Qazipurian Family Memoirs

Articles written in Urdu have been translated by Usama Khalidi

The Guiding Star

This portrait of Janab Moinuddin Hasan Jawwad likely was taken a few years before his passing away on January 4, 1952.   He wrote on it: Would’ve  been nice if his forehead had indicated what his destiny would be.  It gives you a feeling that he had a sense of foreboding about his life.

Memories of Janab Moinuddin Hasan Jawwad,  cherished for more than 60 years by his brothers, his late sisters, his nieces and nephews are presented here by various authors.  The purpose is to provide a space where readers of all generations, especially the  newer ones, can gain a sense of their heritage, whether biological, intellectual or cultural.   They will also learn of the social and political context in which the elders, particular the one Guiding Star,  lived and worked for a better life for everyone around them:  relatives, friends and acquaintances. He passed away on January 4, 1952.

I  was seven or eight years old when I became aware that there were two ways of being:  one traditional and the other modern. Tradition was represented by Father, recently returned from Egypt with a doctorate and employed as a lecturer in history at Hyderabad’s Osmania University.  He wore the traditional sherwani when he was out on business or social visits.  At home he wore a collarless shirt and white pajamas, and he made me stand for prayers with him every day.  The modern way was represented by Uncle Jawwad,  who was several years younger than Father,  ran several businesses, wore a jacket and a tie and a pith hat in the summer when out on business.

At the time, around 1950, we lived in a kind of joint family in a duplex-type house in a suburb of Hyderabad near the university. The place was called Adickmate.  The backyards of the duplex  were separated by a wall that ran over a water well shared by the two households.  It sat about 20 yards from the railroad tracks of the local train that operated Imagebetween the old parts of Hyderabad and its twin city, Secunderabad.

From left, Hafsa at perhaps age 4; Manjli-Apa (Asma Habiba), my second oldest sister.  Baji (Aisha Hamidah), the oldest sister is on the right.  It’s me in the picture above.  Except for Hafsa’s picture, all were taken on the roof of the Adickmate house.  The railroad tracks are clearly visible.  Missing here are any pictures of Atique and Chhoti-Apa (Humaira), the third oldest sister. 

In our time, there was no wall separating the house from the railroad tracks in front of it.

A short walk from the house was the bazaar, where, usually, servants went for daily grocery shopping.  Both parts of the house had the neem trees and, surprisingly, ours had an apple tree, too.  I vaguely remember both families on some days out working in the yard, gardening, and, at least on one occasion, cooking out. 

We in the Khalidi family lived in one part of the house, and Grandmother, her four sons and one daughter, lived in the other part.  Our oldest uncle, Mubarazuddin Rafat, lived with his family in Aurangabad, where he was an assistant professor of Urdu at a university college.  Mother, Khairunnisa Zubeida Khalidi, was the second-born in her family. Uncle Jawwad was the third;  Aunt Sayyeda (Aapa-jaan to us) was the next in birth order. After her came Uncles Muhiuddin Arshad, Syed Rasheed and Syed Nooruddin. 

Amma-Jaan (Khairunnisa Zubeida) has her arms around a pillar at the front of the house;
Baba (Abu Nasr Muhammed Khalidi) used this picture for his passport when he left for Egypt on a scholarship for his doctorate in Muslim history around 1947.
It might help to identify these relatives by their more recent residences.  Aunt Apa-jaan was the mother of Hasan Zaheer and Rakhshinda, both of New Jersey, and Zehra of Wichita. Uncle Arshad has lived for several decades in Omaha; and Uncle Rasheed in Beckley, WVA.  Uncle Nooruddin, last of the children of Grandfather Janab Syed Nizamuddin, lives in Wichita. 

The reason why so many pictures from the 1940s and early ‘50s are available is that Uncle Rafat, the oldest of the uncles  (d.1970) received as a gift a Hasselblad camera that today belongs in a camera hall of fame and is worth ten thousand dollars or more as an antique.

Left, Uncle Rafat and Aunt Iqbalunnisa in a 1954 photo. They had seven children.  The family first moved to Gulberga in the ‘50s, then to Mysore. Uncle Rafat died of a heart attack in 1970. He had written, translated or edited several books and had achieved distinction in literary circles.  

Uncle Jawwad wrote on this picture a popular Urdu couplet that says, in effect, life is none other than a madman’s dream, a riddle beyond comprehension; He signed it on October 15, 1948.  He is dressed in a tweed sherwani and what was called a “Jinnah hat”, an outfit in the best Indian Muslim style of a gentleman

In the early 1940s, it had fallen to Uncle Jawwad  to become the head of his family upon the sudden demise of Grandfather, Syed Nizamuddin, of a massive heart attack. He was about 22 then and had just finished his bachelor’s degree in sciences. He borrowed money and started a successful business, the first of its kind,  in scientific supplies for school labs, and saw to it that his brothers progressed in school toward a college education.  It was a period of economic and political turmoil, the country partitioned, and India poised to absorb the semi-independent state of Hyderabad as just another of its provinces.

