Prof. Aziz Ahmed Faruqui

Professor/Head of Dept. of Urdu (1957-1988)

Prof. Aziz Ahmed Faruqui - 2007

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

 

Mr.Aziz Ahmed Faruqui was one of the first 5 staff members ever to join the college in 1957. He retired from the college in 1988.

He was born on 24 August 1928 in Jaipur in India, and got married to Mrs. Zahida Khatoon in August 1949 at Hyderabad, Sindh. Mrs. Zahida expired at Karachi on 22 November 2014 of heart ailments. Barely a month later, Faruqui sb also departed from this world on 30 December 2014 at NJ, USA.

They had five children - Shahida (late), Talat, Rana, Rashid 7192/Liaquat, and Arshad 7662/Qasim.

Faruqui Sahib was truly a great institution within himself at Petaro. He used to teach us Urdu. 

Faruqui Sb's family belongs originally to Amritsar in East Punjab. However, his grandfather moved to Jaipur and was appointed the ADC to the Prime Minister of Jaipur. Thus, the young Aziz Ahmed was born with a golden spoon in his mouth in a palatial mansion.

During his childhood he was physically very weak. The doctors advised that he should not take any stress. Therefore he would be home all the time and would be envious of the other children who would go to school with their satchels on their shoulders. Finally, his mother allowed him to go and join the nearby Madrassah Taleemul Islam in Jaipur which was in the Deobandi tradition. He studied at this institution from 1936-1944, and graduated with the degrees of Munshi Fazil (highest degree in Farsi) and Adeeb Fazil (highest degree in Urdu literature).

His grandfather was essentially against any English education, and never wanted his children and grandchildren to get involved with anything British. But the young Aziz Ahmed was keen to acquire English language education. He approached the nearby National High School to sit for the Matric Examination, but the teachers were against his joining as he knew little English. Finally, the principal of the school Mr. Sushil Prashad relented and allowed him to join. Not only did he pick up enough English, he also successfully completed his Matric in 1945. He then went on to complete his Intermediate from Maharajah's College in 1947.

During his school and college days, he became a key footballer and cricket player and was considered to be one of the best players in the teams.

Within a week of the creation of Pakistan, he moved to Pakistan in August 1947 and settled down in Hyderabad. The family acquired a house of their own there, though nothing comparable to the palatial home in Jaipur. During the initial days, they had nothing to do but play cricket. Then one day, as he went into the neighbour's courtyard to recover the ball that had gone astray, the owner of the house there offered him to become productive by taking a job at his bank where he was a manager. He accepted the offer and thus was appointed a clerk at the Bhaiband Cooperative Bank for less than a year.

In 1948, he got a job at the Government Primary School, Hyderabad as a teacher, which he preferred over the bank job. He worked there for a year, while he also attempted to complete his BA degree. The Punjab University offered to get immigrants to sit for the degree without pre-requisites, and thus in 1949 he qualified and obtained his BA degree.

His first job as a proper teacher was at Thatta High School in 1949 where he worked for less than a year. During this period, he got introduced by chance to Allama Daudpota who was the Director Education. The government had introduced Arabic language as a compulsory subject. Some of the Hindu students wanted to avoid Arabic and requested Faruqui sb to teach them Farsi instead. The next day Allama Daudpota was visiting Thatta and he agreed to allow him to become a Farsi teacher. That was the beginning of a strong friendship with the Allama.

In 1950, he moved to Mirpurkhas at the behest of the Allama to qualify for a B.T. (Bachelor of Training) degree at the college there. But since he had already a BA degree, they disqualified him from pursuing BT course after a few months. He was back into teaching at the Govt High School Mirpurkhas and other schools.

In 1954, he completed his MA in Farsi from Sindh University and a second MA in Urdu in 1957. In 1968, he got his third M.A. - this time in English Literature and won a silver medal. (I remember that day, because he also started taking some English language classes as well at Petaro after that).

