Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Qk archives: Dr .M. Farooq Khan "Offering collective prayers for higher seats of learning

Offering collective prayers for higher seats of learning
October 2010
Published by the Statesman

By Afzal Hussain Bokhari
As it happened in other cities of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province, the medical, religious and academic circles in City paid rich tributes to the slain Vice-Chancellor of Swat Islamic University, Dr Mohammad Farooq Khan. Amn Tehrik (Peace Movement) was the first to stage a protest demonstration on Sunday in front of Peshawar Press Club. Members of civil society and leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) took part in the demonstration. They carried banners and placards with slogans inscribed on them against terrorism, kidnappings and target killings. Protesters demanded capital punishment for Dr Farooq’s killers.

Unidentified gunmen during lunch break stormed Dr Farooq’s clinic located on the second floor of a building on Baghdada-Swabi Road near Muqam Madni Chowk in Mardan on Saturday and took the life of eminent psychiatrist and well-read Islamic scholar. Claiming responsibility for the gruesome murder, a spokesman of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Umar Farooq, made a phone call from an undisclosed location to members of Landikotal Press Club in the tribal Khyber Agency and said that the Abdullah Azzam Brigade, linked to TTP carried out the assassination. The caller accused Dr Farooq of speaking against the Taliban at every forum and for declaring suicide bombing as un-Islamic. He also claimed to have kidnapped the Vice-Chancellor of Islamia College University, Dr Ajmal Khan.

Meanwhile, some sources in police department cited initial investigations and told a section of the mainstream press about preliminary probe which indicated that Dr Farooq’s murder might not have been an act of terrorism but a revenge sequel emanating from an old family feud. They said that deceased’s step-brother, Dr Arif, had killed his parents some years back. Unidentified persons later also killed Dr Arif after the incident. The family had since been suspecting Dr Farooq to be behind the killing. Sources said that police detectives were also questioning employees of the clinic and showed optimism that the killers would be arrested soon.
Back in Mardan, mourners of Dr Farooq’s assassination struggled to wriggle out of the shock. The late VC’s sons, Usama and Waqas, lodged the first information report (FIR) with the area police against unknown killers. Relatives, friends, colleagues and even acquaintances made a beeline to VC’s house in Sector-D of Sheikh Maltoon Town to offer condolences to his family. The late VC was laid to rest on Saturday evening. His largely attended funeral showed that the murdered doctor was immensely popular in the area.
Apart from being a religious scholar, he was also a social worker. Born in Akbarabad, Naway Kallay, now named as Karnal Sher Kallay after the hero of the Kargil War, in Swabi district, Dr Farooq stood indebted for his education to his father Akbar Khan who was the headmaster of a school. While still a student, Farooq Khan first became a member of Islami Jamiat-i-Talaba and later an active worker of Jamaat-i-Islami.
Having studied at the Cadet Colleges in Kohat and Hassanabdal, he did his MBBS from the Khyber Medical College, Peshawar. Back in 1986, he moved from Swabi to Mardan to start his clinic along with wife, Dr Rizwana, who specialised as a gynaecologist. As far as his own area of interest was concerned, Dr Farooq did his specialisation in psychiatry from Austria. He rendered services as doctor in various government hospitals.

Apart from being a capable physician, he was duly equipped with religious education. Dr Farooq’s friends knew that he also tried his hands in politics. For instance, in 1993 he contested but lost election for the National Assembly seat from NA-9 Mardan constituency fought on the ticket of the Jamaat-i-Islami-led Pakistan Islamic Front.
For some time, he remained a member of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) thus holding an important position in the party. Later, he quit politics and focused on academic work, writing books and articles, lecturing in television’s religious programmes and attending social events organized by various NGOs. Back in July this year, he was appointed vice-chancellor of the newly established Islamic University in Swat. He planned to start regular classes at the makeshift campus in Mingora from October 14.
He wrote several books, most of these being in Urdu but a few of them also in English. His book titled ‘Islam kia hai?’ (What is Islam?) had 10 prints. The latest of his publications ‘Jihad and Qital’ was well-received among religious circles. He also wrote a ‘tafseer’ (interpretation) of the holy Quran and frequently delivered lectures against terrorism. Father of two sons and an equal number of daughters, Dr Farooq was an outspoken critic of militancy and suicide bombings which probably irked TTP and cost him his life. As the coincidence would have it, his widoiw Dr Rizwana happened to be in the United States of America visiting her younger daughter when Dr Farooq was shot dead.
Whether we like it or not, the odds appear to have been against education in our part of the world. If newspaper reports have been any indication, between 450 and 500 schools meant for girls in KP have either been destroyed or damaged over the last few years due to militancy and terrorism. Vice-chancellors of universities used to be highly respected people in society. Four names – Hameed Ahmad Khan in Lahore, Mohammad Ali in KP, Karrar Hussain in Quetta and Ahsan Rashid Siddiqui (son of writer Rashid Ahmad Siddiqui) in Karachi – have been icons of dignity and grace.
Some time back, Professor Mujahid Kamran, VC Punjab University, appeared on television with bandages all over the body. He alleged that he had been manhandled by activists of a students’ organisation linked to a religious party. Chief of that organisation, present on the television show, was hesitant in offering any apologies. He defended the action taken by students and accused the VC of ignoring his party’s recommendations to expel and induct teachers of his choice.
In Hazara University, Professor Ehsan Ali is said to have fallen victim to the intrigues and machinations of a section of the non-teaching staff. He later switched over to the newly opened Abdul Wali Khan University, where he is feeling much better. It is high time that we offered collective prayers for the higher seats of learning.

