3 January 1922- Friday 29 July 2011

Nephew and son-in-law, Zia Ahmad shares his reflections on the 10th anniversary of the passing away of Mr Ali Hussain Siddiqui showcasing family history, education, profession and movement from India to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), West Pakistan and finally to Australia.

Mr Ali Hussain Siddiqui was born on 3 January 1922 in the village of Anwayan, town of Bilthra Road, District Ballia located in the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. He was generally considered to be four years older than his officially recorded age.

Education & Profession

He completed his High School from George Islamia College, Gorakhpur in 1940; Intermediate in 1943, BSc in 1945 and MSc in 1949 in Zoology specialising in Entomology, all  from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). He underwent training with the Indian Air Training Corps and obtained a certificate of proficiency in 1944.

He also obtained a training Certificate of Achievement in 1961 after spending a year at the Agricultural & Mechanical University and Rice Pasture Experimental Station of Texas, USA.

He worked as a lecturer of Biology at the George Islamia college, Gorakhpur from 1949 to 1950 and after migrating to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) held various positions with the Department of Plant Protection, Government of Pakistan as Assistant  Entomologist (1951-57), Assistant Aerial Pest Control Officer (1957-71), Assistant Director, Plant Protection (1962) and after migrating to West Pakistan, Deputy Research Entomologist (1973-1981) with the National Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Government of Pakistan.

He specialised in plant protection and pest control in crops, trial of effectiveness of different insecticides and spray systems both in the laboratory as well as in the field, aerial spraying of large areas of farmlands both in East as well as West Pakistan and published five research papers in scientific journals.

Family

The Siddiqui family trace their origins from the first Caliph Abu Bakar Siddiq (r), one of whose descendants Sheikh Azeemullah Siddiqui popularly known as Sheikh Paharh (Sheikh Mountain, due to his extra ordinary height) migrated six hundred years ago from Hijaz, Arabia to India and settled in Harhans (borders of Bihar and UP) in 1361 CE (762 Hijri) during the time of Indian Turkish Sultanate of Feeroz Shah Tughluc.

The History and Shajrah (Family Tree) of this family from 1361 to 2005 has been documented accurately in the form of a book Tareekhul Harihans mae Khandani Shajra written by Chaudhury Sheikh Mohammad Zaki Siddiqui (1945), Gorakhpur and finally researched, updated and published by Mashkoor Ahmad Siddiqui (2005), Delhi.

Ali Hussain was born in a Zamindar (feudal landlord) extended Siddiqui family of Harihans. His great grandfather settled in the village of Anwayan, building a huge extended family housing complex with reception lounges (Kachahri), school (madrassa), masjid, family mosque, living quarters with internal courtyards and gardens, Hata, stables complex housing elephants, horses and other domestic animals and external servant quarters.

The family managed their vast agricultural lands from this housing complex obtaining lagan, taxes from peasants who worked on leased lands from the family.

He was born in British India and spent his younger years during the time when rapid changes were taking place in society with the breakdown of the feudal system in India, end of the British Raj, fight for Independence and partition of the country into independent states of India and Pakistan (purani deewar gir rahi thi aur nai deewar uth rahi thi).

He was the second eldest in a family of two sons and four daughters having lost their mother at an early age and father not fully capable of taking care of the family affairs. His eldest brother, although disabled, but with a sharp mind, managed the affairs of the Zamindari of the family lands and income derived from taxes.

Among the Zamindar family in those days generally, seeking job (nokri) with the British government was frowned upon and therefore higher education was not encouraged. Ali Hussain realised that the Zamindari system was breaking down fast and was therefore not interested in the traditional family occupation.

He was very keen to obtain higher education (aala taaleem), not just for himself but upcoming younger generation of his large extended family in Anwayan.

Marriage

After completing High school from Gorakhpur, he moved to Aligarh Muslim University and spent the next nine years obtaining higher education. Many times due to delayed financial support from the family, he had to do tuition in order to support himself during his quest for education.

He encouraged and later managed to get a number of his cousins to seek higher education at AMU and other institutions of excellence in India and abroad.

His eldest sister Khurshedi got married within the larger extended family of Harihans and moved to Gorakhpur.

He met a bright young man Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad completing engineering at AMU and after developing mutual friendship managed to arrange marriages on a reciprocal basis (gulawat) between his second sister Jamal Ara with Ashfaq while himself marrying Ashfaq’s elder sister Akhtar Bano in 1949.

Ashfaq Ahmad and Akhtar Bano, brother and sister had become orphans from a very early age and grew up with their retired magistrate grandfather and aunty (Phoophi) in Mohammadabad Gohna. They also belonged to Sheikhain family of Farooquis and Siddiquis hailing from Ghazipoor, UP involved in legal profession of Qazi in Mughal empire and magistrates and lawyers during the British Raj.

