In memoriam

Remembering Talib Jauhari the private person behind the religious scholar

Allama Talib Jauhari, who passed away on June 22, was an outstanding religious scholar, public orator and poet. His unique style of oratory won him a huge following, millions of admirers and matchless influence. It also brought him the president of Pakistan’s Pride of Performance award.

Jauhari was born in 1938 in Uttar Pradesh to a family of noted poets and religious scholars. His father, Maulana Muhammad Mustafa Jauhar, was a renowned scholar and Urdu poet. Syed Moazzam Ali, a renowned artist, recalls: “Once I happened to be at Talib Jauhari’s house. His father, Mustafa Jauhar, was alive then. He had lost his eyesight but when I greeted him upon entering the house, to my surprise, he recognized me from my voice even though I had only met him once before. He had a sharp memory. Hundreds of people would come and seek guidance from him every day.”

Come independence, the family migrated to Pakistan. Talib Jauhari received his religious education in Iraq. He quickly settled into a career of learning, teaching and public speaking.

His oratory has been described as spell-binding. A standout feature of his public speaking was the way he highlighted the lessons from Holy Quran.

Talib Jauhari spoke to his audience like a teacher and a mentor. He would never brag about his knowledge and preferred the use of simple language. He was a very good narrator. Many who used to frequent his lectures say he inspired them to lead more contented lives. Even in day-to-day interaction he was full of insights on ways to improve one’s outlook towards life.

He treated with affection whoever came to him and people would benefit from his extraordinary intellect, passion and understanding. He carried an aura around him and commanded respect from very diverse people.

Family members describe him as highly spiritual, deep and clear.

Talib Jauhari was a loving father to three daughters. He would never hold back from appreciating and encouraging them. His eldest daughter Husna says he encouraged her to become a public speaker. “I try to copy his style which resonates with many hearts… He also taught me the basics of composing poetry. Every time I composed a poem, we would have a lengthy discussion over it. He named both my children and composed verses praising and blessing them.”

“I have many precious memories of my father, but I will never be able to forget the moment I held his hand for the last time in the hospital. I am going to miss his phone calls. He would always ask when I will visit my parents’ house again” — Saleha Jauhari, daughter

Talib Jauhari could never eat much but he did have a sweet-tooth. Husna recalls her routine of making his favourite cuisine on his wedding anniversary and birthdays and his appreciation of it.

His second daughter, Saleha Jauhari, was with him during his last days in the hospital. “For the past eight months, his health had been quite precarious. We were forced frequently to take him to the hospital. This time too, we were hoping that his condition would improve and we would return home together.”

“He loved all three of us. I have many precious memories of my father, but I will never forget the moment I held his hand for the last time. I am going to miss his phone calls. He would always ask when I will next visit my parents’ house,” she says.

His youngest daughter, Narjis, recalls that her father would call her ‘Mini Raza.’ She says she was the most pampered among the siblings.

“When I got married and would call my father, he would start singing a childhood lullaby. It made me cry. While writing down his blessings for my first daughter, he smiled and told me to keep the paper safe, saying: ‘When I am no more, this paper will remind you and your daughter of me’,” she recalls.

“During his illness, he was mostly unconscious. Once when I gently called out to him, he surprised me by opening his eyes for a few seconds. That was my last goodbye to him.”

Nabila Pervez, wife of Pervez Jaffery who was Jauhari’s personal secretary, recalled that they had been acquainted since childhood. “Jaffery grew up knowing the Maulana. He never treated Jaffery as a lesser person and would always address him as son,” she says. After Pervez Jafery passed away six years ago, his son, Abbas Jaffery, took up Jauhari’s personal work.

He had an extremely busy life and was surrounded by people all day, sometimes till dawn.

However, whenever he had free time, he would call his daughters, grand-daughters and grand-sons to his room and talk to them – sometimes for hours. He would become a playmate to his grandchildren, tell them jokes and read them poems.

When people came calling, he would ask one of his daughters to make tea, get up, wear his waistcoat, pick up his prayer beads and head for the drawing room.

The writer is a Karachi-based freelance journalist and can be contacted at [email protected]

Remembering Allama Talib Jauhari