Monday, 9 October 2017

QK Archives: Whispering images of Peshawar

Whispering images Of Peshawar By Ahmed Sher Ranjha
Published by DAWN 1998

For a person from North-Western Pakistan to wander
through the history and landscape of Gandhara is like
passing through the vista of his own psyche. Like the
cumulated archeological layers of mounds such as Gorkhatri
in Peshawar, layers upon layers of new cultural
accumulations mix with previous ones.

The feeling of being somewhere which was more than
myself had begun the moment I crossed into the alluring
vale of Peshawar across the Attock bridge and stood
for a while on the high banks of the Indus to behold the
mighty scene around me. This was the fabled land of
Gandhara where contrasting cultures had mixed the way the
jade green waters of the Indus and the muddy stream
of the violent Lundai (River Kabul) were blending happily
together on my right. I found the lush bread basket
of Chhach Plain, rolling seductively towards Taxila across the
Indus, tempting enough to whet immediately the hungry
appetite of any invader, from the Greeks to the Mughals,
for a quick cross over and plunder.

Peshawar has been the great junction point where
racial, cultural and artistic currents from the ancient lands of
Persia, China, India and Central Asia met and
synthesized. By the time the little Kushans came and established
their rule in Gandhara, the land had already absorbed
the contrasting flavours of the Vedic, Persian, Buddhist and
the Hellenic. But the great King Kanishka and his
Kushans came and established their winter capital at Peshawar
(their beloved Purushapura). The old capital of
Pushkalavati (Charsadda) belonging to the ancient Vedic and
Achaemenian king was discarded. The Kushans were
staunch Mahayana Buddhists so the new city established
between the rich and well-watered plain of the River
Budni (a branch of River Kabul) and Bara became the hub of
their colourful religious and economic activity.

The city was pampered with prosperity and artistic
splendour. Graced with the finest stupas and monasteries, it
housed the choicest relics of Buddhist reverence. The
serene Buddhist currents rippled softly from Gorkhatri to
Sirsukh (Taxila) and onwards to India and China. But
the tranquil slumber of many peaceful centuries was bound
to end one day. Like some sudden, terrible
thunderclap, hordes of white Huns descended from 'Azghaib'. Now the
city was to pay for its prosperity and meditative
non-violence. Peshawar was plundered and quickly drenched in
blood. The splendour of Gorkhatri was levelled and
buried silently in its earthen womb. But the Huns had hardly
consolidated themselves when Sassanian/Turk forces
from Central Asia and the new rising star of the Kashatryia
force from the Ganges broke into Gandhara. The glory
of Peshawar from here on was to give place to Waihind, the
ancient Udbhandapura, or the new city of the Hund on
the right bank of the Indus which the new Hindu Shahia
kings, on a strategic retreat from Kabul valley
towards east, had chosen as their new capital. Then the Afghans,
the Mughals, the Sikhs and the British followed,
leaving their marks on the soul of the city.

Thinking of all this, I decided to head straight for
Gorkhatri where everything from Kanishka to Avitabile to the
British was condensed and which was the soul of

I got up early in the morning not to miss my
breakfast of roghni kulcha fresh from the oven in the winding alleys
leading towards Gorkhatri. And soon I was out on the
road. I had decided to foot the distance for intimate detail
and flavour. I entered the walled city via the Kabuli
Gate. The citadel high grounds of the imperial Bala Hissar fort
lay on my left.

