Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ode to a colossus - Professor Khwaja Masud

Dear Readers,

Below is an obituary that my father wrote and has shared with the papers to have published in honor of my wife's late Grandfather, Professor Khwaja Masud.

I don't believe that I can express any better what I felt about him, over what my dear father has expressed in his own opinion. I am merely a conduit to a bond between them.

He passed away on Saturday, January 16th, 2009 at around 8:45 PM at Poly Clinic Hospital, Islamabad. He was a mighty 87 years old.

To read more about his life, please visit this article by Dawn News: http://bit.ly/7QoYFr

May God have mercy on his soul and grant him eternal peace.

S. Zohare Haider


A tribute by Air Cmdre (R) S. Sajad Haider

Since Quaid-e-Azam’s demise, only a few men in Pakistan’s 62 year history have provided intellectual and moral enlightenment to young and old as did the gaunt but intellectually an invincible icon, Professor Khwaja Masud.

This noble teacher taught hundreds of his students to think original and aim high to become achievers; contemporaneously he motivated and synergised the neglected and exploited working class to understand their stature in society as well as to stand up for their rights. His human endeavour went beyond mere academics because he had felt a compelling passion to apply his teachings and beliefs to better the cause of the toiling labourer and peasant. His superior intellect, dedication and sterling character won hearts and minds of intelligentsia, friends, students and the dehumanized working labour class. Khwaja Masud was rewarded with awesome respect by every segment of society, witch-hunt during the dictatorial nightmare of Zia’s eon notwithstanding. But he did not relent and achieved what only a few others in the profession of education and helping the poor workers could rightly claim. He earned his lofty stature as the indomitable principled principal of Gordon College Rawalpindi.

It was during those tumultuous times of his life, during Zia’s tyrannical theocratic perversion when I first met him and his noble wife Salma Masusd, another stellar educationist. Both were under the ire of the dictator. My second meeting with Khwaja Sahib was quite amusing. I had met him to protest that my son had received harsh punishment in his hands at the Grammar school where he taught maths. Upon hearing my complaint, the tough professor roared at me and virtually ordered me to take my son out of his class because he was useless, inattentive and distractive. Destiny must have smiled at both him and me. Some 12 years later, Khwaja Sahib was somewhat circumspect when i proposed the hand of his favourite and brilliant grand daughter for my younger son. He warned my son to get his masters and PHD like his own sons to qualify for marrying his grand daughter.

I became his disciple after we were joined through this wedlock. It was a short but most proud relationship I developed with the icon. I was like a student each time we met and I listened to him in rapt attention. There was so much ebullience in those hours with him, yet it was like an ascent to a fountain of knowledge, about philosophy of life and nature; Socrates, Plato, Braham, Beethoven, Iqbal, Quaid-e-Azam and Faiz were jelled in an evolutionary aloft and then masterfully he would descend to bring the tormented present in perspective. But he was always optimistic about Pakistan’s future as long as the youth of the nation understood the value of knowledge and its strength for an evolution to have tryst with destiny with Jinnah’s vision as the beacon. That was his style of prose as well. I saw him with indomitable strength, physical and moral, and saw him fade away in front of my eyes last Sunday evening. He was in total control, a gentleman to his last breath and courageous even as he descended in to oblivion as his soul left his mortal remains.

I will miss Khwaja Masud as will kith and kin and thousands in Pakistan and around the world. His spirit and legacy will remain alive eternally like the unflattering flame of a candle in the darkness of our times. If we look up at heavens, there is a new shining star in the galaxy. May his soul rest in eternal peace in heavenly abode.

Sayed Sajad Haider
Air Commodore (R)

Gomal Road, Sector –E-7

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