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Obituary: Remembering Ishaq Mamoo
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It has been more than a month since my younger uncle, whom I fondly called Ishaq Mamoo, passed away. Prof.Mohammad Ishaq Khan was an icon, a luminary in the field of History, especially on Sufism. Being aware that more eligible and qualified people have been writing about his literary and academic achievements, I will confine myself to recording a brief personal account of my relationship with him which began from my childhood and lasted until his untimely demise on 5th April 2013 at the age of 67. This relationship is filled with memorable moments of his touching warmth and affection which characterised his charming personality.

For one, I remember Ishaq Mamoo sitting with me and his only son Aamir, and bewitching us with stories of Sindbad The Sailor. Our sittings were frequent and our excitement was matched by his delight in narrating the stories in his animated, inimitable style. A few years down the line, I picture Ishaq Mamoo sitting in his small kitchen having morning tea and browsing through newspaper. Above him hung a calendar on which was printed the picture of his hero and inspiration, Dr Iqbal(R A), whose verse and ideology he had imbibed at an early stage of his life. He was deeply influenced by Iqbal's vision of Islam and would often be heard quoting his couplets. I still remember that portrait on the calendar depicting Iqbal( R A) with a pen in his hand and an Urdu couplet alongside.

Tu shaheen hai parwaaz kaam hai tera

Tere aagay aasman aur bhi hain...

One of my fondest memories of Ishaq Mamoo again involves Aamir. He (Ishaq mamoo) conducted a mock but serious interview of us school boys on the most complicated subject--Indo-Pak relations. Both of us were feeling puffed up with childish pride at being interviewed by someone who, we knew, was an authority on the topic. He conducted this exercise with utmost seriousness and genuinely wanted to know our impressions. Now, how many grown up uncles would do that? Frankly, I don't think many.

Then again I see him dressed in a sparkling white robe, head shaven, headed for Haj pilgrimage and I hug him and say Labaik Allahuma. His radiant look is etched on my memory forever. He had been preparing for the pilgrimage for long in real spiritual manner and was so contented at having received the call. Besides being an eminent scholar and world renowned historian, with numerous books concerning History and Sufism to his credit, Ishaq Mamoo was an affectionate husband and a loving father.

He would often say 'my roots are in Quran'. His literary achievements were matched by his scrupulous honesty, uprightness and meticulous care for physical and spiritual hygiene. His sartorial elegance was exemplary and yet so simple. To me, he was the best person to emulate. His humility and self-effacing nature was the hallmark of his personality.

Though I would borrow books authored by him and he would gladly share them, I never found him flaunting his intellectual calibre or showing off his scholarship. For me, that is his enduring legacy and a quality that sets him apart. Ishaq Mamoo's unflinching commitment to family values anchors his memory in my mind.

I would conclude with a few of his last utterances made during our visit to my ailing aunt (his elder sister). She has been grappling with a life-threatening ailment. I asked Ishaq Mamoo why was it that such a noble soul had to undergo such acute suffering in life. His straight reply was 'Allah knows best'. To make it clearer he recalled that even the legendary Islamic scholar Ahmed Deedat had to endure 7 years of coma before his death.

And before sipping tea as I callously put the gum I was chewing on the plate, he smilingly reprimanded me in his characteristic style saying, 'Islam is all about manners'. He also quoted Holy Quran exhorting 'compete but only in goodness'.

Lastly, sitting next to his bed in the hospital, way past midnight, a couple of days before he passed away, he beckoned me by the gesture of hand and said, 'a person runs aimlessly after this materialistic world for his entire life but ultimately it is of little value. If I get through this crisis I will build a small health care facility for the destitutes'. Incidentally, a few days before he fell ill he had spoken with Nazir Ahmed Baba, administrator Help Poor Voluntary Trust and offered his services.

And with these noble thoughts and a few unfulfilled wishes he departed to meet his Creator whom he had steadfastly worshipped all his life.

Rest in Peace, Ishaq Mamoo.

Imran Dar.


News Updated at : Saturday, May 25, 2013
 
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