In the time he had left, he volunteered for the care of the victims of a cholera epidemic at a quarantine hospital;  opened a publishing house and produced five books, three of them works of fiction; set up a third business, selling books;  traveled to Karachi to see if he could move his family to the new country, but decided against it.  His youngest brother recalled the time the family members slept in the open on their house’s terrace during the hot summer days, and Uncle Jawwad, lying next to him on his back,  would point to the stars, identify a planet or two, and explain the solar system to him.  There was no possibility during the unsettled times to see that his 20-year-old sister attended college,  so the next best thing was to see her married to a colleague and distant cousin

In the new political dispensation in the region, holding the family together and keeping the businesses running were challenges enough.  

Here is another picture of Uncle Jawwad, most likely taken at the family graveyard known as Husain Tekri, located about 10 miles from the city center. 

Husain Tekri is where he lies buried today, as are many other members of the clan, going back to Grandmother’s father, known as Makki Mian.The graveyard is spread over several acres. It was the site of several clan picnics, at least one of which I faintly recall was during the lifetime of Uncle Jawwad.  At a later picnic, I recall children playing a game called “dasti” that was akin to the game of tag. In addition, children also climbed trees or took turns on a makeshift swing. The place was close to a large lake called Mir Alam.   

Naani Ma or Grandmother, top left, is seen here in a much later picture. The Khalidi children’s only aunt (Sayyida) is seen here in a 1956 picture taken at the ancestral home in Qazipura. 

For a while after their marriage, Aapa-Jaan and Samad-Bhai, as we called them, lived in the same house in Adickmate.  Samad-Bhai managed the bookstore owned by Uncle Jawwad, commuting to the store downtown,  five or six miles away, by bicycle, the most common means of transportation at the time. 

 A high school biology teacher, one of the first female science graduates of the city’s first university,  often came to Jawwad’s scientific supplies store to purchase equipment for her school lab.  Her covered rickshaw, or pedicab, and its driver would be parked at the store, and Uncle Jawwad and Azizunnisa Habibi would walk to a posh restaurant nearby patronized by businessmen.  The presence of a young woman in the Western-style restaurant would be unremarkable, unlike at any other kind of public place in town.  Family members soon learned of Uncle Jawwad’s interest in marrying her. Azizunnisa’s family would have welcomed the match, but it was unacceptable to Naani-Amma on grounds that she was born into a land-owning nawwab’s household, as opposed to grandmother’s “high-born,” Muslim Brahmin status in the community. 

The pre-Independence state of Hyderabad in southern India was the largest of colonial India’s 500 or so princely states  that were ruled indirectly by the British. Unlike many other  feudal states, such as Kashmir and Travancore, Hyderabad and Bhopal had launched their modernization projects in the mid-nineteenth century.   The projects saw the establishment of a judicial system, police departments and a finance ministry that promoted industrial development.

The last of Hyderabad’s seven rulers, Osman Ali Khan, opened the subcontinent’s first university teaching in an Indian language, Urdu.  Years of translation efforts had made medical and engineering books available in Urdu.  Hyderabad state was anomalous with the rest of India, with the exception of Kashmir, in that its population of 50 million was ruled by a 10 percent of Muslims.  In Kashmir, it was the other way around.  However, the walls of separation between faith communities weren’t significant. The authorities managed their affairs by making appropriate  concessions to different power centers. 

This original store sign hung above the store until the late 1990s.  It was purchased by a friend of Uncle Jawwad after his death in 1952.  Arshad-Bhai worked at the store for a while until he finished his medical school training before leaving for US in 1961.  The ugly electrical wires are a common sight in Hyderabad and other cities of India in the second decade of this century.

For some reason,  it was Samad-Bhai who had enrolled me in a middle school, and when doing so he dropped my first name, Abdullah, and kept the middle and the last. With a stroke of  a pen he had freed me from a torture I had suffered at the hands of primary school bullies who had had great fun with my name as it was commonly associated with the village idiot.  The novelty of the Egyptian first name also set me apart from all others at school.

It wasn’t hard to figure out why Father set out on an Islam-centered life, and Uncle Jawwad  on a path focused more on the here-and-now, and on science and literature.  Father’s father was a small-time shopkeeper in good times, with seven sons, and a couple other relatives sharing meager apartments.  In their teenage or earlier, when other brothers started earning some money, Father was expected to do the same.  Luckily, Father found a kindly, childless man of some means who was happy to take him home and treat him like a son.  He finished school and enrolled in college.  About the time Father graduated from college, he had fallen in with another kindly soul,  Syed Qutubuddin, who was part of a clan of spiritual advisers who had been serving the royalty and the ruling nawaabs (or “nabobs”) for several generations, and its key members had large numbers of ordinary followers of their own.  Such faith communities were really the norm across the country, and usually they were organized around an elaborately built grave of a long dead holy man, the peer, who was thought  to act in behalf of supplicants to see that their prayers were answered.

