Moulvi Hakim Mehmood Ali (1851-1941)
Moulvi Ahmed Ali Sahib Marhoom’s older son was born in Delhi and was brought up under the benevolent tutelage of his honourable father. As was the traditional practice in those days, his education commenced with the reading of the Quran, but neither that nor the primary books in Persian and Urdu had completed when his father passed away. Hafiz Ghulam Rasool Varan who had been one of Zauq Marhoom’s favourite pupils and a close friend of his father took it upon himself to continue the boy’s Arabic and Persian tutoring and with great diligence and kindness helped him accomplish this. Hafiz Varan only taught his students up to this level, those who wished to pursue their studies and interests further would then seek out other ustads to fulfil those requirements. There is a saying in English, “One is a product of one’s environment.” And it is a fact that there are very few individuals who can chart out the course of their lives beforehand and then aim to reach their destination. Most of the time the course of events, one’s emotions and needs cast us into a particular mould and we acquire that same form. At the time that Hakim Mehmood Ali’s schooling under Hafiz Varan ended, he was living in the Habsh Khan Phatak Mohalla in Delhi where Maulana Moulvi Nazir Hussain Sahib Muhaddis Dehlvi was also a resident. Maulana Nazir Hussain’s fame was widespread all over Hindustan and students came from great distances to learn from him. These students would be lodged at various mosques and private residences. The house in which Hakim Mehmood Ali Sahib resided was larger and more spacious than most in the neighbourhood and Hakim Sahib his chacha and mother keen to assist young scholars always had some student in residence. Maulana Moulvi Nazir Hussain Sahib’s repute, interaction with his students and his own natural inclinations drew Hakim Sahib towards enrolling and continuing his education under the Maulana’s guidance in Hadith and Fiqh. The intrinsic truth of knowledge is that the more you learn the greater your enthusiasm for it grows.
His mother had returned to their vatan for the marriage ceremony of her younger brother Sheikh Amjad Ali and other than his Chacha Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib there was no one else in Delhi at that time. On the advice of his elders, he moved to Aligarh to pursue his scholarship under the guidance of Maulana Lutfullah Marhoom, an established and highly acclaimed scholar of his time. Unfortunately, the latter’s ill health had forced him to retire to his native town of Palkhana, and his students had been compelled to disperse thus rendering Hakim Sahib’s stay there infeasible. With the intention of gaining and furthering his education under the guidance of Maulana Moulvi Abid Ali Sahib Firangi Mahal, he set his sights on Lucknow. The Maulana who was familiar with his family and their circumstances welcomed him warmly and arranged for his lodgings and tuitions. Because of Ramazan, there was some time before the instructional sessions began and Hakim Sahib decided to avail of this break to visit his vatan and meet his mother and other relatives there. But God had other plans laid out for him. Maulana Nazir Ali Sahib Marhoom, about whom details will be given later, had come down to Fatehpur and established a course of lectures and educational sessions there. Maulana Sahib’s profound and exhaustive scholarship, his erudite academic knowledge, his humility and unique unanimity was such that no individual who had the good fortune of being in his presence could escape unaffected by his charisma. Furthermore, Hakim Sahib’s mother and other relatives were emphatic that “students from Lucknow and other places have come here to study, what reason is there for you to go elsewhere?” The reasoning was sound and besides the magnetic dynamism of the Maulana had already had its impact. The idea of leaving was relinquished, and the pursuit of learning was taken up on native soil and continued thus for two to two and a half years. The academic curriculum was almost complete when the idea of following in the profession of some of his illustrious elders, namely Tibb occurred to him. Introductory books on Tibb were taught by Maulana Nazir Ali Sahib Marhoom after which he resolved to complete his education in this field and attain the necessary clinical skills in Lucknow. There he continued and completed his apprenticeship under the guidance of Hakim Mohammad Ismail Sahib Marhoom and Hakim Ali Mohammad Sahib Marhoom. The fame of Hakim Mehmood Khan Sahib Dehlvi Marhoom’s practise was widespread throughout the four corners of Hindustan and was indeed an incitement for every young Tibbi student who had an interest and means of taking up residence in Delhi. Furthermore, his mother had also left Fatehpur for Delhi which now also prompted him to make the move from Lucknow to Delhi. There he trained under Hakim Mehmood Khan Sahib Dehlvi Marhoom and his son Rashid Shifa-ul-Mulk Hakim Abid al-Majid Khan Marhoom, completed his course of book-learning, received his Sanat and worked at the clinic for an extended period. On returning to his vatan he pledged his services to his rishtay ka chacha Hakim Masoom Ali Sahib Meh and mastered the more abstruse points of this science as the Sanat granted him indicates. With this, his education was complete and at this point. His own family situation now compelled him to seek gainful employment.
