Friday, November 20, 2009

Makhfi - The hidden one !

The wine of my delight has lost its taste;

The earth of my whole life has turned to waste;

No wholesome grass grows there, now only weed;

My flaming spring of life has passed indeed.

Biographical Data :

Name : Atiya Begum Faizi
Period : 1876 - 1967
Biographical detail : She was an impressive figure in the socio-cultural field, of the Indian sub-continent during the early half of the 20th century.

Atiya went on a scholarship to London in 1906. She visited France, Italy, Germany, China, Japan and many other foreign countries. She complied a book on music that was published from London. Iqbal and Shibli were among her good friends or to some extent admirers.

Atiya was married to a painter called Faizi Rahimin. The couple migrated to Pakistan in 1947 at the invitation of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She is the author of "Sangeet of India" and "Indian Music".

Atiya Begum was born at Istanbul and hailed from a respectable family of Bombay.

They were three sisters, Zohra, Nazli and Atiya. They were probably one of the foremost families who sent their daughters to UK for studies. Nazli Begum was married to H.H Nawab Sidi Sir Ahmad Khan Sidi Ibrahim Khan, Nawab of Janjira (1879-1922) and passed away in 1964.

hmm...whenever I started someone to read.....I read like I am in love with him/her.

Nowadays.....Iqbal is on my mind....even I have started to have him in my

Mr Shaffique wrote extremly tremendous biography of Iqbal and first thing which attracts my attention was the freindly-lively lovely conversation or meetings of Iqbal and Atiya, who certainly was not the first woman to travel to Britain, but she certainly was one of the earliest to have wrote about her tour to Britain.

And as all the normal curious reader I started searching for Atiya Faizi and found it a little sad that despite of all her intellectual status, we had just gave her the remebrance of relationship with the poet-philospher Iqbal.

The letters of Iqbal to Atiya Faizi I read (17th July 1909), did not confirmed any colorful relationship between the two instead I think it was a letter to his(Iqbal) friend(Atiya) to whom he can speak out of his heart. Beacuse I personaly believe no one can speak about his/her unstable mental state to ones lover. Its human nature to behave as strong as one can be infront of his lover.

Iqbal was a poet and after all a poet can always use their own poetry while writing to some of his/her friends and can use it as a metaphore.

They might have exchanged some pet phrases to express their friendship, time they spent together and gratitude which Iqbal the same time include in his letters to different people too. They were not solely wrote for Atiya.

It is also evident that Atiya dislike Iqbal's failure to visit her in Janjira where she used to live with her sister for condolence of Atiya's mothers death. If this failure was only due to Iqbal's busy schedule or lack of money, Atiya was such a generous woman she would had forgave Iqbal but as it was not both of the above reasons she belived that Iqbal ignored her intentionaly.

There are so many other things elaborating the same about the both intellects of the same time.

However, as I always like to read about great women of world, I am happy that I found one more pearl from the history and Atiya Faizi would be an inspiring increase in my great women of world list.

I am trying to purchase her daily diary (roznamcha) which was translated and published by OUP-India, "From Colonial Bombay to Edwardian London". But unfortunately couldn't found it here in OUP - Pakistan.

hmmm.....there is always something very nice and worth reading about these people but I do also see that all those people who had made so many accomlishments in history never had an easy life. I dont know why to achieve something one must go through all these hardships and sometimes found oneself lost.

In 1912 Atiya got married to a painter called Samuel Fyzee Rahamin (1880-1964) who was an accomplished painter and a Jew by faith. He embraced Islam at Atiya Begum's insistence.

Fayzee Rahamin was at one time the art tutor of Mary of Teck, queen consort of George-V of the Great Britain.

The couple were invited to make Karachi their home by the Quaid-i-Azam. The couple sold their beautiful house, the Aiwan-i-Riffat, in Mumbai and moved to Karachi and purchased a house in Karachi and named it Aiwan I Riffat .

After moving to Karachi, the couple opened their doors to the local intellectuals and bequeathed the paintings of Fyzee Rahamin and other books and artifacts, their dearest possessions, to the citizens of Karachi.

Next door to the Arts Council are the grounds of the villa of Atiya Fyzee and Fyzee Rahamin.

Unfortunately the estate was neglected and their legacy disregarded as the the owners wished it to be converted into a Art museum but now The construction of Aiwan-e-Riffat- Fyzee Rahamin Art Gallery is under way or might have been completed.

After a span of some years, they were asked to leave their house as it was unauthorized (Strange enough?), helplessly she was made to leave Aiwan i Rifat at and took shelter in a hotel.

How long could they afford to live in a five star hotel , soon they were forced to dispose off some of her prized furniture and artifacts for nothing to the Junk Dealers and even had to borrow to live in Karachi where they were invited by the founder of the country.

I wonder if she had chosen to live in India and a Kala Mandir or Sangeet academy would have been offered , she would have created much more things to live long than what we have today.

She was well versed in Music and knew Ragas so well that one of best books on Music of India has been written by her.

The Music of India was first published in 1925. She took a lot of pain to establish the Bhatkhande College of Music in Delhi.

