Caravan of death rolls on

Passing away of several important personalities has been reported during the period of Ramazan converging with the peak of Corona pandemic in India.

Depredations of COVID-19 have snatched away several precious lives from us in the recent days, especially during 2021 Ramazan. 

The second wave of Corona virus infection has taken a heavy toll of lives across the nation. Common men and women are falling victim to it by dozens in every town and city, but it has been unsparing in its assault and has ruined lives regardless of class and caste. It has been startling to find deaths caused in families which had access to the elite hospitals and state-of-the-art medical facilities. In certain cities, the spaces for obituary advertisements in newspapers have outstripped the space devoted to commercial ones. It is needless to say that only those who can afford to pay announce the death of near, dear and important ones in the newspapers.

Situation is grim all across the large cities as they have been the prime target of the virus, given the congestion, physical proximity among individuals and mobility. Entire families are being admitted into the Covid care centres and those who succumb to it end up in graveyard without the co-sufferers being aware of it.

MS Education Academy

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

The holy month of Ramazan dawned with a gloomy note. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, Chairman of the Iqra International Educational Foundation breathed his last on April 11 after a few days of hospitalization in Chicago. He was 85. Coming as he did from a prominent family in Uttar Pradesh, his death cast a pall of gloom all across the Muslim world and communities in the West. An alumnus of several prominent universities—AMU, London School of Economics and Harvard—Dr. Ghazi had devoted a lifetime to develop an Islamic syllabus, textbooks to go with it and a whole library of non-detailed text—for the future generations, especially those growing up in the West and amid the plural societies. He was ably assisted by his wife Tasneema Ghazi and they together groomed a team of very talented writers, translators, editors, visual artists and illustrators. He authored nearly 150 books in the span of 50 years during which he developed the Foundation as a fount of knowledge. The books were designed for a West where faiths, dogmas, doctrines constantly face the onslaught of rationality. He would be remembered for his devotion, dedication, selfless service, scholarly demeanour and excellent outreach all across the globe.

Maulana Waheeduddin Khan

Not even a fortnight had passed that renowned Islamic scholar Maulana Waheeduddin Khan died in Delhi on April 21. He was 96. Though he was ailing for some time, Corona infection was stated to be cause of death. In his death, the nation has lost an Islamic scholar and more specifically a thought leader, who refused to tread the beaten path. Non-conformism was his forte and he jealously guarded it till his last breath. Though he was trained at the Madrasatul Islah, Saraimeer in Azamgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, he developed insight into the modern sciences through vast reading, application of thought and high felicity in English, a language in which he found the conduit to the vast array of new knowledge. Maulana had raised a new breed of thinkers through his short and insightful write-ups in Urdu journal Ar-Risala which is simultaneously translated into Hindi and English. The Maulana authored nearly 200 books. His weekly lectures were streamed live on a You Tube channel and created a globally networked audience. These will remain a source of guidance for people who look for guidance on contemporary as well as contentious issues afflicting the society. Khan was conferred Padma Bhushan in 2000 and Padma Vibhushan earlier this year.

Dr. Mohammad Furqan

Several pieces of gloomy news came from Aligarh Muslim University. Life was brutally cut short for Dr. Mohammad Furqan Sambhali, Assistant Professor of Urdu in AMU’s Women’s College. He died after a short illness on April 27. He was only 47. He had earlier taught at SBH Azad College, Sambhal for a few years. He was an avid researcher and had several publications to his credit. 

Prof. Sifat Afzal

Prof. Sifat Afzal died in Bhopal on May 6. She had taught medicine to several generations of doctors trained at the AMU’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. She had retired a few years ago and taken up residence at Bhopal. She had completed her MD in 1970 at a time when few girls would pursue post graduation in medical colleges.    

Prof. M. Mubashir

On the same day (May 6), Prof. M. Mubashir, former Principal of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College bid adieu to this mortal world after a brief illness. He had held several posts. An exceptional clinician, he had retired a few years ago and was fondly remembered for his patient-friendly approach.

Prof. Farman Husain

May 6 proved to be an ill-fated day. Prof. Syed Farman Husain, faculty member, Dept of Shia Theology at the AMU who had acted as mentor for several generations of students, died the same day.

Dr. Mohammad Yusuf Ansari

Three day ago on May 3, Dr. Mohammad Yusuf Ansari, Assistant Professor in the Dept of English, passed away after being infected by Corona. His doctoral thesis was on ‘Antique Modes and Contemporary Narratives in the Works of Girish Karnad’. He was teaching in the AMU since 2014.  

Prof. Rizwan Qaiser

History Professor in Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Rizwan Qaiser died on May 1 after brief illness. He had been teaching in the Jamia since 1989 after his Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University. He was 61. He hailed from Munger in Bihar. His book titled “Maulana Azad and the Making of the Indian Nation’ is a standard reference on the contribution of Muslims to Indian nationalism. The book has gone into three editions. It was also translated into Arabic by Jamia Professor Suhaib Alam and was published from Beirut. He was also a co-editor of the book “Congress and the making of the Indian Nation”. He was 61. 