Through Qutubuddin Saheb,  Father came in contact with the family of Nizamuddin Saheb, whose wife was Qutubuddin Saheb’s sister (my grandmother). Baba first  became a tutor to Uncle Rafat and possibly Uncle Jawwad, too. He soon came to live with them, and, for a while, moved with them to a neighboring town, Nizambad, where Nizamuddin Saheb was a forestry officer.  From his respected position in the family, it was a short jump to marrying into it, a most common occurrence in the middle classes of the time.  Ammajaan was 19 and Baba was 12 years older than her, in ‘39. Baba definitely was marrying up,  though his academic achievements  made up for his somewhat lowly social origins. 

It was on the advice of Qutubuddin Saheb  and his friends that Baba took up Islamic history at the graduate level, while some of his friends went into medicine or engineering. After he finished his MA, Baba got a research job at Osmania University, and within a couple of years he won a scholarship to study for his doctorate at the University of Cairo.  

 In the milieu of grandmother’s clan, Nizamuddin Saheb stood apart from his in-laws and their folks, who, collectively, were referred to as a “Murshadi khandaan,” meaning the clan of the spiritual leader.  As I mentioned before, grandmother’s father, Makki Mian, was a spiritual leader of a faith community, located in the neighborhood called Qazipura.  (One of his brothers and a cousin also had their own followers.)  Makki Mian, in his own way, was something of a social liberal.  A story is told how a murid or follower,  approached him with the question whether it was permitted by sharia to get inoculated against small pox, which waqs just beginning to happen.  His answer: Yes, of course, regardless of the fact that a cow was used in the process of making the vaccine.  On the matter of eating beef, he explained that it was perfectly alright to consume beef regardless of the fact that the region’s upper classes disdained it because it was much cheaper than mutton or pultry and fish, and thus favored by poor folks.  (Even in my own day, in the ‘60s, a social stigma attached to the eating of beef.  But, of course, I didn’t think twice about biking 10 miles to Secunderabad to buy beef for our largish family.)

 The cultural gap between Nizamuddin Saheb  and the  Qazipura community existed because of the fact that Nizamuddin Saheb had grown up in the southern territories ruled directly by the British colonialists. These territories had Madras as its capital,  but for Hyderabadis anyplace south of their state was referred to as Madras.  That part of colonial India had schools that taught in the modern way as opposed to the madrasa-type traditional schooling that children had in Qazipura, but not necessarily in the rest of Hyderabad.  Grandfather’s education in a modern type school is a critical factor in determining how his children and grandchildren, including us and many others, inherited a modern outlook that did not care all that much for tradition.

Purana Pul or the old bridge as it was during the 1940s and earlier.  It connects the old city to the new over the Moosi river, which has virtually dried up, except for the times of heavy rains that usually hit the city in September .

In the strictly gender-segregated world of the Qazipura community,  boys held a sheet of cloth from the entry door to a rickshaw or a horse cart as womenfolk boarded it in order to shield the ladies from the eyes of passersby.  Similarly, when a “loongi”- or loincloth-clad man climbed a date palm tree, he would holler that ladies in the nearby should go indoors to avoid seeing him or vice versa.  Boys wore collarless shirts and pajamas that were always white.  Older boys usually grew beards and wore longish hair, distinguishing their hairstyles from the “English-type” haircuts.

Grandfather and his sons disdained the insular culture of the faith community and its system of formally accepting the spiritual guidance of one leader or another who was referred to as the murshid, and his followers as mureeds.  This community, too, disdained those on the outside as worldly folks, as opposed to their being the people of faith.  The poorer folks in the community were shopkeepers, laborers or shop assistants. The sons of the privileged class became clerks in various offices or Quran teachers or hakims,  practitioners of what was called younani medicine, which, by the way, is still widely practiced in the subcontinent. Another very unfortunate aspect of this cult of the leader was that the followers were expected to make gifts in cash or kind to the leader on various occasions, one of which was a death in the followers’ family, when the mureed was expected to make a present of a cotton outfit to the murshad.  Possibly it was a kind of purchase of a Pope’s  chit of indulgence a la the practice in the 15th and early 16th century Christendom.

India’s independence from the British in 1947, and Hyderabad’s forcible merger into India the following year, mark a clear divide between the country’s march down the road to modernization, and the traditional way of life, which remained mostly ossified, frozen in time from the late medieval period, perhaps marked by the death of the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty, of which Hyderabad was a southern outpost in culture, although not in political terms.

