*This post was updated on March 27th, 2019.
Hi guys! And a happy Monday to you all! There is such a chill in the air that I can’t help but reach for the fireplace ignition & a steaming cup of hot tea while listening to a gentle holiday playlist on YouTube. But, that’s what is beautiful about the winter season in the USA – the bitter cold mixed with the warm goodness of Christmas.
I spent the past weekend in Walnut Creek & finally saw the second installation of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (See HERE), which got mixed reviews. The author with the pseudonym J.K.Rowling is actually “that” “favorite teacher” of mine & while all I did was encourage her to write the “Harry Potter” series because it is so layered, challenging & good, the “Fantastic Beast” series is where I remember playing a bigger role. You’d be surprised to know that J.K. Rowling actually wrote the “Fantastic Beast” series before the “Harry Potter” series (probably in the 1980s) because I remember editing her chapters & having deep conversations about the plot with her. & while many fans review the story’s plotline as having “holes”, the idea was to step away from “the wizarding world of Harry Potter” & into “the wizarding world of Newt Scamander”. The purpose for this prequel series was not to make them into a clean transition to Harry Potter’s era, but to show the progress the older generations of wizards made before Voldemort quietly killed Harry Potter’s parents. If you haven’t figured this out yet, you should know that J.K. Rowling has figuratively created an entire fictional civilization (yes, just like human civilizations living on planet Earth) & merged it with a real civilization. & while the universal themes of love, friendship, betrayal, war, anger, & evil, are present because well, no matter how powerful civilization is, life is never about utopianism, the overarching theme is globalization & the conflicts that arise from it. In conclusion, the “Fantastic Beasts” series does not try to establish the wizarding world again in the mind of us young mortals but show us that it like any other world is constantly evolving. There is a big life lesson in this.
Also since I will be covering characterization in the future, please consider these questions: What if all the characters of the Harry Potter series were from one character? What if these characters were strong enough to be individualized, but inherently aspects of one character? If you could choose that one important character, who would it be? I chose Voldemort =)
The History Of Mughal Empire & Nawabi Culture
Mughal Empire 1526 – 1857
Muslims have been in the sub-continent for a millennia, but it was the height of Mughal glamour & decorum that sealed their rule in the Indian sub-continent. While Wikipedia does a great job consolidating information sealed in the pages of thousands of history books (see HERE), there need to be some corrections, some tweaks, & some additions to the fairy-tale story of the Mughals.
Mughal King Akbar was probably the most beloved king of all times. He loved Prophet Muhammed PBUH & Islam so much that he made his life’s purpose to spread it. Like Prophet Muhammed PBUH he wanted to spread Islam to every corner of the world. So he planned, planned, & planned, & started his journies. But, as life would play out, what Prophet Muhammed PBUH set out to do with God’s religion, & created words Islam (meaning “from Ismael” & “submission”) & Muslim (Islam’s followers) in the process, Mughal King Akbar finished by creating a unified Muslim culture. That’s why the words “opulent”, “rich”, “natural”, “beautiful”, “pure” are used to describe all Muslim cultures. While the Middle East call their cultures “Arabic” or “Islamic”, the Indian Sub-continent is unique & call their cultural heritage “Mughal”, “Nawabi or Gangna-Jamni Tehzeeb” & “Shahi Truck Art Culture” signifying 3 different time periods Islam’s culture went through.
My Nawabi grandfather also told me that Mughal King Akbar had 3 brothers & he called one of them Ali. That’s right, Imam Ali. A lot of his followers were struck by this awesome belief, but in the end, it was his heart that created the purest “culture” of Islam, Sufism. While some Sufi’s say He made us Sufi. Others fight back and say We became Sufi’s for him.
