Tributes to Headmaster Syed Atta Muhammad Shah: A Role Model for all teachers

Written by: Syed Muhammad Aqeel Hussain Shah (June, 2017)

“FOR THOUSAND YEARS THE NARCISSUS WAS LAMENTING ITS LACK OF LUSTER;
WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY THE ONE WITH TRUE VISION IS BORN IN THE GARDEN”.
(ALLAMA DR. SIR MUHAMMAD IQBAL, NATIONAL POET OF PAKISTAN- Translation courtesy- Tauba Yacoubi)

Syed Muhammad Aqeel Hussain Shah
Before paying tributes to the legendary teacher, late Headmaster Atta Muhammad Shah, resident of Village Nauranga, Tehsil and District Mianwali, I would like to pay my warmest thanks to dear brother Asim Bukhari of Pakki Shah Mardan for giving me the idea of writing a book on the above-mentioned highly respectable teacher, so that he should always be remembered by future generations and particularly by educationists.

Atta Muhammad belonged to a small village, Nauranga, situated at the bank of River Indus (at a distance of about 24 kilometers from Mianwali City) in-between Jinnah Barrage and Chashma Barrage, Tehsil and District Mianwali, about 7 kilometers towards west from Tari Khel, a famous town situated on the western side of Kalabagh Road. Since 2013, Nauranga has lost its physical identity due to continuous heavy erosion of the River Indus. Its existence remained at stake for several years.

It is a worth mentioning fact that the name of Nauranga will always be remembered forever due to its revolutionary and exemplary education. This part of Mianwali District has been very famous throughout Mianwali District and Sargodha Division for the promotion of education, though it was always deprived of all basic facilities of life. Thousands of students, who got their basic education with distinction until middle level (8th Grade) from Nauranga, are very successfully working in various government departments, semi-government institutions, banks, armed forces, foreign missions etc…

The credit of exemplary education goes to Syed Atta Muhammad Shah, who was born on 1st January 1930 in the family of Syed Noor Hussain Shah, one of the most pious and highly respected humble men, among others, of the Syed family of Nauranga. Since his childhood Atta Muhammad Shah was quite different and disciplined as compared to his age fellows. Nobody could imagine at that time that Nauranga had got a beautiful extra precious god-gifted gem in his shape. Soon after matriculation, he got recruited as a J.V. Teacher and later on as Headmaster of Primary School Nauranga in 1952. Few years later, this school was upgraded to the middle level and the Education Department decided to continue the services of Atta Muhammad Shah as Headmaster of this institution. He started educating the poor masses of the area and he rose very soon as a “super star” model teacher. He was so determined in his mission that, since his youth-hood, he decided to devote his whole life for the noble purpose of education. At the same time he continued improving his own education by achieving degrees of SV, Fazil Persian, F.A., C.T., Bachelors of Arts and B.Ed.

Keeping in view his passion, devotion and love for education, Atta Muhammad Shah was known as “Headmaster Sahib”. This title became eternal part of his name even after his departure from this world.

The promotion of education in Nauranga goes also to the entire team headed by Syed Atta Muhammad Shah; highly honorable and respectable teachers (I am really in short of words to pay my respect and profound regards to all of them, because I have never found or seen their match elsewhere), Sir Syed Aulad Hussain Shah, Sir Malik Muhammad Usman, Sir Aalam Khan, Sir Fateh Khan, Sir Nadaan Ali, Sir Noor Muhammad Shah Qureshi, Sir Saleh Muhammad Shah Qureshi, Sir Muhammad Ibrahim, Sir Ghulam Jilani Khan, Sir Raza Muhammad FANI, Sir Syed Muhammad Shah, Sir Syed Gulzar Hussain Bukhari, Sir Syed Iqbal Hussain Shah, Sir Malik Muhammad Aslam, Sir Syed Sher Bahadur Shah, Sir Syed Nasim Hussain Shah, Sir Malik Atta Ullah Theem etc…(my teachers and theirs students, please forgive me regarding protocol order if any, or if I have missed any name).