This was the scene at the Nampally railway station during the 1940s and ‘50s when relatives put “Imam Zamins” or tokens containing a written prayer for divine protection on the pilgrims or just travelers.  (These tokens were rupee coins sewn into red arm bands made of cotton cloth.)  Nampally was the city’s only train station for inter-city travel.  Hyderabad’s twin city of Secunderabad had its own inter-city train station. In early ‘50s, Nampally was the site similar crowds of relatives seeing their loved ones off to Pakistan.  I myself left India for overseas travel from this train station, first bound for Bombay, then by boat to Basra and beyond.  

Strangely, when Baba returned from Egypt after a 31/2 year stay, he either was unchanged in his worldview from prior to his trip overseas, or he became more conservative, so much so that he refused to send the oldest Khalidi girls to a regular school.  Oh, there was some kind of homeschooling,  but no real school, despite the urgings of Uncle Jawwad and likely the oldest uncle, who did send his children to regular school.

Perhaps a discussion of what modernity or modernism is is in order.  The concept encompasses several sub-concepts, which, we in the West, take for granted:  Faith in the scientific method, secularism,  gender equality, respect for a diversity of views and cultures,  and, importantly, faith in human progress. 

Related to these categories of thought is the idea that each human being is unique and is, or should be, in a constant process of mental growth.  Pursuit of happiness is a birthright and everyone should be engaged in improving his or her material well-being.  A young person must be encouraged to self-actualize himself or herself and realize their full potential.

Whereas the traditional Muslim values were to strife to become a good Muslim (the emphasis never was on becoming a good human being), and to observe the five pillars of Islam.  In addition, the pursuit of knowledge of early Islam and the memorization of the stories of prophets was much admired.  Knowledge here simply meant the “wisdom” written up by early interpreters of the Quran and the Sunna.  No new interpretations, especially those deviating from the orthodoxy were permitted.  If people pursued material well-being, no one objected, but it was not considered something of primary importance.  In the pursuit of education, learning by rote was the primary method.  A good student was one who memorized the teachings best.  The development of the powers of thinking, reasoning and analysis were never a concern of the madrasa teachers or the Islamic scholars. The boundaries of thought were clearly defined.  No freethinking.

Viewed in this light,  people of Baba’s age and older seem to have lived rather limited, conventional lives, never pushing the limits on any front.  Although Baba’s earning a doctorate in Egypt was an accomplishment,  the narrowing of his social vision was a disappointing fact of his life. However, it is important to remember that every one of us lives according the values of our times, the values of our century.

 In its early centuries, Islam was a dynamic force, conquering new frontiers, appropriating the knowledge bases of other cultures, untroubled by the Wahhabi bugaboo of innovation and shirk. Such crippling rigidities crept into Islamic thought in the wake of the traumatic invasions of the Mongols into such Muslim lands. 

This is Hyderabad’s emblematic monument, the Charminar, literally the four minarets.  It was built by Quli Qutub Shah, the reigning monarch, around 1592.  This picture dates from the early 20th century and is part of the then princely state’s premier photographer, Raja Deen Dayal

Yet, the wonder is that individuals arise who reject the conventional wisdom and look at life and society with fresh eyes and make their own judgments.  Circumstances do help, as they did in the case of Nizamuddin Saheb, with his exposure to the British colonial system, and he passed on his worldview to his children.  Uncle Jawwad seems to have taken it much further than his older brother. As everyone who came into contact with him would attest, he gave them something to remember him by, some acts of kindness or advice. Consider this one fact:  when a competitive test was announced for low-level jobs in the health department, Uncle Jawwad sat for it under the name of Chacha Hazrat (Baba’s older brother), who held the job until he retired, having raised a family of seven children.  Cousin Masood was the oldest son (d. 1999).  His son Adnan lives in London, and another son, Imran, in Wichita.  Incidentally, Adnan is married to the daughter of Manjli-Apa (Sister Habiba of London).  And Imran is married to the daughter of my maternal cousin, Asad, who lives in Mysore.

خوب تر تھا صبح کے تارے سے بھی  تیرا سفر

The beauty of your passage (through the sky) outshined the morning star

By Syed Muhiuddin

Arshad-Bhai (of Omaha) wrote this article less than a year after Mamun-Jaan’s passing away. But his picture is dated 3rd November 1949 — UK.

A human being sometimes comes face to face with such daunting events that he sees nothing but darkness in front of him. Life seems like a burned out tree that stands out in the infinite desolation of a desert. Everything seems lifeless and bereft of any color or fragrance, an unending wasteland haunted by fireballs.  In a state of such sadness and hopelessness, sometimes the memory of a much loved person serves as a pillar of support for a heartbroken soul.

