COCK FIGHTING IN LAHORE
NOT SO NICE WAY OF DOING THINGS
Enjoyed by certain groups but not everybody
A roof top inside Mochi Darwaza Lahore and a mixture of things. Some plants, pigeons, working tools, toilet, and a cage. The cage held what can be termed as a ferocious animal. A simple MURGHA or KUKAR in our terms, in plain language a COCK surrounding by hens. And what a cock? The animal had no fear. We were afraid of him as one can be afraid of anybody wild. Just seeing us, he would dig his claws on the bricks, and flung himself at us. His beak so dangerous, that it could take a piece of our flesh out any time. It was rumoured to have injured many, and yet the owner, a friend of mine, was very happy with it. My friend would play with it like a pet dog. And when the Cock died, my friend mourned for him for days, and even today, he would recall the bravery of his Cock-a-doodle do.
Where did Cock fighting start? China probably and it is there in many areas of the East. But the West was not immune from it. We hear of Cock fighting in many cities of the West too. It was obvious that the Mughals would bring cock fighting to Lahore too.
The growth of animals, their training, their planned fights and then the actual gambling on same, revokes some past civilizations. And more often than usual the horrible injuries of the loser, even resulting in death, was a shame for mankind. But human beings as they are, can indulge in anything, for a perceived high, which all societies need at one time or the other.
Other fights were arranged. Dog fighting never caught on here. But Robin fighting did and one cannot imagine how a small red bird can be made to fight another such bird, often to death itself. Naturally man is the beast here in this matter. But as far as wrestling was concerned, the wrestling traditions in Lahore, speak of fighting matches, where fights used to be held in mud and no injury ever took place. But that is a different story.
SACRED ARE RELIGIOUS PLACES
NO ONE HAS RIGHT TO DESTROY THEM
The accusations against Aurangzeb Alamgeer
The image of Aurangzeb Alamgeer is perhaps the most misrepresented imagery of any Emperor in history. The story of Aurangzeb is upturned in all ways and shows that this mud slinging is not by mistake, but a deliberate act of vengeance against him. This is not the thesis of our book to pick it up in detail, but for political truth, the writing of Shibli Nomani is best. Even that has been corrupted in various editions by vested interests. As Sheikh Atta ullah tells us in the third centenary volume of Aurangzeb’s rule:
“Speaking at the occasion Maulana Ilmuddin Salik said that Aurangzeb was vilified by Hindu historians for no other reason except that he was a true Muslim. Britishers portrayed him as a whimsical tyrant ruling ruthlessly over a vanquished host of Hindu population to add fuel to the fire of Hindu-Muslim differences. This was, in perfect harmony with the policy of divide and rule.
With an array of convincing arguments and historical facts the Maulana disproved that Alamgeer’s adherence to one sect ever led him to deal out a bigoted treatment to the members of other sects or religions. He quoted instances when he alloted lands to Hindu temples and Sikh shrines. He added that only those temples were demolished which were built without the permission of the government.”
This so-called destruction of temples was not without reason. Islam forbids harm to religious places of non-muslims as a creed of life. Even the famous Sultan Mahmud Ghaznavi did not destroy temples without reason. The Sultan not only had Hindus in his army, he even built temples for them in Ghazni itself. The destruction was of places associated with politics. Similarly the Hindu temples in Shah Jahan’s time were being used to inculcate Hindu doctrines in Muslim boys and girls, as well as used for political uprisings, engineered at these places. It was these that incurred the attention of Aurangzeb Alamgeer. The defense of the Empire itself was at stake. This fact is for once even admitted by Catherine B. Asher, in ‘Architecture of Mughal India’, when she says:
“But when Aurangzeb did destroy temples, he did so not out of bigotry, but as a political response when his authority was challenged.”
She further adds:
“Thus in a sense Aurangzeb destroyed state-endowed property, not private works.”
All this proves that ‘the alleged destruction is more legendary than real’. Only those were punished who rebelled against the state. The support of Emperor Aurangzeb to the Hindu Jogis of Jakhbar is known to all and a book written on same by B.N. Goswamy himself.
Historians are eager to speak of destruction of temples by Muslims, and are reluctant to even talk about the destruction of mosques by Hindus. We give an example. In 976 AH (1568 AD) Ali Adil Shah invited Ram Raja, the raja of Bija-nagar to help him against the rival Nizam Shah. The condition was that no harm will be done to sacred places. Ram Raja took the opportunity to set on fire and destroy all the mosques of Ahmad-nagar. This fact is clearly stated in history books, but no mention of it is found in general terms.
