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October 15th, 2018

Death of a good friend

I would like to write a few words about my friend Dr Arshad Hussain, who passed away on 8th October 2018 — inna li-llahi wa inna ilai-hi rajiun.

Here is a screen shot from a webpage about him at the National University of Computer and Emerging Sciences, Lahore, where he was Professor.

There is series of interviews with him on Youtube, the first of which is at this link:

My introduction to him took place as follows.

It was around the year 1990, when no websites existed. The Internet did exist in an early form, providing communication between academic institutions in Western countries. One of its features was known as ‘usenet’ discussion groups. There was a vast number of such groups, each dealing with some topic of discussion, on which messages could be posted by those few who had Internet access. Among the groups there were some known as cultural societies, and one of these was called soc.culture.pakistan. I used to contribute to it on topics relating to Islam and the Ahmadiyya Movement.

One day I received an e-mail (since the e-mail addresses of the contributors appeared with their messages) from a person unknown to me with the simple question: “Are you grandson of Dr Allah Bakhsh?” I replied with astonishment, asking him how could he possibly know? He then introduced himself as Arshad Hussain, Ph.D. student at New York Polytechnic, whose father, Sheikh Muhammad Hussain, had been treasurer of the Central Anjuman Lahore. From my messages to that group he had deduced that I was a member of the Lahore Ahmadiyya Jamaat, although I had never said this in the discussions, and he further guessed that I might be grandson of Dr Allah Bakhsh. We had some further exchange of e-mails at that time and there the contact ended.

Many years later, when I was visiting Lahore in October and November 2010, I gave a presentation at Darus Salaam about our 1985 Cape Town court case, as it was the 25th anniversary of the conclusion of that case. Arshad Hussain was in the audience and he came up to me after my talk. He was then the Head of the Lahore campus of his University. He arranged with me that on a convenient day he would take me to his University and show me around. On that visit, he took me into his office where we talked about the developments in the telecommunications field since the days when we were on the usenet group mentioned above, and we also talked about the history of Islam in recent times in the Indian subcontinent, and he told me of a book he was reading on this subject. He took me down to the area where staff and students were having lunch and told me that they don’t have separate tables for staff, so that the staff and the students are mixed with each other when sitting at lunch. He told me of their security concerns and the precautions they need to take due to threats of terrorist violence from fundamentalist groups. These groups are opposed to both modern education and mixed male/female education of the kind that they had at his institution.

It so happened that Dr Arshad Hussain was due that day to open a new computer lab for students, in which there are computers with the software installed that they require to do their courses. He honoured me with the privilege of conducting the opening, and I cut the ribbon, declaring the lab open, and spoke to the technical staff present there about their computer installation, comparing with my own experience in my University in England.

I am, consequently, terribly sad to hear of his death at an unexpectedly early age. He was an expert in his field and also well-informed about Islamic matters and issues concerning our Jamaat. As a human being, he was very humble, friendly and hospitable. May Allah grant him forgiveness and protection, and admit him into His great mercy to join His righteous servants, ameen!

— Zahid Aziz

One Response to “Death of a good friend”

  1. Dear Dr. Zahid Aziz, thank you for putting to words these wonderful memories you’ve recalled of your good friend. These are the stories that inspire and remind us of the brevity of this life. To Allah we belong and to Him we return.