QURAN AND THE SWORD
LIVING SYMBOLISM OF SHARF-UN-NISA
Allah Baqi wa-alkul Fani
Dr Allama Iqbal was observer of many things. Historical figures attracted him. To him came the take of Princess Sharf-un-nisa, the sister of Nawab Khan Bahadur, Viceroy of Lahore. The symbolism of the Princess had a deep effect on our national poet, and he has written an eulogy on her. The symbolism of the Quran and the Sword very much there.
Sharf-un-nisa had built a residential tower for herself for seclusion. She used to mount a removable ladder to the top of the tower and in side alone used to read the Holy Quran for one hour every day. She also had a jewelled sword with her in a box and she used to put both things together there. When she died, according to her will, she was buried in the same tower. And according to her wishes, the Quran and the Sword was placed on her sarcophagus, and the building sealed from all sides. And there they remained till the Sikhs took over Lahore.
The Sikhs were on rampage, greedy for mere bricks and stone, they would not let any treasure be forsaken by them. They broke into the building and stole the precious objects. Somehow the other the tower survived the ages and is today known as SAROO WALA MAQBARA. Heavily encroached upon, the Archaeological department is playing mischief with it. No protection is provided to our legacy and this monument, like many others, is suffering the present wrath of times.
Beauty and Power is the re-occurring message of Dr Allama Iqbal and the monument of Sharf-un-nisa is living testimony of the effects she had on others. Tiles on her monument declare that ALLAH IS ETERNAL, REST IS PERISHABLE. The destruction of the monument is still on to this day. No one has even bothered to research it properly. There may be secrets to it still unexplored by our whiz guys.
I was standing on the roof top of a house of a friend in Mochi Darwaza and across the roofs, we saw an English women washing clothes. ‘Yar, maim lagti hai’. Yes, my friend said, this man married her in London and brought her here, and she is working so hard all the time. Not a big house, not a financial giant, a common down to earth man who went to England to make money and came back with a bride. Such cases are many in Lahore. Brides from England are most common but so are from other countries. We could add Lebanon for some of our religious leaders, perhaps an Irani or two, even French, Central Asian, Germans yes, but mostly English. M.A. Rahman Chughtai used to explain it simply and in simple terms. He used to say that most of the Pakistanis going to England would accost the washer women or the cleaner lady or the worker for the land lady, and early in the morning, the romance would start, with no knowledge, as to who seduced whom? The World War left England with plenty of women and few men. That is why England encouraged people from other lands to settle in England and provide relief to their women. But the story is older than that.
Mahrajah Dallip Singh (touted as the son of Mahrajah Ranjit sIngh when it is famous in Lahore to this day that he was illegitimate son of Mai Jindan from her paramour Gulu Mashqi) at hands of John Logins embraced Christianity in the Lahore Fort impressed with the Christianity package of Reverend Abdul Masih Salih. Dallip Singh went to England and was the personal guest of Queen Victoria. Love was at first sight, and Queen Victoria was having the time of her life with this Lahori boy. The young boy dreamt of becoming the King of the English Empire or Prince at least. But when she had enough of those rendezvous with him, she rejected him out right. He became riled as being an emotional Punjabi, and after being rebuked, decided to go back to Punjab, India. He renounced Christianity after all. He could not make it to Marseilles, where the reputation is that he was assassinated by the British Secret Service. Not possible. Who knows? But this kind of story is there even today. We hear again and again that Princess Diana was carrying the child of Harrod’s Dodee, and that the British Secret Service dealt with her. After the High Court in England decided the case, presumably forever, fresh evidence has come from Paris itself, that it was actually the case. Let us see if the truth ever comes out.
Queen Victoria must be having a passion for men of this region. Munshi Abdul Kareem was another confidante of her and novels have been written of their affair. No one will know the actual truth, but imagination plays riot, and one ends up thinking even worse than the truth itself. We are just relating stories, as we were not there.
But back to another Lahori boy, Dr Hasnat, the original shy lover of Princess Diana. A movie has been made on them. Dr Hasnat denies it as being the truth. Surely the truth would be even more bitter for the British. A Brownie Paki from here romancing the Princess of England. Does not look good, but these boys from Lahore are men of another order. Princess Diana begged Dr Hasnat’s mother in Model Town, for permission to marry his son. She refused the Princess. What a lady? She made Lahore proud of her.