A gentleman by the name of Shah Abu al-Hasan Sahib of Kara-Manikpur needed an individual to educate his children and sent out a request Maulana Moulvi Nazir Ali Sahib to assist him in “kindly recommending a student who would undertake this task, for which he would be extremely grateful.” The Maulana chose Hakim Mehmood Ali for this undertaking, aware that the assignment would offer the young man a good opportunity to practice his clinical profession. The Maulana’s decision was such that no one among his students could object to it. Hakim Sahib readily accepted the appointment and remained in Manikpur for approximately two years and fulfilled his obligations while at the same time contributing to the welfare of humanity by pursuing his Tibbi practice. The vicissitudes of life carried Hakim Sahib through various places of employment; at one point following the advice of his friend Moulvi Hakeemuddin Sahib he also studied and obtained a degree in Law from Allahabad University. On a visit home, he was persuaded by Maulana Nazir Ali Sahib to join him in Hyderabad along with a number of his students at the invitation of Nawab Bashir Nawaz Jung, the premier Taluqedar of Karimnagar who wished to avail of the Maulana’s company. Several relatives and kinsmen were already employed and resident in Hyderabad and Gulbarga and so the group made leisurely progress stopping along to meet friends and compatriots on the way to Karimnagar. Nawab Bashir Nawaz Jung Marhoom who had become an ardent devotee of the Maulana hosted the group with great largesse and generosity. After a short stay, the Maulana returned to Fathepur leaving Hakim Sahib behind to pursue his legal practice in Karimnagar. For this he needed a Sanad from legal department of the Nizam’s administration, but since he already possessed a University degree and a certificate from the British government his application was readily accepted by them and he was granted a third-level Sanad by the Nizam’s High Court with which he began his practice within the very same district. A year later he sat for the government examination and received a High Court Sanad. Karimnagar was not a large district and by this time the author and other relatives had also moved to Hyderabad, therefore Hakim chose to move his practice to the city as well and for the next nineteen to twenty years he continued to execute his official duties with great diligence and conscientiousness; the remunerations too were satisfactory. A post for a lawyer to update the official court system in the district of Warangal came up and Nawab Saeed Jung Marhoom a member of the Supreme Court approached Hakim Sahib with the suggestion that if he was interested in the position he would propose his name for the post. Since Hakim Sahib was amenable to the suggestion, his name was forwarded and approved by the Department of Justice. Only after it was all finalised were we informed about the change. None of us were in favour of this move or advocated his decision to forsake a well-established practice in the city as well as his kith and kin for an increase of a mere Rupees 200 a month, but now there was no point in opposing it. Thus, Hakim Sahib along with his family moved to Warangal for the next ten to twelve years and fulfilled his official obligations while still carrying on with his own legal practice.
In the year 1342 H/ 1924 CE, on the tenth of the month of Shawwal, he embarked on a pilgrimage to the sacred city of Mecca and returned home having performed the divinely ordained pilgrimage of Hajj. Owing to ill-health and more so to the perilous nature of the journey, he was unable to visit the Holy city of Medina. This was a source of tremendous grief to him; therefore, some years later he again performed Hajj and complete the pilgrimage to Medina Sharif.
Hakim Sahib was meticulous and punctilious in the execution of his religious and secular duties. Diligent and accustomed to hard work, the energy and time he spent he spent on reading and writing would be challenging for a much younger man. Consequently, other than the perusal and inquiry into copious books on Religion, Tibb and Law, he had ample time to compile and compose his own compositions and writings. Amongst these, his treatise on pestilence, plagues, influenzas, which were compiled and transcribed after extensive research and hard work are particularly worth mentioning. The monographs that were written for the benefit of the populace were published in large numbers and freely distributed and were viewed with great respect by professional practitioners. There were no financial expectations from these writings nor were there any monetary gains. However, his legal compilations and writings, especially his astrological summaries brought him considerable financial benefits.