I think in both countries a younger generation is coming up, which sees through this hypocrisy, and it depends upon them to erase the paranoia and the fears that are generated by both sides. Without sacrificing anything, one should learn to respect each other, and live in eternal peace, for there is no subsitute for that.
THE DRAMA OF SIKHS
DESTRUCTION OF MOSQUE OF ABDULLAH KHAN
A needless antagonism against the Muslims
Divide and rule! The golden principle of dissent, true then, true now, and will always be true, when people will not think and ponder. Fighting with each other serves political ends. To isolate the Muslims from the electoral role, a dissent was created over the mosque of the Subhedar of Lahore, namely Abdullah Khan, who served both Prince Dara Shikoh and after him Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgeer. A beautiful small mosque which was forcibly occupied by the Sikhs. The claim was that the mosque was used to murder a group of Sikhs, who were brought to Lahore by the Hindu Governor, Lajpat Rai. The interesting part is that how on earth can the Muslims allow the use of their mosque for murdering captive Sikhs. And who were these captive Sikhs, bandits who had murdered the brother of the Governor Lajpat Rai, by cutting his head off. One wrong does not warrant more wrongs. The ferocity of a Hindu General pitted against the ruthlessness of Sikh dacoits. Where does the Muslims come in the picture? We were not there, and even today if we can do it, we would stop the genocide. But the rampage these Sikhs were on needed to be tried by a court of law and most of them deserved to be hanged for the ferocity of their crimes.
Where does a small beautiful mosque comes in the picture? The British and their Indian agents, including many Muslim stalwarts, and the involvement of the Caliph of Ahmadiyyahs too (not an accusation, state records). Maulana Zafar Ali Khan also part of the conspiracy. It is worth reading in its many reports. The simple ruse was to make Muslims and Sikhs fight with each other and to isolate the Muslims from the election process. A brilliant feat committed by the British Intelligence here, with the involvement of the Sir Fazle Hussain too.
A compromise could have been reached, and the Sikhs could have stopped the destruction of the mosque and both communities could have lived a co-existence together. A curfew was imposed and many Muslims lost their lives, while indeed hundreds were wounded. But the stock taking was riddled with mischief. No body wanted peace at all.
In a London magazine, pictures exist and the arrogance of those Sikhs who brought the Mosque down. It started with one Sikh labourer, and the interesting part is that he fell down and died in the destruction process. Maybe the feat was too much for him.
The plan next was the Mosque of Maryiam Zamani (calumny of talking of it as place of shahadat of Mani Singh), when the hammam of the mosque was taken over as a martyr site too. Today it is just another tyre shop in the market. In India we hear about the plan to demolish 5000 mosques and it is on the agenda of an incoming Indian Prime Minister, who is a literal murderer of hundreds of Muslims in India. The Babari mosque was a prelude to grand dramas designed for the future.
The most pathetic thing is that the most probable site for this murder of the captive Sikhs was the Mazar of Rasool Shahiyan in Landa Bazaar Lahore. All murdered Sikh bodies were buried in its basement there, as a matter of record. It is an abandoned place from long time. Nobody is interested in actual history, only dissent for dissent sake. And this is the place where Sikhs frequented all the time for it was a distillery and all addicts could get their share of ‘bhang’ here in plenty supply, all the time.
Our statement. No party should allow a third party to rile itself against imaginary happenings. Learn to live in peace. It is possible.
A CHURCH BUILT BY MUSLIMS IN SICILY
FOR THEIR CHRISTIAN BRETHREN
Allah’s name in the Arabic script
There are surprising things in the world. And often they go unnoticed. Muslims lived in harmony with other religions as commanded by Allah. The stupid and malignant people who destroy churches anywhere should understand that there was a time when Muslims built churches for their Christian brethren. There are examples in the world but the best example is in Sicily and it is called CAPELLA PALATINA PALERMO. A strange chapter in the history of mankind.
A blog is not a space for a detailed analysis of this church, and it is indeed worthy of seeing by all. There is a classic rare book published on the same with details of drawings and scripts. It even carries the Arabic script at places with names of both ALLAH as well as PROPHET MUHAMMED (PBUH). Historians wonder to this day the background in the making of this church.
