By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
25 May, 2015
On Saturday, the 9th May 2015, Farhad Saheb, the Editor Publisher of the monthly Urdu Magazine Sautul Haq—The Voice of Truth -- passed away!
Ritually Muslims remind themselves of the certainty of return to their Maker by reciting the part of the Quranic verse 2-156; it is seldom realised that in the context of the section 19 of which this verse is a part, has whole lot of meanings behind it:
2-156, “Who say when afflicted with calamity: to the only God we belong and to Him is our return”.
To the readers of the magazine and to many worthy learned scholars who contribute their articles for it; his passing is a calamity of some proportion.
Farhad Saheb was the flag bearer – a fearless soldier for the propagation of “truth”, in writing articles, editing, getting the magazine printed, addressing and posting it to subscribers, and more almost single handed.
In this day and age, with the conditions in a country like Pakistan, his open hearted, fearless and well-meaning criticism of the political, religious, institutional authorities and corrupt common behaviour filled one with terror for his life.
Foreign powers and internal demagoguery too never escaped his sharp tongue. To call a spade a spade was his hallmark; not often seen in third world countries. Yet it is a miracle that he survived and died a natural death.
His sense of humour was legendary and has to be encountered to be believed. One example is:
On the cover envelope he had got printed this note to address the frequent loss of the magazine in the post, which the subscribers must have complained about:
“Greetings Sir Thief. Kindly do not steal this envelope, others have paid for it. When they complain, I have to send another one. The post office is at some distance from my place, the return journey rickshaw fare is hundred rupees! Be brave and give me your address and I will send you the magazine free of charge.
Do not be surprised that I called you Sir. We call all thieves Sir. Farhad”
This sense of humour often pervades his writings too. He invented a character as one of his regular friend visitor and named him Sain’ Baba. The conversation held with him was a litany of ills in the mismanagement of his country. Though full of humour, any political leader of the country worth a pinch of salt should commit Harakiri if ever they read them.
His knowledge of Arabic language, local and pure; for he had spent a long time serving in police force in the Middle East, was deep and therefore it too added to his knowledge of Quran, which was scholarly, a depth that left one astounded on reading his articles on the matter of Deen and related issues.
His sojourn in ME has given him deep insight to the character aspects of Arabs and he was generous enough in acknowledging the good ones that he saw in them.
For some time now he was not keeping well health wise and was requesting the younger generation to take over the chores of running the magazine. As far back as 2003 December he had penned this; a part of which is given here:
“We have, in very trying conditions lit a lamp of Deen in the form of Sautul Haq, for only in God’s way. It is now up to the admirers of Deen to spread the light for the humanity of the world with the Quran’s message. Because after the passing of the Apostle of God, the responsibility of spreading the message in action is put on the shoulders of the Muslim nation 6-19”.
One hopes he finds some brave and learned people; otherwise it would truly be a calamity if Sautul Haq folds and one would be forced to utter Mirza Ghalib’s line with a slight change of tense:
اِک شمع رہگی تھی سو وہ بھی خموش ہے!
There was left but one lamp but that too is extinguished!
Or, as Arman Neyazi of New Age Islam has quoted to me, a poet:
زمين کھا گیّ آسماں کيسے کيسے!
How indeed the earth has swallowed the sky!
How true is the expression of sorrow! May God give his family and dear ones the strength to bear his loss!
One is somehow sure that God All Mighty will place Farhad Saheb in the choicest grade of heaven. He would light up the place with his sense of learned humour for all his companions there.