At moments like these, when I feel that spring has turned into a permanent autumn, that  henceforth flowers will never bloom, nor buds smile, the memory of my loving and much loved brother gives me strength. He was a brother whose brief life was a tale of backbreaking struggle.  Just as he started out in life, he was faced with mountains of troubles. But his feet would never buckle – he walked unaided, head held high.  

Everyone in times of their troubles turned to him, but there also times when he faced a storm of troubles, but he never sought anybody’s help.  He not only steered his own ship in a turbulent sea all by himself, he was always there to set a lost boat on the right track.  I remember a time when he risked his own life while helping another person.  He was there for those struggling to stay alive (lying on hospital floors during a cholera epidemic. UK).  He heard their pleas for help as the germs of deadly diseases attacked him from all sides.  He was untouched by fear, nor he thought of escaping from such misery.  If anything, he would ask, God!  You who are All-Knowing, Master of everything,  Do You also know what it is to feel remorse, to be filled with sadness, and shed tears?

In moments when hopelessness overpowers my heart, it is not long before my brother’s face looms in my mind,  the face that remained calm and smiling  when confronted with the most daunting challenges.  None of the harsh realities he faced could wipe the smile from his lips.  When I think of the way he handled tough situations with equanimity, my own sense of helplessness begins to dissipate.  His eyes could shed tears of blood, but his forehead won’t show a sign of distress or discouragement.

He never did much for himself.  He was not the one to Indulge himself in such luxuries as idle time, money and comfort, although they may have been as seductive for him as they are for everyone else, he would always think of ways in which he could be of help to others.

My brother’s whole life represented the idea that only that life is worthwhile that helps to make others breathe a little easier.  He was ready to sacrifice his own dreams and desires to see that others prospered. I haven’t anyone respect other people’s wishes as much as he did.

In my younger days, I saw him in the role of a loving father, but then he played the same role even for those who were much older than he was.  My brother was a forward-looking force in many people’s lives.

When I consider any aspect of his life, it was never less than my ideal for a heroic model.  His footsteps serve me as “Khizer-e Rah” (pathfinding guide of legend).

Life’s many hardships did not allow him to develop his literary talent. But whatever he wrote, if it could have been completed and published, I am sure it would have made a valuable contribution to Urdu literature.  His was a very special style of writing.  If he had the time of work in the area of humor and satire, he would have been in the front row of writers.

For the younger ones in his life, his affectionate personality left its indelible mark. He would hardly ever utter an unkind word to any of them. He knew that it was not the thunderstorm but the smooth flow of the river that gives fine shape to pieces of rock. Tender care helps flowers bloom, not roughness.

Now when I find myself alone in a sea of humanity, every possible vista seems fraught with loneliness. Then again, when I hear my brother’s firm footfalls, I feel that maybe I am not alone. I can feel his affectionate hand on my shoulders.  His voice echoes in my ears: “instead of allowing adversity to overpower you, you confront it head on.”  My heart is filled with a renewed sense of determination; my tottering hope finds support and rejuvenates itself.  I find new sources of strength in myself, and feel a new spirit surging through me.   All these new strengths, new determination, hopes and dreams are the gift of just one person: My brother, my guide.

That leader of the caravan, whose enthusiasm for life,  heartwarming and energizing presence is no more.  Yet, his image remains a guiding light for the caravan.   brother’s life was the life of a comet. He lit up a dark corner of the sky, then vanished.  On reflection, I know he defined a bright and brilliant pathway, whose light will see many lost souls reach home.     

Hamidah Rehman, (of Karachi) whom her siblings call Baji, tells me that Arshad-Bhai read this article at a literary gathering of the family. I was the youngest member of this group and had also read a paper.  

In Memory of a Brother

By Syed Rasheed

Whenever someone passes away, the common and probably the wisest thing to say is, “Time is the best healer”. I am sure this is true in most cases especially if you bury an individual both physically and mentally. I never did bury my brother, Syed Moinuddin Hassan Jawwad.   M y heart is still sore, my soul still restless, and my grief still as fresh as the day he died, and that is why it is so difficult , if not impossible to write about him. In every milestone of my life, whether it was an achievement or a defeat, I looked around and said, “Bhai-Jaan, what do you think?”  He has always been with me when I framed my medical school diploma, when society recognized me for my successes, I kept asking, “Where is Bhai-Jaan. Is he proud of me?”.

I have pondered about this phenomenon for a long time. I have heard my wife say time and time again, “It is time to let go”. I always promise I will, but I cannot. What was it about this brother of mine that I cannot quit grieving for him. surprising, coming from a “religious” person like myself, but in all honesty, it has been a barrier between the Lord and myself.