There are other amazing features. For those Mullahs who rail against Figurative Painting, the Church is full of sculpture and Iconic Christian imagery, surrounded by Arabic Kufic Script. MUSLIMS HAVE DRAWN JESUS CHRIST, LADY MARY AND ALL THE OTHER SAINTS IN THE CHURCH. If this is not broad mindedness, then what else is? This is tolerance reached to newer and newer levels. And it is to be appreciated by all.
The many Churches in Lahore were obviously designed by English Architects in their requirements, but many were later handed over to contractors like Muhammed Sultan and architects like Raheem Baksh Mimar and Kareem Baksh Mimar, and it is a matter of record too. A number of certificates are there to this effect. For instance Major D. Bennet, Member of the Church building at Meean Meer cantonment writes a certificate dated 20th December, 1856, that:
” Certfied that Emoo (Raheem Baksh), Raj Mistree, was for many years in the employment of the late MAJOR SHARP OF THE ENGINEERS,who I know had the highest opinion of him; he was the person most depended upon while building the splendid Church at Meean Meer, and he had instructed him in a Plan drawing , which he understands well. He deserves every encouragement being a most intelligent and active workman. I attach a note of Mr Sharp written about him.”
The mosque, the Mandir and the Gurdawara built at Aitchison College was also designed by a Chughtai family member, who was a Drawing Master at Aitchison College itself. Mian Kareem Baksh Mimar was also involved in its embellishment at that time. He was an expert in Chuna Kari of the type that is on Asif Khan’s mausoleum. The modern times have brought decay to the broadmindedness of the Muslims.
ISLAMIC SPAIN AND DR ASAD SADIQ
A THINKING VISITOR FROM MANCHESTER
Inspirations of the past
Dr Asad Sadiq paid us a visit a few days back. And like us all, basked in the glory of Islamic days. We talked of how the modern Spaniards do not allow anyone to pray in the Mosque of Cordova. The authorities pick up kneeling people forcing their prayers there, and throwing them out. The Inquisition spirit has not gone out of them, even after centuries. It was perhaps after centuries that Dr Allama was able to do the same and we have a photograph to prove it to the world. But Dr Sadiq smiled and whispered to me, that he had managed ‘two nafils’ there in despite of the opposition. And he was very proud of same.
Eight hundred years Muslims ruled Spain and it was the first period where Muslims gave free reign to the Jewish people. The Muslims and Jews were hand in hand. In 1492 when Queen Isabella decided to oust the Muslims, so were the Jews, and their belongings were confiscated by authorities. And yet the Jews do not remember what the Muslims did for them in Spain, at all. Why the animosity now?
The Alhamra Palace is unique in history. It has all the usual things, but it also has a HALL OF PHILOSOPHERS. A thinking room, with pictures on its ceiling. Dr Asad adiq said that it had a profound effect on him. The library of M.A. Rahman Chughtai is full of books on Spain. He tried his best to visit Spain in 1932 and again in 1938 but a war was going on there, and Visas were not allowed to British subjects. It was a regret of the artist all his life.
The artist believed that the innovations made in Spain under Islamic rule, gave a new impetus to Islam itself. The aesthetic innovations were incredible too. That is why when he founded the Pakistan Arts Council Lahore, he gave it the name of Alhamra Lahore, and I think very few understand the significance of the name. When cousins marry, their children end up with genetic defects, but marriages outside families and culture, get a new genetic stimulation. That is why when civilizations intermix, the result is a new form of evolution of society. In Punjab, the land of five rivers, various civilization came and went, and left a richer Lahore. The culture of Lahore was not made in a day.
Scholars are of the opinion that whereas Islamic Culture and knowledge holds ts own to this day, the present generation of Muslims are a sorry lot. MANY BELIEVE THAT A NEW CIVILIZATION WILL EMBRACE ISLAM AND GIVE A NEW INFUSION TO ISLAM. Who would these people be? Who knows? But till then believe that Pakistanis are the only muslim nation left in the world capable of not only understanding the dynamism of a new Islam abut forcing its adoption in the present world scenario. We indeed are blessed by Allah with wisdom to undertake the task of the renaissance. And indeed Mullahs as well as Seculars are the other end of the hopeless scale. One of the prime reason for the degradation of Islam today is precisely the imbecility of these barbarians.
DIFFERENT PLACES DIFFERENT CLASSES HERE
DIFFERENT PLACES IN NEXT DIMENSION TOO
Remembering heaven and hell
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.
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?
IS MY COUNTRY WORTH SAVING?
AM I INDEBTED TO MY MOTHER!
