Prof. Nauman (1951-2009): R.I.P. Sir Nauman

Posted on November 20, 2009
Filed Under >Sophia Hasnain, Education, People
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Sophia Hasnain

(Editor’s Note: Professor Muhammad Nauman was a highly respected academic (Professor of Electronics) as well as a dedicated political and social activist. For more than 20 years he taught at NED University of Engineering, Karachi. He died on Nov. 15. One of his former students and colleague, Sohpia Hasnain wrote this memoir.)

Electronics II… Third year… NED… for me the teacher always had ‘hmmm bachooo’ look in his light brown eyes and a hidden smile… enough to make me crack light jokes in response to his questions, to which he would sometimes respond back with some encouraging sarcasm. Saba was too scared of him to do it and another friend was secretly in love with him. Electronics II was the only subject that I understood in all my four years.

We seldom went to his office, we never had a question to ask, instead we sometime went to Aquila’s (EE lecturer) office who sat next to her. His part of the office had ‘once they came for…’, some marxist poster and always some peculiar lefties protest / meeting invitations.

The same year, I was introduced to YSP (I think this was the name), that his students had made and they used to meet in his friends office around Regal. It was more or less the same crowd that used to bring out Quest, again something that he inspired students to bring out. YSP was about owning schools, teaching computers in schools and setting up some one computer lab in the early 90s. Some members even painted the schools. But we never talked.

By our third year we were fast friends with Neelofur (Chemistry) and used to spend quite a bit of our afternoon time in her apartment in Sharfabad. He frequented that place. There we came to know more about him. His photograph was on her wall where her family’s photos were. He was part of her family.

In 90s US visas and NED students went hand in hand. He was invariably the first choice for recommendation letters. He even arranged jobs for many of his old students in companies of his friends. He made our lives!

Once I went back to NED during my vacations, I had no intention, but bumped into a teacher, who out of the blue offered me a teaching position, bewildered, I went to see him and he laughed out loudly, his oh-that-well-known laughter. This was enough to show how to take the offer.

But once I returned, he was the first one to start sending his students to me for those final year projects. Then I got married, he was there in high spirits and we were trying to hook him up with a friend of Riaz.

Electronics Department was established at NED, separate from the Electrical Department, he refused to be Chairman, but asked me to teach there part time. Then I used to meet him twice a week and almost always complaining about administration, he listened with his hidden smile. We made tea in his office during Ramzan time. He had a very elaborate tea set up there.

We arranged a Live With Talat show outside the KPC, he came to attend, standing in one corner, delighted to see me. Last year we met at Neelofer’s place again, he was constantly talking. He had very strange sense of humor and we sometimes laughed out of respect.

Few months ago, he was here (in Germany) to see his brother, he called me and said, ‘kuch dil ka maamla hay in kay saath, laikin ab umer itni hay kay asli dil ka maamla hay‘… I drove twice to meet him. He was telling Tara what she should ask her abba, after all he introduced himself as ‘tumahrae walid ka dost hoon‘!

Sir Nauman died today.

Here is what The News wrote on his death:

Prominent Marxist, an associate professor at the prestigious NED University of Engineering and Technology and a social activist Mohammad Nauman passed away on Sunday morning, leaving thousands of his students, friends and colleagues mourning.

Born on December 19, 1951 in Bahawalpur, Nauman acquired his secondary education at Cadet College, Petaro, and then graduated from NED University in electrical engineering in 1974. He did his Masters in electrical engineering from North Carolina, USA. After completing his education, Nauman initially joined Karachi Nuclear Power Plant for a while but his inquisitiveness prompted him to opt for NED University where he was teaching for almost 30 years.

He was a prominent student leader associated with left-wing National Students Federation (NSF) during late 1960s and early 1970s and actively participated in the democratic upsurge in 1969 against military dictator Gen. Ayub Khan. Despite having a brilliant academic record, he preferred to teach rather than acquiring lucrative jobs at multinational companies. However, one could find thousands of his students in different organisations across Pakistan at key positions.

Committed to the well-being of the common man right from the beginning, he helped Edhi Foundation to develop its wireless service on a voluntary basis and also served as technical advisor to the defunct Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) in the early 1990s when Fahimuzaman Khan was its administrator. He wrote hundreds of research papers on topics such as bonded labour, and water and power and campaigned for the displaced people of Chotiari Dam and other similar causes. He was widely quoted in national and international media.

