Passionate about Education, Business, and Kashmir
Rizwan’s sad departure at a young age is truly painful. It reminds us of the uncertainty of our own lives. Death is so unpredictable and yet so inevitable. Rizwan was a very articulate and reflective person who spoke eloquently on behalf of our community. With his immaculate academic credentials there were very few who could match his level of scholarship and talent.
His passion for community service is reflected in a multiplicity of ways. Education and business were his essential playgrounds. He helped develop programs for Muslim schools at a national level when we were still tinkering with the issues of weekend schools. He saw where we needed to go. More recently he was appointed to serve as the chair of MCC’s full time Islamic school board, in Morton Grove, Ill.
He was equally passionate about his native Kashmir. He founded the Pakistan Business Club at the University of Chicago, which remained close to his heart. He was active in the early years of Community Builders, Sabeel Pantry, MCC, and was a powerful spokesperson for the Muslim community at interfaith gatherings and community forums.
He was a man with strong convictions and as often happens with such individuals they are sometimes met with strong reactions. He had his share of detractors too. That comes with the territory of being outspoken as he certainly was. He was never afraid to speak his mind and say it as he saw things to be.
In His Own Words
In June 2010, he was interviewed by the Glenview Patch. This is what he had to say:
On being Spiritual: “Every now and then, I find myself able to go to the mosque in Morton Grove for the morning prayer service. It’s held before dawn. So, driving to it, while most of the neighborhood is asleep, is a calming experience by itself. The quiet streets at 4:30am; the prevailing silence just before the birds start chirping (as if they are singing God’s praises as well); driving to the house of worship being an act of worship itself; remembering and thanking God’s bounties that we all are blessed with – all these elements make it a great spiritually uplifting experience.”
On being American: “American Muslims are the proverbial new kids on the block. Most Patch readers didn’t grow up with us, but their kids are growing with ours in local schools and neighborhood parks. Unfortunately, most Americans first learned about Muslims and Islam during tumultuous times in our nation’s history. While these events are not reflective of the wider Muslim communities, they didn’t create a positive and realistic image of Muslims, either. Events such as the Iranian hostage crisis (1979), the first World Trade center bombing (1993), USS Cole bombing (2000), and, of course, the 9/11 tragedy. That history poses a challenge for us Muslims to constantly overcome the negative stereotyping, especially as we are cultivating an American Muslim identity. I wish more people in the community knew that the American Muslims, not much unlike the rest of the Americans, are not monolithic in any sense. We are of varying ethnic backgrounds (including blacks, who have been here for centuries, and converts); we come from a myriad of political and social backgrounds, and we are your neighbors, your employees, your bosses, clients, classmates, and fellow citizens.”
Rizwan’s short life exemplified that beautiful tradition of being problem solvers not documenters of despair. He was genuinely admired by the youth in the community to whom he was a sincere friend and advisor. Though Rizwan has departed, his legacy will live on. May Allah grant him a place in Jannah.
His family mourns the loss of the only brother to six sisters. He is survived by a son, Yousuf, and daughter, Sana.
Contributed by Dr. Azher Quader and Abrar Quader, JD