From left: Akhtar Bano Siddiqui, Ali Hussain Siddiqui, Ashfaq Ahmad, Jamal Ara Ahmad in 2006.

Pakistan

In 1951 Ali Hussain migrated to East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) joining the Department of Plant Protection in Dacca (Dhaka). His eldest son Shahab was born in India and a second son was born soon after his arrival.

Unfortunately due to an accident, his younger son got burns from hot milk and died. Akhtar Bano, a sensitive and intelligent woman could not bear this loss which affected her mental health around 1954.

This was a great time of tribulation and trial for Ali Hussain and the entire family being in a new country and with no extended family support. He took Akhtar Bano to many premier institution of mental health, both in Pakistan and India for treatment, but she did not become better until the early seventies.

Ali Hussain was greatly helped during this long ordeal of his family situation by a Bengali woman, Rabia Khatoon who looked after the household as Booa (governess). He had three more children Mehar Jahan (1956), Abul Fateh (1960) and Shujaat Ali (1964).

Booa, sacrificed her own life and ambitions and looked after Ali Hussain, Akhtar Bano and all the four kids in the household feeding them and training them in their life skills.

When Ali Hussain moved to Karachi, West Pakistan at the beginning of 1971, Booa left her country, her people, her culture and kept looking after the family in Karachi. Ali Hussain, Akhtar Bano and their four kids developed great respect and love for this lady and were ever after indebted to her.

Finally in 1972 while in Karachi, a doctor prescribed some medicine for Akhtar Bano that miraculously worked and she became got better.

Australia

Meanwhile Ashfaq Ahmad, Professor and Head of Mechanical Engineering in Kashmir migrated to Sydney, Australia in 1971 and decided to burn his boats and call this great country, Australia, home.

He was always concerned about his only sister’s family and between him and Ali Hussain, they proposed another marriage on a reciprocal basis (Gulawat) where Shahab will get married to Fauzia, his eldest daughter while His eldest son Zia will get married to Ali Hussain’s daughter Mehar. Their children agreed to this arrangement and the weddings were organised in 1975 in Sydney where Ali Hussain and Akhtar Bano visited Sydney for a few months.

In 1981 Ali Hussain’s entire family migrated to Australia. They tried to obtain a migrant visa for Booa, but the application was unsuccessful. She did visit Australia and stayed with the family for a few months and got her health checked. Finally she got married to a gentleman in Lahore and spend her life happily in the household until she passed away in 1998. Many in the Australian family paid her a visit from time to time in Lahore.

The Ahmad and the Siddiqui extended families flourished in Australia obtaining education, getting jobs, establishing businesses, buying homes and properties and multiplying into a clan of more than 75 people now and counting.

Above all they established close family relationships under the guidance of the first generation of elders, meeting together on a weekly basis and sharing the happiness as well as the sorrows together for the last 40 years.

They participated in many community organisations and established institutions for the promotion of Islam, Muslims, Urdu language, Aligarh movement etc. Ali Hussain was very passionate in serving the AMU Alumni of Australia, attended its functions and even made halva (sweets) with his own hands to sell and raise funds for the AMU scholarship project.

In his old age Ali Hussain felt very much satisfied with his family’s achievements and especially proud of his children’s business ventures and higher education (aala taleem) of his only daughter and that of the third generation. His training, guidance, blessings and above all duas were behind this success story of the extended family in Australia.

Ali Hussain Siddiqui initially lived with his eldest son Shahab for a number of years before finally moving with his two younger sons at Condell Park. He spent short periods of his time in his eldest son’s place in Box Hill and occasionally at Dar-ul-Islam in Bonnyrigg with his daughter.

He was looked after very well and greatly cared for by his daughter-in-laws as well as his granddaughters. He regularly attended the weekly study circle Usrah at Dar-ul-Islam as well as various family and community functions till his last days.

His wife, Akhtar Bano passed away in 2005 after a short illness and was buried at Liverpool Cemetery. Mid-2011, Ali Hussain became ill and went to hospital where many members of the extended family, both second and third generation spent time with him on a rostered basis, looking after him and strengthening their bonds with him.

Finally he passed away around 6 am on Friday 29 July 2011 at Bankstown Hospital. His janaza prayer was held at Juma at Lakemba mosque led by Sheikh Tajuddin al-Hilaly and joined by his large extended family, friends and hundreds of Muslims and he was buried that afternoon at the Liverpool Cemetery. Inna Lillahi wa inna alaihi rajeoon.

Ali Hussain Siddiqui was blessed with a long life of almost 93 years, full of tribulations and trials in his early and middle age, but spent his old age happily served, loved and surrounded by his close family, lovely friends, dedicated carers, active community and living in a great country.

May Allah grant him jannah in the hereafter and make us able to cherish his memories and keep remembering him in our duas, Aameen.