Syed Atta Muhammad Shah was a strict abider of discipline, which he applied first on himself and then imposed strictly on all teachers and students. He used to reach school much before time and hence nobody had courage to reach later. Being extra honest, he had no materialistic approach at all. He used to eat very simple food (vegetarian) like an ordinary person. He used to wear simple but always neat dress (Shalwar Qameez). His favorite color was white. He did not believe in any sort of discrimination whatsoever among teachers and students; education was his only mission and faith. The teachers and students could get leave only and only in case of emergency. Nobody was allowed to waste time. Niswar and cigarette were completely prohibited in the school even for visitors. The teachers and students including Headmaster Sahib, himself, were bound to part hair down the middle. The teachers used to wear white dress (Shalwar Qameez) and there was a simple uniform of slightly dark grey colour (cloth called “malaishia” at that time, affordable by all). He always used to keep a very strict eye on good moral character of students as well as of teachers. The only and unique mission was to educate the poor people of Nauranga and surrounding areas. Headmaster Sahib also encouraged extra curriculum activities in the school to keep the students healthy and to create sportsmen spirit within them. After daily assembly, a PT session (Physically Training) was organized regularly. Inter-school and inter-Centre matches were frequently organized. Nauranga School won many matches of wrestling (“Kabaddi”), valley ball and football. This school also won many speech-contest awards in District Mianwali and Sargodha Division levels. A selective brilliant team of the school was sent to Nathiagali (Murree) ever year for Summer Scouts Camps and got numerous prizes in this field also. Late Tahir Abbas Bukhari (Magistrate First Class and then Assistant Commissioner Rawalpindi) was awarded by so many prizes as a best speaker and excellent Scout of Nauranga. He remained undefeatable in this field until Middle Class.

Atta Muhammad Shah was a very kind hearted person. He used to pay fees and clothes of poor students from his own pocket to the extent that his family was often affected financially. He started special summer and winter classes at his residence for class five and class eight before final examinations without any tuition fee or boarding and lodging charges. In summer he used to find some dry places away from Nauranga due to heavy annual floods in River Indus. It was indeed height of his passion and love for education. Consequently Middle School Nauranga rose as a Model institution for exemplary education in District Mianwali and Sargodha Division. The whole classes of five and eight of this school started getting scholarships and distinctions at District and Division Levels. The record of the Education department of District Mianwali shows highest number of scholarships and distinctions of Nauranga School under the headmastership of Atta Muhammad Shah. Headmaster Sahib was himself awarded with many appreciation certificates. His name was also proposed for the President’s Award of Performance, though he himself believed only in service to humanity, rather than medals or awards.

This whole team headed by Syed Atta Muhammad Shah, always remained committed to teach the poor students of the area without any discrimination; they made a history and are indeed mentors of this area. None of them had materialistic approach like their head.

Atta Muhammad Shah got transferred at Government High School Pakki Shah Mardan in 1979. Yet it was another turning point in this life and also in favor of poor people of another village. Like at Nauranga, he continued his mission here; Pakki Shah Mardan was lucky enough to witness soon so many highly educated people, whereas number of graduates could be counted on finger tips before his arrival there. He continued summer and winter courses for class five and eight at his residence at his own cost, despite his limited salary and financial resources.

After serving successfully for 38 years, Atta Muhammad Shah got retired with great honor on 31st December 1990 from Government High School Pakki Shah Mardan. During this period, his life became like a fish, which can’t live without water. Imagine his love and passion for education! He did not waste even a single day without his noble services to humanity and he opened his own private educational institution named “Nauranga Universal High School Pakki Shah Mardan” Tehsil and District Mianwali on 1st January 1991, just the very next day of his retirement. He continued his services as exemplary devoted teacher until last day of his life, when he went to his final destiny and breathed his last on 25th March 2001. He was buried at the graveyard of Rohkri More Mianwali. After his death, his school is being run till today by his two sons Zia Muhammad Shah (B.A./B.Ed. Teacher at Government High School Pakki Shah Mardan and Ali Nawaz Kiflain Shah (M.A. Political Science/M.A. Pakistan Studies/M.Ed. Teacher in Federal Government Islamabad) on no-profit basis. Following the footstep of their father, they are also serving his noble cause for humanity and keeping alive the name and noble mission of their respectable father.

In Pakki Shah Mardan, Atta Muhammad Shah also opened a full-fledge section for female students up-to matriculation level. He used to help poor female students from his own pocket to learn further in some cases up to graduation and master’s level. As a result, we can see today so many graduate female students in this village. These educated girls later on became teachers and contributing financially to their families. Madam Kausar Javed, currently settled in Saudi Arabia, was the first ever Headmistress of Girls Section at Pakki Shah Mardan. On a Facebook post of Professor Sir Munawar Ali Malik on Syed Atta Muhammad Shah, Madam Kausar Javed wrote “I feel immensely proud that I am one of those lucky ones who were bestowed a chance to serve Nauranga Universal School Pakki Shah Mardan (Grils Wing) as a Headmistress under his privileged guidance. And Alhamdolillah I am first of those who did B.Ed. because of his sincere effort as a private teacher. A forever charismatic personality! May Allah bless him with the highest rank in Jnnah, Aamen”. Mrs. Javed further said that he was very vocal about the excellent training of women, keeping in view their utmost important role to build a nation. We all pray for the excellent heath of Mrs. Kausar Javed and her family.

Before concluding my article, I would like to mention some prominent right-hand men of Headmaster Syed Atta Muhammad Shah, who contributed a lot for the promotion of education at Nauranga. Our special tributes go to Late Sir Syed Aulad Hussain Shah (May Allah place his soul in eternal peace! AAMEEN) for his excellent command on English, which was considered as one of the most difficult subjects of that time. But his method of teaching made it so easy to learn that thousands of his students are very successfully serving everywhere in Pakistan and abroad due to his unique way of teaching English. Late Teacher Sir Malik Muhammad Usman Dharal, a man of confidence, remained very close to Headmaster Sahib. As his colleague, Sir Malik Muhammad Usman remained also socially very active (on occasion of marriages, religious functions, deaths etc…). Sir Malik Muhammad Aslam, elder Son of Sir Malik Muhammad Usman, had the honour to serve Middle School Nauranga as a Teacher and later on as Headmaster of this institution. Sir Raza Muhamad Fani contributed a lot to improve beautiful Urdu calligraphy of students. Sir Syed Muhammad Shah, younger brother and right-hand man of Headmaster Sahib, used to teach class five and brought so many scholarships to Nauranga School. Late Syed Atta Hussain Shah remained very active on political front and gave highest political identity to Nauranga throughout his life. Spiritually, Headmaster Sahib remained very closely associated to Late Syed Meher Hussain Shah Bukhari of Dher Yaru Wala (near Shahbaz Khel) Mianwali, a renowned religious scholar of Mianwali.It will be injustice to forget Late Syed Tassawur Hussain Shah, Ex-Chief Manager State Bank of Pakistan on this occasion, who brought to the extreme peak the educational services of Atta Muhammad Shah by further helping countless relatives and gems of Nauranga, of adjacent areas and of Mianwali District to get higher education and employments in banks and different institutions in the country and abroad. May Allah shower His countless blessings upon all of them and place their souls in eternal peace and grant them high place in Jannat. Aameen Sam Aameen!

I dedicate these few lines on Late Headmaster Atta Muhammad Shah, to all my teachers, including Late Sir Malik Abdul Hakeem, Sir Nazeer Ahmad Khan, Sir Late Abdul Qudoos Khan, Professor Ghulam Sarwar Khan Niazi, to all residents of Nauranga and particularly to brother Asim Bukhari.