Prof. Mukhtar Ahmed Siddiqui

Professor of Urdu (1964-1994) and Head Dept of Urdu (1988-1994)

Prof. Mukhtar Siddiqui - Petaro days

Prof. Mukhtar Siddiqui - Feb 2009

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

 

Prof. Mukhtar Ahmed Siddiqui joined Cadet College Petaro in 1964 to teach Urdu and remained there till his retirement in 1994.

He was born on 1 January 1929, and married Mrs. Nasim. They have 3 children - Saman, Nabeel 8921/Ayub and Fazeel 9301/Jinnah.

His younger brother is Dr. Sarfaraz Siddiqui who was Chemistry teacher at Petaro. Prof. R.A.K. Ghouri is also his first cousin from his mother's side.

Mukhtar Sahib retired officially retired in 1989. However, the college retained him on contract for a further period of 5 years until 1994 to take advantage of his personality and thoughts.

He was settled in Hyderabad, Sindh and obtained his B.A. degree from Sindh University in 1955. The following year (1956), he got a B.T. degree and an M.A. degree in Urdu in 1960 - all from Sindh University.

During his Petaro tenure, Mukhtar Sb became head of Dept of Urdu upon the retirement of A.A. Faruqui sb in 1988, and remained as such until his own retirement in 1994.  He was the patron of the Urdu Debating Club from 1966-1967 and then again from 1979-1976.  He was also the Patron of The Cadet magazine from 1970-1982.

Mukhtar Siddiqui Sahib was never my teacher, although he was the darling of many of my batch mates. I had always been groomed in the English tradition, and thus my grounding in Urdu was weak. I was a student of “salees Urdu”. Mukhtar Sahib’s philosophical bent of mind and his eloquence in Urdu were beyond me.

But he was there all around us. He was par excellence in Urdu poetry and was the hub of many of the cultural and artistic activities at Petaro. In our times, he was the one who supervised “Funkada” - the Drama Club of Petaro.

Mukhtar Sahib was always very humble and soft spoken. And it was purely through his intellectual discourses that he was able to attract many of his students towards himself. Even to this day, his students are mesmerized whenever they talk about him.

Mukhtar Sahib lived in Karachi after his retirement and became very frail over the years. Ever since his fall and fracture of his hip bone, his movement was very restricted. But he always welcomed his students.

He however kept up his intellectual activities. During those years, he wrote and published four books. The first two and the last one are a collection of his poetry, while the third one is an intellectual autobiography. He wrote under the pen-name of "Mukhtar Karimi". The books are as follows:

  1. "khayal ki dastak" (poetry) - out of print

  2. "nihal-e-dard" (poetry) - 2002

  3. "ram khurda ghazaal" (autobiography) - 2009

  4. "ramz-e-sukhan" (a collection of his poetry) - 2011

I had the good fortune to visit Mukhtar Sahib at his place in at the beginning of February 2009. I went there with Nauman 556 and Shujauddin 679. He welcomed me with such love that I cannot express. He gave me autographed copies of the second and third books which will be part of my treasure. In the short time that I was there, he told us about his own experiences and I talked about mine.  It was a wonderful exchange of thoughts.

Mukhtar sb fell seriously ill in the middle of 2014, and his kidneys started to malfunction. This led to liquid accumulation in his lungs. After a fight to survive, he expired on 14 August 2014 - independence day of Pakistan.

May Allah grant him maghfirat!  Mukhtar sb leaves behind great memories for generations of Petarians. He will be remembered by hundreds of his students again and again for his contribution to their development.

Just before I graduated from Petaro in the summer of 1969, I requested Mukhtar Sahib for his personal autograph and he obliged. This autograph is reproduced below - record of his memory and thought.


Mr. Mukhtar Siddiqui’s own handwriting and signature

Yahan kotahi zauq-e amal hay khud giriftari,

Jahan bazoo simat-tay hain waheen sayyad hota hai.

