Zahiruddin Usmani

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Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani

Kaleem Kawaja, Syed Naseem and Afzal Usmani

While talking to Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani on 3rd April, 2010 Saturday afternoon I never imagined it to be my last conversation with a humble, modest and a very senior and distinguished son of Aligarh Muslim University and a true Aligarian. He died on Friday afternoon on 9th April, 2010. Namaz-e-Janaza was held on Saturday, April 10, at the Muslim Community Center, Silver Spring Maryland (US) after Zuhr and he was laid down to rest at Fort Lincoln Funeral Home, Brentwood . Maryland (US)

Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani was born in a small village “Utarai(n)” near Dhilai Firozpur in Mau (UP) India in the family of Nemat Ali Shaikh Mohammad and Shafiqun Nisa. Utrain(n) was a part of Azamgarh in those days. He finished his middle school from nearby village Fatehpur Talratoay. His maternal grandparents were next door neighbor to us in our village Fatehpur Talratoay, Mau (UP) India. After completing his middle school, he joined Shibli National School to complete his High School and then joined Christian College in Lucknow for Intermediate (Higher Secondary School). After completing his higher Secondary school, he took admission in B.Sc. at Aligarh Muslim University in 1952. After completing his M.Sc. with Physics in 1958, he was appointed as a Lecturer in Department of Physics at Aligarh Muslim University. After serving for almost a year, he moved to United States and joined University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois for research. Later he completed PhD from University of Illinois and joined as a physicist at General Electric (GE). America is a land of opportunity and entrepreneurship is widely encouraged in the western hemisphere. Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani also tried his luck and started his own Bio-Tech company. The venture did not work well and he had move back to a job. Due to his poor health and diabetic condition, he took retirement.

In late 1970s Dr Zahiruddin Usmani was among a band of immigrant Muslims who established the Muslim Community Center (MCC) in Silver Spring, MD, a suburb of Washington DC. From the start of MCC, Dr Usmani took charge of setting up Sunday Islamic School at MCC. He continued this mission for a decade during which he built a first class Sunday Islamic School in Washington metro area. At that time there were hardly any Islamic schools in the DC area. Children of many people like me studied in his school and imbibed the basics of Islam. Without his enterprise our children would not have gained that knowledge. Dr. Usmani was a very passionate Aligarian and played a key role in establishing the oldest and largest Aligarh Alumni Association in the western hemisphere. He was also among the handful of Aligarians who established the Aligarh Alumni Association in DC area in 1974 and served as its President from…. To …… Even at present he was a Member of Board of Trustees of the Aligarh Association of Washington DC. Indeed it is difficult to count all of the selfless services that Dr Usmani did for the Muslim community in US, where most others are satisfied with mere keyboard based discussions. In the midst of all the cacophony and browbeating that goes on I do run into some Aligarians, real children of the Aligarh movement, who actually do something for the community rather than just talk. For most of us Dr Zahiruddin Usmani was a role model of what one should be like. Indeed he was a true son of the Aligarh movement and we take this opportunity to pay tribute to this very "khaksar" Muslim and Aligarian who served his community so meritoriously and selflessly. Dr. Usmani was a warm personality and a great community leader and the best example of what a human being can be. To us leadership means uniting people around a common purpose, rather than dividing them along ideology and attitude. We found Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani’s leadership very inspiring, but more importantly he has been a source of motivation and as a person who cares equally about his community members and friends. We offer our heartfelt personal appreciation for his association with us as well as radiant sprit of great community work. What a unique person Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani was, a rare blend of old and new culture. He is not only co-founder of MCC and Aligarh Alumni Association in Washington DC, but also started Sunday School and Muslim Youth Organization at MCC, until this time he is very jovial with his Sunday school students.

