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Great Canadian Lives— Faruq Hassan

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Great Canadian Lives— Faruq Hassan

By Chantelle Henriques Faruq Hassan will be remembered by his students at McGill University as an energetic professor who had a quirky habit of flicking his long hair back from his face when he lectured. He made his students work hard for their grades. His tough-love attitude was a reflection of his belief that learning should be about knowledge gained as opposed to a final GPA. Hassan himself was always on a personal quest to expand his knowledge. Born in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad) Pakistan, Hassan later married in Leeds England, where his love for Urdu poetry blossomed. He was drawn to Canada when offered a full scholarship from the University of New Brunswick to work on his Masters of English. Although throughout his career he regularly visited Pakistan to stimulate his literary and poetic pursuits, there was never talk of moving back. After completing his Masters in the mid 70’s, Hassan went on to teach English fiction at Dawson’s College in Montreal for 35 years. He was soon invited to teach Urdu poetry at McGill University—one of the most esteemed educational institutions in the world. In his later days, he translated great works by Nazim Hikmat, Mahmoud Darwish (poetry) and Gabriel Garcia Marquez (short stories) into Urdu. Prior to his death, he was in the middle of translating Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart; a colleague has now taken up the task of its completion. Although his career as a professor of Urdu seems the perfect vocation for an Urdu poet, a friend of the family confirmed that Hassan felt teaching hindered his creativity.  His true passion was writing and poetry and he surmised that he might have been better at it if he had taken up Banking or Law.  Nonetheless, Hassan drew great admiration from his students of Urdu and English poetry. Hassan recently passed away from pulmonary fibrosis—resulting from a life-long smoking habit popular with his generation of creative thinkers. -Information sourced from Azim Hussain, a lawyer and friend of the family

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