A FUNCTION IN LAHORE 17TH FEBRUARY 1917 IN COMMEMORATION
KHAN BAHADUR TITLE SIRAJUDDIN PUBLISHER KASHMEERI BAZAAR
INVITATION OF YOUNG PHOTOGRAPHER ABDUR RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
Photography was a passion with Abdur Rahman Chughtai. He had got his hand on a wooden box camera and he fitted plates in it, and photographed many famous families of Lahore. Some of them still had plates he made, as well as photographs he did. In a very interesting way his specialty was colouring the black and white photographs with a spray pen of aerograph. His aerographic spray became famous in Lahore. One of his most famous work was that of an Englishman, who was Director Education in Lahore. His colouring of Dr Allama Iqbal’s work is well known.
There was a function at Jahangeer’s mausoleum in Lahore to celebrate the award of Khan Bahadur title to publisher Sirajuddin of Kashmeeri Bazaar. The artist was there in a group photograph but that went missing in time. In any case there is some record left and we can share that in time. A famous family of Mochi Darwaza too retained these plates till some time back, but when they shifted their house, we lost track of them. We do know that the son of that person used to work in united Bank Limited. If they read this. they can get in touch with us.
Lala Mela Ram was a famous son of Lahore. His factory, his house as well as his many things were left in Lahore. The Mela Ram road is still there near Data Darbar Sahib and is called Darbar road now. A huge safe was salvaged by people, which included a host of documents. Stocks worth lakhs of rupees, photographs of his family, invitation cards (including the investiture of British Kings and Queens) from London, an astro globe of horoscope, a Kama Sutra manuscript with illustrations, as well as the certificates of his proclamation as RAI and as RAI BAHADUR. Chughtai Museum just acquired these two documents for record archives, at a great cost. The resources did not allow acquisition of other objects.
The same are presented as a homage of peace from Lahore to the Hindus of India. Live in peace!
THE INSECURITY OF WESTERN SCHOLARSHIP ABOUT ISLAMIC ART OBSESSED WITH TRYING TO PROVE EUROPEAN ART INSPIRATION
AND YET WESTERN PAINTERS THEMSELVES SUCCUMBED TO AURA OF MUSLIM ARTISTS FROM REMBRANDT TO STREET PAINTERS
There is an inevitable jealousy surrounding the analysis of Western art analysts about Muslim Art. For them Western painters are supreme and the history of art starts from their domain. For centuries Chinese art, Japanese art debunked in different ways, but Indo-Pakistani art debunked most at the hands of chauvinistic art historians. Yes, there were great scholars in the Western background, but the present hierarchy of same are oblivious of achievements of regional painters. Everything has a western connotations for them.
Islamic art inspired many Western artists. Masters like Rembrandt and Bellini were struck by the beauty of Islamic art. But even ordinary things saw this effect in place. You see various western paintings with Islamic carpets in them, Islamic naqashi in their background and architecture being influenced by same too. The greatest effect we see in design of churches as well as aesthetics of bibles. We talk more about that later. Till then stop this charade of cultural hegemony. Chauvinism of inspiration taken too literally. We were not far behind but ahead at many places.
AN OFFICIAL RECORD OF RECONCILIATION OF HINDU MUSLIM NATIONS
ATTEMPTED IN COINS ISSUED AT MAHMUDPUR (LAHORE) BY SULTANS
Coins carry history which is normally forgotten. The city of Lahore had the name of Mahmudpur in the times of Sultan Mahmud Ghazni. A recollection of those times occur in the area to this day known as Mahmud Booti. The first coin struck here by Sultan Mahmud carried the legend:
Mahmud (998-1030) Silver dirham, bilingual type, Mahmudpur (Lahore) Weight: 2.81 gm., Diameter: 19 mm., Die axis: 7 o’clock
Arabic legend: Shahada followed by yamin al-daula wa amin mahmud al-milla
(Mahmud guardian of the faith), al-qadir above, billah at left
Date in the margin: AH 418 (= 1027-1028 CE) /
Sanskrit legend in Sharada letters: avyaktameka muhammada avatar nripati mahamuda
(the Invisible is One, Muhammad is the manifestation, Mahmud the king)
Very soon after that Sultan Masud the son of Sultan Mahmud 1041-1050 AD started the HORSE AND BULL series, which were carried for quite some time by the other Sultans too. The Horse represented the Muslims, the Bull represented the Hindus.
Ghaznavid control largely continued in the existing administrative system. Thus Ghaznavid coins issued in North western India have bilingual legends written in Arabic and Sharda scripts . Some carry Islamic titles together with the portrayal of the Shaiva Bull, Nandiand the legend Shri samta deva. The reference in the latter remains ambiguous . A dirham struck at Lahore carries a legend in the Sharda script and a rendering in colloquial Sanskrit of the Islamic Kalima.
