Muslim Town, Lahore

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Muslim Town
Country  Pakistan
Province Punjab
District Lahore

Muslim Town is a town in Lahore, Pakistan located on the bank of [Lahore Canal] and near Gulberg and Shah Jamal Localities. It was founded in 1915 - 30s, by Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain of Kotli Shah Saleem Kala Chechi (presently Tehsil Shakargarh and previously Gurdaspur, where this family was popularly known as Mehlan wale Syed because of their house which was popularly known as the Mahal in the vicinity). Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain (1878-1939) was the son of Syed Alim Shah, who left his village to get an education and rose to become minister of settlement in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in united India. Syed Alim Shah had three sons Syed Nadir Hussain, Syed Muhammad Hussain and Syed Ahmed Hussain and a daughter Syeda Ghulam Fatima. Dr. Hussain was a graduate of Lahore Medical School (predecessor of King Edward Medical University) and the Chief Chemical Examiner of Punjab. He was a renowned physician with a flourishing practice and was a great philanthropist.

In those days Model Town was an exclusive Hindu locality and Muslims could not buy plots in the society. In response to this prejudice Dr Muhammad Hussain bought agricultural land in the outskirts of Lahore on the canal Bank and hired professionals to plan a housing scheme, that was initially named as Islamabad. However, on the suggestion of his friend Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Dr. Hussain decided to rename the housing scheme as Muslim Town to emphasize its Muslim character in response to the exclusivity of Model Town as a Non Muslim locality in pre partition era. Dr. Hussain, initially built a house for himself on 40 kanals of this land at No 7 Muslim Town and donated plots of varied sizes ranging from 10 marlas to 12 kanals to his numerous relatives, friends, family retainers and household help. Some of his famous friends and early settlers included the renowned artist Ustad Allah Baksh, Abdul Majeed Salik (writer), Maulana Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Maulana Muhammad Ali (Translator of Holy Quran), the Faruqi family and the renowned Faqir family. Dr Muhammad Hussain constructed a mosque in Muslim Town ( Aisha Masjid) in memory of his late mother. He also allocated land for a graveyard for his descendants in Shah Jamal and another graveyard in Muslim Town for the benefit of general public. The Shah Jamal graveyard is under the exclusive custodianship of his great grand daughter (by orders of honorable Lahore High Court).Dr Muhammad Hussain's agricultural land around Old Muslim Town was later acquired by Lahore Development Authority as part of Shah Jamal, Gulberg and New Muslim Town Schemes.

Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain was known for his medical acumen. Thus Nawab of Bahawalpur brought his sister to be treated by him and Dr Hussain successfully cured her jaundice. Nawab Sahib insisted on giving a fee of 16000 rupees but Dr Hussain resisted explaining that he had cured the patient from an ordinary ailment and the fee was too high for that purpose. When Nawab Sahib insisted, Dr Hussain requested that this money be used for the education of children in the Islamic Bahawalpur State. This gesture impressed the Nawab further and on his return to Bahawalpur he allotted 200 squares of land in the name of Dr. Syed Muhammad Hussain (original papers of this allotment are in the custody of his great grand daughter). Dr Hussain stuck to his resolve and this land exclusively allotted for his benefit was distributed by him among any family member/cousins/nephews who decided to migrate to Khanpur and reclaim the land. His elder son Syed Altaf Hussain was also among these immigrants and he received a share only in proportion to other relatives and according to the amount of effort and time spent in reclamation of land and not as Dr Hussain's descendant. While Dr Hussain's younger son Dr Bashir Hussain Syed I G Prisons/Director General Health West Pakistan did not even claim an acre of his father's allotted land and Dr Hussain's daughter, Safia Begum, inherited land in Khanpur only through her husband and father in law (Syed Ahmed Hussain, one of the migrants to Khanpur was the younger brother of Dr. Hussain).Dr Hussain's professional integrity, religiosity and non worldly contentment can be gauged from the fact that he was also allotted 300 squares of land by the Maharaja of Patiala, but Dr Hussain never claimed this land despite having full ownership and allotment letters. The existence of this land was only revealed by Dr Syed Muhammad Hussain's son Dr. B H Syed to his nephew Syed Asad Hussain after the closure of allotments of evacuee property explaining that it was Dr Hussain's wish that any allotted property should not be claimed by his immediate descendants.

When Dr Hussain's nephew syed Nazir Hussian contacted tuberculosis, Syed Muhammad Hussain left no stone unturned to get best available medical care for hi. However, he realized that most tuberculosis sanatoriums were being run by Hindu philanthropists there was apparent reluctance towards admission of Muslim patients. Dr Muhammad Hussain decided to build a Tuberculosis Sanatorium in Samli, Murree Hills Pakistan that was inaugurated by Lord & Lady Linlithgow, Viceroy of India. This is the largest T B Sanatorium in Pakistan.[1]

Dr. Muhammed Hussain's daughter, Safia Begum started an English School for Muslim Children in her 12 kanal house in Muslim Town and hired Mrs. Lewis, an English Lady as its Principal. She became the Headmistress in 1930s imparting modern education to the young until the time when the school had to be closed around partition in 1947.There is a Safia Street and a Safia Park housing estate within Muslim Town named after her memory. She built "Syed Imtiaz Hussain Ward" in memory of her son Syed Imtiaz Hussain in Syed Muhammad Hussain T B Sanatorium Samli. Herdaughter in law Begum Sarawat Imtiaz was the first ever female in West Pakistan to take the oath as Lambardar in 1959. This was cited as a milestone for women empowerment in Pakistan and the Muslim World. Presently her daughter Begum Arshia Azhar is Lambardar of said village i.e. Chak 43/12L, Chichawatni, District Sahiwal.[2]

Dr Hussain's grandsons Syed Khalid Hussain and Syed Asad Hussain donated land and Syed Asad Hussain a great philanthropist in the footsteps of his esteemed grandfather constructed Syed Altaf Hussain Eye Hospital on this land in Khanpur District Rahimyar Khan (rare example of two philanthropic hospitals in name of a father and son). Brigadier Akram Syed was the son of Syed Bashir Hussain the younger son of Dr Muhammad Hussain. Some of the famous early settlers in Muslim Town, besides the Syed family, included : Abdus Salam Khursheed (writer), Sabiha Khanum, Santosh Kumar, Nayyar Sultana Darpan, Agha Taalash, Allauddin, Malika Pukhraj, Akmal, Hasan Lateef, Saifuddin Saif, Ibraheem Nafees, Tanvir Naqvi, Riaz Ahmed and M Suleman (Film industry)and many more.

Ahmadiyya connections[edit]

Dr Syed Muhammad Husain Shah was one of the founding members of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement along with Maulana Muhammad Ali in 1914. See an account of his life[3] and his obituary published in 1939.[4] He joined the Ahmadiyya Movement in the lifetime of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and was one of his most prominent followers. Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, in the last month of his life, was staying in Lahore at the home of Dr Husain Shah located at Ahmadiyya Buildings, Brandreth Road, and died there on 26 May 1908.

Colonel Dr Bashir Husain Syed, son of Dr Husain Shah, was also a leading member of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, and held high offices in the Movement. In his profession he was Inspector General, Prisons, Punjab, Pakistan, 1948-1958 (Punjab Prisons (Pakistan)), and Director, Health Services, West Pakistan. He died on 12 October 1972 (see The Light, English weekly of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement, 24 November 1972, page 2 & 5).