On October 23, 2017 I heard the sad news that my beloved teacher from CCH, Mr. Mohammad Mahmood Ahmed had passed away. I was too sad then to write about the passing of this great man. So now, more than a year later, I am writing this personal reflection to share fond memories of a teacher that shaped my life.
Mahmood Sahib joined CCH as part of a wave of new teachers sometime around 1974 when my 20th entry was in 9th grade. He was a tall, young, single man of perhaps 30 when he started teaching us Math. He was also our spiritual guide.
Mahmood Sahib was born in Sialkot in a Hindu family. As a young boy he had a dream in which he saw Prophet Mohammad. He did not know what to make of it. So he went and sought the advice of the village Mullah. As a result of their conversation Mahmood Sahib decided to become a Muslim. Later he convinced his entire family to follow his footsteps. He chose for himself a name Mohammad, Mahmood Ahmed, where all three were names of the Prophet.
Since then, Mahmood Sahib became an tireless evangelist for spreading the Islamic faith. Fire and brimstone was not his style. He spread his message with love in the finest tradition of the Sufis that spread Islam in the sub-continent. I had the good fortune of being an early recipient of his love.
Mahmood Sahib was a humble man who lived simply and taught by example. He had a warm, generous demeanor, twinkle in his eyes and a radiant smile as he spoke to us students in his gentle way. He often would put his arms around a student’s shoulder affectionately, as he walked and talked with him on the way to the masjid or the mess.
During the summer of 1975, Mahmood Sahib took a few of us students to Raiwind on a Tableeghi Jammat mission. It was a memorable and educational trip in which we traveled by train together through rural Punjab and met people from many walks of life on an egalitarian footing of brotherhood and equality. I later heard that he got into a bit of trouble with the CCH administration over this unsanctioned trip.
I also fondly recall Mahmood Sahib on two other, more secular excursions. One was a Jinnah Wing Excursion to Peshawar in 1976 with Mahfooz Sahib. He was the life of the party and we had much fun together specially in the evening sharing stories and conversation. Another was a trip to Naltar in 1977 with the Alpine Club of Pakistan. Again Mahmood Sahib brought much joviality and good cheer to the memorable trip.
As a Math teacher he encouraged students to think outside the box. For example, he would give a proof to a geometry problem (remember QED?) and then encourage students to come up to the board and try and give an alternate proof and explain it.
Mahmood Sahib is survived by his wife, ? sons and ? daughters. My thanks to his son Tahir for providing photos and material for this remembrance.
The last time I spoke to him perhaps a few months before he died, the conversation led to his favorite topic – faith. I had become quiet a-religious over the years while he himself had been as constant as the Northern Star on matters of religion. Yet, he tried in his gentle and loving way to bring me back to the fold of the faithful. He was never judgmental, nor sanctimonious or self-righteous. His love for his wayward former student remained unconditional and absolute till the very end.
May God bless this gentle soul in his final journey and may CCH and Pakistan be blessed by loving and dedicated teachers that follow in his giant footstep.