Dr. Akhter Hameed Khan was not only a social scientist or reformer. If any word fits his life it is the word “Dervish”. He was a magician, an artist, an aesthete who saw the vigour, vitality, creativity, resourcefulness and courage of people around him and brought it out by encouraging them to unleash their inner energy. This he did by showing his own example. By living the values that constitute the wealth of life. He believed in simplicity, hard work, controlling desires and promoting one’s self interest by simultaneously watching the interests of others, love and affection for fellow beings, learning from wherever one could, self-discipline and staring into the face of reality.
He had uncanny ability to see goodness in government, politicians and also the courage to show them the part of their selves that they did not want to see. He saw life in its freshness. He did not make stereotypes. He did not have fixed views and never missed the opportunity to learn more and reform his own ideas and findings. He started his career in politics and public life by joining Allama Mashriqi’s Khaksar Party and resigning from ICS under British Raj. It is so intriguing that towards the end of his life his message for politicians was Churchill’s message to his nation at the end of WWII. “I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat and tears.”
He was a poet, a thinker, a husband, a man next door, a teacher, a visionary, a person with great sense of social responsibility, and a man of character. An idealist who stood his ground. He brought to life innumerable forms from amorphous lump of clay sitting on the potter’s wheel. Adding generously to the treasure of our civilizational glory. He, like a master, picked the pieces of stones from the rubble and passing them through the rigours of grinding and polishing brought out their inner beauty and grandeur.
Throughout his life enthusiasm of a mullah and patience of a Sufis kept struggling inside him. However, his disappointment with the Mullah could not be fully compensated by the expanse of the Sufi within him. That is why toward the end of his life he borrowed the intellectual elements of Buddhist thought. However, the Sufi within him prevailed upon the zealot and the Buddhist.
His softness, love and affection for people found expression in his “cruel” demands to bring out the toughness within them to prepare them to deal with their adversities of their lives. It was unlike the phony affection of the populists who try to win popularity by making false promises or patronizing the dignified, and self-respecting citizens. He was a man of deeds and like Sufis and preferred to live in oblivion and reach out to others through the blessing of his good deeds. This is why he was not that much known during his lifetime in his own country. He will continue to live through the life and works of those who have decided to follow in his footsteps.