A thousand years gone and except for limited times, no reconciliation took place. The Muslims were broad minded enough to be large hearted. That is why millions embraced Islam. We see the same relevance today as both nations are still at war with each other. Give peace a chance! Shanti Maharaj Shanti! Be calm seek tranquility.
Muslims came into this region long long time ago. Arab traders were here even before Islam, and they mixed well in the environment. Ancients mosques existed here. Some of them still exist here. In 982 AD the author of HUDUDAL ALAM states that all the inhabitants of Lahore were idolaters and there were no Muslims here. But Fakhri i Mudahhabir states that Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi built a separate Mohalla here for Muslims and it was called Arab Mohalla and he built a mosque of bricks here called Khusti Masjid, which was a marvel in its age.
“FAḴR-E MODABBER, pen-name of Moḥammad b. Manṣūr b. Saʿīd, entitled Mobārakšāh, author of two prose works in Persian written in India in the late 6th/12th and early 7th/13th century, a book on genealogy with no formal title and the famous Ādāb al-ḥarb wa’l-šajāʿa”.
A segment of Hindu population got along well with them, and there were Hindu Generals in the Ghaznavid army itself. Hindus predominated the Mughal Army too. Many got along well with benefits and a certain segment remained allergic to them as they were two nations even then.
THE ATTACK ON LAHORE (1043-1049) MARTYRDOM AT ITS BEST. A memory of national resolve. GANJ SHAHEEDAIN OF LAHORE. In the year 435 AH (1043 AD), the Raja of Delhi was able to rally other Hindu Rajas to accost and drive the Muslims out of India.
Lahore has seen many attacks on its soil. This was the first important one. The 1965 one when an Indian General proclaimed that he would have his peg (alcoholic drink) in Lahore Gymkhana. And he never got there, thanks to our valiant Army. Today the Army of Pakistan stands to defend our country again, from terrorists who cannot forget the prejudice of 1200 years. Rewriting history and hybrid war cannot erase the complex from the mind or soul.
THAT BIGOTED RELIGIOUS AND LIBERAL SECULAR FANATICS
DOING WRONG TO OUR ISLAMIC VALUES AND WELL BEING
Most of Pakistan is composed of Muslims, who believe in Allah and his Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), and attest to the finality of the Prophet (PBUH). And yet there is a small minority of bigoted religious as well as liberal secular, whose only work is to undo the Identity of the nation. Some are purchased to do so and some are merely foolish in their own rights. The enigma start when they quote traditions and there are always other traditions which are averse to same traditions. It ends nowhere. At the death of our Holy Prophet (PBUH), it was wisely said by Hazrat Umar, that the man who was our Prophet is dead, but his message is ever alive in the book he has left us. Hold on to the Quran and you will never go wrong. Out foolishness is in diluting the Quranic concepts with other ideas. Anything which will negate the Quran whatever its source would be absolutely wrong. Remembering that Islam is not a religion but a DEEN, a way of life, with laws of harmony.
We know that Raja Jaipal after having been defeated by Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi committed suicide. And proudly claimed that as Rajputs they would put their loved ones to the sword and then end their own life. One segment of the readers think of it as a brave act, others scorn at the foolishness of the Raja. No Muslim can think like that, and spurn it as a defeatist attitude. Sultan Jalaluddin Khawarizm escaping the wrath of the Chengiz (Temujin) Khan, jumped into the river Indus on his horseback. Again interpretations differ. For instance Salman Rashid calls him a coward, while others praise his bravery at risking his life against all odds by jumping into a raging river, and looking forward to equalizing things. Mere interpretations. No one knows the truth of what was said but the facts are the same for both view points. Obviously you will judge an event with your own background. Raja Jaipal has plenty of followers in even our own delinquent liberals, but judgement is a point of view only. At one time, and one person, views will continue to differ with impunity. Our favourite past time is belittling our own heroes and our own history. Correcting same without facts and then putting own interpretations as facts is a childish game. Every time has its own value. In our times we should be responsive to other values of different times. Interpretations is a developing game.
Divergent points of view can be tolerated where no harm ensues out of that. Yes it is good to disagree without being disagreeable, but again a point arise where the same stops. For example an arsonist about to set fire to a house has to be stopped at all costs. Here divergent respect stops to practical interference. Islamic civilization has a set of values dictated by the Quran. There are Quranic laws which have to be respected for social harmony. The drive towards anarchy is welcome nowhere.
