13th death anniversary: Hakim Said, the man of morals and medicine

Published: October 17, 2011

Daughter recalls how he wouldn’t let her buy anything except books when they went on foreign trips. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: 

For 50 years Hakim Mohammad Said and his small family used the washroom in the veranda of their modest but large house. He hardly ever spent money on the pre-partition building’s renovation – not that he had a liking for the old architecture. The progressive man simply thought such work would be a wasteful expenditure.

“Oh! So you have got the money to buy new furniture. Please, donate it to the Hamdard Foundation, we need it more there,” reminisced Sadia Rashid, his only daughter, about a conversation she had on the matter with her father.

“Hakim saheb would have been really angry if he were alive and saw the changes we have made in the house to give it a modern look,” she told The Express Tribune as she pointed to their new attached bathrooms, built by extending the rooms. But many things have not changed. The old wooden windows with high-up vents are still intact.

Born on January 9, 1920, in Delhi, Hakim Said was brought up in a traditional household. He learned Arabic, Persian, Urdu, English and studied the Holy Quran. As his forefathers had been associated with the herbal medicine business, he decided to take this treatment to new heights.

He moved to Pakistan in 1948 with his wife and daughter. They rented a room for Rs12 a month where he started the practice of Tibb. “Now I realise that he was a disciplined man. Probably that is why he was so strict,” Sadia mused.

As the only daughter and accustomed to a better lifestyle in India, Sadia took some time to adjust. “I remember the first day of school. I was being choosy about the clothes and screamed. Hakim saheb was reading the newspaper and said loudly, ‘What is [going on] here?’ I guess that was the day when being picky about clothes became least important to me.”

Hakim Said was a devout Muslim who would get up in middle of the night to offer prayers. He would recite the Quran and fast whenever he could. Yet, he did not impose his beliefs on others. “We used to go to all sort of parties, even those where alcohol was served,” she recalled, adding that her father thought it was a person’s own responsibility to refine their character.

Money was something about which Hakim Said was especially particular. Even when Sadia started accompanying him on foreign trips, he never let her buy clothes there. “I used to buy books. Brought back whole suitcases filled with [them]. But that was it. Shopping for all the other things was prohibited.”

“A white sherwani and kurta were his trademark attire. I don’t know why he used to wear the same clothes. But once he told me that it helped save time as there was no need to make a choice.”

Even when he became the governor of Sindh in 1993, Hakim Said did not move into the state residence. “He was entertaining patients even then. Most of the day, he was busy and sat with the family only at dinner.”

After practising Tibb for a few years, Hakim Said set up Hamdard Dawakhana and started manufacturing herbal medicines. Soon he converted it into a trust, sending the profits to philanthropic work. Hakim Said also taught Sadia the importance of keeping a record of the money being spent, something that helps her today as she heads the multi-billion rupee Hamdard Foundation. One of his greatest achievements was having Eastern medicine recognised at the UN as an alternate way of treating illnesses. He set up a college, which offered degrees in herbal medicine. When health minister General Burki of the Field Marshal Ayub Khan regime tried to ban Eastern medicine, Hakim Said took the protest to the people, recalls Masood Ahmed Barkati, the long time editor of Urdu-language Naunehal children’s magazine of the Hamdard Foundation.

“General Burki used to say that eastern medicine and homeopathy were quackery,” he said. “Hakim Said started writing in the newspapers, organised conferences and lobbied hard. Ultimately, Ayub Khan had to pass a law legalising eastern medicine.”

Barkati said that Hakim Said paid especial attention to Naunehal, reading every draft before publication. “He used to say that today’s children will be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Hakim Said was fond of Urdu poets and concerned about their financial woes. “Literary figures like Ahmed Chugtai, Ahmed Hamdani, Qamar Hashmi, Nazeer Siddiqui and Qayum Rahi all worked for Hamdard publications at one time or another. He used to hire every educated person.”

Barkati said that Hakim Said did not accumulate wealth. “He did not buy any property. He was always busy trying to find right the professionals for Hamdard University.”

