Passing & burial

Last updated: 6 October 2017 From the section Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah

Dr. Shahidullah passed away in Dhaka on 13 July 1969, three days after his 84th birthday. He was buried on the campus of Shahidullah Hall of Dhaka University.

My father was hospitalised in 1968, when I was making a mural for the State Bank of Pakistan. My mother had died and I became detached from life and unable to immerse myself in my work. Every day I went to the hospital to look after my father. He wanted to know about my work. When my father heard that I could not concentrate on my work as I was affected by my mother's sudden death, he told me to forget that chapter of my life and carry on with my work.

One day, Dr. Enamul Haque came to the hospital and my father introduced me to him. Dr. Enamul Haque told him, "I know him very well". My father laughed and said, "Yes, my son has now become a famous man".

I had drawn lots of portraits of my father, of which he was completely unaware. When my father was admitted to the hospital we had no idea that he would be dying within two weeks. Before leaving for the hospital, he suddenly put on an 'achkan' [knee length jacket similar to a sherwani] and a fez cap and asked me to do his portrait.

Portraits are supposed to be forbidden in our religion. He said, "There is nothing forbidden in this regard in our Holy book. If the painting puts you in a foul mood or places any wicked impression on your mind, then it is certainly wrong. Such paintings are not even aesthetic in any way". When my deeply religious father made this statement, portraits were not encouraged in the Muslim world and no faces were seen on a postal stamp. Now that trend has changed.

Murtaja Baseer