An Unfinished Tribute | By Sirajuddin Aziz


An Unfinished Tribute

CEO, Group Financial Institutions Habib Bank AG Zurich EMOTIONS are endless. The more we express, the more we like to recount.

Since emotions blossom our hearts, there is no room for autumns to exist within us and no blazing wind can wither that blossom, or the spring of beauteous memories. As Pascal said, “The heart has its reasons which reason does not know”.

An impression made on the heart is most lovely for the eye to see. I am filled with grief to write this memoriam about the person who I held so close to my heart. To write a tribute, without getting emotional is an angel’s job; no human can expunge feelings and emotions while doing so.

It is only with emotion, sentiment and with a great burden upon the soul, that one can write a tribute for Mr. Zahid Malik, the erstwhile Editor-in-Chief of the daily Pakistan Observer (PO).

(I can never use the prefix of late or former to his name and position, respectively – it is just not possible!). Simple. No reason. No logic. Just an emotional attachment.

It was either in 2002 or 2003, memory fails me, that I sent a contribution on a religious subject addressed to Zahid Malik Sahib.

Prior to publishing it, he called me to compliment the contents. I was over the moon to receive a seal of acknowledgement from an eminent journalist like him.

That was the beginning of my relationship with him and that will not end with his departure from this temporal world.

My faith assures me that we shall meet.
His words of encouragement prompted me to suggest that Pakistan Observer should publish, on every single day during the holy month of Ramazan, an article on any aspect of Islam.

Zahid Sahib, said, “Let’s do it but will you contribute for each single day?” He posed me a question! I said, “Will you please give me a space on the Op-ed page?” He responded like a true soldier of Islam, “My newspaper in its entirety is at the disposal of all those who wish to portray our noblest religion in its truest form.”

He then asked me to name the title and design of the column – which was done as “The Spirit of Islam” and Faisal Mosque became the insignia of articles on religion throughout and it still continues to be used in Pakistan Observer’s Friday issues. Interestingly, he instructed me that there is no word-count limitation on your articles.

So by Divine Grace, for three consecutive years, PO carried each Ramazan, all articles of mine on some aspects of our religion –
Islam. His love for Islam and the Ummah always exceeded commercial considerations.

In later years, Zahid Malik Sahib encouraged me to write upon the positive role of our armed forces in the struggle against extremist thought. I wrote a couple of semi-political articles, which he very prominently carried on the front page.

Zahid Malik’s powerful pen was never up for sale and consequently, his ‘conscience’ was not, too. He very closely held and guarded the highest traditions of journalistic standards. He never compromised.

Zahid Sahib was both a die-hard believer in the concept of Islamic brotherhood and of the view that it was for Pakistan to play a catalyst role, towards its pursuit.

For this purpose, he had set up the Nazriya Pakistan Council (NPC) which held several meetings, conferences, symposiums and dialogues under its aegis to promote the cause.

I invited and requested him to be a panelist speaker on the launch of my book “The Essence of Islam”.

He readily agreed. On the occasion, amongst many aspects that he spoke on, he had remarked:
“Today we curse our children and blame them for getting spoiled. We say our children are sporting gelled hair, they are wearing faded jeans, they are glued to their mobiles or laptops, they are addicted to Bollywood or Hollywood movies.

But the question is, do we, the parents, have some time for our children? Do we interact with them? Do we play with them? Do we make them sit on our laps and recite the Holy Quran? Alas, the answer is a big NO.

Then why to curse our children? Why to
accuse the younger generation? To illustrate my point, may I say, and I am sure those who have an interest in gardening will appreciate my point.

If you wish to grow good, healthy shining plants and want to see beautiful fresh flowers in your garden, howsoever small or big your garden may be, then you have to do a lot of hard work. You can’t just leave your garden to a mali (gardener).”

He further said, “My second recommendation is to please go deep into the study of the life of the Last Prophet (PBUH).”

Inviting the attention of the audience, Zahid Malik Sahib said, “If you take and combine together four documents which are spread over just 10-12 pages in all i.e. Meesaq-i-Madinah, Sullah Hudabiya, Orders and Directives of the Prophet (PBUH) when the Muslims conquered Makkah and Khutba Hajja-tul-Wida, the last sermon of the Prophet (PBUH) and read carefully, try to
understand the wisdom, Hikmat of Nabi’s (PBUH) directives you will be convinced that the Prophet (PBUH) is rightly respected, even by the West, as the greatest man in all respects in the history of mankind.

