Dr. Jaferi Siddique

Two personal recollections of the late psychiatrist, businessman and educationist, Dr. Siddique Jafferi, who was also the Chairman of the Bangalore-based International Seerah Academy and Chief Editor of Reforms magazine.

 

Fair, tall, well-built, broad-faced, of sober countenance and sincere sight and vision… such were the physical features of brother Jafferi. He dressed himself decently, as decently as he spoke and behaved. If it is true that you are – to a degree – what you wear, he wore – significantly – white (or close to it) and carried an aroma of whiteness. It could also be classified as refreshingly white, because he wore an odor that, sort of, worked as a mild refresher.

He spoke neither hurriedly nor in fast tones. Sentences were well-made and well-meant. If you sat with him, you knew in a short while that he was well-meant, unassuming, upright, sincere, and cultured.

He was not a man of special abilities, but rather, of special qualities. Not of a particular mental sharpness, he remained close to what was within the range of possibility. Sincerity came to him the natural way. It was natural therefore, that he was natural, and did things in the natural way. Artificiality was beyond his means: he did not know the pathways to it and so would fail if he attempted it.

He never slandered any, and – keeping with his own character – measured people by their qualities rather than abilities. Simplicity in carriage, and in all that he did, was his hallmark. As against the half-baked da‘wah workers unable to change themselves, but in a hurry to change the world, he knew his limits, worked within those limits, and respected the sources and the source-carrier scholars. He wasn’t well-read, but rather concentrated on the little he knew well-enough, which he dealt with objectively and passionately, occasionally creating depth in it.

As he did not talk big, attempt big, and achieve big, especially those that win immediate attention and applause, he was not hugely popular. He was often dismissed as a mediocre by people who measure by immediate results. But to remove him from the list of figures that danced before the minds of someone short-listing those that could be put on the stage at a particular event, was not as easy. One way or another, he had to be brought in. Perhaps another reason was that he preferred to remain aloof rather than jump into the fray. He waited for invitation rather than volunteer services.

His absence will be felt in gradual degrees, quite a while after his well-attended burial prayers. As his coffin was lifted, people were not exactly choked with emotions, but they did feel a little bit of dejection – something was amiss, something was going away. Something that was dear at the sub-conscious level.

 

In Memoriam: Dr. Jaferi Siddique
Safia Iqbal, Delhi

It is the fourth day after the demise of Dr. Jaferi Siddique. Sitting in his office, as I pen this, a host of memories flood the mind, vivid images, hundreds of incidents. Suddenly, his voice on a cold winter morning 25 years ago, comes back here: “Every person must make at least one person a Muslim in his lifetime, and that one person must be his own self.”

The only son of his parents, Dr. Jaferi was born in 1942 the South Indian town of Bhatkal. He was blessed with a pleasant personality and beauty since childhood. As a boy, he was extremely intelligent, well mannered and loved by all. As a young man, he was graceful, soft-spoken, highly pleasant, chaste and well-groomed. His God-gifted qualities blossomed further under the intense light of education, which he received in Bombay and Bangalore. He was honoured with a doctorate in Psychiatry too. He launched his career in Dubai, spending 18 years there as an educationist-cum-businessman. He pioneered the concept of modern education on the basis of Islamic tenets and launched a crusade against western culture.

In 1987, he returned to his homeland India to continue his services in the educational, social and religious fields with new vigour. He launched ‘Reforms’ the first Indian magazine of its kind in the area of personality development and reformation and edited it till his last breath. He founded the International Seerah Academy, Bangalore with the objective of research and personality reformation in the light of Qur’an and Seerah. Under its auspices, he conducted weekly training courses of personality development for both laymen and ‘Ulama (religious scholars). His lectures were highly popular and influential. Proficient in Arabic, Urdu and English, he held a deep insight into Qur’an and Seerah. He stood above narrow regional, racial and sectarian prejudices. The rich and the poor gained equally from his programs, projects and talks. His wife Dr. Rokhiya Jaferi Siddique was his faithful companion who zealously worked in and shared all his projects and activities.

A person could listen to him for hours without tiring, for he talked with ease and eloquence at length on serious or light subjects, punctuating it with jokes and pleasantries. Generally, a person’s kith and kin grieve for their dead. But, here as I write this, I see hundreds, all strangers, grieving and weeping like sons and daughters. Each has his own story of love and help received from Dr. Jaferi.

Popularly known as ‘Bhaiya’, he was an affectionate father, a loving husband, a caring son and a Godfather to hundreds. Yesterday, I attended a phone call from his sworn rival who was lamenting his demise. Yes, that’s it. Even his foes admired him for his noble virtues. Personally, I know that he pleasantly attended for hours together to a person who had harmed and hurt him immensely. His non-Muslim friends too respected him for his noble qualities.

Through his immense communication skills, pleasing personality and vast knowledge, he transformed hearts and minds onto new vistas and new ways of life. Criticism was a complete no-no for him. Praise and love were his tools for one and all. This writer too was changed by him and introduced to practical Islam by him. Dear to me as a father, he was a friend, philosopher and guide, a Godfather who stood by me in the severest times. Recently, he, along with my family, was the one and only person who came and stood by us despite his illness when I was faced with a deadly crisis and was lingering in a near-death situation in a hunger strike when extremists attacked, gheraoed and destroyed my school. He was there when lifetime friends and relatives changed track and vanished.

Today, I see here hosts of grieving people surging up, all inconsolable and claiming to be his spiritual sons, daughters, brothers and sisters. And I thought that he was Godfather only! No wonder that a village in Africa has been named after him. Such men, rare today, give us an idea of what the Prophet’s true followers must be like.

“Were it possible, I’d ask you
O mud what did you do with those priceless treasures entrusted to you.”

May Allah reward him amply for his services towards the Islamic mission! May Allah rest his soul in eternal peace in the gardens of Jannatul-Firdaus, Aameen!

In this world, he was fortunate to be buried in his own mother’s grave, since they could not find space in the graveyard full of the dead.