Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan

Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan.

February 10 marks Sadequain’s 23rd death anniversary. Sadequain Foundation estimates he painted close to 15,000 paintings, murals, calligraphies and drawings. Most of his work was gifted to institutions, individuals, acquaintances, and total strangers. Sadequain, at the time of his death was painting the stupendous ceiling mural at the Frere Hall, which though left incomplete, nonetheless, adorns the ceiling of the historic building.

Sadequain is arguably responsible for the renaissance of Islamic calligraphy in Pakistan. A review of the history of calligraphic art in the country during the decades of the 1950s and ’60s reveals that there was minimal activity in this genre of art form. Syed Amjad Ali wrote in his book, Painters of Pakistan, that after Sadequain’s first exhibition of calligraphies in December 1968, “For next fifteen years or sixteen years, a veritable Niagara of painterly calligraphy flowed from his pen and brush. He initiated painterly calligraphy and set the vogue for it in Pakistan.”

Calligraphy by Sadequain “Kalma-e-Tayeba”

Calligraphic art had enjoyed a revered status in the subcontinent, reaching its pinnacle during the glorious days of the Mughal Empire. But after the downfall of the empire, calligraphic art fell so far out of favour that in post-partition Pakistan, it was considered to be a mere vocational skill and not a serious genre of creative art. Searching for a new form of expression, Sadequain commemorated Ghalib’s anniversary by illustrating his poetry in 1968. To enhance the paintings, he inscribed Ghalib’s verses in Urdu to append the paintings, and that experiment later led to more calligraphic inscriptions in the Arabic language.

Calligraphies by Sadequain: Illustration of “Sura-e-Rehman”

In a manner similar to his figurative paintings, Sadequain followed the same principles in his calligraphic art. His calligraphies represent the most radical departure from the established norms for hundreds of years. The centuries-old guarded traditions, watchful eyes of the religious police, or pitfalls of the uncharted waters did not deter him from going where few had ventured before him. He invented his own iconography and produced a dizzying array of calligraphic marvels at such large scales that had not been witnessed in recent history. His art became the most effective ambassador for the country and his impact was so profound, that on a number of occasions, Pakistan was represented in international forums only by Sadequain’s masterpieces.

Special mention must be made of some of Sadequain’s major works, which are spread over Pakistan, India, and the Middle East. He inscribed four versions of complete sets of the beautiful Verse, Sura-e-Rehman; the first two versions of the Verse, which consisted of 31 panels, have been preserved, one at Staff College Lahore and one with a private collector. Another version, consisting of 40 panels was painted on transparent cellophane. The fourth version of the Verse was painted on marble slabs, which Sadequain gifted to the citizens of Karachi in a ceremony held on the lawns of the Frere Hall in 1986. The intent was to place the complete set of 40 marble slabs on permanent display at the Gallery Sadequain of Frere Hall. But soon after Sadequain passed away, all forty panels disappeared from the premises, leaving no trace behind.

Paintings on display at the Mohatta Palace Museum

“Saga of Labor” Portion of the Mural at Mangla Dam – largest mural in Pakistan 200 ft x 70 ft

During the early 1970s, Sadequain completed several large calligraphies for the historic Lahore Museum, and gifted them to the citizens of Lahore. Eight of these large calligraphic panels, each measuring approximately 20 x 20 feet, are on display in the Islamic Gallery of the museum. He also inscribed Sura-e-Yaseen on to a wooden panel measuring 260 feet long and gifted it to the Islamic Gallery of the Lahore Museum. A large calligraphic mural adorns the power station at Abu Dhabi, which Sadequain completed in 1980.

During his stay in India, end of 1981 through 1982, Sadequain painted several large calligraphic paintings and murals. One of the most significant calligraphic works was the rendition of the 99 panels of Asma-e-Husna (the beautiful names of God) that he inscribed on the circular wall of the rotunda, which towers an imposing five stories high in the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies at Delhi. This rendition of 99 panels is one of the three complete sets he finished in his life. In addition to the calligraphic work at the Indian Institute of Islamic Studies at Delhi, Sadequain painted or sculpted calligraphic works at Aligarh Muslim University, Ghalib Academy, Jamia Millia, and the tomb of Tipu Sultan. In his customary practice, Sadequain gifted all this work to the Indian authorities. In addition to painting the murals and calligraphies in India, he exhibited his works at Delhi, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Aligarh, Banaras, and several other cities.(Edited excerpts from the book ‘The legend of Sadequain’ by Sadequain Foundation)

THOUGHTS ABOUT SADEQUAIN’S CALLIGRAPHY

Annemarie Schimmel

“One of the most exciting experiences of an orientalist is the discovery of mutual relations between various aspects of Islamic culture. The study of the visual arts in Islam excellently complements that of poetry, and poetry can often help to elucidate particular aspects of miniature painting and, even more, of calligraphy. For Islam, the first religion to distinguish between those who were blessed by a Divine Scripture and those who were not, has always largely dwelt upon the importance of the written word. A contemporary historian of medieval philosophy at Harvard has even coined the term “inliberation” God, God’s becoming manifest through a book for Islam, denote the theological concept corresponding to the Christian “incarnation”, God being manifest in a human being.


It is therefore small wonder that the imagery of letters and writing plays such an immense role in the history of Islamic poetry. Beginning with the early Sufis of the 8th and 9th centuries who realized in the letter “alif” the perfect symbol of God’s unity and unicity, there is barely a poet in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian not to mention those writing in Urdu, Sindhi, Punjabi, and Pushto, and even in the vernaculars of Islamic Africa, who has not dwelt upon the imagery of letters, for here he could be sure that his allusions were under-stood by everyone in the Islamic world, including the illiterate at the least sensed the deep meaning of letters, and knew of their mysterious powers.”