Why did God take away a man who made me what I am today? He gave up his career, his aspirations, his happiness in order that my brothers and myself could be educated. He created and challenged us to uphold the highest standards of humanity in its fullest sense of the word. Through his example he taught us that if   you do the same injustices to others as those done to you, then you do the same injustices to others as those done to you, then you are no better but equal. This was not acceptable to Bhai-Jaan.  He demanded better. His morals and his lifestyle brought out the best in each and every human being he met. To this day l am   astonished to hear how he left his mark on everyone he came into contact with.

  After Father’s death, the exemplary manner in which he  rose and took the strings of responsibility in his hands and managed l to keep us all together can be understood only by the few who were around him at that time. He taught us that by hard work done   honestly and honorably, all odds can be fought. He taught us to look the enemy right in the face, without fear, and walk away.  He taught us that each man has within him the capability of good  and bad, and each one of us, as individuals, can rise above the  bad and emphasize the good.

One of the greatest things about my brother was his refusal to judge people generally, to tie them into neat little parcels without this noun or that adjective and file them away. He regarded everyone he met as a whole human being with his/her own personality and thoughts to share. He even made small children feel wanted and important.

l was 15 years old when my brother was taken away from me and all that l have written above are the memories I have cherished and will always carry with me for the rest of my life. His true life is personified by the following Hadith of the Prophet:  the Prophet said, “On the Day of Judgment — God will ask each one of us ‘O’ Son of Adam I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord! How should I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?  He will say Did you know that my servant so and so had fallen ill and you visited his him not.  Did you know that had you visited, you would have found Me with him?  He will say my servant so and so asked you for food and you fed him not? Had you fed him you would have surely found Me with him. O Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say “O’ Lord how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds? He will say “My Servant so and so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would surely found that I was there.”

I have total faith in my heart that my brother will not be asked these questions by God because he always sought to  visit the ill, to feed the hungry, and quench the thirst of the thirsty. I can quote specific incidents of the greatness of my brother, but writing each one would make this article voluminous. Suffice it to say, the day my brother died not only did I lose a father figure,  but the whole world lost a decent, kind, good, and remarkable human being.

I ask myself if he had been alive today, would this world have been a better place. This is a question who no one but only those of us who knew and cared for him can answer.

I doubt that I will ever stop grieving for him. It just does not seem possible. I only wish our next generation could have known him and learned from him, and known what it is like to be a true Muslim.

Naani Ammi and Me

By Hamidah Rahman

Although Nana Hazrat’s (Nizamuddin Saheb) wedding took place mostly according to the customs and rituals of the time, 1915, in Hyderabad, it differed from other weddings in that he came  as a bridegroom to the venue in a car, not riding a horse as custom required. The use of a car was a clear symbol of one’s modernity.  For our Naani-Ammi’s family this was unprecedented.  The faith community of which her father was a spiritual leader cum guide regarded Nana Hazrat with his  unorthodox ways as a Wahhabi, the one who rejected the whole tradition of “peer parasti”, i.e. the cult of the holy man, and his successor, centered around a much revered grave.  The irony was that Nana Hazrat’s father in-law himself was a murshad with a following. However, he was known to be very liberal in his outlook and tolerant of new ways of thinking and living.

When I talked with Ammi-Jaan about her father, the image I formed of him was that of an extraordinarily courageous, liberal and generous person.  This is borne out by stories she told me about confrontations he had with business people in his role as the forestry officer and judge in local disputes.  The fortitude he showed in the face adversity in his later real estate business is also evident.  He was too generous and unsuspecting of his business partners that partly resulted in the failure of the enterprise. 

Nana Hazrat, like Naani-Ammi, also was fond of reading.  He was comfortable in English and read the works of H.H. Wells, about whom I came to know later.

Surprisingly, in the male-dominated milieu of Hyderabad in which boys were prized and girls neglected, Nana Hazrat was entirely different in this respect.  He showed greater partiality to his daughters than to his sons.  Consequently, Baday Mamun-Jaan (Uncle Rafat)  grew up emotionally distant from his father, whereas Ammi-Jaan was known to perch on his chest or shoulders, as she listened to stories he told her.  For example, Ammi-Jaan told me the story of Red Riding Hood, which she had heard from her father.

I heard it from Ammana that whenever the children fell sick, Nana Hazrat would hold them in his arms and walk back and forth to get them to sleep despite the fact of his having put in a full day at the office.  Again, unlike other men of his time, Nana Hazrat did not consider the nurturing of children as the exclusive preserve of the womenfolk.

He was also fond of having his brothers in-law over to stay at his house frequently. He complained to his wife that her cousins would never ask him for anything, whereas his own cousins made demands for things on him.

I never heard Baba sing the praises of anyone as profusely as he did of his father in-law. It couldn’t have been just Baba who was so fond of Nana Hazrat. I believe anyone who came to know him became enamored of him.

