Khawaja Mashooqullah Music Room: Celebrating the Splendor of South Asian Music

Habib University hosted the Mashooqullah family on April 9, 2021 to dedicate the Khawaja Mashooqullah Music Room, a creative space that allows students to learn music from leading faculty, and reclaims the musical heritage of the South Asian subcontinent for the next generation. The collaboration between Habib University and the Mashooqullah family highlights the university’s commitment to connecting the students to their culture and roots, and revives instruction of a discipline that has long been neglected in higher education in Pakistan.

President Wasif A. Rizvi said that young people in Pakistan training to be the country’s next leaders needed to gain knowledge and appreciation of their culture. “You need to cultivate the imagination in young people to become engaged, and essentially give them tremendous skills but also love for their heritage. That’s the only path known to develop any kind of leadership,” President Rizvi said.

Mr. Munir Mashooqullah (right) in conversation with President Wasif A.Rizvi during the ‘Meet and Greet’ prior to the Dedication Ceremony.

President Rizvi thanked the Mashooqullah family for their generous contribution to the music room, and added that education on the liberal and creative arts can heal society from its deepest crises.

The music room is close to the hearts of the Mashooqullah family, and honors the memory of Khawaja Mashooqullah, who gifted the family with “music and the open-mindedness that he had” in the words of his son Murtaza “Monty” Mashooqullah, Mumtaz Mashooqullah related in her speech. The Mashooqullahs are descended from the Nawabs of Dhaka, a family who have traditionally been great patrons of arts and music.

Yousuf Kerai (right), Director, Center for South Asian Music, engages in a conversation with Dr. Zeelaf Munir (center) and Nawab Samiullah (left) during the ‘Meet and Greet’ prior to the Dedication Ceremony of the Khawaja Mashooqullah Music Room.

The President’s remarks were followed by a speech by Yousuf Kerai, the Founding Director of South Asian Music at Habib, on the importance of musical instruction at Habib. The music room had already existed at the university, and the Mashooqullah family decided to invest in its expansion after seeing a 2017 performance by students in the H. M. Habib auditorium. “A single space houses an entire experience of the universe of South Asian music, where students are drawn daily and from which musical ideas emerge,” Kerai said of the music room. “This edifice sees 150 students quench their thirst for musical knowledge every semester.”

Mrs. Mumtaz Mashooqullah (center in green), along with other guests, listened to a live performance by the ustaads of the Khawaja Mashooqullah Music Room

Mustafain Munir, the grandson of Khawaja Mashooqullah, spoke of how his grandfather instilled a love for music in him that lasts to this day. Mumtaz Mashooqullah, the matriarch of the family, spoke of her late husband’s enthusiasm for music and learning instruments like the tabla and harmonium.

“Hearing about all the resources that this room has, I get so happy thinking about the opportunities that will be given to current and future Pakistani musicians,” Mumtaz Mashooqullah said. “I’m very excited to see the music and talent that will grow and bring people the same happiness that music has brought to my family. I’m a big believer that alongside students’ academics and career, there needs to be arts and expression.”

Dr. Zeelaf Munir, Munir Mashooqullah, Mrs. Mumtaz Mashooqullah, Ms. Fathema Zuberi and Shahzain Mashooqullah cut the ribbon cut the ribbon to formerly dedicate the Khawaja Mashooqullah Music Room, as President Wasif A. Rizvi (background) applauds.

Mumtaz Mashooqullah’s speech was met with resounding applause. Shahzain Mashooqullah, the grandson of Khawaja Mashooqullah, then thanked Habib University for promoting the arts. Shahzain Mashooqullah announced a four-year scholarship for a single student titled the Mashooqullah Scholarship, and said he would contribute to the scholarship himself to continue his family’s tradition of giving.

President Rizvi and Parvez Ghias, CEO of Habib University, presented the memento to the children of Khawaja Mashooqullah, and proceeded from the H. M. Habib auditorium to the Mashooqullah Music Room for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.


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