Lahoris are great lovers. We have a living example in our own local Cary Grant, Najum Latif. He did the impossible. He romanced with the daughter of an American Senator. And married her happily. The American family sings his song to this day. And not to forget our own Imran Khan who married Jemima, the doting daughter of a Jewish millionaire Mr Goldsmith. Good luck to Imran too! The great dramatist Mr Pirzada married a German lady, who remained with him till the end. Nur Jahan’s son Akbar married a French lady. And the Qazilbaschs, in the tradition of the great Agha Khans, spring from one English mother to another. Surely English girls have a passion for Lahori Nawabs. The Principal of a Beaconhouse School had a doting Americabn wife. And so many others.
Cases after cases, few seduced the women at the top, but it happened. And Lahore left its mark on the world as well as the world of romance. Yes, something special in Lahori boys, after all.
WHEN NO ONE LEFT ALIVE IN LAHORE
THE INVASION OF AMIR TIMUR
Making a dead city alive again in 1421
Lahore was the passing point of many conquerors, and the city witnessed the ups and downs of the time. The greatest upheaval was that of Amir Timur, or Timur lang. The invasion of Timur to Hindustan is an event in itself. The entrance to Punjab was in 1398.
Shaikha Gakkhar was the Governor of Lahore. Perhaps only for a period of one year or less. Seeing the fall of other cities of Hindustan to the Timurids, Shaikha Gakkhar capitulated to the Timurids, and offered his assistance o them. He was the first to side with Timur. Timur knew that he was doing all this as a necessity to save himself, but even then, gave him credit for services rendered to him. In this way Lahore was saved from the first assault of the Timurids, comparing it to other fallen cities, where massacres had taken place. Once Timur had left, Shaikha Gakkhar was not willing to please the Timurids again. This report was submitted to Timur and he ordered Prince Pir Muhammed Jahangeer, Prince Rustam, Amir Sulaiman and Amir Jahan to set things right.
This party of Princes reached Lahore and ransacked it. Shaikha Gakkhar was probably put n chains and sent to the presence of Amir Timur. But most of these things are scattered here and there and little information is obtained. When Lahore was ransacked, much wealth and property was obtained from the city. It is said that the city was emptied of all its population.
Lahore was a deserted city. No one lived here. (Perhaps few did but nothing is known about the composition of Lahore in those days). When Sayyid Mubarak son of Khizr Khan became the ruler of Hindustan, he appointed Malik Mahmud Hassan as Viceroy of Lahore. Sayyid Mubarak himself entered Lahore after defeating Jasrat Ghakkhar brother of Shaikha Gakkhar. The task before Sayyid Mubarak was stupendous, to repopulate and build Lahore from a scratch. It is said that in 1421, there was not even an owl living in Lahore. The Fort and the Gates were repaired and a standing army put in the Lahore Fort. Invitations and concessions were issued all over the region, inviting people to settle and build in Lahore, with the cooperation of the state machinery itself. And that is the birth of NEW LAHORE in 1421. This resilience of Lahore to bounce back is the back bone of the Pakistani spirit.
CREATING A FACE FROM BONES
THE RECONSTRUCTION OF AMIR TIMUR
A bold step for science
The Russians are people with their own minds. They wanted no interference in their work. One bright day the Russians decided to dig the Mausoleum of Amir Timur in Samarkhand, and they took out the bones. There were two skeletons buried in the mazar, and each was sent for analysis to forsenics headquarters in Moscow. There for the first time in history Russian scientists made the actual face of Amir Timur from his bones. This was done by M. Gerasimov in 1941, before this science had caught up with the West. Statues of Amir Timur were made from his bones, and then his bones were reburied in his mausoleum.
By this single act, and analysis, we had a face reconstruction of the greatest Chaghatai of all times, Amir Timur, also known as Timur Lang, or Timur the lame. Scientists discovered that it was actually so, as one leg of the Emperor was indeed broken, and he had limped in real life. The replicas of his face were placed in the Timur Museum in Tashkent, USSR. The face you see attached is the actual face of Amir Timur, and this is the same Timur, whose troops passed Lahore. Perhaps he came here himself, perhaps he sent his men. In any case he dealt with Shaikha Ghakkhar and his treachery and dealt with it in his own way. But that is the other story.
