Indian-American Muslims mourn the death of Second Sir Syed

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imagesBy Kaleem Kawaja,  Washington DC,

It is with profound sadness that Indian Muslims in North-America have learned of the passing away of Saiyid Hamid, renowned educationist, reformer and a top leader of Muslims in India.

After completing a very distinguished Indian Administrative Service (IAS) career, Hamid, who was originally from Uttar Pradesh, embarked on a 30-year second career as an educationist, working with much dedication to improving education in the Muslim community in India. He served as vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, and chancellor of Hamdard University New Delhi.

Hamid spent nearly 30 years motivating many senior government officials and senior Muslims to build projects to improve education in the Muslim community in India. He was the prime mover behind persuading the Indian government to form a committee headed by Justice Sachar to conduct research and to document the socio-economic-educational backwardness of Indian Muslims and to build programmess for their uplift.

I was fortunate to get acquainted with Hamid on a personal level and to co-host his visit to USA in 1996 to motivate Indian Muslims in US to help in the establishment of educational institutions in India and an English language magazine/newspaper. Following his visit to USA, he established a postgraduate college of management and information technology in New Delhi and the monthly magazine ‘The Nation & the World’. I had an opportunity to work with him on these projects for many years.

A conversation with Hamid was a pure delight. He was so erudite, so full of knowledge and such a practical visionary, so highly accomplished in both English and Urdu literature that it was difficult to understand how he acquired such broad accomplishment. Indeed, such was the strength of his personality and intellect that no matter who you were, it was impossible not to be impressed with him or not to get motivated by his ideas. It was in the fitness of things that many people called him the ‘Second Sir Syed’, that he truly was.

Indian Muslims will miss him for a very long time as he was a very rare individual, who fully epitomized the following verse of renowned Persian poet Hafiz Shirazi that he once told me in conversation.

“When you travel through a desert, you see all types of creatures, small reptiles, birds, big animals etc travelling towards the oasis to fill their thirst. We should try to be that oasis.”

Indeed Saiyid Hamid was an oasis towards whom we all looked up to – to satisfy our thirst to improve ourselves and our institutions.

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(Kaleem Kwaja is the Executive Director of Association of Indian Muslims of America (AIM).)

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