The Punjab Government seems to have shelved plans to build an Allama Mashriqi Museum and Library for unknown reasons. Over a decade ago, The Daily Times (June 09, 2004) reported that the Government of Punjab was moving forward on plans to build an Allama Mashriqi Museum and Library in Lahore. The Daily Times wrote at the time:
“The Punjab government plans to build a library-cum-museum in honour of Allama Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi. The museum will house his articles, artefacts, unpublished manuscripts and a 1942-model Renault-Benz Mercedes…The sources said the Punjab government wants to preserve the heritage of the late Allama Mashriqi to inform future generations about the genius of the man. The orders to build the museum reportedly come from top Punjab government officials, who met with the late Allama’s family…”
Further highlighting Mashriqi’s caliber, The Daily Times wrote, “British newspapers wrote about Allama Mashriqi in 1930 calling him ‘a genius of untold possibilities.’” The Daily Times referred to him as “the biggest mathematician in any nationality of the world.”
There seems to have been no action on the museum project since the time that the Daily News wrote about it over 10 years ago. The much-needed museum/library project would have served as a tremendous resource for academic researchers, journalists, students, and others seeking to learn about Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh’s history during the crucial pre-partition and post-partition era. The cancellation of the project is even more surprising considering that interest in Mashriqi – from his life story to his impact on the demise of colonial rule in the Indian sub-continent to his political, philosophical, and religious ideas – has grown in both the East and the West. Some examples of this growing interest include:
- A large number of people around the world – from academics to writers to the general public – visit social media and other web sites that provide information on him
- World-famous research libraries (including in Australia, Africa, Europe and North America) have added books or historic materials about Mashriqi and his Khaksar Tehrik to their collections
- Digital libraries have also added rare pieces about Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik to their collections
- International delegations (German and Turkish) have visited the Khaksar Tehrik headquarters to gather information about Mashriqi and his movement. Academics, journalists, students, and others also visit the movement’s headquarters.
- Prestigious publications have included information on Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik
It is important to remember that Mashriqi, his family, and followers made tremendous sacrifices for the freedom of the Indian-subcontinent. Mashriqi was imprisoned and tortured, stabbed and threatened, his movements were restricted, his property and bank accounts were confiscated, the Khaksar Tehrik and Al-Islah were banned, one of Mashriqi’s sons was killed during the struggle (while other sons were tortured), his daughter and wives received death threats, and his followers were jailed, prosecuted, and tortured. Yet Mashriqi refused to surrender or cooperate and did not relent until the sub-continent was freed from foreign rule in 1947. The contributions and sacrifices of Mashriqi and his movement played a crucial role in the sub-continent’s history.
Hopefully, the Government of Punjab will take immediate steps to establish an Allama Mashriqi museum and library. The Governments of Pakistan, India, and Britain should also declassify Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik’s materials. The materials that are available to libraries and other institutions today represent only a small subset of the Khaksar materials produced; the remaining materials are still inaccessible to these institutions and continue to rot in various archives in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and the United Kingdom. Even Mashriqi’s rare and historic Al-Islah weekly newspaper remains unavailable in top research libraries in the East and West (digital files are now available on the internet).
The Government must reinstate the Allama Mashriqi museum/library project to provide a balanced and accurate picture of the history of the sub-continent.