It was most likely in 1915 when Nani Ammi  returned home, according to the custom, a day after her wedding – I have heard this directly from her – Makki Mian, her father, hugged her and told her, “Baiti, I have been worried about you.”  Maybe Makki Mian said that because he was sad that he had given her away in marriage under difficult circumstances. I personally think that he may have worried about her because he had a strong inner feeling that life had a lot troubles in store for her.

Ammana, i.e. Nani Ammi, was the only daughter in a family with four boys. She had been schooled in Quran studies and had learned to read and write.  She wanted to be and became a true exemplar of her religious family traditions, her father being the leader of a community of believers.  There was no room for any kind of pretense or lying even in jest or any other kind of uncouth behavior.

My grandmother was a true Momina, a strict observer of all Islamic values and rituals. I remember her saying the namaaz even on the day she got the news that her daughter, my Apa-Jaan, had passed away in Karachi, due to a heat stroke.

She endured a great many ups and downs – certainly much more than what anybody goes through in an ordinary life:  Days of anxiety followed when her husband lost his job because had he refused to take bribes; he then started a risky construction business with his cousins, having used all the savings the family had.  Nizamuddin Sahab, grandfather, passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack, in 1939. Ammana was only 36 years old then.  Barely 13 years later, she saw Chhote Mamu-Jaan pass away.  Then followed years of hardship during which her sons put themselves through medical or engineering schools.

Philosophers say that there are questions about human life that no one ever finds the answers to until Judgment Day.  All of us who have known of her sufferings will be dogged by unanswerable question as to why some endure far more than their normal share of troubles.

Ammana was fond of reading. She was always reading whatever came her way.  In some respects I found her to be far more intelligent and wise than people with formal education.  For example, speaking of the rising prices of daily necessities of life, some one said that the price of clay goblets had gone up while clay remains plentiful.  Ammana said, “Certainly clay hasn’t become any scarcer, but the poor potmaker (kumaars) hardly gets enough compensation to be able feed his family.  He has to raise the prices of the pots he makes.

Another incident I remember that would show the kind of person she was.  Baba always wanted to live in a high-rent house.  Amma-Jaan preferred to live in a house with lower rent. The solution they settled on was for Amma-Jaan to live in the smaller house and for Baba to go live in a hostel.  When Ammana learned of this, she came to our house and told her daughter, “Beebay, you should be living with your husband, regardless of whether you can make any savings.  Your decision is totally unwise.”  She was never the one to mince words. She spoke directly to any issue, and was decisive in her judgment.  Amma-Jaan had no choice but take the advice.

I had always noted how Amma-Jaan and Baday Mamun-Jaan (Uncle Rafat, her older brother) said their salaams to their mother bowing down and then touching her feet as a gesture of respect and love.

Samad-Bhai and Aapa-Jaan

By Humaira Azmi

Most probably the wedding of Apa-Jaan (Sayyida Sahiba) took place in May 1949, shortly after Baba returned from Egypt.  I remember very well that it was Apa-Jaan who got Baba to agree to let us sisters go to annual Industrial Arts Exhibition, which always happened in January.  It was very much like a fair or a carnival in US cities, with the grounds lit up with flickering neon signs, a Ferris wheel and a carousel going around, and a man diving into a pool with his body covered with fire from petrol. Of course, all children loved it and the grownups, too, were in a festive mood.

I remember that Apa-Jaan was very fond of reading, whether newspaper, magazines or novels. She always had something to read in her hands.  She regretted that she didn’t go to a regular school.  Probably she and Baji (Sister Hamidah of Karachi) appeared for a state exam that awarded a diploma in writing skills. Baji was very close to her. They were always reading and discussing things.  Apa-Jan onetime told me about the importance of reading, and urged me to develop a taste for books.

Left, Samad-Bhai (Janab Abdus-Samad Sahab) and Apa-Jaan in a picture likely taken shortly after their marriage. Note the jewelry on her forehead and ears, and his formal dress.  Top, the couple with Amman-Jaan in  pictures dating from 1949-51.

She was a great loving personality, always kind to others. My clearest memory about her is about her talking of books she had read.

When we were at the Nampally train station to see her off to Pakistan, in 1956, Ammi-Jaan said that she felt the train engine was running over her heart. She had a feeling that she would never see her sister. It was only a year and a half later, on 1st August 1958, she died of a heat stroke. I remember the day Arshad-Bhai (of Omaha) and Sajid-Bhai (of Wichita) came to our house about 8 o’clock in the evening to break the news.  The trauma of that day is as fresh in my mind as it was then, 54 years later.

Samad-Bhai (Apa-Jaan’s husband) regarded Ammi-Jaan as his elder sister, and I used to think in my childhood that he actually was her brother.  He was actually Ammi-Jaan’s cousin on the father’s side.  He also was a loving and caring man.  Although a serious man in his own way, he was always joking and making others laugh.  He regarded Baba with much affection, and  Baba told me that Samad-Bhai was good at whatever business he was running.

