Thursday February 29, 2024

‘A researcher exists in Dr Salahuddin who never leaves him alone’

By Our Correspondent
May 29, 2023

ENT surgeon Dr Iftikhar Salahuddin’s third book, titled ‘Persia: Land of Emperors and Kings’, was launched at the Mohatta Palace Museum on Sunday. Dr Salahuddin’s abiding interest in history and photography takes him around the world in search of interesting images linked with history. Based on his photography and travels, he has delivered lectures in Pakistan and abroad on diverse topics, such as China, Jerusalem, the Ottoman Empire, Muslim Spain, Persia and ancient religions.

His previous book was ‘If Stones Could Speak’, which is based on his photography of 60 destinations around the world. His book ‘Jerusalem: A Journey Back in Time’ shared the Karachi Literature Festival Peace Prize.

Salahuddin did not let his career in medicine wane his passion for photography and history. He has now launched his third book, which is about Persia. It delves into the sixth century BCE, with the Achaemenid Emperor Cyrus the Great, and spans over 2,500 years of fascinating history.

After Cyrus, Darius I extended the empire from the Aegean Sea in the West to the shores of the River Indus in the East. The book tells how he built the iconic Persepolis, which was wantonly destroyed by Alexander of Mesopotamia.

The book narrates how the tumultuous history of Persia witnessed the collapse of Hellenism, the rise of Parthians and the zenith of Zoroastrianism during the Sassanid rule. Guest speaker at the launching ceremony was author, poet and scriptwriter Zehra Nigah. “Dr Iftikhar’s specialisation is in throat and ears,” she said. However, she added, in current times there is a dearth of courage to speak and listen. “That is why he has resorted to writings.”

She said that many people reside in a single person. She also said that a researcher exists in Dr Salahuddin, “who never leaves him alone”.

When he gets done with his medical work, he decides to go to Palestine; sometimes he goes to Iran, or if he does not get a chance to visit these places, he frequents historical locations, she added.

Zehra said she once asked him if the title of one of his books ‘If Stones Could Speak’ is correct. She said had he not spoken to the stones, how would he have written the book.

Salahuddin responded to her that the conversation with stones is very pure. During the course of the conversation, not a single world is disgraceful, he said.

Speaking on his book, Dr Salahuddin said that in Persia, writers and scientists were appreciated and sponsored by the courts of the Sultan. “The heritage of modern Iran and Central Asia is rooted in the Persian chronicle.” He said that he spent some time in Iran and Uzbekistan to sift through the year of modernity, and uncover the romance and the ethos of the Persian era.

To begin the story of Persia, he said, we need to go back 2,500 years to the sixth century. He pointed out that the Persian empire stretched from the Aegean Sea in the West all the way up to the River Indus. He said that it also included lands around the Oxus River.