DR KHURSHEED Rizvi is a living legend, though because of his modesty and unassuming ways he is little known outside the intellectual circles.

The fact is not only intellectuals but everybody and anybody who is not a showbiz personality or a cricketer is virtually unknown in this society of ours, thanks to electronic and social media. The news of a showbiz personality’s fourth divorce or her fifth marriage is more important than anything concerning intellectual sphere, oh dear me!

Dr Rizvi is among the few Pakistani scholars who are considered an authority on the Arabic language and literature and he is also a teacher, researcher, poet, translator, critic, prose writer. How flowing his Urdu prose is can be gauged by his article on Dr Sufi Muhammad Ziaul Haq, his teacher who kindled in him the real love and understanding of the Arabic language.

This article is included in a book titled Raushni Ke Safeer, subtitled Pakistan Ke Misaali Asatiza, or, ambassadors of light: Pakistan’s exemplary teachers. Published by Islamabad’s Idara-i-Farogh-e-Qaumi Zaban (formerly National Language Authority) and edited by Dr Anjum Hameed, the book is a collection of 53 articles written by different scholars to pay tribute to teachers who nurtured young minds and helped shape lives of many students as well as creating a tradition of scholarship, guidance and kindness.

Intended as a way of celebrating great traditions of teaching and paying tribute to our remarkable teachers who left their footprints in the field of learning and research, the first part of the book in the series was published in 2018. This second volume has some beautifully written pieces, introducing some legendary figures, penned either by near and dear ones or by the pupil of these great teachers who are now well-known figures in the society. One of the most captivating pieces among them is one penned by Khursheed Rizvi, eulogising his teacher Sufi Ziaul Haq.

Written in a strikingly simple yet grippingly charming style, it not only describes and appreciates the life and works of his great teacher but it also unintentionally reveals some traits of the writer himself. It is an unforgettable pen sketch as well, describing cultural mores, moral values and certain traditional rituals that are fading away into the mist of the past.

As Dr Rizvi has described, Dr Sufi Muhammad Ziaul Haq (1911-1989) was an erudite and kind teacher and tried to make his students think, something that is stressed by modern education and psychology experts. Some say true education is not only imparting knowledge but also making the students learn to think. If a child learns to think on their own and form a different opinion they would be able to explore new vistas and, most importantly, create knowledge, which is an essential part of modern-day research. Many teachers of the yonder years, such as Dr Sufi Ziaul Haq, perhaps knew this instinctively.

Some of the other teachers whose dedication, erudition and sincerity has been paid glowing tributes include (as they appear in the book according to Urdu’s alphabetical order): Asgher Nadeem Syed, Iftikhar Ahmed Siddiqi, Iqbal Aafaqi, Alif Daal Naseem, Ayoob Sabir, Aftab Hasan, Anisa Ahmed Saeed, Tehseen Firaqi, Tauseef Tabassum, Sajidullah Tafheemi, Sabir Kaloorvi, Tahir Shadani, Zahoor Ahmed Awan, Abdul Hameed Yazdani, Abdur Razzaq Sabir, Ghulam Ali Allana, Gauher Naushahi, Mohsin Ahsan, Iqbal Mujaddidi, Syed Akram Shah, Ayoob Qadri, Haneef Fauq, Taha Khan, Munawwar Mirza, Mushtaq Qamar, Mazhar Mahmood Sherani, Moinuddin Aqeel, Mehr Noor Muhammad Khan, Vazeerul Hasan Abedi, Younus Hasani and many more.

Interestingly, many of the contributors themselves are now acknowledged as great teachers and scholars and they include (in the order in which their articles appear in the book): Anwaar Ahmed, Jameel Rizvi, Rafiuddin Hashmi, Moinuddin Aqeel, Jamshed Alam, Naqeebullah Razi, Ali Muhammad Khan, Tariq Hashmi, Arshad Mahmood Nashad, Haneef Khalil, Anjum Hameed, Khursheed Rizvi, Muhammad Hasan Hasrat, Tehseen Firaqi and many others.

Dr Anjum Hameed deserves kudos as she has not only been successful in getting contributions from well-known scholars on well-known teachers but she also has taken care to make the book representative of different parts and provinces of the country.

One feels that the series is a useful one and many of the articles in both the volumes have essential biographical details, interesting events and some very useful information.

Some pieces of rare information and bibliographical details adorn them. It would be a good idea to keep the series going and have a third volume published, recording the lives and works of the teachers that are not included in the first two volumes for one reason or the other.

Surprisingly, in these days of ever-increasing inflation, the 521-page book is modestly priced at Rs700.

drraufparekh@yahoo.com

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2023

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