After years of tragic neglect, Salman Sufi Foundation steps up to renovate singer Mehdi Hasan's tomb

After years of tragic neglect, Salman Sufi Foundation steps up to renovate singer Mehdi Hasan's tomb

"This should have been done a long time ago," said the foundation's founder, adding that Pakistan's artists deserve more respect.
18 Feb, 2022

It's been 10 years since legendary singer Mehdi Hasan was laid to rest in Karachi’s Mohammad Shah Graveyard near Anda Morand. He is arguably the greatest ghazal singer to have graced the subcontinent, and yet his final resting abode does not reflect this in the slightest. Instead, it is a painful picture of neglect, as if the world has entirely forgotten the man behind the voice the nation turns to time and time again.

Back in 2019, Dawn's senior culture reporter Peerzada Salman wrote about the dispiriting condition of Hasan's gravesite. "[The late] Lata Mangeshkar’s famous compliment on his singing ability, that his was a divine voice, is a testimony to the rigorous training in music that he received from first his father Ustad Azeem Khan and uncle Ustad Ismail Khan, and then from his older brother Pandit Ghulam Qadir and the consuming passion that he had for his art.

"And yet, here he is, lying in his grave, like an individual who leaves behind no one, nothing."

"Isn’t Mehdi Hassan Khan our cultural hero?" the journalist asked, "Isn’t it the government’s duty, the state’s obligation, to make sure that his final resting place remains in a condition that can prove to the rest of the world that we care about our artists, about our sensitive souls? That doesn’t seem to be the case."

Recently, the Salman Sufi Foundation decided to step in and take the responsibility of renovating and maintaining Hasan's gravesite . The founder of the foundation, Salman Sufi, told Images what pushed the organisation to take up the task. "The condition of Hasan sahib's grave is really bad," he said. "It is in shambles. The columns are broken, they have cracks in them. The calligraphy is done with shoddy paintwork; it is just a touch-up job and not even proper calligraphy. The area has litter all around it. No cleaning is being done," he said.

"There is no indication that such a great singer is buried here except for the tombstone. The maintenance of the gravesite is in bad shape. Nobody cleans the grave, nobody gets it taken care of. There is a lot of damage to the actual gravesite as well," he said.

"The reason why we decided to take up this project is that our artists deserve way more respect than we are currently giving them. We listen to Mehdi Hasan's music, it is listened to across Pakistan and the world, so there is no boundary and border that has stopped his magic. Unfortunately, the way his grave is, it does not resonate with the stature of his music and personality."

How exactly will the foundation renovate the gravesite?

"We will fix up the columns, we will get the paint done and we will get proper calligraphy done," Sufi explained. "We will make the gravesite as humble as Hasan sahib himself. At the same time it will reflect that a man of his stature is resting here. Since we already have a number of projects on ground in Karachi, the same staff will be taking care of the gravesite once a week, getting it cleaned and making sure there is no litter around. We will ensure this happens on a regular basis."

Does the foundation need special permission from the government to undertake the project?

"We haven't spoken to the federal government about it," he said. "I do not think we need any special permission because we are Hasan sahib's followers and aren't breaking any laws by fixing his gravesite. We will obviously inform the government that this will be happening but if there is any resistance, we will still continue with the project.

"The only permission we require is from the family and we will get their consent for the gravesite's maintenance. If the federal government wanted to do it, they could have done it but now that we are going to do it, it really does not matter if the government tries to step in anymore."

However, Sufi feels it wasn't just the government's responsibility to take care of the gravesite. It was civil society's as well. "Civil society did many concerts with the help of Hasan sahib, they raised a lot of funds," he stated. "Every Pakistani citizen has gained from the fame Hasan sahib's legend brought to Pakistan, so I think it is not fair to say this is only the government's job. There are many societies in Pakistan that receive funding in the name of art so all they need to do is pay attention."

For the Foundation, it is a deep honour to renovate Hasan sahib's grave. "This is a very small gesture. It isn't a big thing. We don't consider ourselves doing him any favours. We consider it our honour to do this because this should have been done by any of us a long time ago. It is only apt that we, as the people of Pakistan who claimed Hasan sahib as a singer from amongst us, should put [words into action] and make sure his final resting place mirrors his legacy."


Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Feb 18, 2022 03:55pm
Inna Lilla Hay Waa Inna Illehey Rajayoon.
Jigen Feb 18, 2022 05:07pm
Zardari and PPP should have done this a long time ago. Why don’t they ever do anything good?
Akhtar ali Feb 18, 2022 06:34pm
Please renovate destitute peoples homes some schools or hospitals.Don’t waste the money and time on graves and MAZARS.Dead peoples don’t need mazars there should only be respectful burial. Living peoples need the resources to survive and live a respectful live.
LAHORI KID Feb 18, 2022 06:38pm
Already ? It’s not like he’s been gone for 100 years, who built the tomb? Get them back there and have them do it right.
LG Feb 18, 2022 06:54pm
He was born in Gona village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan state in India. In his memory, Rajasthan government has decided to establish Mehadi Hasan University. It is very sad to see his gravesite's condition in Karachi. Respect to Salman Sufi Foundation who is taking care of Mehdi saheb's grave.
Aftab Feb 18, 2022 10:53pm
Our legends are our pride
Naseem Altaf Feb 19, 2022 01:10am
A great , much needed action by The Salman Sufi Foundation . Why didn’t we think abou it till now. Mehdi Hasan Sahib was a great son and source of pride of this nation. He deserves much more .
Qamar Ahmad Feb 19, 2022 02:53am
Mehdi Hassan made millions during his singing carrier, and provided his sons a comfortable life with gifts such as properties. Where are those sons , it is shameful that they can not even repair the tomb of their own father.
M. Emad Feb 19, 2022 06:58am
India-born singer.
Jamal Anjum Feb 19, 2022 09:16am
At long last someone has come forward to take care of the final resting place of one of the greatest ghazal singers, Jaab Menhdi Hasan. I wish to write a lot about the apathy and callous people of our nation but I know that wont be published. Thank you Sufi Salman saheb for the noble task you and your foundation has taken up in renovation and maintenance of the grave of Hasan saheb.
krishna Feb 20, 2022 11:43pm
Miss him and his unequal voice .
Sara Feb 21, 2022 01:12pm
@Akhtar ali: Living people are alive and should be able to help themselves. Besides, there should be some respect for those who proved themselves to be outstanding in their lives and reached the stardom of national heroes.