[Quddus Sir being felicitated by Mufti Ismael, Dr. Manzoor Hasan Ayyubi and others in a file photo. (Jameel Sir/ummid.com)]
Malegaon: Quddus Sir, the beloved teacher of countless civil services aspirants, is no more. He died Friday morning at 06:00 and laid to rest at Malegaon Bada Qabristan in the presence of hundreds of mourners about an hour before the afternoon prayers.
My first encounter with Quddus Sir was intriguing. I was on my way back home from J.A.T. College with Altaf Ameen, my maternal uncle and friend, when he asked me to stop. “Quddus Sir”, Mama introduced me to a young chap.
I was mystified because the man standing in front of me was riding a bicycle – hanging on the carriers and handles, and also on his shoulders was dyed yarn so much so that his face was almost covered underneath. “Remember, I had told you about him. He is running training classes for civil services aspirants”, Mama was unstoppable. Ya, I responded somehow. My first meeting with Quddus Sir thus ended with a brief hi and hello. It was in 2010.
It later turned out to me that Quddus Sir, as he was respectfully called by all and sundry, was basically the only son of a weaver Abdul Lateef – a good name among the manufacturers and suppliers of Colored Sarees. He was a thorough gentleman. A bright, short and soft spoken man in his seventies, whenever I met him I always found him smiling.
I had a second encounter with Quddus Sir in 2013 when Fardina Adeel of Assam, Hammad Zafar of Uttar Pradesh and Shakeel Ansari of Maharashtra visited Malegaon on my invitation. All three had cracked the 2012 UPSC Civil Services exam and were in the city to launch “har ghar se aik civil servant” campaign at J.A.T. Campus. Quddus Sir wanted them to visit his coaching center and have an interaction with the students. His center was then running at Jamiat-e-Ulema building off Malegaon Girls High School in Nayapura.
The center was in a still to-be completely built hall where some 70 students had somehow crammed. It did not have eye-catching furniture and modern infrastructure, but was rich in terms of book collection. Even the guests who had just finished their UPSC Civil Services exams were impressed. “All these books have been purchased by Quddus Sir from his own pocket. Moreover, he does not charge anything to the civil services aspirants for coaching”, Jameel Shafeeq, his childhood friend, said.
Quddus Sir and Jameel Shafeeque had completed their graduation from the same college. While Jameel Shafeeque did graduation in B.Sc. in Zoology, Quddus Sir graduated with B.Sc. Chemistry from MSG College Malegaon. They both had grown up at the time when communal riots followed by police excesses were a norm in Malegaon. Friends in studies, Quddus Sir and Jameel Shafeeque both also discussed regularly about the plight of the people affected by the riots, and of the families whose near and dear ones were nabbed in police crackdown later on.
“It was Muslims whose properties were looted and burnt in the riots, it was they who were killed in police firing and it was again they who were arrested in the aftermath. Quddus Sir was just unable to digest this cruel reality”, Jameel Shafeeque recalled.
After regular discussions on the matter they finally arrived at the conclusion that it was the absence of Muslim Police officers, and lack of knowledge and the needed information about the constitution and legal and judicial framework of the country that the Muslims were at the receiving end in such a disgusting manner. And then they themselves decided to appear in the UPSC Civil Services Exam. It was a decision which was unthinkable at least for Malegaon of nineties where the Muslims were struggling for their survival.
“Nobody in Malegaon knew about UPSC exams during those days and therefore expecting any kind of support locally was next to impossible. Even the local booksellers were not in a position to provide us the needed study materials. Hence we brought the books from Delhi and started preparing for the UPSC exams ourselves”, Jameel Shafeeque still remembered.
“After a year of hard work and studies we finally appeared for the 1992 UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Exams in Aurangabad but could not score the needed marks to pass”, he added.
The unsuccessful attempt brought an abrupt end to their journey to join the country’s top bureaucrats failed and they decided to join their family businesses. Quddus Sir soon became content with his father’s textile business but the idea that the local youths must join the civil services kept him restless.
The year 2006 was a turning point in the history of Malegaon. Shaken by a series of bomb blasts perpetrated by the Hindu terrorists, the Muslims of Malegaon rejuvenated after the news that one of their own has cracked the UPSC Civil Services exams. Qaisar Abdul Haque’s success in one of India’s most difficult exams reignited in Quddus Sir the spark somewhere lost in his heart and mind. It was then that he decided to start the counseling and coaching classes for civil services aspirants in a small room of his own which he later shifted to Jamiat Ulema building in Nayapura.
“Why don’t you join our “har ghar se aik civil servant” campaign”, I suggested to him as Fardina Adeel, Hammad Zafar and Shakeel Ansari wrapped up their visit to his center. He didn’t say anything but looked hesitating. It was later learnt that he was cajoled by Mufti Ismael. Mufti Ismael - a politician and former MLA, planned a coaching center for civil services aspirants and he wanted Quddus Sir to manage it. Quddus Sir ran the center for about five years, tirelessly preparing the local youths for the civil services exams –totally unaware of his own final exam the dates of which was already been fixed. The inkling to this effect started to emerge last Ramadan when - quite unexpectedly and without any prior own and family history, he was diagnosed of abdomen cancer. But, the agony of the disease failed to overpower his passion for the UPSC Civil Services exams.
“After the surgery, he needed to frequently visit Nashik for chemotherapy and medical advice. On way back, it was the routine for him to stop by one or two bookshops and buy the study materials for his center”, Altaf Mama recalled.
However, after a year of stressful treatment in Malegaon and Nashik, Quddus Sir succumbed to the deadly disease on Friday June 22, 2018. “None of his students have so far been able to crack the UPSC or MPSC exams. But, Quddus Sir has left behind him a dedicated team which is capable of not only standing against odds but also carrying forward his incomplete mission”, Jameel Shafeeque said.
[The writer, Aleem Faizee, is Founder Editor of ummid.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
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