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Syed Ali Asghar Abedi
Benefactor of a thankless community

Syed Ali Asghar Abedi, former editor of Dawat, and a noted Urdu literary figure died in Mumbai 26 April. Before he breathed his last Abedi Saheb was in the state of total amnesia and consequently suffered a total loss of memory.

Ironically the community for which Abedi sacrificed a lot, not only has forgotten him, but also neglected him. Even his close associates were oblivious of his sufferings and did not help him during his last days. The noble man died a lonely death and in agony. In his death bed since last few months Abedi Saheb had lost all voluntary and non-voluntary control over his body. Most of the time he was tied to the bed as due to pain he used to become violent and in the process hurt himself.

It may be recalled that just a couple of years ago, Mr. Abedi who migrated to London during Emergency in 1975, was the victim of racial attack against the Asians in London. That time he seriously received severe head injury. Doctors opine that is the major reason for his current loss of memory. 

"Some former Bajrang Dal insiders have given us information on how the riots were planned," said justice (retd) PB Sawant, a former Supreme Court judge. "According to them, preparations of these riots were made at least six to eight months in advance."

What pains most was that a person who has given his everything for the benefit of the community, the same community did not take care of him during his last days of suffering. His elder son I K Abedi is disheartened by the fact that even his colleagues and close friends neglected Abedi Saheb when he needed them most. "If the community treats its benefactors in such a way who will take up the cause of the community selflessly", Asked I K Abedi.

Born in Hyderabad, Mr. Abedi shifted to Allahbad in the initial years when he was appointed as editor of Al-Insaf. Later he shifted to Delhi and took over as editor of Jamaat-E-Islami's biweekly Dawat. After serving Dawat for many years, Mr. Abedi came to Mumbai and joined Urdu Times as editor. Meanwhile, he came out with Tulu, a literary and political weekly, whose last issue which was a special edition on international politics became very popular and still recollected as an extraordinary issue, by many of Mr. Abedi's fans. 

Mr Sahab Bankoti of Idara Dawatul Quran, who worked with Mr Abedi, said, "Abedi Saheb was a genius. His editorials were eagerly awaited. It produced requisite impact," he said. "Many a time Abedi Saheb asked me to wait in the cab below, he would go up and write editorials in a couple of minutes and come back". Mr Abedi used to write guest editorial for Hindustan weekly regularly those days. 

The book penned by Mr Abedi Communism Roosi Tajurba Gaah Mein (Communism in the Russian laboratory) became quite popular in the Urdu world. Siddique Qureshi, another old time colleague of Mr.Abedi, said that the greatest strength of Mr Abedi was his simplicity. "He was a very bold and honest person, which reflected in his writings. His knowledge of the contemporary issues was par excellence and his command over the subjects he wrote was a class apart" he said. 

The contribution made by Mr Abedi in forming the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, may not be a known fact. But his contribution is immense. As a general secretary of the first reception committee formed to organize the inaugural convention of AIMPLB in Bombay he was in the forefront in making arrangements. "Abedi Saheb worked day in and day out convincing Ulema to attend the convention and join the AIMPLB. With Baba-e Qaum late Yusuf Patel Saheb, Mr Abedi was responsible in making first AIMPLB convention a huge success," said Mr Bankoti who was the join-secretary then of the reception committee. 

Abedi's commitment for the cause of the community can be gauged by the fact that he donated his family apartment to Jamaat-e Islami for its activities. Like a true soldier he never asked questions and accepted what ever responsibilities came his way for the benefit of the community. Even he left for London not for economic gains but to take up the responsibility of Muslim community weekly Azaan, Mr Bankoti who spent few months with him in London said that, "Abedi Saheb’s migration to London was his great sacrifice. He left behind his family and his secured position in Mumbai. Even in London he wrote for local English newspapers and magazines as well as the BBC Urdu Service taking up issues close to his heart".

Usually people get affected and influenced by the western countries high living standard. Abedi was the exception. "Even in London Abedi Saheb led a simple and humble life. Neither his zeal for working for the community lessen nor his simplicity. When Abedi Saheb returned to India few years ago he came empty handed, neither bank balance nor any properties. Whatever he earned he donated to the community", said Bankoti.

Even till his last breath Abedi was committed to the community. There are few people like him. Even in pain and agony before he lost his memory Abedi Saheb was an optimist and concerned about the community. Ironically he was forgotten and neglected even before his death. It's time for introspection as if we do not care for those who care for us, then the future of the community becomes a question mark. The same treatment was meted out to Baba-e qaum Yusuf Patel, Maulana Shams Peerzada, and other noble personalities who have died a painful and lonely death in recent past.

¯ M H Lakdawala, Mumbai

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