Hyderabad, April 13 (IANS) Vice-President M. Hamid Ansari on Thursday said Hyderabad’s founder Sultan Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah was a secular ruler.
Delivering the first Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah lecture at Moulana Azad National Urdu University here, he said though Qutb-shahis were of Iranian origin, their approach to governance was pragmatic and secular.
He quoted historian Haroon Khan Sherwani that during the reign of Ibrahim, father of Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah, “very little differentiation was made between the Hindus and the Muslims so far as the affairs of the state were concerned”.
“This was also the case in Mohammad Quli Qutb Shah’s period when ‘a characteristic of the epoch was a spirit of camaraderie which existed between the Hindu and the Muslim sections of the population’ and ‘the whole policy of the government seems to have been that of equality of opportunity for both the Hindus and the Muslims for practically all the officers of the state,” Ansari quoted the historian.
“His court represented the culture of the Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and while he seems prejudiced in his enunciation of the inferiority of the non-Shiah sects of the Muslims he is culturally at one with the Hindus and the Parsis as well as the man in the street so far as his appreciation of their way of life is concerned.”
He noted that for Shah, Telugu was ‘like a mother tongue’ and he used Telugu words in his Dakhni-Urdu poems, offered patronage to its literary personages and whose Firmaans and official announcements were bilingual.
The Sultan thus made ‘a deliberate attempt to synthesize cultures in the Deccan imbibing in the people of Hyderabad a relish of tolerance, love of spectacle, and mildness of nature.
It is not altogether accidental that one of his successors became a patron of the Kuchipudi dance form.
Shah occupies a place in our history and his personality and contributions are studied with much benefit by any one interested in the evolution of architecture, language and culture, the Vice President said.
He noted that Shah was the founder of Hyderabad designed to be ‘a replica of the paradise itself’.
An early 17th century English traveller praised it ‘for its sweetness of air, convenience of water and fertility of soil’ and ranked it higher than any in the realm of the Moghul emperor or other princes.
Dakhni-Urdu has its own pedigree and was the court language of Bijapur and Golkonda kingdoms.
A contemporary of Tulsidas, Mirabai and Surdas, his poetry is bound to earth and revels in the universality of love and mystic experiences.
It ‘is intensely Indian and secular in its moods’. The seventeenth century historian Mohammad Qasim Ferishta depicted his temperament as ‘forgiving and gentle’.
Work on the construction of Hyderabad commenced in 1590-91.
Hyderabadis like ancient Athenians, look upon their city and fall in love with it. Much has been written about its charms.
It is important to consider the context of the times and the place in history of the Qutbshahi dynasty that lasted a mere 164 years – from 1523 to 1687, when its last incumbent, Abul Hasan, surrendered to a Moghul general.
In this short span, it witnessed a blossoming of architecture, poetry, music, art, dance and cuisine and became a byword for culture apart from being a vibrant centre of international trade.
Shah’s policy of peace and diplomacy ‘had warded off Moghul political influence as much as lay in his power’ and his passing away on January 31, 1626, after a rule of 31 years, left the door open for Emperor Shah Jahan to pursue his program of subjugating the Deccan kingdoms.
Ansari said contemporary Hyderabad crafted with skill and success a place for itself in the new world of the 21st century.
“One can only hope that its inherited tradition of tolerance, co-existence, inclusiveness and cultural effervescence would continue to signal its uniqueness and remain an example for the country,” he added.