Remembering heaven and hell

Mohallas of Lahore
Mohallas of Lahore

I was travelling through the city of Lahore. My own city and I could not recognize it. Piles of uncollected filth (where are the Turk contractors?), broken roads, broken sewerage lines, scrambled electrical poles, unpainted houses, make shift doors, beggars and looters strolling around, chabri wala encroachments everywhere. Not one person recognizing another. All ready to curse one another and fight with each other, on slightest pretext. Spitting PAN choona on the streets, sneezing their noses away. Smoke of cigarettes prevailing, at times even the smoke of the ‘qawam’ wala cigarette. Dirty clothes, and yes, even dirty minds. Where have things gone wrong?

A study of past is all revealing. The study of demography of Lahore city is a strange revelation. In one mohalla lived all kinds of people, from the richest to the poorest of society. Ancient documents of houses reveal all this in clear detail. The mohallas are named after professions. Usually not about ethnicity at all. We have mohallas of musawers (painters), khattats (calligraphers), telli (oil-vendors), kharasian (general merchants), bandook-saz (gunsmiths), kuman garah (bow-makers), chabuk sawaran (horse-riders), and so on and on. But analysis reveal that such divisions were not actually there, as many kinds of professions intermixed in any mohalla.

The havelli of Prince Masood son of Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi was in the city. Governor Ayaz Al-Najm inside the city too. That is why his mausoleum is still there. One of the oldest inscriptional Mausoleum of Hassan Al-Balkhi is in Kashmeeri Gate, who was a martyr in his fights against the Mongols. Qutub-uddin Aibsak inside the city too.

The Havellis of Nawabs, Governors, Courtiers, Ministers, even Prime Minister were right in the city itself. Prime Minister Saadullah Khan lived in Rang Mahal in his own palace, which later became the Mian Khan havelli of his son Lutuf ullah Khan, Governor of Punjab. Right with various commoners living in the area itself. You name them and they were there. But the amazing aspect is that right next to a super havelli, you found the poorest of society living there too. Co-existing with each other.

Where Sultans and the Paupers could live together, that society is indeed inspirational. The way Lahore opened its arms to the immigrants of the partition in 1947 is worthy of reckoning in this step too. All kind of people settled everywhere.

Different perceptions for few
Different perceptions for few

Then modernism invaded Lahore. And modernism brought social divisions. Rich areas, poor areas started in Lahore. The residents of Defense areas look at disdain with the residents of the city area, and the residents of city area look at the Defense areas as repulsive of newly got wealth and elimination of human as well as Islamic values. All that this newly rich people do is to throw a pittance of their badly acquired wealth at traffic stops to professional beggars begging for alms.  Not even having time to help the really needy people they know. Why not start from relatives? But poor relatives are shunned like lepers. Friendship. Only rich are looked up as friends. No wants to befriend the poor, knowing the encumbrance that would result in such a relation.

The shame of our leadership living in palatial palaces, unconcerned about the those who sleep on the streets. That is why we see addiction increasing every day, for temporary relief, people putting themselves into life long torture. And then there are those who await a bolt out of the skies to correct this maladjustment in society, but that is not the principle of Allah. All does not interfere in  human affairs. Our free will guarantees our own choices.

Eternal damnation indeed awaits our shameless leaders (who calls them leaders anyway?) We all know of Allah’s Qanoon ul Mukfat, but we also know that the period at times is very long. Who will shorten the period for us? No one but ourselves. And when do I stop sulking in my own inadequacies?