“The death of a scholar brings void all over the world.” It is an expression found in almost all the cultures in the world with minor differences. On August 22, the internet community and the people of Chicago witnessed it when a group of Muslims observed a four-hour-long program to remember Dr. Abidullah Ghazi about four months after his demise upon the completion of his wife’s iddat. Dr. Ghazi was a poet, writer, researcher, scholar, orator, a religious leader in the traditional way, a spiritual guide, and a modernist. With his wife, Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, he was the founder of the world’s only international children’s curriculum development institution.
The program was the brainchild of his admirers, students, and friends, who gathered Muslims worldwide to pay glowing tribute to the scholar who left a permanent imprint in the field of Muslim education for children. Intellectuals, activists, and family members from the United States, Singapore, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom shared their interaction with him and shed light on his personality, a mix of traditions and modernity with a sense of responsibility to God and His creation.
IQRA International Educational Foundation and Light Upon Light decided to jointly organize this program. Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari, Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, Seemi Bushra Ghazi, Shagufta Hashmi, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, Dr. Musa Azam, Dr. Ahmed Murad, Maulana Qari Adnan, Amin Haider, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Jawed Aslam, Professor Masroor Qureshi, and Shahab Khan were the members of the organizing committee
The memorial service was a fitting tribute to one of the best-known educationists in America. As described by his wife and co-founder of IQRA during her keynote address, she said, “he was a visionary who perceived the needs of the emerging generation in the field of education and created the infrastructure to achieve it.” His son described him as a practical man who knew how to weave dreams and put them into reality. His long-time disciple, Dr. Ahmadullah Siddiqi, quoting from his autobiographies, highlighted his vision of a pluralistic community that learns from its traditions and adapts modernity within its value system.
During the program, the organizing committee released two significant works. Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari’s work on IQRA’s curriculum and Dr. Abdiullah Ghazi’s four-volume autobiography.
Speakers drawn from different walks of life paid rich tribute to Dr. Ghazi. Among them were: Shahab Khan, Dr. Tasneema, Abdullah Mitchell, Dr. A. Siddiqi, Dr. Ashhad Jamal Nadwi, Prof Omer Muzaffar, Amin Haider, Prof. Masroor Quraishi, Dr. Khutb Uddin, Dr. Omar Shaheen, Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Dr. Seema Imam, Habeeb Quadri, Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari, Dr. Kaiserduddin, Dr. Wasiullah Khan, Dr. Shiakh Mohammed ArRaee, Sister Azra Taufiq (Australia), Dr. Hannan (Singapore), Mufti Barkatullah (U.K.), Salman Ansari (Saudi Arabia), Maulana Jahangir (Pakistan), Moulana Sufyaan Qasmi (India), Rashid Ghazi, Saba Ghazi, and Tayyab Younus.
The organizing committee also awarded the following individuals for their services. Dr. Rami Nashashibi, Dr. Saba Khan, Ismail Umar, and Mirza Muhammad Baig.
The program concluded with the dua by Dr Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari. This program was sponsored by IQRA, Sahara Home Care, IFANCA, G.C.S. Technology Solutions, Al-Furqaan Foundation, Saturna Capital, WCMIR, Elmhurst University, IMRC, Gain Peace, Helping Hand, WCMIR, and the East-West University.
Here is a short biographical note of each of the speakers:
Mr. Shahab Khan has been working at IQRA’ International Educational Foundation since 2002. Throughout his time at IQRA’ he has gone through multiple job designations and promotions. Currently, he holds the role of IQRA’ Book Service Director. He has strived to promote IQRA’s publications across North America and Overseas countries. In 2008, Mr. Khan had received the employee appreciation award. He has had the privilege to visit many institutions across the country with Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, one of the most memorable being the Parliament of World Religions.
Moulana Mohammad Sufyan Qasmi comes from the Great Qasmi Intellectual Dynasty. He is the grandson of Maulana Qari Mohammad Tayyib. Maulana Muhammad Sufyan Qasmi is the Rector of Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband, a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, and the Editor in Chief of monthly Urdu Magazine Nida-e Darul Uloom Waqf Deoband. He was graduated at Darul Uloom Deoband and later moved to Al-Azhar, Cairo, for further higher studies in Islamic religious sciences. Here is his video presentation.
Abdullah Mitchell is the Executive Director of the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago, CIOGC. He is a licensed attorney in Illinois and chairman of the Leadership Development Institute, and is a board member of Masjid Al-Taqwa.
