KARACHI: Eminent scholar, writer, poet, musician and thinker Daud Rahbar passed away at a nursing home in Deerfield Beach, Florida, the United States, on Saturday. He was 86. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Born in 1926, Mr Rahbar spent his early days in Lahore where he showed fondness for writing poetry at the age of eight.
His father Mohammad Iqbal, who was named after Allama Iqbal, was also a scholar and taught Persian and Arabic literature. Mr Rahbar obtained his master’s degree in Arabic literature from Government College Lahore and taught Arabic literature at Oriental College Lahore.
In 1949, he left Pakistan for Cambridge University where he got his PhD. He served as teacher at reputable universities in Canada and Turkey. His love for poetry and music never subsided, which led him to study Indian classical music. In 1968, he became a member of the faculty of Boston University where he taught comparative religions for 23 years. He retired in 1991 and settled in Florida.
Mr Rahbar wrote several books on a variety of subjects. They include Salam-o-Payam (letters), Paragandah Taba Loag, Kulliyat (a collection of his poems) and Memories and Meanings.
In 1958, he participated in an international conference in Lahore where he read out a paper entitled ‘The Challenges of Muslim Ideas and Social Values to Muslim Society’. It didn’t go down well with some of the participants. They created a hue and cry about the paper. Mr Rahbar was not given a chance to explain his position.
Talking to Dawn, eminent theatre person and writer Zia Mohyeddin said: “He was my guru. He was the son of my father’s younger brother. You may not have seen such an underrated scholar (aalim). He was professor of comparative religions for more than 20 years.
“Rahbar was the author of many books. He translated Ghalib’s letters into English and then wrote a comprehensive book on the subject. No less significant were his memoirs. He was a humanist. He himself penned many letters, published in the form of a book. After Ghalib’s khutoot, in my view, his are the ones that I rate very highly. They include the letters that he wrote to Maulana Abdul Haq, his teacher and friend.
“Rahbar was the one who opened my eyes towards literature, philosophy and the wonders of life. Although he was my cousin, I considered him my friend. What we missed was gained by an American university.