Prof. Nauman was quite well till Saturday and attended a dinner in honour of his friend Prof. Tauseef Ahmed Khan who has been awarded a PhD degree recently, at the residence of an old friend Abid Ali Syed. “Many old friends had gathered at my residence where we had arranged a dinner in honour of Prof. Tauseef Ahmed Khan and Prof. Nauman was also there chatting with eminent lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd, politician Yousuf Masti Khan and other friends,” Syed, former city editor of a leading English daily told The News. “At about 6am he came out of his room complaining breathing problem and left us mourning,” his uncle who lived with him said. Prof. Nauman was suffering from asthma for the last couple of years.

Thousands of students, friends, political leaders and activists bode him farewell at the University of Karachi graveyard. Prominent amongst them were Prof. S. M. Naseer, economists Aly Ercelawn, Haris Gazdar and Dr Asad Sayeed, Executive Director Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) Karamat Ali, ex-president Karachi Bar Association Akhter Husain, politician Yousuf Masti Khan, B.M. Kutty, Hameed Haroon, Fahimuzaman Khan, educationist Dr. Syed Jaffar Ahmed and actor and academic Khalid Ahmed. “I never saw him hurting anybody even if he differed with him,” said Tariq Saeed, a senior structural engineer and an old friend of Prof. Nauman. “He was always a helping hand and a true dervish,” he said. “Right from the beginning Nauman was dedicated, committed and disciplined. He was never late,” said Shahab Aftab, another senior engineer and an old friend of Prof. Nauman.

Note: This post is based on original that also appeared at NED Naama.

More Tributes to Sir Nauman

1. Haqq Maghfirath Karay… Nauman Saahab Passes On by Sabahat Ashraf.
2. Dervesh of NED by Tariq Mustafa.
3. An Obituary by Ali Hassan Cemendtaur.
4. Silent middle class hindering social change by Aroosa Masroor.
5. Farewell Prof. Nauman by Beena Sarwar.

14 responses to “Prof. Nauman (1951-2009): R.I.P. Sir Nauman

  1. Rashid Siddiqui says:

    Courtesy of Shafayat Abrar who provided these links.

    Two-part video-clips of Sir Nauman (late) briefing about equipments in HV lab.

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

  2. Prof. Nauman was really a great man and a great teacher. I met him first time, when I got my admission in N.E.D University in 1989. I think it was my first week of admission in N.E.D, I was interested to meet him (through some reference). I knocked his room and came in office, I found a relative young and smart man sitting behind the table full of papers, notes and books. I was interested just to get his opinion about the change of faculty, as it was very common in N.E.D at that time. He discussed me in detail with so attractive style that I could not forget even today. He taught me one course Electronics II. This course was so interactive that in each class we prepared his lecture in advance (which was very rare during my whole stay in N.E.D) as he asked very short question to most of students. Unfortunately I never met him after my graduation, as most of time I was deputed away from Karachi. He was really genuine professional man, not a single time he disclosed his political affiliation in class (according to my little recollections). He was very kind, hard worker and always available to solve the student problems. I pray, Allah bless him with peace in jannah! Ameen.

  3. Riaz Haq says:

    The last time I met Nauman was in summer this year when I visited the NED University Campus in Karachi. He was very warm and gracious as a host. We reminisced about our student days at NED in 1970s, and also discussed how NED students can be helped by the alumni in Silicon Valley. One of the projects we discussed involved setting up web conferences where the NED Silicon Valley alumni could bring in experts to speak on various subjects of interest to his students at NEDUET. We also talked about his involvement and work with Koshish Foundation, a foundation set up in Silicon Valley to help students. 9293%3ABlogPost%3A66070

  4. Muhammed Zafir Zia says:

    A good teacher and an extraordinary human being.
    The presence of students, fellow teachers and friends at his burial in huge numbers showed the love and respect he had earned throughout his life. Apart from actively participating in social programs for the betterment of the society, Prof Nauman was also a member of PEC Think Tank Sub-Committee on Energy and also Convener Technical Institution of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Pakistan – Karachi Centre.
    May ALLAH (SWT) bless his soul(Ameen).

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