boys, Malik Ram, received his Quranic teaching at the Masjid Mulla Ghous ( same place where Mirza Ghulam Qadiani met Baba Hiyadatullah) as well as the Chinay wali masjid in the same area. Malik Ram was very proud of those days and being a literary giant, has written about those days and his Quranic education. It was in the same spirit that the famous singer Lata Mangeskar sang a NAAT for the film Mughal-e-Azam in her full spiritual candour. These incredible incidents of Lahore remain unrecorded and most interesting for future of our two countries.