Hakim Sahib was married during his Delhi sojourn to his Chacha, Ali Ahmed Sahib’s eldest daughter Bibi Ruqiya; the Khutbah Nikah had been read by Maulana Moulvi Nazeer Hussain Sahib Muhaddis Dehlvi Marhoom. There were no children from this union and Hakim Sahib and Bibi Ruqiya adopted some of the author and his cousin Qutabuddin Ahmed’s children and bought them up as their own. Bibi Ruqiya passed away while they were still residing in Warangal and the children they had adopted could no longer remain with Hakim Sahib due to their employment or educational demands. Moreover, Hakim Sahib was getting on in years and his governmental employment had also ended, therefore he yielded to our entreaty, wrapped up his life in Warangal and moved back to Hyderabad and started living with us. In those days much of his time was devoted to the worship of the Almighty, scholarly study, reading and writing. The rest of his time was committed to the Dewa Khana which had been his life-long interest. The running of the Dewa Khana was entrusted to a dewasaz, but Hakim Sahib personally supervised it himself. The medicines that were produced were prepared with great care and attention and no expense was spared in their making. A substantial quantity of these were utilised in treating the various maladies and ailments of friends and relatives. Amongst those people who came for treatment, very few were charged. The younger children of the household would visit the Dewa Khana two even three times daily professing stomach aches in order to get a taste of the sweet and sour churan that was produced there. The dewasaz would have liked to curtail them but Hakim Sahib took great pleasure in these visitations and gave instructions that sweets and fruit be handed out along with the churan. During this period, all of Hakim Sahib’s expenses were sustained by profits from his accrued savings, income from his ancestral properties in Fathepur and earnings from the cultivated lands there and so on. Not only was this income more than adequate for own personal expenses it enabled him to regularly assist those relatives from Fathepur who were in need. And in times of need, for those of us whose salaries in those days were a thousand or twelve hundred Rupees, he would offer monetary assistance either in the form of a gift or a loan without interest. Throughout his life, Hakim Sahib endeavoured to keep his body and soul together through his own effort and not rely upon or be dependent on the goodwill of his kith and kin. As already mentioned earlier, Hakim Sahib was very conversant and proficient in Persian and Arabic and had a refined appreciation of poets and poetic compositions. Earlier on in life, he wrote poetry himself as well and according to the customs of the times had studied and practised the composition of Persian poetry. Some of these Persian poems are still in the author’s possession. He used to tutor in Tibb-i-Arabi (medical Arabic) along with its syntax and morphology as well as the books of Hadiths. Indeed, the author and other members of the family constantly benefitted from his knowledge.
Hakim Sahib’s physical and mental faculties were excellent until the very end of his life. Early one day when he got up for his morning prayers and stepped out of the room for wazzu, he slipped on the stairs and fell. The injury to his back and midriff was severe, getting-up and sitting-up became problematic, and this stumble became the pretext for his death. At approximately ninety years of age, he passed away on the 16th of Rajab 1360 H (7th August 1941). He is buried in the cemetery of Syed Musa Shah Qadri where our other kin such as Qutabuddin Ahmed, Fareeduddin Ahmed and many more lie in eternal rest.
The only daughter of Sheikh Ahmed Ali lived only eight years after her father’s death. She had an extraordinary zeal for learning and her Chacha Moulvi Ali Ahmed Sahib, who was unemployed at that time took on her education with extraordinary enthusiasm. Having taught her to read the Quran and Urdu books he began to tutor her in Persian with great accuracy and precision. During this period, she fell ill and after a prolonged illness passed away unmarried. For her mother whose life was still overshadowed by her widowhood, the unremitting anguish of this fresh, eternal loss is beyond words. For many years she mourned and wept unceasingly for her beloved daughter. Throughout her life, if ever the mention came up her distress would be palpable.
She is buried in the Dargah of Hazrat Baqi Billah alongside the Mazar of her Dada Sheikh Makhdoom Baksh.