Ideology versus Geography in Pakistan
I saw and met a lot of journalists in my life. Not the present ones, but the ones who pioneered journalism in Pakistan. Those guys were really guys who knew their job. You hardly saw them with brand new clothes, or brand new cars, or brand new houses, or millions in bank accounts. They were a poor lot of people aiming for the richness of their country. Pakistan salutes them every day.
The truth never gets written. It comes in form of gossips these days. Truth as gossip is a joke isn’t it. Stories are planted, games played, the country for petty emoluments, is not sacred at all. Toeing the wishes of foreign lobbies, Pakistani media is perhaps the only media in the world, which fulfills the ages old saying, “Cutting the branch on which you are standing with an axe”? Check the trail of them and you end up in foreign countries, and more often than usual, hidden bottles in secret cupboards. Money really makes them go.
A tirade of vicissitudes is behind them. They talk in terms of foreign eyes foreign tongues, foreign hearts. Perhaps it is lack of breast feeding of that generation, which were fed with powder milk bottles, that they never learnt to love their mothers. And the country is in all ways more like a mother itself. A load of crap is given to us all the time.
When I hear educated people talking about the negativeness of Pakistan, as if no negative aspect exists of any other country. We used to read comparative culture and administration, and the objective way of comparing nations. Contentment, happiness, access to basic facilities, jobs, progress towards tomorrow, all were there. The dirty rich has deprived the clean poor of all these things.
The question remains IS MY COUNTRY WORTH SAVING? If it is not, then I am not worth saving too. And since I think of myself as worthy, my retort would be, not only a big YES, but the statement that for ideas one can sacrifice life, and that is martyrdom, honoured by Allah. Pakistan Forever!
The story of an orphan boy of about 12 years of age, who supposedly came from Kashmeer and settled in Lahore with his mother (research proves that his ancestors were actually from Lahore itelf). He did all sorts of menial jobs, and at first could not achieve success in any field. He was the first to start manufacturing soap in Lahore. He even practiced wrestling for a living. Mahrajah Sher Singh had rewarded him for a victory, with the present of a horse. Due to a known official contact, he gradually turned to contractorship, and as it is said, eventually became a real Sultan of Lahore. The marriage he solemnized of his step-brother Mian Abdur Rahman (born of a Lahori father) on which four lakh rupees were spent was considered no less than the marriage of Prince Nau Nehal Singh in the past. The brother left Lahore for Kabul and died there. The intricate reception he arranged for the Prince of Wales Albert Edward on 18th January, 1876 AD, by placing heavily carved wooden ‘chajas’ on all the shops in his ‘Landa Bazaar’ is on record as being an exceptional gesture. The beautiful water well known as ‘Thanda koh’ he made in his Serai for drinking of water by ordinary people was appreciated by all. All this made him stand tall with people. There are two views on him; one positive, one negative. And probably both are true in a way. In a ruthless spree of greed, he bought one monument after another, and demolished same again in the name of bricks. On the other hand he gave charity to all deserving persons, built public buildings, mosques, and worked for the welfare of the people. And instead of a bloated ego, he had plenty of humility, and even refused some fancy titles from British over lords. But can he be blamed alone for demolishing these buildings? After all it was the colonial rule, and he was under command instructions to do things. It was not in his power to refuse same. And what about the attitude of those Britishers who had sold these beautiful monuments to the contractor for bricks alone? A rag to riches tale and back is the story of his life. Muhammed Sultan died on 4th February, 1876 AD in penury, only 16 days after the Prince of Wales passed his show (his last show in all ways, on which he spent a considerable time in preparation) near the Railway Station, and was buried in the graveyard of Miani in Lahore. A misunderstood man who inherited a question mark to his life in history.
A FAMILY TREE BY YAHYA CHUGHTAI ARTIST
In Landa Bazaar we visited the house of Yahya Chughtai, an artist and draughtsman with the King Edward Medical College, Lahore, and a descendant of Muhammd Sultan himself. Our enquiry about Muhammed Sultan was extensive and he wrote the following family tree for us in 1977 and that is remarkable too:
MIRZA ABDULLAH BAIG HUKUM LAHORE (GOVERNOR)
MIAN PIR MUHAMMED
MIAN QADIR BAKSH
MIAN MUHAMMED SULTAN AND MIAN ABDUR RAHMAN
ELAHI BAKSH MUSAWAR AND IMAM BAKSH MUSAWAR
We reproduce the family tree given to us by Muhammed Yahya. I do not think anyone has ever researched the real background of Muhammed Sultan like this.