The magic world of interwoven streets and murky
catacombs of ancient passage-ways where history lives and
speaks from the wooden balconies and lofty havelis
was here. The famous Kissa Khawani Bazaar thoroughly
disappointed me. Cruelly criss-crossed by a network
of loosely hanging electric wires, this famous bazaar of the
story-tellers only had the painful story of
commercialism to tell. I turned into a bylane to quickly visit Peepal
Mandi to be under the spiritual shade of the great
peepal of the Buddhas. These was a pungent smell of spices
hard-and-soft Pukhto-Hindko hubub and two peepal
trees. I forgot about the little one and zeroed on to the bigger
one. By all accounts this must be the sacred tree of
the Jataka Buddhas. But where was its trunk, I wondered.
Nowhere. Only the rich green canopy of peepal leaves
and branches over the market place and no trunk. And then
I caught on. The crafty shopkeepers had stolen the
smallest possible space around the sacred tree trunk into the
hungry tummy of their shops. As a result the trunk
had simply disappeared in the congested beehive of the
cap-sellers' shops. So much for the Jataka Buddhas
and their sacred tree.

I then turned towards the famous clock tower to reach
Gorkhatri via the old Bazar-i-Kalan. Preserved in the ancient
glow of richly wood-carved balconies, arched
doorways, multi-storied havelis, the Bazar-i-Kalan impressed me. A
pleasant climb towards the mound of Gorkhatri, and I
was face to face with the mighty gateway of the place. The
hungry Sikhs in the habit of snatching even the
lowliest decoration of an old building must have defaced the rich
archeological beauty of Gorkhatri obliterating almost
all vital marks of history, I thought as I entered the massive
archway which opened into the extensive,
square-shaped enclosure of Gorkhatri. Both sides of the gateway
showed tell-tale signs of a prison which must have
been the brainchild of Ranjit Singh's Italian general who had
administered Peshawar. The narrow iron-barred prison
cells were full of a damp darkness.

This end of Gorkhatri housed the area's police
station. Many off-duty constables were roaming about leisurely in
'mufti'. I looked around me and thought I had entered
some bustling old caravan-serai. Shady trees, an inviting
temple, a wide open space in the middle with rows of
rest rooms. The history of the place smiled painfully through
the confusing chaos of its upkeep. The place visited
by meditating sadhus, chanting pilgrims, and monks with
shaven heads carries many centuries of history. Its
fortunes went into eclipse during the confused withdrawal of
the Shahias from Peshawar to Hund and from there to
Nundna and the far away obscurity of India. Thereafter in
the politico-military vacuum war-like races from the
west like the Yousafzais, Khalils, Daud Zais and Mohmands,
etc., came and settled in the valley to permanently
dye it in their own colour. The Mughals developed a fine liking
for Gorkhatri. Babar, Akbar and Jehangir never forgot
to mention the goodness of this place. Shah Jehan's gifted
daughter Jehanara Begum built a communal hamam, a
serai and a mosque here. This mosque of Jehanara was later
destroyed and replaced with the temple of Gorkhnath
by the Sikhs.

Moss covered, forlorn, and decaying under the shadows
of the old peepals, the temple in Gorkhatri is occupied by
bats and relaxing police constables. Its noble,
artistically arched, short corridor connecting it to the little "temple
Nandi" is decrepit. The famous "patra" or the bowl of
Buddha must have been placed somewhere here under the
unkempt peepal trees. I walked quietly in the
painfully chipped dusty corridor of the temple and felt terribly alone.
peeped into the ancient well. Its entire depth was
reeking of layers of collected filth. So much for the "heavenly
waters" of the famous well of Gorkhatri. I turned
round to have a look inside the dark cell- like rows of rooms
bordering the ancient enclosure. Police constables,
the happy masters of these rooms were found chatting,
cooking, relaxing, and chopping tomatoes.

I moved on and suddenly stumbled upon a hidden
treasure. I had chanced upon the elegant footmarks of our
erstwhile British masters so dutifully preserved in
this faithful repository of the history of Peshawar. Here in the
rooms on the eastern edge of the enclosure was the
"Fire Brigade Municipal Committee, Peshawar", established
somewhere in the opening decades of the 20th century.
But the most prized treasure here were the gracefully
sparking, vintage, fire-fighting vehicles of the
Merryweather Company, London. Well preserved under the expert
care of mechanic Shahzafar, these are two classic
vehicles, with sparkling heavy brass work and fitted with still
workable fire fighting equipment. The vehicles stood
gracefully on thin Dunlop tyres mounted on solid, heavy
spiked wheels. Shahzafar said the vehicles were of
1919 models. Four cylindered with eight plugs. How come? I
asked "The maker kept four plugs in reserve to be
activated when the original set of four failed at some crucial,
unforeseen moment." I took my position behind the
steering wheel of one of the vehicles. To my surprise, the
steering was fitted with an easy to handle adjustable
accelerator and a timing control knob. In other words speed
plus engine control were kept at the finger-tips of
the driver for quick response during a fire.