Sadia started working for her father in 1981. “If you want a stake in Hamdard, then work for it,” she recalled him as saying. “I use to sit with three other girls at a small desk. Then gradually, I moved on to learn other things and was made executive coordinator.”

Sadia lost her father on October 17 in 1998 when he was shot at Arambagh Road. “He was wearing the same white clothes, had a tasbeeh in his hand and some books.” He died as he had lived.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Ahmed
    Oct 17, 2011 - 9:55AM

    Great man…

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  • Anas
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:05AM

    Awesome article !!!

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  • Farrukh Kayani
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:05AM

    Indeed a great loss to our country. He was a truly a great man.

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  • Oct 17, 2011 - 10:15AM

    He was an Angle on this world. My childhood started by reading his edited Urdu-language Naunehal (children’s magazine). He was, is and will remain my Inspiration. Hakim Sahab…you’ll always be missed.

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  • Word Life
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:16AM

    13 years on … When will the killers be brought to book?

    Do we have any shame left?

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  • Word Life
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:20AM

    Please take out some time and recite Fatiha for Hakim Sb.

    JAZAKALLAH

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  • Muhammad Ebad ur Rehman
    Oct 17, 2011 - 11:09AM

    I have met Shaheed Hakim Muhammad Said several times. He was a a great Leader. We need people like Hakim Said for our dead nation.

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  • Ali
    Oct 17, 2011 - 11:54AM

    He was a good man. Naunehaal was one of very few children megazines which were which were not run purely on commercial basis. As a reader I was able to distinguish which magazines were adding spice to their stories to attract children. In Naunehaal, there were hardly any super-fiction type of stories. There were all real world and moral based stories. I have not read that magazine after death of Hakim Saeed but I hope it would be continuing the traditions.

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  • zezu
    Oct 17, 2011 - 12:02PM

    There is no space for good people in this world !!

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  • Saad Siddiqui
    Oct 17, 2011 - 12:24PM

    I was in Hamdard Public School, I met him so many times, He used to tell us stories with morals ,He loved us a lot and in return we loved him a lot , indeed he was such a great man with amazing personality, may Allah (SWT) bless him with a best place in Jannah !

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  • Oct 17, 2011 - 12:28PM

    We Salute Hakim Shab a true reformer and one of the great man produced by this country.

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  • Siddh
    Oct 17, 2011 - 12:33PM

    I loved the man as a child reading inspiring stories in “Naunehal” and was proud to see a noble man like Hakim Sahib become the Governor of Sindh as compared to ones that came after him. He was a true inspiration. May Allah rest his soul in peace and bring his killers to justice in this life & hereafter, Ameen

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  • Shahbaz Younis
    Oct 17, 2011 - 12:36PM

    A great man with great principles, may Allah S.W.T keep his soul to rest in peace

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  • Abu Ali
    Oct 17, 2011 - 12:44PM

    A wonderful man with extraordinary skills. May Allah rest his Soul in peace.

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  • Uzair
    Oct 17, 2011 - 1:58PM

    A great …great Man.

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  • Mehreen Jahanzeb
    Oct 17, 2011 - 2:19PM

    May you rest in eternal peace Hakim sb. you were a beacon of light for many. you will always live in our hearts and prayers :)

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  • nwaq
    Oct 17, 2011 - 4:05PM

    Great loss for nation.We needed such sincere personalities around.Will justice ever be served to his family?

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  • Proud Hamdardian
    Oct 17, 2011 - 4:13PM

    some of my fondest childhood memories revolves around Hakim Saheb Shaheed coming to school ever Wednesday spending time with us students and telling us stories full of wisdom, Rest in Peace Hakim Saheb we will never forget you

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  • Oct 17, 2011 - 5:06PM

    I have had the opportunity to meet Hakim Said many times. We cannot forget the fatherly treatment which he gave to me and my wife whenever we use to meet him at different occasions.

