Prof. Khwaja Masud: Another comrade passes on

We were sad to learn of the passing away of Prof Khwaja Masud on Saturday, Jan 16, 2010. The well known educationist, newspaper columnist, Marxist intellectual and writer died in Islamabad after a brief illness, aged 88, leaving behind two sons. He played a good innings.

According to an obituary note in Dawn on Sunday, he was born in Campbellpur (now Attock) in 1922. He attended Scotch Mission School in Daska, graduated from Murray College, Sialkot, and had a Masters degree in mathematics from Government College, Lahore (1944), after which he joined Gordon College, Rawalpindi, as lecturer. Appointed principal of the college in 1972, he retired in 1982. 
He played a leading role in setting up the Progressive Writers Association in Rawalpindi, was an active trade unionist, and a founder member of the Islamabad Culture Forum and Islamabad Philosophical Society. He was associated with progressive writers and intellectuals like Sajjad Zaheer, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Mohammad Hussain Ata and Sibte Hassan. The obituary note draws from a Dawn report of August 11, 2007, ‘Khwaja Masud — a teacher par excellence’ by Ashfaq Saleem Mirza commemorating Prof Masud’s 85th birthday.

NOTE: The Dawn note is somewhat inaccurate in its mention of Prof Khwaja Masud’s association with Democratic Students Federation and the Pindi Conspiracy Case. Prof Masud did not “join” the DSF although he “certainly mentored DSF activists in Gordon College, including Abid Minto”. (Also, the DSF launched in Karachi at least was not “the student wing of the Communist Party”). Prof Masud was also not part of the Pindi Conspiracy Case, “which was in any case manufactured to snuff out the nascent left and the Communist Party” (S.M. Naseem).

4 Responses

  1. I was a third year student in Gordon College in 1946-47 Prof. Khwaja Masud taught us Mathematics B. He was a very good teacher, who could teach Mathematics with a smile and with a rare sense of humour. While teaching Mathematics he also passed on his views about the basic equality of human beings. He left a lasting impression on me.

  2. During 1972-74, he used to teach us Mathematics in B.Sc. His period used to be the first and I used to come from Kahuta by bus, a journey of about one and ahalf hour which often resulted in late coming. I remember and still recall the class room where during his lecture on “Calculus” and explaining the concept of “limit” of a function when it tends to zero (Limit d(y)/d(x) when d(x) tends to zero), he exampled Iqbal’s beautiful verse:
    “Aalam-e-soz-o-saaz mein wasl sey barhh kar hai firaque
    Wasl mein marg-e- aarzoo, hijr mein lazzat-e-talab”.

  3. In 1967 I was B.Sc. student in Gordon College Rawalpindi. Khawaja Masud used to teach us Mathematics. His elder son Yaldram was in same class and used to be my practical partner in the Physics Lab. So I was very close to Khawaja Masud. He was a very good teacher and very humble human beeing. God bless his soul.

  4. I was a student of B.Sc (Hons) at Gordon College during 1960-62. Prof Khwaja Masud taught us not only mathematics but inspired us to go beyond simple academic excellence. He was an inspiration to all of us to stand up against tyranny and injustice. He kindled the flame of intellectual inquiry in his students. He would often ask us as to what we had read during the past one year in addition to our text books. He would quote from Iqbal, Ghalib and Faiz and many Western philosophers we looked forward to his lectures despite mathematics being a somewhat dry topic.

    I had come from Government College Lahore, and one day I said to him “Sir, we should form a debating society on the pattern of Young Speakers Union of GC in the style of House of Commons.” He said “Why don’t you and I would support you.” We formed the debating club and it was a roaring success within a couple of months. We used to hold debates every Friday and there were no official office bearers. I acted as the coordinator and Khawaja Sahib as the patron and every week we would nominate with concurrence a speaker of the house, leader of the house and a leader of the opposition and a topic for debate. I would muster a few speakers and then anyone who wanted to could speak for or against the Motion.

    Khwaja Sahib was always present but he never interrupted or intervened; his mere presence kept the students in check for their behavior. There was a lot of humor and witty repartee between the speakers and the audience/members of the house and Khwaja sahib’s smile would put a seal on a brilliant or witty comment, question and the answers. I had the good fortune of meeting Khwaja sahib in various literary and cultural events in Islamabad over the years.

    The last time I saw him was outside the gate of the Academy of Letters where I had gone to attend a literary reference. I inquired if he needed a ride. He told me that he had come in his own car. He was nearly 86 or 87 years of age. He was as usual immaculately dressed with a smile on his face.

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