From soft Buddhist chants of antiquity to the
powerful thrust of an internal combustion engine, Gorkhatri is a
faithful treasury of the assets forming the soul of
Peshawar. A prism where all the strange colours of the
north-western psyche could easily be discerned by a
seeing eye. A place full of dreams, whispering mirages and
educative reverie. But the neglect and utter
ruination of the place today signifies that there is hardly any eye left

which can really see or dream. We can only pity

Monday, 2 October 2017

Babur & Bibi Mubarakan "The Romantic"

The romantic

By Dr Raheal Ahmed Siddiqui

The monotone Indian history taught in our colleges and universities does not do justice to the real character of Babur.
Babar Nama, Babar's autobiography is an interesting in-depth reflection of an age of chivalry and bravery. Babur stood apart from all his contemporaries, and one wonders how much of Babur's unusual autobiography can really be believed. One answer is that he set down the facts as he remembered them -- and he had a remarkable memory.
Babur was more than just a conqueror. Not many people know that he was also the greatest naturalist of his time. His memoirs give descriptions of flora and fauna in great detail, perhaps even better than Audubon. Sadly this aspect of his character is never highlighted, and history students think of him only as the founder of Mughal dynasty in India.
Babur penned down vivid descriptions of flowers and fruits of Indian subcontinent. At that time oranges were grown in Bajaur: "about as large as a quince, very juicy and more acid than other oranges". At present oranges are not grown in Bajaur. Babur also noted, "all wine and fruit had in Bajaur comes from adjacent parts of Kafristan."
Babur was also somewhat of an anthropologist, taking interest in customs and lifestyles of people. In Bajaur he noticed a strange custom: "one seeming impossible, but told to us again and again. All through the hill country in Kunar, Nurgal, Bajaur, Swad (Swat) and thereabouts, it is commonly said that when a women dies and has been laid on a bier, she, if she has not been an ill-doer, gives the bearers such a shake when they lift the bier by its four sides, that against their will and hindrance, her corpse falls to the ground; but if she had done ill, no movement occurs. Hyder Ali Bajauri -- a Sultan who governed Bajaur well -- when his mother died, did not weep, or betake himself to lamentation, or put on black, but said, 'Go! Lay her on the bier! If she move not, I will have her burned.' They laid her on the bier; the desired movement followed; when he heard that this was so, he put on black and betook himself to lamentation."
On 21st January 1519 AD Babur marched from Bajaur towards "Swad (presently Malakand and Swat area) with the intention of attacking the Yousefzai Afghans." But by February 8th after some consultation with his advisors, the idea of attacking Yousefzais was given up. The reason quoted by Babur was simple. As it was not the harvest season, food supplies were running low and the raid would not be fruitful. So the Yousefzais were spared the traditional pillage and plunder of the Mughal hordes.
Two different incidents which happened during those 18 days also played a significant role in saving the Yousefzais. First the departure from Bajaur was delayed by a day, when Babur ate a portion of a sweetmeat offered to him by Malik Shah Mansur, the Yousefzai envoy in his court. It intoxicated him to an extent that Babur was not able to offer his evening prayers. The second was Babur's unusual marriage with Bibi Mubaraka. Babur noted in his memoirs: "In order to conciliate the Yousefzai horde, I had asked for the hand of a daughter of one of my well wishers, Malik Shah Mansur. While we were on this ground, news came that his daughter was on her way with the Yousefzai tribute." The next day, Taus Khan, the younger brother of Shah Mansur, brought the girl to Babur's camps
Mirza Mashood, a friend of mine who has done LLM in International Human Rights Law, terms this act as swara, a Pukhtoon custom akin to vani. Mashood believes that Babur's nuptial knot with Bibi Mubaraka was a marriage of convenience, and while brokering a peace deal with invading Mughals, the subdued Yousefzais surrendered a daughter of one of their chieftains.
The Yousefzais had an epic tale of their own regarding the marriage of Babur with Bibi Mubarika. This romantic Afghan legend begins with "Babur as the ruler of Kabul, professing friendship with Yousefzais, a powerful Afghan tribe. But his mind was poisoned by Dilazaks, sworn enemies of Yousefzai. Therefore Babur resolved to put to death Malik Ahmad, their chieftain, when he came to visit Kabul on Babur's invitation. But the Dilazaks warned Babur -- so says the legend of the Yousefzai -- to put Malik Ahmad to death at once, because he was so clever that, given a chance to speak, he would wring pardon from the Padshah.