Before modern democracy was established on paper in America, the world knew nothing of governments other than them being in conflict with The Church. While the Mughal Empire aka Muslim Rule was formally established in the Indian Sub-Continent through the work & rule of King Babur & King Humayun, news spread of a King Akbar that possessed the gifts of beauty, words, & heart. When travelers from the West came into the lands during Akbar’s time, they saw the rumors to be true, but they were turned off by one thing – excess. Worried, King Akbar started inviting these foreign travelers to his court (one of them was a close confidant of the Pope of the time) & asked for help. Coming to the same conclusion that the culture is “rich”, King Akbar enlisted the help of his third wife, a seer (someone who sees premonitions occasionally aka not a medium or psychic) who saw two premonitions relating to the number “3”. She advised him that the number “3” is very lucky for him & Muslims from the region. This wife who possessed great beauty, great intelligence, & a beautiful heart advised King Akbar to pick “3” of everything he loves & show “his significance of important consequences” through them. So he picked Sufi music, Sufi dance, & Persian architecture (but not Turkish architecture since it was not part of his lineage). He wanted to add Islam, but she said not to worry since Allah will always guide him if his heart is pure. The second premonition was that if he does this in the name of Allah, his lineage will continue until The Day Of Judgment & will consist of women who are either beautiful, intelligent or carry hearts of pure gold. Never together King Akbar wanted from Allah. & so the Mughal Empire expanded to the political zenith unlike any empire of all time (till the British Raj, of course).
Another misconception is the presence of Pagan Hindus during the Mughal time. This assumption is absolutely wrong. Muslims had been at war with Pagans & Zoroastrians in the Sub-Continent for centuries before the Mughal empire was even formally established. Zoroastrians are derived from different polytheist pagan groups to sun-worshipping groups & came from all over the world because of The Silk Road to China (See HERE). However, they resorted to pillaging. The concept of considering “Hinduism” as a religion was purely made under the British Rule by Queen Victoria & her “consorts” in the Sub-Continent. The labels Marathas, Rajputs, Pashtuns, the “Hindu” Jats, & Sikhs (Jewish converts to Islam and Christianity) were small Muslim sultanates present before & during the time of the Mughals. The Delhi Sultanate was the most powerful one thus, it was chosen to be the last location for the Mughal’s capital. Other powerful capitals during the Mughal reign were Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, & Lahore. Any issues between Muslim royalties were over “Islamic Principles of Sufism” not Islam, power, greed, or riches. Imagine that. All Mughal rulers in the Indian Sub-Continent have been Muslims. It has been recorded in Ain-i-Akbari (See HERE) & Dabistān-i Mazāhib (See HERE). And all that the Mughals cared about was spreading the beauty of Islam & acceptance of other empires such as the French & English.
Gangna-Jamni Tehzeeb 1739 – 1858
The Nawabi Culture or Gangna-Jamni Tehzeeb preserved in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur –based Bollywood (See HERE) covers this era extensively. The Nawabi Culture (See HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE) was very different from the Mughal Culture. The Nawabi Culture promoted fusion of subcultures of Muslims in the humongous Indian-Subcontinent (think of how I & Elon Musk started the Truck Art Culture in Pakistan), especially those who were rich landlords (See HERE). The two inspirational zeniths were Hyderabad & Delhi. This culture promoted Urdu poetry only (& food, although they would have disagreed) & borrowed the “rest” from the grandeur of the Mughal Culture of the time.
Also, note the hyphenated Mughal phrase Shahi (descendants of Mughal King Akbar) – Mughal (from King Akbar to describe King Baber) became synonymous for “fusion culture” in Nawabi Culture. Since Urdu poetry was written & spoken (not Farsi or Middle English, Mughal’s cultural & official languages) was loved & honored in Nawabi Culture, the Mughal king Akbar bestowed any Muslim culture the title, Shahi-Mughal signifying the unified love between Muslims during all times. The word Shahi also means “kingly” & refers to the arts & culture of the Gangna-Jamni or Nawabi Tehzeeb. The word Mughal describes anything “royal” & describes perfection in any structures started by Mughal King Akbar to teach & preserve Muslim arts (the tehzeeb – manners or way of life) started from his time & before.
