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Dr CK Kareem

CK Abdul Kareem, popularly known as Dr CK Kareem, was born in Edavanakkad Village of Ernakulam District on 5 May 1929 as the fifth child of Chulliparambil Koyamu Kochukader and CA Kochaleema. CK Meeravunni and CK Ammukunji were his elder brothers. CK Kochupathumma, CK Kochaminumma and CK Kadhijumma were his sisters.  Dr. Kareem’s father had inherited a vast ancestral property and the family was influential and respected in the region. Dr Kareem’s father played a vital role in the progress and renaissance of the Muslims of the region.  He served as the Manager of the first school that was established in the Village.

Dr Kareem did his schooling in HIS Edavanakkad, LPS Edavanakkad, RV High School Cherai and Government High School, Njarakkal. He lost his father when he was in the 5th Standard and his mother died barely three years later. His friends were his only solace during that phase of his life. His eldest bother-in-law, Pallikkal Valiyaveettil Ahmed Kunjumuhammad was his guardian during the period. Even during his school days, he became the Branch Secretary of Muslim Majlis, Edavanakkad unit and an active volunteer of Praja Mandalam. He was later elected as the Campaign Convener of Vypin Students’ Congress. While studying in Njarakkal RVHS and Cherai GHS, he was in the forefront of many agitations, protests and demonstrations as a part of the Indian Independence Struggle. The first students’ agitation in the history of Vypin Island took place in Njarakkal RVHS under his leadership. Later, he became a very active member of Kerala Socialist Party (KSP), founded by Mathai Manjuraan.

After completing his schooling, Dr Kareem joined for Intermediate Course in Government College, Chittoor in Palackad District. But, he was rusticated from the Institution for leading an agitation against the selection process prevailing there. He was an elected member of the College Union at that time. Consequently, he lost one year; but, he was given admission in the same college the next year, from where he completed the Intermediate Course.

In the year 1950, Dr CK Kareem married PA Fathima, the eldest of the three daughters of Padiyath Blangachalil Abdulla Sahib of Kodungallore. Subsequently, Dr. Kareem joined Victoria College, Palackad to pursue his graduation in Malayalam Language and Literature. He was noted for his eloquent oratorical skills as well as writing skills.  He became the President of Palackad District Committee of United Students’ Organisation (USO), which was formed after Students’ Federation was banned by the British. In the College Union Elections, he contested and lost for the post of Chairman against MT Vasudevan Nair.

After completing his graduation, Dr Kareem joined Aligarh Muslim University for MA-LLB. He was soon elected as Member of the Students’ Cabinet and served as the Officiating President and Librarian. He was also the Editor of Aligarh Students’ Review, a journal published by the students of the University. On his return from Aligarh, Dr Kareem started his career as the Head Master of HIS Edavanakkad, which was founded by his father. This was the beginning of a very illustrious career. In between, he returned to Aligarh to do his research work under the guidance of Prof Nurul Hassan, who later became the HRD Minister during Indira Gandhi’s regime. Dr Kareem got his PhD for his thesis Kerala under Haider Ali and Tipu Sultan. He also earned Diploma in Archives Keeping from National Archives of India, New Delhi.

It was the renowned scholar, Sooranattu Kunjan Pillai, who really appreciated the language skills of Dr Kareem and urged him to take to serious writing. The first articles of Dr Kareem were published in Kaumudi, a weekly published by K Balakrishnan, who was the son of the former Chief Minister C Kesavan. Very soon, he was noticed in the literary circles and most of the contemporary great men of letters, renowned educationalists, eminent social figures and political leaders made acquaintance with him. Through his speeches and writings, Dr Kareem tried his best to endeavour for the progress of the Muslim Community of Kerala. He was a member and office bearer of various academic and socio-cultural organisations, the list of which is provided. He was also the recognised research guide of various universities in the discipline of history.

Dr Kareem and Fathima were blessed with two sons, Babu and Salim, and two daughters Ally and Shahida. The responsibility of earning the means to bring up and educate the four children as well as the duties of the posts that he held might have hampered a lot of his creativity and literary output. Yet, he wrote prolifically, bringing out twenty-three outstanding works on history, sociology and philosophy. This was possible mainly due to his perseverance, enthusiasm and positive attitude to life. He used to work more than sixteen hours a day when he was engaged in composing and publishing a book. Printing and publishing never used to be so easy a matter as it is now.

It was a common sight for passerby to see Dr Kareem sitting in the portico of his house holding a pen in his right hand and a filterless cigarette in his left along with a glass of strong tea waiting to get cold. It is said that people used to place bets saying that the next time, he would take his pen to the lips and write in the open book in front of him with the cigarette. When any of his children mentioned anything like this to him, he would just smile baring his beautifully set teeth stained by the abuse of tobacco and tea for decades. He fostered an atmosphere of warmth and affection in the family and enjoyed being friendly with his children.

People from different parts of the world visited Dr Kareem and returned enlightened and gleefully. Friends and relatives from far and near thronged his house and Fathima always had a busy time playing the host to them. When asked about the one lesson that he had learned from life, he philosophised: “Try to be of use to others; but never expect any gratitude from anyone.” He was a philanthropist and more of a philosopher than a historian. . The enigmas he found in the books on the history of India were intriguing and more luring. He successfully tried to unravel the truth behind at least a few of the myths in the recorded history of Kerala and India.

The list of friends and acquaintances of Dr Kareem would be too large to be published here..