Dr. Hafiz Ikhlas Ansari is Chairman of the organizing community of this program. He is a highly proficient and experienced Educator and author with over 25 years of involvement in curriculum design, development, and implementation to cater to the different learning needs and achieve the desired learning outcomes. He has rich experience developing, producing, and publishing syllabus, textbooks, workbooks, teacher’s guides, and other administrative, educational materials. Currently, he is teaching at MCC Academy and performing Imam responsibilities with M.E.C. Masjid. Dr. Ansari Completed hifzh (memorization of Qur’an) and graduated from Madrasah Arabia Tajweedul Qur’an in Pakistan, earned a master’s degree in Islamic Studies from Karachi University, and relocated to Singapore for further education, and completed Masters’ degree in Information Systems & Computer Science. He recently completed his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies and is associated with educational institutions like Yale and interfaith groups that promote peace, harmony, tolerance, social justice, and basic human rights through religious education, interaction, and dialog.
Dr. Mohammad Ahmadullah Siddiqi is a board member and treasurer of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations, WCMIR. He has taught for 28 years and served as director of the Journalism program and chair of the English and Journalism department at Western Illinois University, besides serving as Executive director of Sound Vision from 2015 to 2017 and Dean of Academic and Students Affairs at Northwest Suburban College from 2017 to 2020. Dr. Siddiqi has presented papers and conducted seminars in professional conferences in more than 100 cities in North America and over 30 countries worldwide.
Imam Musa Azam has served as an Imam and Religious leader in the U.S.A. for the Muslim communities over the last 30 years. In 2016 he represented Muslims for peace at the United Nations and had given presentations on Islam to United States government agencies and officials. He is one of the founders of Tawhid Center, LUL (Light Upon Light), and SIFCA (Shura of Islamic Family Counselors of America). He has served as Reginal Director of IRUSA (Islamic Relief U.S.A.), H.N.F. ( Human Nessecity Foundation), and the director of development at Sound Vision Foundation. He is a Board of Directors at WCMIR (World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations). (https://wcmir.org). In 2019 Imam Musa earned his Ph.D. in Midea’s Influence and American Muslims’ Response with Comparative Religions at the Graduate Theological Foundation, an affiliate of Oxford University. Originally from Hyderabad, India. Dr. Imam Musa lives with his wife and three kids in Northwest Indiana.
Dr. Ashhad Jamaal Nadwi is the Islamic Institute of Research and Publication director in Aligarh, India.
Mr. Omar Muzaffar is the Muslim Chaplain at Loyola University in Chicago, where he counsels and addresses theological, social, and personal issues of students of all sectarian outlooks. During the school year, he also runs classes on scriptures, student life, and other matters.
Brother Amin Haider is a well-known literary personality of the Greater Chicago area.
He is the President of the Urdu Institute that conducts monthly forums on Urdu literary topics. Br. Amin has been the most instrumental figure in keeping the Urdu mushaira tradition alive in North America. He has presented several unique programs on Mirza Ghalib, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Javed Akhtar, Gulzaar sahib etc.
Dr. Khutb M Uddin is a practicing psychiatrist and psychologist in Indiana and Illinois. He is the director of Star Psychiatric Services P.C. in South Bend, IN, and is actively involved in several social, educational, and humanitarian organizations.
He is a visiting professor at Ibne -Khaldun University at Istanbul University. He was the past President of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origins and has written many books and articles on psychology and behavioral sciences.
Dr. Omar Shaheen is the dean of the Islamic Studies program at Graduate Theological Foundation, Indiana, where he has been teaching since 2004. Shaikh Omar Shaheen is a Jordanian native and came to the U. S. in 1995 and became a U. S. citizen in 2003. He was Imam at the Islamic Center of Tucson, Arizona, from 2000 until 2003, when he co-founded the North American Imams Federation and is currently President of its executive committee.
Dr. Aslam Abdullah is a resident scholar at Islamicity.org and editor-in-chief of the Muslim Observer newspaper. He is also the Indian Islamic Heritage Project director of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin and the interim President of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations, WCMIR.
Dr. Seema Imam is a teacher and educator. She has served as a founding principal at one of the most prominent Islamic schools in the Chicagoland area. She is a full professor at National Louis University in teacher preparation for elementary, middle level, and special education teachers, and she holds a Doctorate in Curriculum and Social Inquiry and a second Doctorate in Islamic Education. Dr. Seema was the recipient of IQRA’S Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. She is Chair of the Islamic Schools League of America, a national organization. She is an Activist, Author of numerous chapters and articles, a children’s book,” I am Listening,” that she co-authored with her son.
