My Teacher, Guide and Colleague

Prof. Muhammad Ishaq Khan was a historian with deep commitment and focus

A Tribute


Prof. Khan's profile, for its depth and reach, is formidable. He authored several books on various significant themes of Kashmir history. He historical research was fresh and pathbreaking. His articles got published in journals of international repute. He held some vital academic and administrative positions at Kashmir University and taught with great passion for more than three decades.
I had the privilege to work for my Ph. D thesis under his guidance. As a research scholar with limited resources I sought a great inspiration and encouragement from the late professor. I got an opportunity to  visit various literary centers of India included  Royal Asiatic Society Bengal, National Library Bengal, Khuda Baksh Library Patna, Shibli Numani Library Nadwat-ul-uloom Lucknow, Moulana Azad Library AMU, Deoband Seminary, National Archives of India in connection with the collection of data for my research. During my stay at Calcutta I received a letter from late professor wherein he mentioned that he was in need of a book “Ibn Taimiya’s Struggle against Popular Religions” by Muhammad Umar Menon, which was not available in the Valley. To come up to the expectations of my guide I searched for the book and got it Xeroxed from National Library Bengal and on my return I handed over the copy to him. Just for want of a couple of references from the book he was delighted on receiving it. Seen in this perspective whenever fresh arrival of books would seek entry into the Departmental Library, he probably would be the first person amongst his colleagues to borrow relevant books from the new collection in order to keep himself abreast with the latest trends in the area of his specialization. Such a professional commitment indeed infused enthusiasm among his close students and research scholars. What is more interesting to note that he rarely would  keep books  unnecessarily at home and whenever the purpose of the book was served he, without wasting time returned the same to the library for the benefit of research scholars and the students, something not being followed by many of his colleagues at the University. As a mentor, he would always advice me to read quality books of the celebrated and eminent historians with an avowed objective of seeking insights from them.
Himself well –versed in source material, the late professor did not compromise on quality research. I vividly remember that I made a reference from “Itihaf-ul-Nubla” of Nawab Sidiq Hasan Khan ( one of the protagonists of Ahl-i-Hadith reformist/revivalist thought in India) which late professor did not agree with until he himself was satisfied after confirming  the reference from the same book. This was his approach of dealing with the manuscripts of  research scholars. However, every page he corrected or suggested for recast/revision gave a distinction to it by his wide vocabulary and scholarly methodology. As a guide, he was not interested in mere narration of facts but always emphasized on interpretation which to him was the main criteria to earn name as a historian. This is the reason that his analytical, critical and interpretative approach prominently reflected in his works of lasting value in particular “History of Srinagar, 1846-1947”: A study in socio-cultural  change; “Perspectives on Kashmir”: Historical Dimensions. "Kashmir's Transition to Islam" The Role of Muslim Rishis. This is also the reason that every work of the late professor has been taken seriously by academia, scholars and intellectuals and is read with avidity. His works are copiously referred and quoted not only by scholars within but also without mainly in view of their critical recognition and interpretation in addition to the utilization of the primary sources. Thus he was the professional historian in the real sense.
Guiding scholars had been his chosen mission. In view of his professional commitment, sincerity for a cause and dedication towards research, he had been a role model for his students, research scholars and colleagues like me. Whenever I got an opportunity to visit his residence I had always found him busy in reading, writing and remembering Almighty Allah. He would always try to inculcate the same spirit of work culture amongst his scholars from various ideological backgrounds and advised them to make serious efforts in reconstructing the past in a scholarly fashion, sticking to certain definite rules of establishing facts, interpreting evidence the way historians of repute do, dealing source material with care and in a most professional manner.
 I am pained at his sudden demise and with all honor I offer my sincere tributes to late professor for his outstanding contribution towards the discipline of social sciences. May his soul rest in peace.
(Prof Bashir Ahmad Khan teaches at the Department of History, University of Kashmir)

Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST

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