LANDA BAZAAR AND SULTAN’S SERAI
Frequented by millions in a year, hunting for old clothes as well as iron and its related things, the two keep the name of this contractor alive. But so does the Railway Station, the work of a remarkable man. And all this on the Chowk of Prince Dara Shikoh as well as his havelli. Dara Shikoh too was a Governor of Lahore, once upon a time and his memory is long gone too. But the memory of the Sultan persists to this day for his work which was really immortal in many ways.
There is a photograph in our archives, attributed to him. We will reproduce that eventually.
A peace agreement was in vogue between the Sioux of Dakota and the American Government. Then Gold was discovered in Dakota and prospectors flocked the Indian reservations for mining of gold. The Indian resented that. General Custer marched with the Seventh Cavalry and 700 men, with arrogant pride in his GATLING GUNS (the latest weapon of mass destruction then). The Indians were considered nobodies with their bows and arrows. Custer mocked the army of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The battle took place at Little Big Horn. But history shows that a proud nation can do wonders, if humiliated in any such way. On 25th June, 1876, the Americans came face to face with the wrath of the Red Indians under Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. The result the entire Seventh Cavalry was massacred that day, along with General Custer himself. This legend has led to one of the greatest myths in American history in reverse. Strength can conquer resolve.
A wise saying goes that ‘Nations that do not learn from their history, are bound to relive it’. Certainly there were groups who resented the wiping of the American Indians and from making those warriors into wimps, but the majority painted the Indians in a bad way. In a few decades, all the Indians could do was their Pow Wow dance. Always considered savage and uncivilized, no body paid them any attention. It became a full time game in America, Cowboys and Indians, with Cowboys shooting down Indians all the time. Missionaries trying to convert the Indians into their own image. The Indians lost their identity, their religion, their pride in existence. Today it is not possible to trace out a full bloodied Indian.
This scenario we see the Americans repeat again and again. Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Iraq, Libya and the latest in Afghanistan. The awe of destruction, the majesty of latest armor, the spectacle of gunship helicopters, high tech drones, and what not? Games people play, and the Americans play the most spectacular games in the world, using not props, but real people in the real world.
Ms Rose Stone was a Peace maker, a full blooded American lady, who fought for peace in the world. She went to each country in the world, and let the leading painter design a Peace Card for her project. M.A. Rahman Chughtai obliged her with a work for this PEACE SERIES (more of that later). She did in the world what no American government could do. Today the same is being done by groups like the WHOLE NINE, which includes the founder, artist Lisa Schultz. Best of luck to these Americans who dream Peace in the world! We are with them. They are the American conscience. They bring harmony to Planet Earth.
The Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai was getting very popular in the United States in the 1950s. R.C. Stone (Rose Stone) an American printer and publisher went on the Peace Offensive in the United States. Forgetting about her regular business, she turned her resources towards PEACE in the world. What was happening in Vietnam was repugnant to these thinking Americans and they were trying their best to do good. A number of Americans had fathered illegitimate children in Vietnam, and these American children were languishing on the streets of Vietnam’s cities and villages. Rose Stone made it her job to get Visas for these children and she made a SOS VILLAGE for them, and gave them an opportunity to be part of the American dream.
In this quest Rose Stone embarked upon a PEACE PROJECT. She selected the best artists of most countries in the world, and gave them a task of contributing PEACE CARDS for her project. The best artists of the world presented her their homage for peace. In Pakistan, she approached M.A. Rahman Chughtai. She came here on her own to request the artist to do same and the artist obliged her. The album of Cards is still with us. The Cards of M.A., Rahman Chughtai not only fostered PEACE in the world but promoted Pakistan as being part of same. I met her again in New York in 1976, and we talked of many things.
I recently came across another group of artists again in California , working on the same theme. I was amazed, Rose Stone stood forgotten in modern times. With access to the Senate in her life time, she stood forgotten. I asked the esteemed lady artist Lisa Shultz to do something in memory of Rose Stone, peace maker of the world.
When we sit here we know of the U.S.A as their Government would like us to know. But when you meet Americans, talk to them, be with them, you realize a friendly nation believing in goodness, and yes, thousands yearn for peace all the time. It is for us to give people like ROSE STONES a chance to tell us about the real face of America. It is for us to cooperate with Lisa Schultz in her peaceful endeavour.