Fueled by his life’s mission to improve the human condition, Mr. Tayyab Younus has provided strategic guidance to both Profit and Non-profit organizations for over 20 years. Brother Younus is an expert at “getting things done” with excellence by creating a strategy around a shared vision, assembling champion lead teams, driving innovation, facilitating execution, and empowering tactics for any size mission. He is the founder and C.E.O. of Intuitive Solutions, President of the Center on Muslim Philanthropy, and Adjunct Faculty at Indiana University’s The Fund Raising School at Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Dr. Saba Khan is the first Muslim woman to be elected to serve as a Board Trustee, Village of Morton Grove, Illinois, in 2021. Commissioner, Plan Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals, Village of Morton Grove, IL 2013- 2021. The Mayor of the Village of Morton Grove appointed her as Commissioner, Planning Commission & Zoning Board of Appeals. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the CIOGC and the Chair of Civic Engagement Committee, CIOGC. Dr. Saba Khan has served as the Board of Directors of the MCC and in various other roles for over a decade. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and is a clinical assistant professor at the College of Dentistry, the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has received numerous awards for her extensive service to the community.
Br. Habeeb Qudri is the Principal of the MCC Academy in Morton Grove. He is a popular youth counselor, author, and lecturer on Islam and social problems confronting Muslim youth. He has also served as a part-time staff at Harvard Graduate School of Education professional development programs and on Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principal Advisory Board.=
Dr. Mohammad Kaiseruddin has been active in the Chicago Muslim community for more than 40 years. He has provided leadership and guidance to many Muslim organizations in the greater Chicago area, including as President and several times board member of the Muslim Community Center (MCC), chairman of the CIOGC, and chairman of the Downtown Islamic Center (D.I.C.). He regularly gives Jummah (Friday) and Eid sermons throughout the Chicagoland area. Dr. Kaiseruddin holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from Kansas State University and retired after working in a leading engineering company for over forty years.
Dr. Wasiullah Khan is a well-known personality in the Greater Chicago area. He is the founder and Chancellor of East West University. He has dedicated his life to strengthening the cause of education to serve the Muslim and minority communities in North America. He has an M. A. and M. Ed degrees from Punjab University and a Ph. D. in Educational Administration from Indiana University.
Dr Shk ar Raee is the author of Qaida Noorania, has a degree in Islamic law, and holds an engineering degree. Dr. Raee is a professor at Imam University in Saudi Arabia and has also served as an Imam for over 30yrs in the U. S. The current Imam, Haram Shk Abdullah Awad al Jahni is among his students.
Mirza Muhammad Baig, our host, and owner of Monty’s Elegant Banquet does not need any introduction. We are honored to recognize him for providing food packages to the needy around Chicago area regardless of their ethnic or religious identity.
Br. Ismail Umar is a tireless community volunteer who has been serving the masjids throughout America’s Midwest region with water and other supplies. We are honored to present the 2021 Masjid Service Award to our dear Brother Ismail Umar.
Rashid Ghazi, son of late Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, is President at Paragon Marketing Group, a Glenview-based corporation. He is also the commissioner of the National Interscholastic Basketball conference. Rashid has a B. A. in Business and Sociology from University of Redlands and an M.B.A. from Kellogg Graduate School of Business.
Saba Ghazi is the middle child of Dr. Abidullah and Dr. Tasneema Ghazi. She has inherited her father’s love of visual art and literature. After studying Design at the University of Illinois in Chicago, she earned a Masters’s in Interactive Media from New York University. Mother of three children, one of her greatest joys has been writing and designing many of Iqra’s publications. Recently she has been exploring the intersections of her Muslim, Indian and American heritage through Art and poetry.
Professor Masroor Ali Quraishi is the chief editor of the Jazba Post online newspaper and chief editor of The Brij magazine, published in Chicago. She is the former head of the department of Islamic studies at wafaqi Urdu College, Karachi, Associate Professor Wafaqi Urdu University, Pakistan and former member of Curriculum Committee, Kulliyah ma’arife Islamiyah, Karachi University
Dr. Rami Nashashibi is a MacArthur Fellow, a Doctor of Sociology from the University of Chicago, and the Inner –City Muslim Network (IMAN) , imancentral.org, a non-profit organization incorporated in 1997. He fosters health, wellness, and healing on Chicago’s South Side & Atlanta’s west end by organizing social change, cultivating the arts, and operating a holistic health center. He has been featured in several prominent media publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atloantic , the Chicago Tribune, and multiple stories on PBS, C.B.S., and National Public Radio. Rami has also taught at the Chicago Theological Seminary, a visiting professor of the Sociology of Religion and Muslim Studies.
He serves on the board of directors of the Margaret Casey Foundation. In 2020, Rami debuted as a musician, songwriter, and executive producer of “This Love Thing,” a soul-stirring L.P. He has worked with several leading scholars in globalization, African American Studies and Muslim sociology and has contributed chapters to edited volumes by Manning Marable and Saskia Sassen. As a community leader building bridges across racial, religious, and socioeconomic divides to confront the challenges of poverty and disinvestment in urban communities, Dr. Nashashibi has successfully unified a diverse set of constituencies around a shared focus of social justice. He has lectured worldwide on a range of topics related to American Muslim identity, community organizing and social justice issues and has received many prestigious community service awards.