To Be My Father’s Son
Dr Muhammad Imady (31 August 1930 – 29 June 2022)
It has never been easy to be the son of Dr. Muhammad Imady. I discovered this early on when I would be stopped by passers-by who would want to speak to me about my father – how he had once taught them, or employed them, or helped them through various government processes that had been obstructed by others. At times, they would speak to me at great length about what my father had done for his country, how he had returned from Kuwait to work with those who were adamant at preventing him from achieving reform of any type, however minor or insignificant. I would be obliged to listen to story after story, though I was well aware of the minute details of each of them. Their words would invariably end with an ardent petition for me to emulate my father’s example. But I knew then, as I know now, that I lacked the essential characteristic that had qualified my father in the first place to be the man he was.
My father’s secret does not lie in the fact that he was highly educated, extremely talented, and a man of noble character, despite how rare each of these qualities were. His secret, rather, lay in the fact that he was able to bring all of this to a world which was almost organically at odds with everything for which he stood. This, plus his capacity to remain loyal to such a world for over half a century.
I have many memories of sitting in my father’s office, watching him interact with gentleness and wisdom with people who were neither willing nor capable of understanding the ideas he was trying to explain. I was aware of the fact that my father was carrying the banner of reform in a world that was waiting for him to commit just one mistake – intentionally or otherwise – so that it may turn against him.
Reform is both easy and impossible. Easy because you are, in essence, asked to place what would benefit people first. And impossible because you are incapable of placing what benefits people first unless you are willing to interact with anything else as nothing other than foam that will sooner or later dissipate. Yes, there were those with whom my father enjoyed working; men and women who believed, as he did, in the imperative of striving to elevate the status of their country, but they were like scattered trees in an ever-expanding desert.
My father’s secret also lies in the fact that he did not regard himself as having another option, though in actuality he had many. Those who loved him would often speak to him of the possibilities of other places or positions which he could, if he wished, depart to away from a world that was causing him constant headaches, pain, and even fear from the threat of various types of enemies. In response, he would smile and change the subject, as though to say: I was created to be here, and I will serve my country to the very end.
My dear father, you have finally departed to a world which recognizes who you are, and what you were trying every day to achieve. I have entrusted you to the Most Gentle, the Ever Aware, the One with Whom all trusts are protected.
(An English translation of my Arabic eulogy to my father.)