On his arrival in Kabul, Ahmad immediately learned that Babur's real objective was to put him to death. Next morning, when Malik Ahmad was presented before Babur in court, he quickly unbuttoned his jerkin (surcoat). Twice Babur asked him why he did that. The third time Malik answered, saying that it had come to his ears that Babur intends to shoot him down with a bow. Therefore, said the Malik, in such a great assemblage where so many eyes were watching the Padshah, he didn't want Babur to miss his mark. Babur was pleased with his reply and began to question Malik Ahmad:
Asked he, "what sort of man is Behlol Lodhi?"
"A giver of horses," said Ahmad.
"And of what sort his son Sikandar?"
"A giver of robes"
"And what sort is Babur?"
"He," said Ahmad, "is a giver of heads".
"Then" rejoined Babur, "I give you yours."
Ahmad returned to his tribe but declined a second invitation to Kabul.
The legend continues that Babur came into their country with a large army. He devastated their lands but could make no impression on the fort. In order to spy out the strength of the fort, Babur, disguised as a qalander, went up to Mahura Hill where the fort was. Disguised as he was, Babur slipped inside the courtyard. Bibi Mubarka saw the "qalander". She sent a servant with meat folded between bread to Babur. He asked who sent it. The servant said it was Bibi Mubaraka, the daughter of Shah Mansur, who was sitting in front of the tent. Babur became entranced with her beauty and enquired from a women servant about her age and whether she was betrothed. Extracting the truth, Babur left and on the way back he hid the meat roll between two stones behind the house.
When he retuned to his camp he was much perplexed what to do next. He was ashamed of going back to Kabul without capturing the fort; moreover he had fallen in love with Bibi Mubaraka. So he wrote a friendly letter to Malik Ahmad asking for the daughter of Shah Mansur. Great objections were made and they even said that the Yousefzai chiefs have no daughter to give. Babur replied with a "beautiful royal letter", told of his visit to Shah Mansur's house in disguise, of his seeing Bibi Mubaraka, and as token of the truth of his story, asked them to search for the food he had hidden between stones behind the house. They searched and found it. Still Ahmad and Mansur were unwilling, but the tribal Jirga urged them to concede to the demands of Babur. The Maliks then said that it should be done "for the good of the tribe." The bride was escorted to the royal camp."
This legend was translated from Pushto into English by Annette Beveridge's husband and was first published in the Asian Quarterly Review of April 1901. The Yousefzai narrators had highlighted themselves as a powerful tribe which successfully defended their fort, saved Babur from embarrassment by making peace in which he surrendered his sword, and their chieftain Malik Ahmad deceived the Mughals with his wisdom. Babur became enamored with the beautiful Yousefzai girl in the normal course of life. But history judges them differently. The legend was an afterthought of the Yousefzais who tried to cover up their embarrassment of tame submission to the Mughals instead of putting up a gallant fight as envisaged in tribal traditions. According to Harold Lamp: "the Yousefzai Afghans have concocted their own fable of his advent. They have added a love interest to the tale, and coloured it with anecdotes that make a conscientious historian shudder. Yet it preserves a portrait of Babur drawn from tribal memory."
Like other details, the return journey of Babur as narrated in this legend does not coincide with historical facts. Leaving Shah Mansur's daughter in Bajaur, Babur crossed River Swat and rode towards "Maqam" (present Mardan). On 16th February 1519, he had crossed River Indus for the first time and was heading towards Bhera. Though the first battle of Panipat was fought in 1526, yet a strange incident at Bhera decided the fate of Delhi.
Gulbadan, Babur's daughter, fondly writes about the Bega Begum or Afghani Aghacha and mentions Humayun's displeasure with Kamran for not giving due respect to her. Some truth may have remained hidden in this Afghan legend of Babur and the mountain princes. Among the royal women of Kabul, Bibi Mubaraka remained somewhat apart, being younger and of tribal rather than royal Mughal descent. She lived an honoured life and died childless in Akbar's reign. Her brother Mir Jamal rose to honour under Babur, Humayun and Akbar's reigns.
Babur's memoirs do not mention the beautiful Bibi Mubaraka any further, but his epilogue remains incomplete without her.
When Babur died in December 1530 AD he was temporarily buried in Agra. But in accordance with Babur's will, his body was to be conveyed to Kabul and to be laid in a garden of his choice. Babur's body was exhumed from Agra and was taken to Kabul in 1544 accordance to his wishes.
Sher Shah Suri, true to his generous character provided escort for the Padshah, the Tiger of Fergana. The widow who performed the duty of accompanying his body from Agra was an Afghan lady. Her name was Bibi Mubaraka. (Gulbadan's narrative).