PRESIDENT ISKANDER MIRZA SPONSORS COLLOQUIUM OF ISLAMIC SCHOLARS
REMARKABLE MOVEMENT FOR ISLAMIC REFORMATION 29TH DECEMBER 1957
Major-General Iskander Mirza was from East Pakistan, a Bengali brethren of ours. Not much importance is given to his period of rule and his period is regarded as that of anarchy. And completely forgotten is an attempt for Islamic reformation with an international meeting of Islamic Scholars in Lahore on 29th December, 1957. This movement was spearheaded by Muhammed Asad the great Islamic scholar of the century. Islamic scholars were invited from all over the world and they stayed at Flatteis Hotel Lahore. We do not have a list of all of them (we are trying to get a copy of Islamic Colloquium papers published by University of Punjab in 1960) or even images of the occasion, but a person of that period preserved a photograph done at Madarassa ul Binat, Mozang in Lahore, and mentions one scholar as Dr Sethi. This was an event organized by University of the Punjab. We are proud to give this rare and torn photograph for lovers of ijthehad in Islam. Some of the papers read at the same were published by University of the Punjab under the heading International Colloquium Papers but the publication skipped the mention of Muhammed Asad. Obviously sabotage was done to this event spearheaded by a religious orthodox party, who had no interest in the progress of Islam which was not in their hands.
Remembering those stalwarts like Muhammed Asad and G.A. Pervez gives us a new lease of life. We will add more information with time and for the present you can read the beautiful article on the meeting by a scholar Dr Zahid Munir Amir, and the link is this:
MUHAMMED SHAREEF LAHORI SON OF KHAWAJAH ABDUL SAMAD
MUSSAWAR SHAHI EMPEROR AKBAR AND EMPEROR JAHANGEER
Khawajah Abdul Samad came from Kabul to Lahore at the invitation of Emperor Humayoun and headed the new Mughal studios for Emperor Akbar. An artist of exceptional caliber, he was dedicated to traditional aesthetics. He came along with his two sons. One was Muhammed Shareef, both a calligrapher as well as a painter. The other was named Behzad after Khawajah Abdul Samad love for his inspiration Kamaluddin Behzad. We have works of both the sons on record, but there are works in which father worked with his sons on their works as a kind of joint production and as an act of art education. We have already written on Behzad Lahori.
Some scholars believe that as an old man, Muhammed Shareef also wrote some calligraphic specimens for the Mosque of Nawab Wazeer Khan, although others believe that Muhammed Shareef is different. But no one can say that with certainty. A calligraphic item is in the archives of Chughtai Museum. We add a few pictorial images of his art.
Various Mohallas exist in the city of Lahore named after painters. M.A. Rahman Chughtai has listed many in his book on the same subject. One Mohalla is named Sheikh Basawan, and it exists to this day. He is called Sheikh because he embraced Islam in later life. History records same.
Nawab Wazeer Khan name is synonymous with Lahore. His history so diverse, without any research on him. Rise and fall unremembered. His name is taken as Aleem uddin but manuscripts of his life time, write of him as Ali uddin. We all know he came from Chinoit, and that he was a Hakeem. Not only a hakeem to royalty, but also an astrologer. Expert in horoscopes etc. Phenomenal rise is attached to his treatment of an ulcer on Nur Jahan’s breast, as mythology records same. But few know that he was a highly corrupt man, and one historian of his period records that without his commission, not a single business transaction could take place in Lahore. A real ancestor of our politicians. Once he was caught in an issue of moral turpitude and dismissed by Shah Jahan, as history records it. He died in Agra when he fell from his horse back. Buried probably in his garden in Agra but also possible that he was buried in his Garden’s baradari in Lahore, now the Punjab Public library. A local historian himself told me that he saw the grave of Wazeer Khan and his wife Zubeida in the basement of the baradari, and it exists to this day, hidden from public view. Many details can be found in my book LEGACY OF NAWAB WAZEER KHAN. But this not the point of this writing.
A manuscript dealer in Lahore had a Diwan in his possession, which was endorsed as the Diwan of Nawab Wazeer Khan. The takhallus was WAZEERI. He showed it to one scholar and the learned man found all the necessary details in it but attributed Nawab Wazeer Khan as having come from China. The word CHEEN was thought by him as China, he did not know that Chinoit itself is named after China, and was always referred as Little China. The other details were obvious. The Diwan has number of references related to Emperor, various Princes and Holy men. As well as rulers of the past, even Sultan Mahmood and Subuktageen. Qasidas on Emperor Akbar, Prince Saleem, Prince Murad and others. Shows the last days of Emperor Akbar. But lot of astrological references too. But it refers to him as a Hakeem too, as well as Nawab Wazeer Khan. Should be around 1000 AH. Normally copied version would be gold and naqashi illuminated but this is a plain copy on very thick paper. It can be studied on many points.