The great Urdu & Farsi poet, Ghalib (See HERE) is an ancestor of mine & a descendant of Mughal kings. So is Umrao Jaan. While the latter is known as a courtesan by critics, she was, in fact, a woman of great beauty, intelligence, & charm. She was so famous that the phrase Umrao Jaan Ada (Umrao Jaan’s wit) was coined to describe extreme wit (I kind of ruined that legacy when I decided to name one of my literary devices, the “pun” as “Ghaliban” (like Ghalib) in Urdu. It was loved by Non-Urdu speakers, but I offended many aunties & uncles). Umrao Jaan’s name was borrowed in the great Muslim novel, Umrao Jaan Ada (See HERE) & the culture she & Ghalib made famous has been documented in the novel, Devdas. She was a great fan of Shakespeare & like him, never was formally educated in school, but was well-versed in Farsi & Khatak dance. Ghalib, a descendant of Mughal kings was enamored by her beauty & wit during a mushaira (a poetry gathering) & they later married. She is said to have green eyes (Green eyes (not blue & not hazel) run in my family, along with brown eyes).
All You Need To Know Of Religions Recognized In Pakistan Today
(Sikhs: Converts to Islam’s way of life or Christian way of life from Judaism. They are also referred to as Jains & Punjabis).
- Islam & Sufism (Kalash (see HERE) is the name of an indigenous group living in the northern parts of Pakistan. It is not a religion).
- Judaism: No Jews living in Pakistan today.
How Pakistan Muslims dealt with polytheism? By creating Bollywood in the 1930’s & Lollywood in the 1980s. Please do not associate Bollywood or Lollywood as promoting polytheism or any religion. These two industries were merely created to serve as means of earning for many & spread the “beauty of the Indian Sub-Continent”. They are by no means documenting culture, although, they work really hard brainwashing us then.
- Zoroastrians/Parsi/Alam (sun-worshippers): Split at the time of the Prophet of Islam PBUH from Polytheist Paganism.
- Hinduism & Buddhism Castes: Nida, Wahabis, Saif (Fatima & Saif marry each other, but, not Nida), Fatima, Bahai, Agha Khani, Ismaili, Ahmedi, Shia, Sunni. They are extremely racist, sexist & homophobic, and practice incest. They are also nomadic & travelers.
- Transgenderism Castes: Marathi, Khoje, Bushra, Meera, & Bhore
*Maybe in violations of YouTube’s copyright rules.
Mughal Culture: You will notice that Bollywood emphasized the grandeur of the era & power & force in archetypal legends. Markets item song (See HERE); songs with Mughal court scenes (See HERE); colorful festivals (See HERE) or songs about Mughal princesses (See HERE) were mega-hits. Check out famous blockbusters such as Mughal-E-Azam (See HERE) and Jodha Akbar (See HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE).
Nawabi Tehzeeb: You will notice that Lollywood & Bollywood emphasized literature and pivotal characters & themes of the tehzeeb. Check out folk songs like Dholi Taro Dhol Baaje (See HERE) and village scenes in Lagaan (See HERE & HERE) or movies like Umrao Jaan (See HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, & HERE); Devdas (See HERE & HERE); Umrao Jaan Ada (See HERE); Pakeezah (See HERE, & HERE, HERE) or HERE.
Shahi Truck Art Culture: You will notice that Lollywood & Bollywood emphasize themes that are modern & pertinent to today’s youth of Pakistan or India. Beginning Of The Internet Age (See HERE); Fevicol Se item song (See HERE); Dil Mera Muft Ka (See HERE); Halkat Jawani (See HERE); Daiya Daiya Daiya Re (See HERE); Yun Hi Chala Chal (See HERE); Barso Re (See HERE); or Tere Bin (See HERE).
And those who worked hard reading my blog post, please watch these Bollywood & Lollywood videos available on YouTube (See HERE), which are sartorial of the Mughal Culture, Nawabi Tehzeeb, & Shahi Jat or Dhamaal.