A large collection of her personal letters were lying unattended including letters by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad,
Maulana Shibli Nomani (the two-volume Makateeb-i-Shibli brought out by Darul Musanifeen contains no letter by Atiya),
Jigar Muradabadi,
Sarojni Naidu,
Maulana Shaukat Ali,
Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar
George Bernard Shaw
and Iqbal.

Atiya Begum Fyzee is no more but her life story is not finished as we have got such tantalizing stories to cherish.

Sourses :

Tashkili Daur by Khurrum Ali Shafique,
Writer Forum (

Note :

I gave this topic a name "Makhfi" which means hidden one taken by a princess poetess (Zebunissa - Daughter of Emperor Aurangzeb) whose tragic destiny is shrouded in mystery. In prime of her life, her father incarcerated her in the fortress prison of Salimgarh, where she languished for twenty years until her death.

I strongly believed that this is what we did with our history and heros. We discouraged their tremendous work and than sent all of their work to sentence where their work died and nobody knew when exactly or what exactly happened.


  1. This is quite a different view and focus than I have been taking on Iqbal's bio and writing - however worth a pause to notice. First, I'm curious as to why you are convinced that someone wouldn't share their very mental instabilities with those they love? Whatever the type of relationship people have (and there are as many varieties as people I'm sure) how would any relationship be truly built on love if not also on truth and transparency? Yet of course, to be sustained by love, there may be changes as one, the other or both become aware or reminded of consequences, higher purpose and Allah's will and inner peace. (That would offer one explanation as to why Iqbal didn't visit a former deep friend, perhaps at a particular time.)

    Well these situations are often complex and meant to be left private, I feel, in exchange for the more sublime patterns and numinous revelations of each person's deepest life.

    Yet perhaps my view is unusual? :)

  2. Oh, sorry Thinking, I meant to say that you seem to be on a strong track of doing hard work on research. Keep up the good work!

  3. Thanks for this fascinating blog. How on Earth she got to travel so much being a lady from India in 1906 is beyond me. It must have been an oddly unique and very daring feat to undertake.

  4. hmmm....Dear Connie....thanks alot.

    Why I felt like it is evident from Iqbal's letter to Emma. He never wrote about his wish of dying and same stuff to Emma. Thats what I figure out from Shaffique Sahib book. In which there is the parallel comparision of letters from Iqbal to Emma and to Atiya. To both ladies he contantly wrote but differently.

    But what you said is right....some situations should remain private.

    What my intention is to bring out Madame Atiya Fyzee from the shadow of Sir Muhammad Iqbal because she herself had the personality which can be inspiring to the women even of this time too.

  5. Dear Connie...thanks alot.

    Your comments always trigger something new to dwell into....

    Well...I am happy to have you. Thank again.

  6. Qayoom Sahib...thanks alot.

    Women also tried hard to play role in history...and fortunately there are so many of them who going to.... honored to have your comment.

  7. Quite a marvel in any age - yet as you both point out - for a lady in India 1906 - this piece helps us to sit up to take notice. I am happy with the astute clarifications to my comments, Thinking, and grateful. Also am energized now to take a better comparative look sometime at the Shafique Sahib text when finished with present current of Iqbal study. What an honor to hear both of your prespectives what with the array of gifts you each have for literary excavations and comparisons.

  8. Retrieved a termite eaten compilation of Iqbal's letters to Atiya Begum published 1947 at Victory Printing press Bombay. Iqbal's writing was difficult to decipher hence could not appreciate the contents fully.
    Is there any site where these letters are in typed form?
    I fully agree with C.L. Nash.I did sit up to take notice of this fine lady and lament the treatment meted out to those who deserve our respect.
    Iqbals admirer

  9. Dear Iqbal Admirer,

    Thank you so much for coming and thinking the same way....

    Human...intentionaly or unintentionaly...discarded so many facts... could work just fine to develop the stages...but we didn't use them at all...

    Same thing happened to so many good personalities in history...

    I am unhappy to see that Atiya Begum was one of them...

    I am sorry that I cant help you on the sources where you can find letters in printed form....

    Anyways....I am so glad to have you on my blog and thank you so much.

  10. muhammad shafi loneJanuary 25, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    i think to understand the great personalities like Iqbal is not an easy task. So it would be difficult to say much about his relationship with Attiya Faizi.

  11. hmm....Muhammad Shafi Lone....

    Thank you so much for coming.

    Actually...we don't need to think on that perspective....

    Atiya Faizi was herself an accomplished woman....hmm...her complete personality require no affairs from anyone who was famous.

    She herself was a famous personality.

    And that what my point is.

  12. A very talented and accomplished indian muslim lady, well before her time, a role model for others, reminds one of the Empress Razia Sultan and Queen Noor jehan. Her later sufferings and neglect by the pakistani state and society reflects our opportunistic mentality.

  13. hmmm...Noman F. Vardag

    Thank you so much for coming.

    I am honored. And you are right about our mentality...

    Recently...Oxford has published her diary named as "Atiya's Journey" but this book you will not find here in lies in Indian Market...although she was Pakistani...I wonder...does anyone in Pakistan care about her...?