    In 1996, during the month of Ramadan, I invited Hakim Said when my last daughter kept her first Roza. Hakim Sahib called me and asked me, Can I also bring my daughter Sadia with me? I said why not Hakim Sahib, she is most welcome.

    On that particular day, Hakim Sahib came with Sadia and attended the Roza Kushai of my last daughter. He gave two books to my daughter as a gift. After Namaz-e-Maghrib, Hakim Sahib and Sadia did not have proper food and wanted to return to their residence.

    I called the area SHO and request him to provide the protocol to Hakim Said so that at least one Police Mobile Van should escort him up to his residence. The SHO refused and said “we cannot provide protocol to a retired Governor”.

    After the tragic death of Hakim Said, my wife along with our daughter went to Hakim Said’s residence to condole the death and met with Sadia.

    It was a very simple house. We saw the “Takth” where Hakim Said used to sit. Sadia told us that when Hakim Said gifted his house to Sadia, from that day he used to pay monthly rent to Sadia.

    After Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Jinnah, Hakim Said was the true person who loved Pakistan.

    May Al-Mighty Allah rest his soul in peace. Ameen.

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  • Naeem Siddiqui
    Oct 17, 2011 - 5:09PM

    Hakim Saeed is part of my glorious and pleasent childhood memories.

    May Allah Give him heighest level in Jannah.

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  • bukhtiar shah
    Oct 17, 2011 - 5:25PM

    Hakim saab you were a legend and there is a space after you which can never be filled.after you we lost a HAMDARD of poor nation your absense is missed..Recommend

  • Karachi-Wala
    Oct 17, 2011 - 5:57PM

    Who killed him??

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  • NJ
    Oct 17, 2011 - 6:12PM

    RIP Sir! You were a true legend and a wonderful human being!!

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  • Ameer Hamza
    Oct 17, 2011 - 9:56PM

    No one should be surprised that the letter regarding his murder was found in the private cabinet in the apartment of Imran Farooq in London. The letter was written by someone to MQM top leadership in Urdu and was being looked into by Scotland Yard.Recommend

  • syed M Noubat Ali Shah
    Oct 17, 2011 - 10:32PM

    The man of Character Shaheed Hakeem Mohammad Saeed is among one of my all times favorite personalities and I believe by imparting Education he was bringing a Silent Revolution in Pakistan and I know him from my child hood as I used to read his inspiring and thoughtful messages in Noonihal Magazine and if ever any addition of the magazine was missed by me than my great Baba Sain from anywhere used to arrange that so if I say this great personality was introduced to me by my ever great Baba Sain….

    Like a common Pakistani I also want to know that who martyred this great patriotic Pakistani whom Nation always miss….. Shaheed Hakeem Mohammad Saeed Sahab may Almighty rest you in peace in Heaven…

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  • Salim Qaiser
    Oct 18, 2011 - 6:19AM

    Our youth in Pakistan need people like him who they can look up to. Unfortunately now a day’s people look up to movie stars and actors as celebrities and idol.

    The most astonishing thing about him was he never owned a property. His example is a great one for us young people today. Everyone should try to visit his educational city called madina-tul-hikmat. Univeristies, colleges, hostels, biggest library and a lot of people till today get education from there.

    I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to met such an amazing personality and also to have attend his school.

    Pakistan sai muhabat karo, Pakistan ki tameer karo.

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  • Talha Aijaz
    Oct 18, 2011 - 8:16PM

    Hakim Muhammad Saeed, the fire of education which you have ignited in the heart and souls of thousands of “naunehals” will sooner or later revolutionise Pakistan! All the Hamdardians are proud to be a part of your effort! May Allah bless your soul.

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  • Aisha
    Oct 18, 2011 - 9:51PM

    He was a great man. I grew up reading Naunehal and I know I am different because of his teachings. A real hero.

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  • Abdul Basit
    Nov 5, 2011 - 3:54PM

    He possessed an extra-ordinary personality. He dedicated his life for students/children of our nation who according to him we should handle with care today in order to get better Pakistan tomorrow. Great personality!

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