The manuscript has various seals and various dates. Front page has a reference to Nadir Shah, so it is apparent that it was stolen from India by Nadir Shah and his troops. It also has many references to the family of IWAZ KHAN, whose family tree is given as being descendant of Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi. There are references to it being donated by Habib ullah as Waqf in the 18th century. Bad condition repaired in the 19th century and bound fresh. Elegant handwriting with excellent ink, but notations of additions and subtractions show that it is an autograph copy. Because the sequences are broken at places and the hand writing is not of any calligrapher but a person directly involved in same. Many dates on first page of 18th century but the end erased and a new date written along with the name of a person. The new date is 1186 AH and purchased by Afsand Yar from Yar Muhammed for Rs 4 or so. The scribe is given as Mir Abdur Rahman but this scribe does not look like the scribe of the manuscript. Mir Abdur Rahman was an exceptional calligrapher of his times but the writing on the erased place is not that of a famous calligrapher. Truth erased for some reason. The erasure is in different handwriting and can be clearly seen. The two erased lines have a portion missing too. One can clearly see ALI written at the start, which points to Ali uddin as his name. The mystery is always there in ancient texts.
The Diwan of Nawab Wazeer Khan with takhallus WAZEERI is an unique manuscript. No other copy is known in the world. It includes information which can shed new light on our history. We hope somebody will study it in detail.
The evening of 17th January, 1975, saw M.A. Rahman Chughtai breathed his last breath, in the arms of his wife Kishwar Iqbal Bano. A robust artist was reduced to multiple issues at the hands of an unkind world. The family was left in a total lurch, with most of his property having been grabbed by tenants, so called relatives and land grabbers. And then a financial vacuum surrounded the immediate family. Lobbies were activated to defuse Chughtai Art forever at the hands of iconic cultural consultants. No way out could be seen.
In the tradition of the last hand shake of Dr Allama Iqbal with M.A. Rahman Chughtai, the artist called me in the morning and held my hand and would not let it go. In just a few days I wrote a small pamphlet entitled YOU DO WHILE I LOOK THE OTHER WAY. I had seen my father cry in his last days, crying not for me or his family, but for the legacy of his art, which he realized was probably doomed forever. Of course we would not let him and his art falter at the hands of the philistines of the cruel wold. But how?
Condolences were received from Chief Minister Hanif Ramay and Governor Punjab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi, as well as Minister for Education Abdul Hafeez Pirzada, besides Prime Minister of Azad Kashmeer. The cultured Prime Minister had no time for any condolence as well as the stooge President of Pakistan. Except for Prime Minister Azad Kashmeer, all the others were manipulating the situation in their favour. Greed enveloped them completely.
Our resentment was obvious. A number of telegrams were sent all over the world to people who had access to Chughtai Art. The result was unprecedented. Condolences were received from many Heads of State, and that included President of West Germany Walter Scheel, Queen Elizabeth II of England, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India, Vice President Nelson A Rockefeller of USA, US State Department Peter Constable, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau of Canada, as well as people like Secretary General of U.N.O, Dr Kurt Waldheim. This was very embarrassing for the people in power here. Those were the days of telegrams and letters, unlike the fast communication world of today. It took time but the results were effective. The Government in power was confused beyond limits.
Office was started from our home and we named it as CHUGHTAI ACADEMY OF ARTS. A small room was used as office and some people used to turn up. Some for condolence, some with bright ideas. Hardly anyone with words of encouragement. The museum site was occupied by 12 families inside the building and about 200 land grabbers outside the premises. The walls were broken and there was no gate. No electricity, not even water. It dismaying picture, when people would stone our coming, and bring out their dandas (huge sticks) and threaten us openly. The details are horrifying. Suffice that we held our first show on the open lawns in our premises under tents and our guests were numerous. Our Chief Guest was Irish scholar of Islamic Arts Dr James Dickie or Dr Yakub Zaki, converted to Islam. A number of Pakistanis were there, and that included Hafeez Jullundri, Dr Muhammed Baqir, Ghulam Ahmad Pervez, Justice S.A. Rahman, Ibadat Brelvi and many others. Hafeez Jullundri recited the National Anthem in his own words as well as a poem he had written on Chughtai artist, that is CHUGHTAI, ABDUR RAHMAN. The audience wept with him at the behaviour of the government in power. But we were on our way.
Dr Muhammed Baqir had the last word when he said to the audience (sizable indeed): You people will go away, do you realize what this young man will feel when he will be collecting all these chairs. Alone and abandoned. We remember a movie by Kirk Douglas that is “Lonely are the brave”. I was required to be brave to face the future. Forty four years later the bravery is still challenged every day.