Soon after he got his MA Urdu, he was selected to join Govt Cadet College Mirpurkhas (known later as Cadet College Petaro) in 1957 as its first teacher. He was selected over other Urdu teachers due to his proficiency in Urdu and Farsi.

He spent the rest of his career until his retirement in 1988 at Petaro.

Other than being the teacher / professor of Urdu, he held several very important positions at Petaro. Throughout his stay, he was the In Charge of Sports until his retirement in 1988 and the achievements of Petaro in sports during that period are definitely to his credit. He was also In Charge of The Cadet Magazine, and remained the Purchase Officer for 10 years. He was the In Charge of Examinations throughout this period. He was also the Patron of the Body Building Club during the 1980s.

Soon after he joined Petaro, he was appointed Associate House Master of Jinnah House during 1957-1958. Although he was the senior most teacher, he never wanted to become a House Master. Finally, he was told that he must serve in that position at least once in order to get his due promotion. Thus, in 1969-1971, he accepted to be the House Master of Latif House.

One of the tragedies in his life was the unfortunate death of his eldest daughter Shahida in an accident in early 1966. Mrs. Jamilunnisa, first wife of Prof. S.S. Azim also died in that accident, and both of them were buried at the Petaro graveyard.

Faruqui Sb was famous for his intellectual discourses. He was definitely anti-mullah despite his Deobandi background, and had a flair for left of the center thought in his philosophical leanings. This is so well reflected in his autograph he wrote for me, where he is critical of the typical "ritualism" in our society.  In fact, he knew me well in how my fledgling mind worked.  While at Petaro, I was deeply involved with the Tableeghi Jamaat, going to the dorms every week on gasht and inviting everyone for namaz. We used to have our weekly tableeghi talk at the masjid.  I would never miss my namaz.  And I was so deep into the spiritual activities that I would rarely miss the roza (fasting) of the 13th, 14th and 15th of every month.

Faruqui Sb's almost prophetic autograph hit me many years later. I had left Petaro and gone off to Turkey for doing my engineering at METU.  I stayed in Ankara, Turkey for 2 years, and during those 2 years all my namaz and nafil rozas were gone. I did pray Juma namaz, but my regular prayers were left behind at Petaro. I would remember Allah at times, but the material world showed me that all my rituals were meaningless.  I had never understood Islam or the true meaning of faith in all those years with the Petaro Tableeghi Jamaat.  It was a great spiritual experience in a specific environment, but devoid of true understanding of Allah. Finally, it was when I moved to Boston, USA to study at MIT when I started to re-discover God and the true meaning of faith. It was a journey of a life when I realized that banging my head on the ground or repeated incantations of tasbeeh alone could not lead me to the ultimate reality. Despite all that, East Pakistan was lost, and we Muslims killed each other.

I believe I have a much better appreciation of what is the true meaning of humanity in Islam now. And I pray to the Almighty to grant me greater understanding of faith through love of mankind - not through mere ritualism. I have been regular in my prayers once again for decades. But now it is not merely for the sake of ritualism. Prayer and all other faraiz must be a part and parcel of a greater reality.

I finally met Faruqui Sb again in 2001, after nearly 32 years. He hada long beard, and looked more like a maulvi himself. I am sure he too had gone through his own experience in life and has found his ultimate reality. I am thoroughly impressed by Faruqui Sb. And I am grateful to him for exhibiting his love for me with beneficence.

May Allah bless Faruqui Sb for being one of those who guided me towards seeking faith with understanding - moving beyond the simplicity of utter blindness!

By the way, just for the sake of those who do not understand Persian, Faruqui Sb summarized in English the meaning of the Persian couplet he wrote on that autograph page. Please see his autograph at the end of this page.

Faruqui Sahib brought out the best of the old memories at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Cadet College Petaro on 24 February 2007 at Petaro. His speech is worth listening to. Please click here to listen to what he says.

He had also written an excellent article on Col. Coombes in which he has described so many of his experiences of the early days of Petaro.  Please click here to read his article.

