Today, the term ‘Victorian’ has come to mean all things conventional and restrained, heavy with solemnity, even hypocritical and self-consciously materialistic at times. The ‘lead’ for such social attitudes supposedly emanated from the example of Queen Victoria (r: 1837-1901) and her family.
When the young Victoria married her distant cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, a small German principality (See Appendix), she married for love (1). To the 20-year old Queen, Albert was an incredibly handsome, dashing and charming beau, rather “incomparable”, for whom she felt a deep physical and emotional attraction, which she expressed quite frankly in some of her family letters (2). Her standards of marital idealism and of male beauty were very high indeed but Albert “fulfilled” all her “hopes” and charmed her to distraction with, “his beautiful blue eyes, an exquisite nose & such a pretty mouth with delicate mustachios & slight, but very slight whiskers” (3).
Omer Tarin (Muse India, Delhi, India, No 73, 2017)
The Sufi poetry of Hazrat Syed Meher Ali Shah, Chishti-Nizami, the Saint of Golra: A brief overview
Pakistan is the land of the Indus River, ‘Sindhu’ or ‘Abasyin’, and as this great river flows from North to South, down to the sea, it runs the length of this entire country. The Indus has seen the growth of many ancient civilizations along its banks and those of its main tributary rivers- the Indus Valley civilization, the Gandhara civilization, and so on—and the land, the long basin or valley of the Indus, has long remained one of the world’s major spiritual-mystical centers (Quraeshi, The Introduction, pp 21-22, 27 and 29). It has nurtured the ancient Hindu Vedantic practice, the Greater Path of Buddhism and Sufi Islam.
A writer once said that, ‘’In every age there are the Wise Ones, the Great Sages and Saints, who shine like beacons of light in the darkness around them’’. This description fits the life of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (RA) exactly. He was undoubtedly one of these saints and beacons of light , a source of wisdom for all of medieval India and for the rest of the world, too, thereafter. One of the great luminaries of the Chishti Sufi Order, he was also the founder of the branch of that order that is today known as the Chishti-Nizami. His predecessors were Khwaja Fariduddin Ganjshakar, Khwaja Qutbuddin Bakhtyar Kaki and Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Ajmeri. In that reverse sequence, they constitute the initial spiritual chain or ‘silsila’ of the Chishti order in the Indian subcontinent.
St. Luke’s Church1 and the Old Christian Cemetery (OCC), Abbottabad2, in the Hazara region of the NWFP3, Pakistan, holds special interests for historians of the British colonial period; especially because of the military-historical connections of Abbottabad’s old cantonment to the British Indian Army of yore, the predecessor of the present Pakistani and Indian armies.
In Abbotabad’s Old Christian Cemetery (established around the same time the town was, c. 1853), there are many old and fascinating graves of European people dating from between the 1850s to the 1940s—each grave telling a story, or in some cases, linked to broader historical contexts of the British colonial period. While many of these graves have either some inscription/s identifying them, or some sort of record in the old registers at nearby St. Luke’s Church, there is one very interesting monument that has remained unidentified for a very long time, until only a short while ago.