WAYWARD BOYS AND RAPE
A SERIAL KILLER LOOSE IN LAHORE
Perhaps the most bizarre incident of Lahore
The Data Darbar Complex invites people from all walks of life. People turn up here with the hope that prayers to Data Darbar would result in fulfillment of their dreams. Dreams die hard. As free food is served here, twenty four hours a day, it also attracts all the wayward and vagabonds for overnight stays. Pickpockets abound here. Young boys running from their homes frequent here and under observation from pedophiles all the time. The boys are hungry, insecure and can be easily victimized by the seducers. This goes on all the time, even to this day, although once upon a time, the Government set up a Help Center outside it, to detect such cases. We think that the Center has not even touched one case of prevention, but still it is good that it is there.
Javed Iqbal Mughal was a man in his forties who saw it as a lucrative trade. He would pick up boys from there and used to take him to his dump situated on Ravi road, Lahore. Not only would he and his friends used to rape the boys, the services of the boys used to be provided to higher ups also. It is hinted that a lot of people availed the services of Javed Iqbal Mughal, and he made money out of them. Although the length of the period could have been longer, and could also have been carried out in other areas, but the Data Darbar incidents are related to the years 1998 and 1999.
Javed Iqbal Mughal went a step further. He started killing the boys once their idea of fun was over. They would cut the child to pieces and then dissolve his body in acid. The clothes used to be collected in a room and the soft tissues burnt in acid. Whatever residues were left, were taken in a sack, and thrown in the river Ravi afterwards. In a course of two years, Javed had raped and murdered more than 100 boys. This was verified by the set of different clothes and slippers found on the site, which the parents ransacked for clue to their lost children. On 30th December, 1999, Javed was caught in this trap and taken to prison. Headlines were made.
Javed Iqbal Mughal was caught and sentenced to the same kind of death on 16th March, 2000. But before this sentence could be carried out, he was found hanging in his cell. Reputation was that he was about to take important names, and those influential people had him sentenced before that with quick justice, to keep his mouth shut. The man had started talking to journalists.
Whatever the case, it is the most horrible and bizarre incidents in the history of Lahore. It could make into a chilling horror TV serial or a movie anytime. But the question remains WHY? Even international psychologists came here to interview him and made the statement that there was nothing wrong with this man, he was as normal as any other. A chilling reminder that the psyche of man can go wrong any time. Allah saves the world from such psychos!
THE FARRIERS OF LAHORE
ALL ABOUT HORSES AND NALBANDS
Care of horses in Lahore
The horse has always been a wanted commodity, both for personal use, as well as in warfare. But horses were loved too. People were ready to give their lives for horses. In Lahore various market for horses existed all the time. The local horses were caught and brought to town, but never fetched the kind of money, that Arab horses got here. Horses also came here from Mongolia and China, and of course Central Asia. And with these horses also came the horses experts, the specialists.
These Nalbands of Lahore knew the diseases of horses and the way to cure them. They knew the way to train them. A horse could learn to do anyhing. Under expert guidance, they became docile POLO horses and Sultan Qutub ud din Aibeg played Polo in Lahore all the time. They also became RACE horses and friendly races were held in Lahore, when there was nothing else to do. And the horses also became DANCING horses, a tradition which continues to this day. At wedding ceremonies we have the dance of horses, as well as national events like NATONAL HORSE AND CATTLE SHOW held under President Ayub Khan at Fortress Stadium Lahore.
The biggest market for horses was near the Taxalli Gate Lahore as well as outside the Delhi Gate, in the compound of Chowk Dara Shikoh. Dara Shikoh had a favourite horse by name of Sher-dil, and pictures of it exist today. The Sikhs were fond of horses too, and Ranjit Singh was ready to wage war on Afghanistan for the mare LAILA. Laila is one of the most famous horse of Lahore, and the saddle that Ranjit Singh used was in the Lahore Fort too, when it was stolen there by political persons. The reputation is that it was caught at the London Airport by British Customs. Nothing further is known.