Click here to know more about Sadequain

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

After recruiting sex workers, Indian Army plans ban on mobiles’ use by soldiers

Ajay Mehta & Christina Palmer
The Daily Mail

Indian Army deployed around 200 prostitutes under the cover of Border Security Force’s constables in the Indian occupied Kashmir along with the Line of Control

NEW DELHI—As if the drive to recruiter sex workers to reduce stress and frustration level of the troops, deployed in Occupied Kashmir, was not enough, the Indian Army leadership has now decided to ban the use of mobile phones by troops to minimize their stress level, reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.


These findings indicate that senior medical officers of the Indian armed forces believe that just engaging the sex workers under the grab of female soldiers was not enough to rid the soldiers of frustration and mental stress but the use of mobile phone by troops was also a permanent source of stress and strain for the soldiers, deployed in the occupied valley.

“The problem is not the stress in the encounter, the problem is the cell phone and that should be banned,’’ said Lt-General Dipankar Ganguly, speaking on the occasion of the 246th anniversary of the Army Medical Corps here yesterday.

The top General said that cell phones allowed the soldiers to maintain regular contact with their families and get updated on their problems, which led to higher levels of stress among them.

Armed Forces Medical Services Director General Lt-Gen N K Parmar, in his observation, said that the armed forces had taken a number of steps to tackle stress-related issues among the troops. “A confidential move was made in September last by the Army High Command to minimize the level of mental stress and frustration of the soldiers posted in Kashmir,” said General N.K Parmar, referring to the move made under the recommendations of General Raj Kumar Committee, constituted by Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.

But, as reported earlier, armed forces continue to grapple with stress-related deaths in the shape of suicide and `fragging’ (to kill a fellow soldiers) cases. In 2008, for instance, there were 151 suicide and four `fragging’ cases in the three Services.

While prolonged deployment in operations in Indian occupied part of J&K and North-East are exacting a heavy toll on the physical endurance and mental health of soldiers, they also undergo tremendous stress for not being able to take care of the problems facing their families back home. The problems could range from property disputes and harassment by anti-social elements to financial and marital problems.

Soldiers, of course, also have to grapple with paltry salaries, lack of basic amenities, ineffectual leadership, humiliation at the hands of their officers, and the constant fear of being accused of human rights violations.

It is worth mentioning here that earlier last year, in another bid to relieve the soldiers of the mental stress and sexual frustration, the Indian Army deployed around 200 prostitutes under the cover of Border Security Force’s constables in the Indian occupied Kashmir along with the Line of Control in September 2009. The decision of recruiting prostitutes for deployment in the held valley was taken in around February 2009 and Indian Army Chief General Kapoor finally approved it. This decision was taken as result of discussions and consultancies regarding the alarmingly increasing incidents of suicides and killing colleagues by soldiers of Indian army that are deployed in the Indian Occupied Kashmir to fight insurgency.

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the factor of suicides and random shoot outs on colleagues by Indian soldiers in the held valley had become a big dilemma for the Indian army top brass. When this exercise gained momentum earlier this year, the army leadership approached different consultants and analysts. The consultants and analysts reached to the conclusion that Indian soldiers, deployed in the valley were committing suicides and killing colleagues out of acute frustration and depression. Medical and psychological consultants and analysts were of the view that since majority of the soldiers, deployed in the valley were married and were away from their wives for very long time, they were gripped by sexual frustrations which ultimately transformed into mental frustration.

These consultants suggested that the soldier posted in the valley should be sent on leaves to be with their wives once a month. This came as another dilemma for the Indian Army’s top brass as it was not possible at all to send such huge number of soldiers on leaves with regular intervals. The Daily Mail’s investigations further reveal that upon this a Major General was sent to Moscow to get some solution to the problems as Russians have been having some sort of similar problems around 2 decades back. This General, identified as General Kumar, returned with a very strange solution. The Russian consultants told the Indian army that the since the soldiers in the valley were women starving, they should be provided with women to meet their genuine and natural needs.

The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that at this stage, the Indian Army Chief constituted a committee under the command of Lt.General. Raj Kumar Karwal who currently posted as Director General of a training facility of the Indian army while Major General. Sanjeev Loomba, Brigadier. Anil Sharma, Colonel. N K Khunduri and Colonel.

Sanjay Rai were members of the committee. The committee finally came up with the solution that since it was not possible to provide street whores directly to the soldier thus professional prostitutes should be recruited with title of sex workers and than they should be given basic military training and should be posted in Kashmir sector as soldiers so that the male soldiers can establish relations with them. It was also decided that the recruitment should not be made publicly but RAW’s help should be sought as RAW was having a huge network of prostitutes in different cities of India. The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that RAW completed the assignment successfully and provided a batch of some 300, semi educated prostitutes to the General Raj Kumar committee after proper medical checkup of every individual. The committee then approached the Army Chief and it was decided that these new recruit should not be made part of mainstream army but should be adjusted in Border Security Force (BSF) and from there their services would be made available for Northern Command. The project was completed by the end of August when the new recruited batch of 300 completed a basic military training and Army Chief was informed that recruits were ready for deployment in the valley.

When contacted by The Daily Mail, Inspector General of BSF Himmat Singh confirmed that a batch of 178 female soldiers was sent to Northern Command where they were deployed along with Indo-Pak border to check the border violations by women, working in the field. Mr. Singh further stated that these women were not fully trained for operational military duties however in the next phase, after further training, they would be given the duties of operational Border security. Mr. Singh refused to admit that these female soldiers were actually prostitutes and were dispatched to the valley as undercover sex workers.


Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

%d bloggers like this: