(Dr. Haroon Idrees Late: A Dedicated Teacher)
I am writing this article with tears in my eyes and I’m not sure how to describe my thoughts about my great teacher in words (we used to call him “Ustaad-e-Mohtarram”). He left us few days ago after the battle with deadly disease Corona Virus (covid-19). I would like to express my special gratitude to my fatherly figure, teacher, mentor, and advisor, Dr. Haroon Idrees Late. I hope that he might be as proud to be my mentor as I am to be his mentee.
Dr. Haroon Idrees (Ustaad-e-mohtarram) was the Chairman at Department of Information Management, University of Sargodha. He did Ph.D. in Library & Information Science from Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. Before, he completed M.Phil. degree in Library & Information Science from University of Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan. He also served as Senior Librarian in IRI (International Islamic University), Islamabad. His research interests include Library Automation / Use of ICTs in Libraries; Knowledge Management; Marketing of Library & Information Services; and Information Literacy, Storage & Retrieval.
It is a matter of immense pride and satisfaction for me to write my feelings, my relationship and experiences with Ustaad-e-Mohtarram into words for the first time. It was a pleasant morning of 2012, in front of Agha khan library (old Department of Information Management named as “central library UOS”), a humble and well-dressed personality came out from car, sweet smile on his face with spectacles and handling laptop bag in his hand. We all class fellows were standing outside the department and waiting for our teacher, Ustaad-e-Mohtarram saw us while passing out with smiling face. I said “Assalam-u-Alaikum Sir, he replied! “Wa/Alaikum-Assalam, Warehmatullahi, Wabarakatuh, how are you daughter?” I said I’m fine sir, thank you and I surprised how sir knows me?? Anyhow it was my first meeting with Dr. Haroon (late). At that time, he was serving as a chief librarian/ associate professor in this department. After this first interaction whenever we passed his office, we sent our Salam to him and he always replied with happy smiling face.
Sir started teaching us in very first-time subject’s title “Marketing in library and Information Services in Pakistan” in 2013. He delivered brilliant lectures, whether it was class lecture, workshop, seminar or any conference’s lecture, mostly he explained tough concepts with examples. I often told him “Sir! Your examples during lectures enhance my knowledge and these examples are very interesting and informative for us”. In our first lecture he called my name in an example, it was very honoured for me and I was so surprised how sir knows my name? After the completion of my graduation with silver medal I took admission in M.Phil., sir was my thesis supervisor and this selection was so proud for me. He facilitated me in research and I presented my two research papers in international conferences. He also appointed me as a visiting faculty in department. In short, he gave much opportunities and platforms to young students.
He started new library activities and programs and introduced our field in modern and latest technological ways like; our first library awareness walk done in 2015, books fairs, different training sessions for students, professional and faculty members, two international conferences, one conferences was done in online through Zoom Application (2020). He always talked about knowledge sharing and motivated us to share knowledge with everyone without any fear because this activity also increases knowledge.
Mostly students called him “Ustaad-e-Mohtarram” once I asked him. Sir! Why do you call your teachers as Ustaad-e-Mohtarram? He smiled and said when you grew mature you understand all the meanings behind Ustaad-e-Mohtarram. From the last 2.5 years, I started calling him Ustaad-e-Mohtarram because I had understood the philosophy behind this precious word. He had vast knowledge in every field, once he said in the training session of visiting faculty members:
“I have many students abroad and in Pakistan. Generally, students ask a variety of questions, all the questions were addressed efficiently. In my entire life whenever any question is being asked by a student I respond and I never give up. According to him I will be victorious when any question is being asked and I have no answer.”
As a human being he was so humble and down to earth person. A person who met him only one time, always praised him. It is hard to believe us that he is no more with us. 1st April, 2021, the last day when I meet him, he called me to come in university and take your M.Phil. degree (online 8th Sargodha University Convocation). I don’t know why I was so emotional that time, I told him, sir! It is my last day in this institution and my journey in this department is now going to be end. He replied with smile that no daughter you are the pioneer of our department BS degrees. He added that your relation is forever and you are a family member of LIS community. His last words make me more emotional “I am happy when you (my students) happy, when you are cry, I am also feeling sad”.
On Eid-ul-Fitar day 2nd, I heard that he tested positive of covid-19 and he is in ICU. From that day all his well-wishers pray for his healthy life. On 7th July it is about 05:45 I got a call from another teacher and he gave me his death news. I don’t have words to express my sorrow and sadness for his loss. I lost my father at the age of 11, my relation with him was not only a teacher-student but also a father-daughter. It is a great loss for our field as well. He was very sincere, loving, and dedicated person.
“Behind every student there is a dedicated teacher” being this student I dedicate this quotation to him not after his death when I was started my thesis, it is a great honour for me that in my educational and professional life my introduction was started as his student.
My deepest condolences and sympathies are with his family. May Allah grant him in His highest ranks in Jannah. In the last, I would like to say that your guidance has brought me to this place through false starts and hesitations. I pay my special tribute to the legend by dedicating this blog to him.