The centre in Lahore for horse care was outside the Masjid Wazeer Khan, from where famous Nalbands conducted their business. Baba Imamuddin is a famous Farrier of Sikh times. But many of the mosques of Lahore were literally stable for horses of the Sikh Army and used as a fodder place for them. Fodder was cut in hand made machines by hand and available at many points. Even today we see them at points in Lahore. Drinking troughs of water for horses must have been there previously but were built on a brand new basis when the British took over Lahore. Some of these troughs of water are still there and very romantic. There was a famous trough of water near the Mazar of Nau-guzza of Lahore in Langa Mandi.
Many books on horses also written in Lahore, plain as well as illustrated ones. One famous manuscript made by Imam Baksh Lahori is world famous. Governor of Lahore Syed Abdullah also wrote a book on horses. Many mohallas in Lahore are named after horse riders, like the Mohalla of Chabuk Swaran, where the artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai was born on 21st September, 1897. All this history of Lahore is actually never written.
Queen Elizabeth has a great fondness for collecting art. The Queen’s collection is world famous for both its depth and content. In a visit to Pakistan, the Queen saw some paintings of M.A. Rahman Chughtai at Governor’s House Lahore. She was deeply interested and desired to meet the artist. As the artist was not available (explain later), she got a choice of some paintings, selected one and bought it. The work was entitled SPRING and it was delivered to the British High Commissioner Pakistan. We attach a report of the Civil and Military Gazette Lahore.
Later M.A. Rahman Chughtai not only presented five etchings of his to the Queen, he also sent her a copy of the famous book AMAL-E-CHUGHTAI. The Queen was gracious in acknowledging all this with her thanks. When M.A. Rahman Chughtai died on 17th January, 1975, Queen Elizabeth was one of the many Heads of State who condoled his death with us. Chughtai Museum too presented a painting to her namely THE TUTOR and it was given to the British Ambassador Laurence Pumphrey, and a ROYAL AIR FORCE PLANE took it to the Queen in England.
The Art of M.A. Rahman Chughtai shortened distances between various countries and Pakistan, and brought good will for Pakistan. A tradition present Government know not how to recognize and utilize this good will in favour of a progressive and strong Pakistan.
THE ANTI-PAKISTAN MANTRA
UNDULATING HIPS AND ALCOHOL
The Indian entrapment of dumb Pakistanis
Our house is part of the idea of Pakistan. And this idea is is strong, so viable, that it scares the enemies. It not only gives them sleepless nights, it makes them sit on their pots many times of the day. Pakistan was the first step, the first experiment of the re-invigorated Islamic system, the renaissance of Islam, the reconstruction of religious thought in Islam. The Iqballian dream completed by our beloved Quaid-e-Azam and from there it was bound to go places, move forward in time. A most beautiful statement of the Pakistan idea is given by our esteemed lady Miss Shameem Ahmad. A more detailed explanation is given on the politics of Pakistan, by Mr Ghulam Ahmad Pervaiz, the Adviser on Islamic Affairs to the Quaid-e-Azam himself. It is on record that he was the only person who could walk in to see the Quaid-e-Azam without even an appointment. One can understand the kind of respect our Father of the Nation had for his adviser.
The Indian propaganda machine works on many angles, but the easiest is to entrap people in some kind of powerful position, by rewards, by offerings of alcohol, and obviously the undulating hips of their screen beauties, all the time. This Mantra is simple. We are all the same people. We are one nation. The idea of dividing India was a stupid one, not up to the modernism of the times. A thousand years of rule in India by the Muslims, and all kinds of leniency shown by the Sultans and the Kings to their Hindu subjects, but to no avail. The Muslim history is a history of documentation, the Hindu history is a history of story-telling. Tall tales abound. Take any Muslim subject. Perhaps a couple of books by Muslims, a few by Western writers, and dozens by Hindu writers. Working without any references telling tall tales even the crow will not swallow with pebbles in the water. And that dished out as the truth. For God’s sake! Come into the modern world. Falsehood is eventually out. We will continue to talk about this entrapment of dumb Pakistanis, for there are a lot of intellectual; and passionate ones, but these poor people are in the entrapment of poverty itself. Our system does not guarantee any fairness to our people. The renaissance will eventually bring revolt of the make break kind. We look forward to better times in Pakistan.