Dr. Salaam Musheer

Far away in Bengaluru, Dr. Salaam Musheer died on May 3. He had retired as professor of Commerce from the Bishop Cotton Women’s College. But he was more known as an institution-builder. He set up a Children’s home in Kolar (‘Apna Ghar’) and another in Bengaluru (‘Ashiyana e Khaleel’). He raised a group of institutions imparting education from first standard to graduation under Millat Education Society at Kolar, a town 70 km east of Bengaluru. He was a pioneer to set up an old age home known as ‘Buzurgon Ka Ghar’ in Kolar, at a time when the concept was being contested among Muslims. He introduced Millat Directory in several mosques to register the antecedents of residents and families living around and attached to a mosque. He was also the founder of ‘Muskan: School for the Special Children’ behind Manyata Techpark in Bengaluru. On insistence from a Kolkata philanthropist, a similar home was started in Kolkata.  

Syed Ahmed Esar

Bengaluru based Urdu writer Syed Ahmed Esar died on April 21 at the ripe age of 98. An officer in the Indian Forest Service, he had retired as the Chief Wildlife Warden of Karnataka in 1980. He had finished the six-volume Urdu translation of Maulana Rumi’s Masnavi which was published in 1997 by the NCPUL. He had done a PG course in Forestry in Seattle in the US on a Mysore Government sponsorship in 1954. He also translated 776 quatrains (Rubaiyat) of Omar Khayyam in Urdu in 1977, while still in service. He also translated into Urdu Payam e Mashriq, Asrar e Khudi, Rumooz e Behkhudi, Javednama, Zuboor e Ajm, Pas Chhe Bayad Kard and Armaghan e Hijaz, all Persian works of Iqbal into Urdu and all of them have been published. He won critical appreciation from leading authors such as Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Javed Iqbal (son of Allama Iqbal), Prof. B. Sheik Ali etc. They have said that his translation retains the essence of the philosophy and the rhythm of the poetry which is a complicated feat.

Nusrat Ali

Jamaat e Islami Hind lost a leader of rare capability in the death of its former general secretary Nusrat Ali who died in Delhi at the age of 65. He was secretary in-charge of Board of Islamic Education which manages about 200 schools in the country. He was an MA in Hindi and had served as a lecturer in an Uttar Pradesh college for some years prior to joining the Jamaat.

Waseem Ahmed, former MP

Former Rajya Sabha Member Waseem Ahmed died on April 26 in Aligarh. He was approaching 70. He was also general secretary of the Janata Dal during V. P. Singh’s tenure as Prime Minister. He was member of the Rajya Sabha during 1996 and 1998 on a seat that had fallen vacant. He was a leader of the AMU Students Union and had studied engineering at the AMU. He was a member of the AMU court and executive council of the University. He hailed from Etah in Uttar Pradesh. His wife Farha Malik is a teacher of Applied Linguistics in the University of Jeddah.

Anees Ahmed Islahi

Islamic scholar Maulana Anees Ahmed Islahi died on April 22. He was a teacher at Madrasatul Islah, Saraimeer. He died in Escorts Hospital in Delhi hospital. He had undergone a surgery a few days ago. He was a poet and writer and taught Arabic literature at the Madrassa. He held a Masters degree from Lucknow University and later earned a four-year diploma from Muhammad bin Saud University in Riyadh. He was President of the Managing Committee of the Madrasatul Islah for a long time.

Zeyaul Haque

Journalist Zeyaul Haque died in Holy Family Hospital in Delhi on April 22. He was a journalist with The Pioneer at Lucknow for a long time and took up the post of Editor of Nation and the World in 1991 at Delhi. It was a magazine started by Saiyid Hamid, former vice chancellor of AMU. He later joined the Institute of Objective Studies and worked there till his demise. His family hailed from Motihari, the birthplace of British author (of novel Animal Farm) and the place where Mahatma Gandhi started his first satyagraha.

C. Ameenur Rahman

Leading tanner and businessman from Chennai, C. Ameenur Rahman died in the first week of May. He leaves behind wife, three sons and two daughters. He was around 80. He engaged himself in philanthropy after assigning the businesses to his offspring. He set up several leather tanning units in Ambur, 180 km east of Chennai.

More from AMU

Following faculty members of the Aligarh Muslim University passed away in quick succession during Ramazan:

Prof. Qazi Mohammed Jamshed, Women’s College

Dr. Aziz Faisal, Dept of Women’s Studies,

Dr. Farhat Ulla Khan, Dept of English

Prof. Mukhtar Hussain Hakim, MBBS, MD., former Head, Dept of Moalejaat, Faculty of Unani Medicine.

Prof. Rizwan Hussain, Dept of English

Prof. Zubair Ahmed, Dept of Mathematics,

Prof. Vakeel Jafri, Dept of Physics,

Prof. Jamshed Siddiqui, Dept of Computer Science

Porf. Humayun Murad, Dept of Zoology

Dr. Ehsanullah, Faculty of Theology,

Prof. Zafar, Dept of Psychology

Prof. Maula Bakhsh Ansari, Dept of Urdu

Prof. Iqbal Ali, former Principal, Polytechnic

Prof. Saeeduz Zama, Assistant Professor, Polytechnic

Prof. Zhakeel Samdani, Faculty of Law

M A Siraj is Bengaluru based seasoned journalist who writes for a variety of newspapers including The Hindu, and news portals.

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