 Signed Mukhtar Siddiqui

11th July, 1969

 


The Cornerstone of Petaro Mukhtar Siddiqui (A humble eulogy)

By Sohail Malik, 83140/Qasim

The 2nd page of ‘Ramz-e-Sukhan’ is inscribed with a sentence “dedicated to my students”.   Mukhtar Sahib not only dedicated this book but also his life to the same students he honors in his book.  He gave every iota of his being, committed himself to what he considered his divine duty to inspire and mold his students to realize their true potential. Today the Petarian family has suffered an immeasurable loss.  Our beloved teacher, an institution in his own right and the one you touched many left us on his final journey. 

Donon sirhon pay shama jale aur kitni dair

Mukhtar kiya batayen andhaira hai kis liye

 (Ramz-e-Sukhan). 

I have in my possession two books penned by Mukhtar Sahib.  Both inscribed in ink with a special message for me.  Gifts I would cherish my entire life.  More profound are the memories of being his student and the lasting and poignant discussions I had with him as a mentor.  It would be an understatement to say he has played an instrumental role in molding my personality and who I am as an individual today. 

I was young, curious, rebellious, inquisitive and most certainly lost in trying to find my own identity.  Mukhtar sahib did not simply give me the answers.  He wanted me to discover my own path, a journey he later said is best if traveled under one’s own volition.  He would guide by imparting his wisdom when needed and became the source of reformation and challenge as my thoughts evolved over the years.  Reading – he advocated – is one addiction one must acquire.  He recommended topics and areas of interest and handed me books from his collection.  He introduced me to Russell and Keats, to Renaissance and Greek philosophy.  He explained Nietzsche in language a young student would understand.  He inspired the love for knowledge and emphasized the importance of proficiency in expression.  He stoked the fire of inquisitiveness.  His parting message was “be the best you can be and pursue your passion”.  In my last meeting he asked me how I viewed myself.  I thought for a while and replied “ I am content”.  He smiled and said you finally have become the best you can be. 

It was winter of 2012 when Farhan Rana and I arrived at his house.  Wrapped in a shawl he was waiting for us in his living room, a book at his side and the walls adorned with art he cherished.  We spent a few hours in contemplative discourse.  Two academic giants engrossed in discussion about faith, education, life, morality, passions, love, Petaro, teachers, poetry, history and a host of other topics.  He asked Farhan if he remembered the verse he had written for him.  Farhan replied the one in 9th grade or the one after finishing Petaro to which he just smiled.  To give you a glimpse on how he reached out and inspired here is the first one written for Farhan when he was just one of the ordinary cadets “Yak lahza ghafil gushtam wa sad saalah raahum door shud” (meaning "I was not paying attention for one moment and my journey became a hundred years longer”).  Later when Farhan had set all sorts of records in HSc and was planning his career pursuits in US universities we went to see him and he handed him a paper with this couplet.  It still sits framed on Farhan’s desk. 

Yeh bazam-e-mai hai, yahan kotaah-dasti mein hai mahroomi

Jo barh kar khud uthaale haath mein, meena usi ka hai

I sat there as witness, nudged the discussions into deeper realms, and tried to absorb the wisdom that poured in that room.  It was one gathering I wish I had recorded so that I could relive the experience.  In it were life lessons and an unfiltered glimpse into a brilliant mind.  This reaffirmed my belief that individuals like him are born once in a century.   

Mukhtar Sahib's methods were considered iniquitous for the environment in Petaro.  He was not accepted by all his peers.  He was considered toxic by the religious inclined professors who viewed his beliefs and methods of teachings to be morally detestable.  In the politics at Petaro he was considered an outcast.  There was concern perhaps out of envy how young minds gravitated towards him and the risk of young impressionable minds adopting his unconventional views.  This judgment is undeserving for an individual of his caliber, for Mukhtar sahib only tried to inspire individuals to form their own views and opinion.  That’s what made him great and that’s the reason why students gravitated towards him. 

I am deeply saddened that he is no longer with us.  He lived a great life and hopefully is in peace.  Mukhtar Sahib's legacy shall remain alive in his students and  his children.  May you forever be blessed…..

 

Har ek khaar meri ungliyon ne chooma hai

Hare ek Phool se mera khoon ka rishta hai

                                    (Mukhtar Karimi)

With a sad heart

Sohail Malik