Some like to desecrate, while some consecrate. Places of worship in Hyderabad were in for defilement recently. But here is a man who loves to deck and embellish them.
Anil Kumar Chowhan, an artist by profession, has been offering his services to paint Koranic verses and supplications in mosques for more than a decade. While the sanctity of temples and mosques in Hyderabad was violated, he carried out his job with single-minded devotion.
For art's sake
In the last decade-and-a-half, Mr. Chowhan has done calligraphic work in almost 100 mosques in Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and nearby districts.
A huge frame containing ‘Sura Yaseen', the 36 chapter of Koran, written by him, adorns the Jamia Nizamia. He has painted the 99 names of Allah and the Prophet as well. Interestingly, he doesn't charge anything. But if people do offer something, then he accepts it.
His foray into calligraphy started when he began painting signboards and banners in Urdu. He mastered the Urdu script perfectly, and then writing Arabic was relatively easy. There was initial scepticism regarding his writing Arabic verses in mosques.
But Mr. Chowhan approached the Jamia Nizamia, Hyderabad's well-known seminary, and got a ‘fatwa,' which permitted him to write. “I was asked to remain clean and do ablution before writing,” he says.
Mr. Chowhan's fingers move deftly as he wields the ‘baru ka qalam.' Though he can't read Arabic, he writes the verses from the Koran perfectly. “I do take care to see that the dots and strokes accompanying the Arabic letters are correct,” he says, even as he works on a new frame.
‘Living for religion'
While people fight for religion and even die for it, Mr. Chowhan lives for it, in the true sense of the word.