Prominent Muslim Educator Eulogised At His Funeral In Philadelphia

Prominent Muslim Educator Eulogised At His Funeral In Philadelphia

By Our Special Correspondent

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Hugely crowded gathering offered funeral prayers for Haji Abdul Waheed, an educator, scholar and Dayee, who passed away in Philadelphia on April 28, 2023, after tireless efforts towards building Muslim community in Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, Chairman, ‘World Forum for Peace & Justice’ who knew Haji Abdul Waheed for more than 45 years recounted that he was one of the founders of ‘Muslim Society of Delaware Valley’ which has been able to establish first, ‘Front Street Mosque’, then ‘Muslim Youth Center of Philadelphia’ and ‘Islamic Cultural Center of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.’ His team included: Manzoor Choudhary; Dr Javed Iqbal, Javed Hashmi, Dr Amjad, Abdul Rashid Malik and many others.

Dr Fai told the audience that Haji Abdul Waheed was a humble, kind and disciplined person. He was best known for his honesty and pleasant personality. His commitment to propagate the message of peace to fellow human beings, be they Christians, Jews, Hindus and others was exceptional. He was an inspiration not only to adult brothers and sisters but particularly to the younger generation. Dr Fai added.

Haji Abdul Waheed was born on January 10, 1936, in Gilgit, Pakistan. While in school, he attended formal religious classes after school regularly for ten years. His formal post-secondary education included a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Chemistry, and two master’s degrees in chemistry from universities in Pakistan and Great Britain. Though he decided to pursue chemistry, he developed a strong interest in mathematics which he nurtured through independent study. He developed proficiency in Urdu, Arabic, English, and Persian.  What was amazing was not only that he studied these varied subjects, but he kept them at his fingertips.

Dr Imtiaz Choudhary, ophthalmologist by profession and a close family friend of deceased was the Emcee of the memorial where glowing tributes were paid to the contribution of Haji Abdul Waheed towards Muslim community of Greater Philadelphia area. Dr Imtiaz was speaking on behalf of the family and hundreds of his students. Dr Imtiaz said that he did not know any another person who could quote Sheikh Saadi in Persian, Ghalib in Urdu, Quran and Hadith in Arabic, do a differential equation, and then tell you about the saponification reaction. I’m not exaggerating – I heard him do all those things. He was a teacher par excellence, and many of us owe him not just something, but everything. Our successes are due to his hard work and love, Dr Imtiaz added.

Dr Imtiaz explained that while working as a toxicologist, Haji Abdul Waheed’s routine was to return home at approximately 3:30 PM, and to teach interested persons either in person or on phone from 4:30-8:30 PM, Monday through Thursday. He taught Seearh (The life of the Prophet) and Islamic history on Saturdays and Sundays at Albanian Masjid. This continued for decades till his health no longer allowed this, around the age of 85. The number of students he personally taught is uncertain, but it is at least in the hundreds. He did it, while refusing to take any monetary compensation.

Dr Imtiaz recounted that he could tell that Haji Abdul Waheed disliked four things; first: cars and spent most of his life without one; second: television, calling it the Devil’s window; third: he hated waste, and practiced frugality, and a certain level of asceticism; fourth; he hated religious legalism, dogmatism and polemicism. He often made the point that Muslims no longer have the luxury to differ and argue over details. The broad mission of a Muslim is to exemplify by being peaceful neighbor to all, irrespective of their religious background or cultural affiliations.

We have lost a gem whose departure means a loss of immense spiritual blessing. Rabana la tahrimna ajrah! I pray that Allah blesses him, gives patience to our dear Auntie Mahjbeen, and allows us to be a Sadaqa Jaairya for him. Ameen, Dr Imtiaz Choudhary concluded.

Imams, community leaders, scholars and students of the area attended his funeral at Muslim Youth Center, Philadelphia, before his body was taken to ‘Forest Hills Cemetery’, Huntington Valley, Pennsylvania for burial. Despite the inclement weather, a large number of umbrella-carrying people, including women and children participated in the funeral at the cemetery.

Others who spoke during the memorial were the following: Imam Basheer Bilaal, Imam of the Muslim Society of Delaware Valley; Attorney Afnan Altaf; Ahmed Chaudhry (his student, graduating medical school); Br. Amin, grandson of Imam Hatip Jamali of Albanian Mosque; Dr Hammad Amjad; Dr Khalid Blankenship, Chairman of the Department of Religion at Temple University, and renowned expert on Islamic history; Qari Zayd from Northern New Jersey; Maulana Rafeeq Naqshbandi from Karachi, Pakistan, Shaikh Dr Abdul Fattah Jamiu of Nigerian Muslim Association of Philadelphia; Shaikh Muhammad Shehata of Al-Aqsa Islamic Society, Philadelphia.

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Categories: Eulogy

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