On Sunday, 4th April, 2010, he became unconscious and was immediately rushed to Shady Grove Hospital in Rockville, MD. He was placed in ICU. He was not responding to external stimuli. To preserve his brain function, he was being treated by “Cold Power” a process also called therapeutic hypothermia. He succumbed to the attack and never gain his conscious and died on Friday afternoon on 9th April, 2010. He left behind a grieving family of Fatima Usmani, Ahmad Usmani, Sameena Usmani and whole Muslim and Aligarh community of Springfield area in Washington D.C. metropolitan of United States. Please pray for him to be in the midst of people with whom Allah is pleased and give patience to the grieving family. We all know Allah will answer the prayer for him and his family.

Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani with a very senior Aligarian and his brother in law, Er. Abdullah

Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani with Afzal Usmani during later's visit to his home in Montgomery Village in Maryland in August 2004

Late Dr. Zahir Usmani

Braderam Afzal Usmani Saheb,

السّلام علیکم

It was very nice of what you wrote about Late Zahir Saheb. Our friendship started from AMU in 1957. He was senior to me, by about 3 years. After finishing his M.Sc. in Physics, he taught me for less than a year. He was granted a fellowship at Harvard in 1960 or 1961. I followed right after him. I went to University of Florida. We were continuously in touch. For some reason, he came to University of Illinois. I was offered a job in Cleveland in 1965. I went to visit him in that year. I found him in the company of the MSA founders, Ahmad Sakr, Abdul Mateen Chida, Usman Ahmed, etc. Finally, he ended up at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, where he received his Ph.D. in 1969. He started working for GE and was transferred to Washington, D.C. area in 1973.

At least twice a year, I visited him. During later part of his life, he was not keeping a good health. We were in touch, just about, daily.

My sons and their families and I had a family get together in Orlando. On the way back to Cleveland on April 3, I received a call from his daughter, Samina, that her father went under coma and was rushed to the hospital. It was a shock. After arriving to Cleveland, I left for Maryland on April 7. I found my dearest friend under coma, not reacting to anything at all. On the following day, after Jumu'a, I came back to his bed side. I recited Sura Yaseen. His family was there too. Around 4, all of us decided to let the doctor pull all of his life supports (It was suggested by his doctor and two physician nephews). It was done at 6, and Zahir Saheb took his last breath about 40 minutes later.

It was my, along with his son and a nephew, pleasure to give him the Ghusl-e-Jnaza. We berried him on Saturday after noon. Alhamdulillah, everything went very smoothly. Fortunately, my two sons, and very close friends from Cleveland, Ohio, Mr and Mrs Riyaz Ansari came to his Janaza.

Afzal Saheb, I do not know why I wrote this detail to you, but I wrote it anyway. Now I am feeling better. I do miss him and his daily phone calls. By the way, he was the one who instigated my marriage to Late Azizul Hasan's daughter (both, father and daughter, are deceased too).

Shukriya for reading my email.

خدا حافظ

Ahmad Saeed Ansari
Cleveland Ohio USA

Sad to know about the demise of Zahiruddin Usmani sahib

Azizi Afzal,
Assalamu Alaykum
It is very sad to know about the demise of Zahiruddin Usmani sahib. I did not have the privilege of meeting him but clearly he was a prominent alumnus of our A.M.U. He will be deeply missed.


Ishtiyaq Ahmad Zilli
Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy
Azamgarh India

Great loss

May Allah(swt) grant him a place in Jannah and May Allah(swt) give his family Sabr.....Ameen

Sufia Huda

Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani's death is a great loss

Dear Afzal Saheb, Assalam alai kum,
The news of Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani's death was sad. I, along with Dr. Salman Sultan,went this evening to his brother's house, Late Dr. Shahnawaz Usmani and met his wife to console her. May his soul rest in peace. Ameen!
His service to the cause of Muslim education and Islam in the United States will be remembered for a long time.
Yours sincerely

Javed Khan
Shibli National College
Azamgarh (UP) India

Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani

Dr.Zaheer Usmani is humble human is a great lost us.. in this week only,, two stalwarts lost there lives,,,, one is Dr.Israr ,, he also from physics,and another one is Dr.Zaheer..they are true aligarians.ALLAH rest their soul in havens.

Asad Azmi

Sir Syed Bi-Centenary


Hamiduddin Farahi


ZH Chowdhury

Satish Chandra