Professor/Head of Dept. of Urdu (1957-1988)
Prof. Aziz Ahmed Faruqui
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, and
presently lives a retired life in Karachi.
He was born on
24 August 1928 in Jaipur in India, and got married to Mrs. Zahida
Khatoon in August 1949 at Hyderabad, Sindh. They had five children
- Shahida (late), Talat, Rana,
7192/Liaquat, and Arshad 7662/Qasim.
Faruqui Sahib was truly a
great institution within himself at Petaro. He used to
teach us Urdu.
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
childhood is 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).
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.
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.
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 house to get back the ball, the gentleman
there offered him to become productive by getting a job at his
bank where he was a manager. Thus he became a clerk at the
Bhaiband Cooperative Bank for less than a year. then in 1948,
he got a job at the Government Primary School, Hyderabad as a
teacher, which he preferred. 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 the degree.
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 to Allama Daudpota who was the Director
Education, by chance. 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 get a
degree of B.T. (Bachelor of Training) at the college there.
But since he had already gotten a BA degree, after a few
months they disqualified him, and 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 then he also started taking some English
language classes as well at Petaro).
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.
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 he retired in 1988 and the achievements of
that period do go to his credit.
He was also In Charge of The
Cadet Magazine, and remained the Purchase Officer for 10
years. He was also the In Charge of Examinations throughout
this period. He was also the Patron of
Body Building Club during the 1980s
he joined, 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 became
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.
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.
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.
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.
finally met Faruqui Sb again in
2001, after nearly 32 years. He now has a long beard, and
looks more like a maulvi himself. I am sure he too has
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.
Allah bless Faruqui Sb for being one
of those who guided me towards seeking faith with
understanding - moving beyond the simplicity of utter
way, just for the sake of those who do not understand Persian,
Faruqui Sb summarized the meaning of
the Persian couplet he wrote in English in 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
celebrations of Cadet College Petaro on 24 February 2007 at
Petaro. His speech is worth listening to. Please
here to listen to what he says.
Faruqui Sahib 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.
Epiphanies in the classroom
Amir H. Jafri,
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,
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
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
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
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
Zindagi kiya hai, anaasir kaa
Maut kiya hai, in hee ajzaa kaa
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
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
Youn to hum kuch na thay, par
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