Lastly, it is my recommendation and it is my last and third recommendation, help deepen the faith of the people in the bright future of Pakistan.

In this state of Quaid-i-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, I consider Pakistan as an extension of the State of Madinah.

I believe and I have reasons to believe that the establishment of Pakistan was a divine arrangement. It had a divine backing. It is my conviction that to serve Pakistan is to serve Islam. Don’t un-derestimate Pakistan. Know and have faith in the inner strength of Pakistan. “

The rich legacy of traditions and values that Malik Sahib, instituted during his lifetime, continue to serve as a major source of inspiration to multitudes, not just in the field of journalism, but also in many other facets of the society.

In the year 2014, he single handedly navigated the idea to hold a Round Table Conference on Islamic Banking, an idea that received support and recognition from all quarters, including the college of Regulators.

Malik Sahib collected practitioners and users of Islamic Banking products & Services, alongside the Shariah Scholars to debate on how to take Islamic Banking to all segments of the society. Since then, the Round Table Conference has become an
annual feature.

His talented sons, Faisal Zahid Malik, Gauhar Zahid Malik, Omar Zahid Malik and his daughter Saadia Malik, are dedicatedly carrying forward the mission of their beloved Father.

The holding of the 4th Round Table Conference, day before yesterday at a prestigious local hotel in Karachi is a testimony to the continuation of Malik Sahib ‘s legacy.

This event was power packed, with Dr Arif Alvi, The President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, being the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour being Mr. Imran Ismail, the Governor of Sindh.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms; who in 2001 had envisioned the
way forward of Islamic Banking, first by conceptualising the design and architecture and later by way of executing the blueprint.

Besides, the current Governor of State Bank of Pakistan, Dr. Reza Baqir and others who spoke included the former governor, SBP, and current chairperson of Pakistan Stock Exchange, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar and other Presidents of Islamic Banks. The family of Zahid Malik Sahib remains committed to continuing with this highly valued conference in the future too.

Zahid Malik Sahib was a major contributor to the dissemination of the values of our noble religion through the medium of his daily newspaper.

Additionally he published several books on Islam including the very popular “Mazameen e Quran.” Malik sahib was a diehard patriot. He created a forum, “Nazriya Pakistan Council “ devoted to research on the ideology of the country.

Nobody could dare and venture to say in his presence a sigh word of negativism about our beloved, Pakistan. He was a passionate Pakistani.

For him, it was always “Pehle Pakistan” (Pakistan First) and no value of commercial consideration could take him away from that lofty position, he always stood upon – journalistic integrity and professionalism.

A rarity, today! He founded the Nazriya Pakistan Council to promote and forge harmony and togetherness in society and to carry forward the ideals of
Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah; our great founder and Father of the Nation.

A few months back before his departure from this world, sitting in my office in Karachi, he explained to me, about how the dreaded disease affliction was discovered.

He said, I was fine and on a particular day was attending the burial rites of someone at Zuhr time, when Raja Zafar-ul-Haq, walked up to him and said”, ……. In this scorching sun, why is your face so white? That prompted a visit to the doctor …….

Then followed medical tests after tests, and finally as he put it, an insensitive and callous doctor broke the news, in the presence of his better-half. The doctor may have been professional, but the empathy was lacking. I recommended that he should try the traditional Chinese medicines for cure. He researched.

The Chinese Ambassador responded with his grace and Malik Sahib, stood convinced and headed to Beijing. Even while under treatment he was seen working for Pakistan. He used to meet several dignitaries who visited him, while he was convalescing.

I spoke to him a couple of times and he seemed zestful, energetic and positive. While being overseas, I learnt from his office that the Angel of Death and sought to befriend him. Death is not feared by those who have lived wisely, said Gautama Buddha.

Mr. Zahid Malik’s persona was very fatherly. He treated me no differently from his offsprings: Faisal, Gauhar, Omer and Saadia. Memories are sweet to remember. ‘A man’s real possession is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else, is he

And I am rich, for my memories of Zahid Malik, I would like to remind and quote the Persian saying; “The best memory is that which forgets nothing but injuries. Write kindness in marble and write injuries in dust.”

No Himalayan avalanches of words or a Niagara of sentences can do justice to the memory of Zahid Sahib…… hence this is an ‘Unfinished Tribute’. History will continue to write.

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