Hakim Barkati: A self-effacing scholar who is no more

Published: January 10, 2013


A scholar of Oriental studies, Hakim Barkati had authored nearly 40 books on history, medicine, philosophy and other subjects, and was awarded an honorary doctorate by former president Pervez Musharraf in 2001. Barkati was born in 1926 to a scholarly family in the princely state of Tonk, which was even then known for its libraries, mosques, and the scholars it produced. His hometown had left an indelible impression on his persona.

Dr Rauf Parekh, a writer and critic of Urdu literature, remembered Hakim Barkati as an admirer of literature, and as someone who wanted to uphold Eastern traditions. “He was one of those few people who still set store by modesty and decorum,” Dr Parekh told The Express Tribune.

“I am unable to understand why on earth someone would want to kill a person like that.” After completing his Dars-e-Nizami – a standardised curriculum that is used in most of the seminaries in South Asia – from the Indian city of Ajmer, Hakim Barkati moved to Delhi and studied Eastern medicine till 1947.

He then returned to his hometown and set up a private practice. The healer migrated to Pakistan in 1952, and had been practicing in Liaquatabad and Jauharabad areas since then. “He was an expert physician who used traditional herbal remedies. People used to come to him not only from Karachi but other areas, as well,” said Dr Parekh.

Hakim Barkati is survived by four sons and three daughters. His younger brother, Masood Ahmed Barkati, has been editing the Hamdard Naunehaal, a famous children’s magazine, since 1953. Mujahid Barkati, one of the victim’s sons, said that his father had been working on an encyclopaedic history of Eastern medicine for a long time. “It had expanded to over 10,000 pages by now, but [is likely to] remain incomplete after he has passed away.” Mujahid has been a former Jamaat-e-Islami union council nazim.

Another son of Hakim Barkati, Dr Sohail Barkati, serves as an adviser to Prof. Dr Muhammad Qaiser, vice chancellor of the Karachi University.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2013.

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