Kaleem Kawaja, Syed Naseem and Afzal Usmani
While talking to Dr. Zahiruddin Usmani on 3rd April, 2010 Saturday afternoon I never imagined 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.