Of guilt and goodbye: Too late to thank my Professor

Published September 20, 2014
Dr Shakeel Auj. — Photo from Facebook page.
Dr Shakeel Auj. — Photo from Facebook page.

Karachi has known chaos and danger since what seems like an eternity now.

People come and go. One hears news of target killings every day, and the death toll is just a number that's brought up in small talk now and then.

Yes, everyone feels sad over the loss of lives, especially when they realise how unsafe it is here, and anyone at any time can come and shoot us for no real reason. But it gets so much harder when the person shot dead was one of your loved ones.

Thursday morning started with very tragic news. One of my beloved teachers who had taught us in university was shot dead for some unknown reason.

Dr Shakeel Auj was Dean, Faculty of Islamic Studies, University of Karachi since 2012. He completed his PhD in Islamic Studies from University of Karachi in 2000 with a PhD dissertation of “Comparative Study of Eight Selected Urdu Translations of Holy Quran”.

Also read: Dr Shakeel Auj killing: KU teachers announce indefinite boycott of academic activities

Apart from PhD in Islamic Studies, he also possessed an LL.B and a Master Degree in Journalism. With all his books, research papers, articles and an unending list of prizes and honors, he was an institution of his own.

Dr Shakeel was my lecturer for Islamic Studies during my Bachelors back in 2006. After I graduated, I hardly got a chance to meet him again, and I still regret it.

Dr Auj was an unconventional Islamic scholar who used to believe that Islam was an easy religion to practice, and it was the people who had made it difficult.

We used to have detailed, open discussions on various topics in the class, and he was always very inviting to his student’s opinions despite having tons more knowledge and understanding.

I still remember his analysis on the meaning of “Al Rehmaan” and “Al Raheem”, the two names for Allah; how thoughtful and well-researched it was! Doctor sahab also had a strong media appearance and whenever he was on air, I used to tell my parents proudly that that’s my professor on TV.

I can’t believe that a scholar like him has been shot dead in such a horrendous way. It's like losing a father; someone who spent his whole life serving others without a complaint and played a pivotal role in teaching, grooming, mentoring, guiding and making us into better individuals today.

Read on: Police grill two professors, NED official over Dr Auj murder

But the sad thing is, we never give them the respect they deserve. We pick up their lessons, their teachings; climb the career ladder to turn into so-called successful persons. For every teacher, there are hundreds of us out there in every field, every industry.

Do we ever visit our teachers after passing out, without a need, just to inquire after them?... Just to let them know how much we love and respect what they did for us; what role they played in our 'success'... to let them know they're still with us, and that we will always be indebted to them?

Hardly five years after passing out from university, I’ve already lost three of my beloved teachers. Another Professor of mine, Ghulam Hussain passed away due to heart attack a few months ago. He was actually on duty after office hours and was checking examination copies when he suffered a heart failure. Just like Dr Auj, he was a great loss to his family, students, university and to humanity in general. These back-to-back incidents are simply too much.

I'm thinking of making it a tradition of visiting our teachers on a regular basis, or at least on Teacher’s Day which happens to be just around the corner now, on October 5.

Take a look: Saying goodbye: My brother, Ali Akbar Kumaili

What do you say to sharing our joys with our teachers? A new job, a much waited promotion, a wedding; whatever it is, let's not forget the key role our mentors played in bringing us to this point.

Let's not wait till their funeral day to think about them again, when we finally pay them a visit, but not without guilt and regret.

Please recite Surah-e-Fateha for the departed soul.

Rest in peace, Dr Auj sahab. An intellectual like you in a society of ignorants like us will always be missed.


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