Perspective: Sir Zafrulla’s integral numbers and integrity | Muhammad Zafrullah

“Later that day Mirza Anas Ahmad, one of the college Professors, was heard saying “Zafrullah collided against Sir Zafrullah!””

The somewhat peculiar arrangement that I had during my high school days had left me a late riser and bold at missing classes. The bad habit continued at the college and in later life. Some of my college professors did not like my unruly ways and would often refuse to let me in if I showed up late in an early morning class. Some of them of course took it as a personal trait and chose to work around it, sort of.

Professor Abdur Rashid Ghani who taught me Mathematics was one of those who would let me be. But he made sure that I wouldn’t miss anything important. So if there was an important class or an event he would get someone to bring me from my room at the nearby hostel.

At one such occasion there was a knock at the door and I was told that Sir Zafrulla Khan, then a judge at the International Court of Justice, was coming to our college to give a speech. Got ready on the quick and rushed to the college auditorium. As expected, the auditorium was packed to the full. This was to be expected as Sir Zafrulla was a famous member of my community, Ahmadiyya Community in Islam, which ran Talim ul Islam College. Those in need of brushing up their knowledge about Sir Zafrulla may look up the Wiki article:

It turned out that instead of giving us his own views about the world affairs or about how to live in this world as good practicing Muslims the wise man had chosen to read an article on integrity from the Readers Digest. I think integrity was a current fad then, like courage and was part of efforts of winners of WWII to explain that they won because they were morally better and the axis lost for being mean. . Articles written on this theme were the ones that led me to coin: History has the nice bad habit of being written by the winners. As far as I am concerned war is a mean business of killing or being killed. In my opinion, wars are won by being mean, using all the means and by using all of them and not by being nice and morally better.

Of course I did not know all this then. My immediate problem was to understand what he was reading, as a mere B.Sc. student my ears were not accustomed to hearing English. On top of that Sir Zafrulla decided to go into testing mode. In an effort to “explain” to us what integrity really meant he asked: Does any of you know what an integral number is? There was pin drop silence and as I began to see the kind of knowing smile of “I knew it” begin to take shape on his face I raised my hand.

“ one, two, three, four, five are all integral numbers or integers”, I croaked timidly. “No”, was the curt response’ and then thus spake the master educator: An integral number is one that cannot be divided by any number other than itself or by one. The auditorium came to life again with cheers for Sir Zafrulla. I thought those numbers were called primes but looking at the mood around I shrugged my shoulders and moved to the corner I was standing in, being a late arrival I did not get a seat. Sir Zafrullah continued his reading of the article.

But of course when he read the example of “praiseworthy” integrity shown by an officer who jumped, unarmed” in front of a tank to “save” his men, and got taken prisoner I could not keep silent. I thought it was silly for an officer to come out of his hiding place to help his men who obviously could not be helped. I thought he was being disloyal to his country, in that if he had escaped he could have led a whole contingent of men against the enemy.

In a shaky timid voice and decidedly poor English I explained my view point. (I used unloyal for disloyal.). The learned gentleman refused to accept that and mentioned the name of an Ahmadi saint who got martyred in Kabul, saying that he went to Kabul. I fell silent because I didn’t know why and under what circumstances the revered gentleman went to Kabul. But I was certain that the revered gentleman didn’t jump into the situation unthinkingly.

I don’t seem to recall any reading after the second rebuffing. When the meeting ended I stayed back in the corner, to avoid jeers and jostles that were apparently in store for me. Finally when I did come out, from another door, I expected that there would be no one there. But close to the door that opened in a corridor that took you to the staff room there were still a bunch of people, standing.

From their attire (gowns) I knew that most of them were professors. They seemed to have surrounded Sir Zafrulla who stood tall, a picture of serenity. Consider it a case of curiosity killed the cat or of me being a glutton for punishment, I decided to go close and listen to them. When I got close I heard one of my professors saying “But sir the boy was right, what you described is called a prime.” Later that day Mirza Anas Ahmad, one of the college Professors, was heard saying “Zafrullah collided against Sir Zafrullah!”

One reason for relating this story is that it is a memory from my college days. The other is serious business. It is to point out that the fellow did not quite know what the word integral could mean, if he did not know what integral number could mean. So what would he do when faced with India’s claim that Kashmir was an integral part of India? Make long winded ineffectual speeches, instead of saying Kashmir is as integral to Pakistan as it is integral to India?

The fact is the northern mountains, the Himalayas, save the subcontinent of India from the northern winds, and serve as a source of life, causing rains and rivers, and Kashmir being one of the states in those mountains. So Kashmir must have been allowed to stay free like most of the mountain states (at that time). The independence of Kashmir is more important because the life giving rivers that sustain the subcontinent flow from Kashmir.

The result of not using that argument on time and asinine insistence of making Kashmir a part of Pakistan on the basis of religion caused to turn the world against giving Kasmiris their right to be free. As a result of not seeing the fact that the argument that worked with the support of voters and got us Pakistan could prove to be counter-productive when used at international forums is responsible for Kashmir being still split and Pakistani rivers running dry or delivering the wrath of seasonal floods.

Now I don’t know who said that Kashmir was an integral part of India and I don’t care but as the great Krishna Menon the evil manipulator represented India at the UN, I have concocted the following picture:

  • Notes: (1) The “peculiar arrangement” the I mentioned in the beginning can be explained as follows. With my family facing hard times, financially, I was faced in my ninth grade with the possibility of having to leave school to support my family, unless I was allowed to skip school two or three days a week. I talked about it to the Headmaster (principal) of the school.
  • Knowing my past performance the Headmaster, Mr. Mehmood ul Hasan Qureshi, knew that at the very least I was a sure first class student, even with part-time study, agreed to let me skip school, occasionally. This continued until my matriculation Exams, and I often hold it responsible for my irregular habits.
  • (2) For the record the integrity can be used to represent the quality of being whole on one hand and the quality of being honest and morally sound. It can also be used for the quality of acting honestly on the basis of sound judgment. Being integral, on the other hand could mean essential to make a whole and can also be use used as a characteristic property or the property of being denoted by an integer. In proper Mathematical terminology a function can be the integral of another function, but that seems to be beside the point.
  • (3). For completeness here’s a Wiki article on Krishna Menon:
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