During his last year or so, Faruqui sb was suffering from dementia and would often forget or not recognize people he had known for years. When his wife expired in November 2014, it is not clear if that event registered in his mind. He was lost.

His sons decided to take him to North America in order to take better care of him.  He arrived in NJ at Arshad's house on 26th December 2014. He seemed to be in good health physically. His elder son Rashid also came over from Toronto and spent 2 days with him. Barely 4 days after his arrival in the USA, Faruqui sb suffered a massive heart attack and expired in New Jersey on 30 December 2014.

Indeed he was from amongst the blessed. Allah did not allow him to suffer in old age, and he left this world so easily without giving any pain or discomfort to his loved ones.

He was the last of first 5 teachers of Petaro. His passing away has sealed the initial history of the college.

May Allah grant the choicest place in Jannatul Firdaus to Faruqui sb. We will miss him very much.

 


Mr. Aziz Ahmed Faruqui’s own handwriting and signature

Do not be from the people who deceive God by prostrating before him and counting beads for the Prophet.

 

Signed Aziz Ahmed Faruqui

12th July, 1969

 


Epiphanies in the classroom

By Amir H. Jafri, 983/Qasim

A couple of weeks ago, as I was enjoying a break between jobs and spending long hours strolling the seafront in Karachi, I finally managed to carve out an hour of an old teacher’s time with a couple of classmates from that long lost time. The enigma whether time is ever lost or not did come up in our conversation but that for another, well, time.

 A legendary teacher at Cadet College, Petaro, for about half a century, Faruqui Saahab was known around school for his freely-dispensed sarcasm and anecdotes, refined literary acumen, and his eye for individual talents; at close to 90 years of age, Faruqui Saahab retains good health and his elegant ways of yore. These days he spends most of his time with his family and books, and teaching at his neighborhood mosque. To our delight, he is still of a vigorous mind and is brimming with intellectual curiosity; his acerbic wit and impish smile is still there to behold.  His raking youthful looks have been now camouflaged with a flowing white beard, but behind that flowing pilose facade I could still detect the wry impatience as his smile crinkled north on his right cheek whenever his antennae detected hogwash. 

About a couple of decades ago, I took to teaching. It happened entirely by accident.  As a floundering lost soul, both in a faraway exile and in a deep existential funk, I was bereft of any monetary resources and was trying to rush through an MFA degree in Theatre Arts at the University of Texas. Almost at the end of the graduate program, I was required to take a class in Rhetoric with, George McLemore, professor of Rhetoric and Communication, a polymath of sorts and a master teacher. I had never heard of Rhetoric  before but quickly found myself deeply stimulated in his class and outside by the content of the fundamental texts—Plato’s Dialogues, Aristotle’s Poetics and Nichomachean Ethics, Isocrates, Cicero, Augustine, Erasmus, on and on—to which I was exposed.   

Seeing my interest in the subject matter and, probably taking pity on my financial plight, McLemore offered me a teaching assistantship, a paid apprenticeship to become a “real” teacher.  The caveat, meaningless in my impecunious circumstances at the time but consequential in the long run, was that I would have had to start afresh on a master’s program in, yes, Rhetoric. I was at once relieved, amused, flattered, humbled, and frightened, but mostly frightened: I had never taught in my life; I had never formally studied rhetoric or its concomitant humanities and literature; a career lay-about, I could never imagine carrying myself with the gravitas of a teacher.

But, I had by that time spent almost twenty years in school accumulating degrees in Business and Engineering. Those, for me, were degrees without a soul, mere paper with Latinesque print, because I, somehow, never got infused with the spirit and beauty of Mathematics or Physics, much less Accounting and Finance. I spent several sleepless nights mulling over the indignities about to descend on my hapless being; nightmares of being “found out” punctuated those dark nights. But “I know you can do it; I know it,” was all that came from McLemore by way of assurance, and was all I could comfort myself with during that forbidding time. Taking up the offer, the challenge, turned out to be a seminal moment in my life. My vertiginous ride in the systematic exploration of ideas and meaning continues. 

