Mohammad Umar Farooq
By Afzal Usmani
The land of Ghazipur in eastern UP has produced many eminent Aligarians including former Union Minister of External Affairs Syed Mahmud, Prof. Abdul Aleem (Former Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh), Dr. Obaid Siddiqi (Padam Vibhushan recipient Scientist), Prof. Rashid Hayat Siddiqi (Academician and Environmentalist), Mr. Shahid Mahdi (Former Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi), Dr. Monis Raza (Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, New Delhi), Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza (Screen Play and dialog writer) and present Vice-President of India, Mr. M. Hamid Ansari.
The same Ghazipur has produced a modest, humble, passionate, dedicated and committed Aligarian Mr. Mohammad Umar Farooq. His name is not very commonly seen on our email networks or Aligarh related websites because he does not participate much in public discussions but reads every thing and tries to deliver the good to the best of his abilities. He lived most of his life in a city which has scarcity of Aligarians but he drove hundreds of miles to attend the gatherings of Aligarians, took responsibilities and delivered them with commitment and passion. In his own words, Mohammad Umar Farooq describes himself, “I believe very strongly that what I am today is because of Aligarh. My grooming in the early phases of my life at this great institution of learning taught me good moral values and social skills. Aligarh Muslim University, besides providing modern education also provides environment and opportunities for the overall development of one’s personality.”
Mohammad Umar Farooq comes from a well-known aristocrat family of Bhitri, in Ghazipur District, U.P. His father, late Mohd. Mustafa Siddiqi was also an Aligarian and served as Chairman, Ghazipur District Board and as Honorary Magistrate in the1940s. His uncle, late Mohd. Mujtaba Siddiqi was an IAS officer and served as Registrar at Aligarh Muslim University during Mr. Badruddin Tyebji’s term as Vice Chancellor. Mr. Farooq is also related to late Dr. Syed Mahmud and is the first cousin of Prof. Obaid Siddiqi, the well-known international scientist and Prof. Rashid H. Siddiqi and is also related to Prof. Abdul Aleem.
The young Umar Farooq joined S.T.S. High School (AMU. High School) in 1952 and passed High School in 1954. After High School he continued his education at the Aligarh Muslim University and left Aligarh in 1964 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. During his stay at Aligarh, he was President, Social Service League and Editor, English Section of the A. M. U. School Magazine. He was elected cabinet-member of the Intermediate Students’ Society in 1954-55 and also of the A.M.U. Students’ Union in 1956-57 and officiated as Honorary Secretary. He was appointed Senior Hall of Sir Sulaiman Hall and Under Officer of the 2nd U.P. Engineers’ Battalion in the early 60s. While living in Sulaiman Hall he actively participated in Literary & Cultural Activities at Hall as well as University level. On 26th January, 1961, he participated in “Fancy Dress” competition organized by Sulaiman Hall and dressed as "Mughal-e-Azam, King Akbar" of the Bollywood epic “Mughal-e-Azam” which was released just few months back in 1960. He arrived at venue dressed as Mughal-e Azam, Akbar the great riding on a real elephant. This gave a new height to the event in the residential life of Aligarh Muslim University.
This was the time when Aligarh Muslim University had students like Mr. Hamid Ansari, Mr. Ahmad Saeed ‘Anda', Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, Mr. Ishrat Aziz and Mr. Shahid Mahdi. Mr. Umar Farooq’s nomination for AMU Students’ Union Presidency was also filed against Dr. Abidullah Ghazi but he withdrew his nomination. After leaving AMU Aligarh he started his career in U.P. Irrigation as Assistant Engineer and worked till 1969 before he came to U.S. in 1970. He worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years and retired in 2002 as Chief of Nutrient Management in the PA Department of Environmental Protection. After living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for almost 40 years he recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia.
After Aligarh, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania became Mohammad Umar Farooq’s home. During his stay in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he was always an active member of the community at large. He founded and served the Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania as President. He was also an active and founding member of The Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg and served as its President. Umar Farooq’s passion for Aligarh never died even in the small capital of Pennsylvania where there were only two Aligarians, so he became member of the Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington, D.C. He used to drive over 100 miles to attend meetings and events of the Association that he had served as President and Trustee. He played a key role in establishing the Association. In 2004, he was elected as President of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations. His zeal and passion to work and abilities as an organizer played a key role for the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations to establish on its feet. It was in his leadership that the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations took some bold initiatives and created the culture to do some real work to help the community and the Aligarh Muslim University. In 2007, he was elected as member of Board of Trustees of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations for 5 years.
In 2005, When Aligarh Educational Endowment (AEEF) was established and the management requested Mr. Umar Farooq to join the efforts to make AEEF a reality and external funding Agency to help the community in general and his beloved Alma Mater, Aligarh Muslim University in particular. He immediately joined the efforts and since then he is working with AEEF till today. At present he is also member of the Advisory Board of Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania and of the Aligarh Alumni Association of Atlanta. Since October 2009, he lives in Atlanta Georgia with his wife Talat Farooq.