THE REALITY OF LECTURE TOURS
IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL INTERACTION
BRAIN DRAIN OR MORAL DRAIN
A person walked in a month back and suggested that I go on a lecture tour. He said, ‘Do not waste time here. Your time means money. You have information to give, and information means money’. Such suggestions have always been there, from one society to another. No harm done. Good. People as well as nations should interact, find out about each other and then make the world a better place. I am all for it.
But when these lecture tours bending the moral values of the person being sent, to channel him through a cobweb of rewards, for services rendered. That is a different ball game and care should be taken, that for self aggrandizement, national values are never sacrificed.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai too, used to get invitations for tours abroad. Ambassador James Langley invited him on a US tour in 1958, and Columbia University was willing go finance it further, into a longer stay. In the same vein, the Russians extended their invitsation to him. In 1962, V. Titaev, Secretary, USSR Embassy wrote to him:
“May I request you to inform us whether it will be possible for you to make a trip to the Soviet Union this year and take with you some of your nice pictures to arrange an exhibition there. My sincerest gratitude for your lovely etching that you presented to me.”
Others to wished to invite him. He used to send his paintings abroad, he declined to take any invitation. Why? He knew best, but he was polite to all. He never wanted to get into any political debate or debacle. He was an artist with Iqballian KHUDI attached to him.
Robert O Jones, a senior US diplomat also tried to arrange shows in the USA. In 1977 V. Smirnov, the Russian Ambassador requested a Chughtai’s show in Moscow. Masood Nabi Noor, the Federal Cultural Secretary, on behalf of President Zia ul Haque declined the same. A hundred and one stories like these in our archives. We will pick some of them.
WHO FOUNDED ALHAMRA LAHORE?
OBVIOUSLY M.A. RAHMAN CHUGHTAI
Memory loss of bureaucracy
Chughtai Museum has always stated things backed by documentary evidence. Nowadays the evidence is the will of the Master, whoever the Master may be. Let us restate the role of M.A. Rahman Chughtai as the FOUNDER OF ART IN PAKISTAN. Not content with the position of being ‘the greatest living Master of India’ (as stated by Bombay Times itself), he wanted to do everything for Art in Pakistan. The Art Department at University of Punjab was his idea, and the first Head, Anna Molka was appointed with his consent (record there). A lot of designs were being asked from him by Liaquat Ali Khan, on behalf of the Quaid e Azam himself. The Quaid himself approved many designs within his lifetime. But this essay is not about that. There was no cultural centre in Pakistan and M.A Rahman Chughtai knew it well. A meeting was held at the house of Begum Shahnawaz to thrash out this issue, even before partition, and it came in the papers then.
Resident Director Shahnaz Arshad wrote a brochure on the foundation of Alhamra and we reproduce the first page. All these records were there, now perhaps thrown to the ‘Radi’ wala. In any case on 10th March, 1949, Alhamra was inaugurated by Governor General Khawaja Nazimuddin with a show of Chughtai’s Art works. That is all on record. The insignia was designed by Chughtai, as well as the name itself, given by him. The name personified the Modernism in a Muslim Cultural Centre, by linking it with Alhamra of Spain. One of the greatest achievements of Muslim Civilization. He was instrumental in requesting the Government to allot the place for this Centre, and on the basis of this Centre, other centres came up in Karachi, Peshawer and Dacca. And the amusing part is that even those were inaugurated with Chughtai shows, and we have documentation about them too. M.A. Rahman Chughtai was so obsessed with the giving of a special status to the Centre, that he even took plants from his home, and planted them there. A number of Mango trees were planted by him there with his own hands, and most flourished for years.
There was phenomenal Cultural Activity in Alhamra in those days. Troupes came from all over the world and performed there. And this was not done with abundant of resources, but will of the people. A comment came in a newspaper report of that period and it is on record. The journalist said that he asked Secretary Khaleel Sahafi why there was no TEA served at the inauguration when the Governor General came, and Khaleel Sahafi confessed, that they actually had no money to serve even plain tea to guests. Will power creates nations, not resources, and Pakistan is the example of same.
This show was attended by people from all over the world. A delegation of VICE CHANCELLORS from AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES was there, as well as a State Visit by the Shahenshah of Iran , Reza Pahalwi. It put Pakistan on the Art map of the world. A number of diplomats came from Karachi to attend the show. Colonel Majeed Malik of the Press Information department was doing his part of the job.