First he worked at Star, then, after his marriage to Apa-Jaan, he ran a book store owned by Jawwad-Mamu. It was called Book Center and was located in Hyderabad’s city center.  Both Samad-Bhai and Jawwad-Mamu had employed an 18- or 19- year-old boy named Noora. First his job was to carry lunch to the store on his bike, then he worked as the delivery man at the store.  Poor guy fell ill with what was called yellow fever, and within days he died.  His mother had come to tell us the news. Jawwad-Mamu-Jaan bore the expenses of his burial.

Book Center had to be shut down after Jawwad-Mamu himself passed away in 1952.  I think it was two years later that Samad-Bhai moved to Pakistan.  He regularly wrote letters to Ammi-Jaan, and whenever we asked him for something he arranged to send it to us through someone visiting from Pakistan.

Samad-Bhai visited Hyderabad in 1962 and again in 1964 when Baji got married.  In Pakistan, he started a small school supplies business.  The new country was just getting organized from scratch, at least in Karachi, which was inundated with migrants from India. Life was hard.  People struggled to eke out a living while sending children or brothers to schools and colleges.  Samad-Bhai died in 1976, of a liver ailment.

 By Mohammed Jehangir

I met Moin Pasha (Syed Moinuddin Hasan Jawwad) in fifth grade at at the Darul Uloom School. Both of us lived in homes in Qazipura not too far from each other. We walked to school together daily.  Samad Sahab (Syed Abdus Samad) who was his cousin from father’s side and lived with him went to school with us.  We all became good friends.

AmmaJaan with Jehangir Sahab at our Mehdipatnam house where I had staying during a visit in the summer of 1995. I had invited him to talk about Jawwad Mamun.  For some reason, neither of them could recall much on the subject.

Samad Sahab was with us until the seventh grade when he dropped out.  Moin Pasha and I were together until graduation from school, which was called matriculation.  Moin Pasha was accepted at the City College and I went to Osmania University’s Arts College. Both of took science and mathematics as our optional subjects.  During high school, Moin Pasha appointed me as the tutor for his two brothers, Arshad and Javeed.  He had told them to call me janaab (i.e. sir) rather than “master sahab”.  I became janaab for everybody in their family from then on.  When Sajid (Syed Nooruddin) started school, he too became my student.

Janab Khalidi Sahab (Abu Nasr Mohammed Khalidi) tutored us in English grammar when we were in high school.  Moin Pasha finished his intermediate college courses from City College and went on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sciences from Osmania University.

While we were at the intermediate college leve, we both found jobs in the office of Air Raid Protection. After receiving training in first aid, we were posted at a hospital in Kamatipura.  We worked there for four or five months, then resumed our college studies.  About this time a scientific supplies store named Star Educational Supply Co. was up for sale in  the market. Moin Pasha bought it and hired both me and Samad Sahab to help him run the business.  The business took off within weeks.  While managing the business, Moin Pasha continued his college studies.  I quit college after intermediate, found a government job and still worked part time at Star.   

Moin Pasha expanded on his experience of running a successful business by consulting not only other businessmen but also college and school teachers and headmasters whom he showed how they could educate students by using modern lab equipment. These teachers included many teachers of girls schools. He had a way of talking to all his clients and potential clients with great sincerity and polite manners. They liked and respected him, and of course bought more and more goods from him.

Among the teachers, one high school lady teacher became very close to Moin Pasha.  Every other day she started coming to the store, and they sat together talking for hours.  They also went to the movies together.  One day he brought her home and introduced her to his family members. He probably had told them that he would like to marry her.  His family members were still considering this proposed marriage when he suddenly fell ill.   He was treated by a young doctor, and the more medicines he gave him his illness got worse, until he passed away, within days of falling ill.  May Allah shower him with His kindness.

He never made very close friends except me. All his life I was close to him.  Moin Pasha was a very kind soul who treated everyone with great sympathy, understanding and warmth.  In his school days he used to play soccer and badminton and went on picnics with friends. He was also a good swimmer.  He was always buying and reading books. His particularly favorite subject was astronomy.  He would always find time to visit libraries and borrow books.  I  think his habit of reading late into the night caused his eyesight to suffer, and he had started wearing glasses.

This is the title page of the only one available of at least four books published and marketed by a company Jawwad-Mamun started.  It is titled in Urdu: Purtugali Rahiba ke Khutoot (A Portuguese Nun’s Letters). These letters were addressed by the nun to a priest she was in love with.  These lovers lived in the ??  century. 

Inside pages of the same book shows it was translated (from English, presumably) by Syed Mubarazuddin Rafat, the eldest uncle of the Khalidi children on mother’s side.

By Admin

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