As I embarked on the dizzying adventure on both sides of the classroom lectern, I realized how the seeds of intellectual curiosity and etymological inquiry that were thrown at my teenage mind by Faruqui Saahab, a quarter century earlier, had been lying around in my subconscious waiting to be nurtured and nudged, stimulated and sprouted, fostered and fomented during all those years. Vague ideas and complex notions lying around dormant started to do a delirious and dippy synaptic dance in my head as the readings and discussions mounted. I started to get a handle on the Einsteinean notion that education is that which remains when we have forgotten what we learnt at school.

The word “epiphany” has a Christian  theological provenance, but denotes a sudden realization of a fundamental truth or reality, an unlocking of a henceforth mysterious realm, a magical unraveling of a tangled intellectual skein, a piercing insight into what was henceforth inaccessible, remote, or elusive, a complexity made lucid, a dark intimidating space enlightened and befriended by a flash of insight, an intuitive grasp, a divine leap. In informal usage, some call it the “aha” moment. I like that expression, too.

During my recent vigorous colloquial with Faruqui Saahab, I made a point of reminding him (of course, he didn’t remember, but he did smile—without that northbound sarcasm, I must add) how during a class in March 1968, forty-four years ago, he recited a sher, a distich, which, sort of, woke me up in a way that I actually looked around at my classmates to see if they had been similarly affected by the expression. I am still not sure about them, but for me it was—I was still to discover the word—an epiphany. 

Faruqui Saahab had recited a famous sher of Urdu language but, of course, I had never heard of it. Bred in Western style schools, indeed, I had not heard many ashaar at that time. In order to comprehend the salience of its place in my life, I think it is important that I introduce it:

Zindagi kiya hai, anaasir kaa zahoor-e-tarteeb

Maut kiya hai, in hee ajzaa kaa pareeshaaN hona

First, the poet, he intoned, was Pundit Burj Narayan Chakbast. The name was a jolt in itself. A Hindu, an alien, I thought, writing Urdu poetry, or even familiar with my language, was strange. Deal with it, I thought. Accept it—after all, Faruqui Saahab says so— even if he is a Pundit (that was a pre-TV time when pundits belonged to the sacral spaces of the temple, before swarms of them colonized and profaned our televisions.)

Second, he told us that “pareeshaan” denotes a state of mind which is “scattered;” only the connotations are those of being “worried.” The essentially symbolic nature of words, that words really don’t have any meaning in of themselves, that words are arbitrary and abstract, suddenly dawned on me. Years later, during my immersion in semiotics, semantics, and rhetoric the “pareeshaani” accompanied me. When I first read I. A. Richards asserting that meanings are in people, not in words, I instantly grasped the idea. 

Third—and this was a more philosophical aspect—the idea in the particular distich: I suddenly realized the essential similarity of all organic life, that all life, whether bacteria or buffalos, flowers or fossils, hippos or humans, start from a primal miasmic chaos to be later defined and categorized by the way their elemental constituents, microns, genes, are organized, only to be on their way to another chaos. This cycle is endless. To this day, I remember, I seemed feverish with a strange fire under me at that instant realization.  

At the end of the evening, with mixed emotions, I presented to Faruqui Saahab a book I had written a couple of years ago. I sought his permission before inscribing it to him, and then, shaking with emotion, I quoted Nazir Akbarabadi:

Youn to hum kuch na thay, par misl-e-anaar-o-mahtaab

Jub humaiN aag lagaa’ee to tamaasha nikla 

In my dedication, I had written “Faruqui Saahab kayliyay,” conjoining  “kay” and “liyay” as I have seen generally written. Ever nitpicky and punctilious, he quickly scanned my words and told me to write the “kay” and “liyay” separately as they are different words.

I know from now on I will. He is my teacher. I had an epiphany in his class.

Dr. Amir H. Jafri served as the dean of Hamdard Institute of Management Sciences until Oct 2012. His last book Honour Killing: Dilemma; Ritual; Understanding was published by Oxford University Press.