Dr. Asif Aslam Farrukhi had a larger-than-life personality, yet, despite this immense standing as an award-winning writer and poet with significant contributions to the world of literature – Urdu, English and vernacular, he always remained very humble, warm and supportive of all of his students and colleagues.
This was stated by Habib University’s faculty and students as they paid tribute to him on his first death anniversary in an online webinar titled “Dr Asif Farrukhi as a teacher”. The webinar was moderated by Dr Nauman Naqvi, an Associate Professor of Comparative Humanities at Habib University.
The panel of speakers included Mr. Afzal Ahmed Syed, Associate Professor of Practice, Comparative Humanities, Mr. Inamullah Nadeem Assistant Professor of Practice, Comparative Humanities, Ms. Tanveer Anjum, Adjunct Faculty, Comparative Humanities, Dr. Sahar Shah, Visiting Associate Professor of Practice, Comparative Humanities. Alumni from the institution’s various programs also participated including Mr. Ubaid Ali Faruqi, Computer Science, Class of 2020, Ms. Yusra Afzal, Social Development and Policy, Class of 2020, and Mr. Husain Zaidi, SDP, Class of 2018.
At the beginning of the session, Dr. Naqvi gave an overview of Dr. Farrukhi’s storied career, from his heritage of being a descendant of the great writer Deputy Nazir Ahmed, to training as a public health physician, while exploring and expanding academic and research interests in literature and languages. As a teacher, he spent nearly a decade teaching medicine at Aga Khan University before introducing the culture of mass literary festivals in Pakistan by initiating the Karachi Literature Festival in collaboration with the Oxford University Press.
“I had approached him to join Habib University institution, back when Dr. Farrukhi was working with UNICEF. He agreed within a couple of meetings and this is where this transformational literary journey [for Habib University]began,” he said, noting that Dr Farrukhi truly became an institution builder after joining Habib University as a key founding faculty member, helping set up institutions such as the Arzu Center for Regional Languages & Cultures and establishing some of the signature courses which make up the university’s liberal arts and sciences core.
While commenting about Dr Farrukhi’s exceptional literary contributions, Anjum noted that he had a wealth of knowledge on almost any subject under the sun, while his way of teaching was incredibly immersive.
“I would love to attend his classes at Habib University and I could witness the inexplicable influence he had on his students. The knowledge that he imparted to his students, resonated so well in the projects and presentations that they delivered,” adding that she also used to take notes in his class due to Dr Farrukhi’s great wealth of knowledge and teaching style which endeared him to his students.
Shedding light on Dr. Farrukhi’s special connection with Sindhi Literature, Dr. Shah shared that he had a great deal of love for and understood the depth of Sindhi literature.
“He would seldom be found in his office, rather you would mostly find him sitting in the cafeteria surrounded by students laughing out loudly and excitedly debate topics,” she said.
Mr. Inamullah Nadeem also commented on Dr. Asif Farrukhi’s significant contribution in creating an institution for Urdu Literature in the form of courses such as Jahan-e-Urdu and others he created for Habib University. He further expressed that as a teacher he was highly impressionable on his students, which reflects in the affection and respect that his students still have for him.
“I once asked Dr Farrukhi why did he not include his works in the syllabus to which Dr Farrukhi said that this is not what we are here for.”
Members of Habib University’s alumni also paid tribute to Dr. Asif Farrukhi and shared about their unforgettable moments with their mentor.
“Although he had the stature of an intellectual of the level of Socrates, but he was so humble with us students that he never made us realize that we are not as knowledgeable as him,” shared Yusra Afzal, a Social Development and Policy major from the Class of 2020.
Shedding further light on the impression Dr. Farrukhi had on his students, Husain Zaidi, an SDP major, Class of 2018, shared that he was always available to help out students.
“He was more than a teacher, he was a great friend and confidant to the students,” he said, adding that his legacy will carry on through his students.
Ubaid Ali Faruqi, a Computer Science major from the Class of 2020, added that Dr Farrukhi went to great lengths to support students, even at a personal level.
“He was an ocean of wisdom and knowledge. His was always highly encouraging towards us.”