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Journal of America Team:


 Editor in chief: 
Abdus Sattar Ghazali

 Managing Editor:
 
Mertze Dahlin   

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Bay Area Community pays rich tribute to
Syed Rifat Mahmood

Bay Area Community 9-23-2016

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

The San Francisco Bay Area community paid rich tribute to Syed Rifat Mahmood, President of United Muslims of America, Founder of the Islamic Society of East Bay, American Institute of International Studies and Journal of America and Author.

Syed Rifat Mahmood passed away  in Fremont CA on August 4, 2016 after a long illness. The United Muslim of America (UMA) sponsored a special event on August 28 at the Chandni Restaurant, Newark, CA to recognize his sincere services to the community. Tribute to Syed Mahmood1 (15)

A host of community leaders and civil activists gathered to honor Syed Rifat Mahmood who enriched his community in civic, political and religious fields. Among those who addressed the gathering included: Zara Mahmood (daughter of Syed Mahmood), Dr. Waheed Siddiqui, Reshma Inamdar, Javed Ellahie, Samina Sundas, Mertze Dahlin, Shafi Refai, Tashie Zaheer, Prof. Arthur Scott, Javed Khan, Dr. Khalid Baig, Moeena Shaiq, Iftekhar Hai, Nihal Khan, Hazem Khera (for Dr. Agha Saeed), Ahmed Kaleem Hashmi, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Ali Cemantur and Dr.  Ostur Raza. Dr. Rajabally concluded the commemorative gathering.

Shafi Refai, the former President UMA was MC of the program. Speaker after speaker, highlighted the accomplishments of Syed Rifat Mahmood and the difficulties to achieve them.

Perhaps the best tribute to Syed Mahmood was given by Dr. Ostur Raza who described him an example of the African tradition of Ubuntu meaning humanity towards all others. I am what I am because of who we all are." Ostur Raza said that this word comes to my mind when I remember Syed Mahmood. He related the following story to explain the philosophy of Obuntu:

An Anthropologist proposed a game to the African tribal children: He placed a basket of sweets near a tree, and asked the children to stand 50m away. Then announced that whoever reaches first would get all the sweets in the basket. When he said 'ready steady go!' ... Do you know what these children did? They all held each other's hands, ran together towards the tree, divided the sweets equally among themselves, ate the sweets and enjoyed it. When the Anthropologist asked them why they did so, They answered 'Ubuntu'. Which meant - 'How can one be happy when the others are sad.Tribute to Syed Mahmood1 (12)

Everything Rifat did was for all of us –Rifat could not be happy, unless the community was happy. "Rifat did not live for himself, he lived with us and for us. Rifat was an UBUNTU man."

Dr. Raza said that people know Ubuntu as an open source single software platform that runs across smartphones, tablets and PCs. The name Ubuntu was given because it is an open source platform which is shared free by the IT community.

Dr. Raza said Let's honor Rifat by living UBUNTU Life. He invited the audience to  to make a  commitment that like Syed Rifat Mahmood "I will do my best to practice UBUNTU for my community."

Zara, the daughter and the only child of Syed Rifat Mahmood was the first speaker, In an emotional speech, she related the salient points of his loving father's life history. His father arrived in USA in April 1969. Syed Mahmood was the first member of his family to arrive is USA.

Syed Rifat Mahmood was a public figure. He was a nominee for the U.S. Congress as a Republican candidate in 2002. He was also a Republican nominee for the California State Assembly in 2000. Syed was elected to the Central Committee of the Alameda County Republican Party for a two-year term. He was also nominated for California State Republican Party's Central Committee for two terms. He has worked for the Reagan and Bush presidential campaigns and served as one of the co-chair for Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Lungren. Tribute to Syed Mahmood1 (4)

Dr. Waheed Siddiqee recalled: “Congressman Mike Honda sent a condolence message to Syed Rifat Mahmood’s on his demise which read: Syed Mahmood’s efforts to educate and foster Muslim participation in mainstream social, economic, political and civil activities has benefitted our community throughout his life.”

Syeda Reshma Inamdar, a civil advocacy activist, met Rifat when he was President of the Islamic Society of East Bay (ISEB). She said that she was happy that the ISEB expanded under his leadership. But it is sad to learn that several community members filed lawsuit against him rather than cooperate to elevate the ISEB and the community.

Attorney Javed Ellahie was of the view that we should follow Syed Rifat Mahmood’s legacy with action.

Mertze Dahlin, Managing Editor of the Journal of America, met Syed Rifat Mahmood in 1977 when he was president of the San Francisco Islamic Center.  Mertze Dahlin said Syed Mahmood was a prolific writer with rich content. He was one of the founders of the Islamic Society of East Bay (ISEB) neighboring the Methodist Church. The Harvard University has selected them as the best model of co-existence of the two faiths.

Tashie Zaheer, President of the Urdu Academy of North America, read message of Dr. Abdul Jabbar, who was unable to attend the event personally because of his other engagements. On his part Tashie Zaheer said something saddens me a great deal. "Why did we not do it when he was alive? At least, going forward we as a community must think about it. I am sad that we did not recognize him while he was alive."Tribute to Syed Mahmood1 (9)

Samina Fahim, the founding Executive Director of the American Muslim Voice (AMV) concord with lamented that why we did  not celebrate him while he was alive.

Arthur Scott, Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the Dominican University of California, said Syed Rifat Mahmood was concerned that the Muslim community should be more active, particularly in the political process. He was a path finder through his active political life. Prof Arthur said he was known to Syed Mahmood through his articles because he was writing a lot about the Middle East affairs. Syed Mahmood invited him to write for the Journal of America being published since 2008.

At the end MC Shafi Refai thanked Chandni Restaurant, Newark, for hosting the event to honor Syed Rifat Mahmood.

Bay Area Community pays rich tribute to Syed Mahmood
on YoyTube

1. This video shows speaking: Zara Mahmood (daughter of Syed Mahmood), Dr. Waheed Siddiqui, Reshma Inamdar, Javed Ellahie, Samina Sundas and Mertze Dahlin, Shafi Refai.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tGgB6vJ47s

2. This video shows speaking: Tashie Zaheer, Prof. Arthur Scott, Javed Khan, Dr. Khalid Baig, Moeena Shaiq, Iftekhar Hai.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=439eIBPr9oE

3. This video shows speaking: Tashie Zaheer, Nihal Khan, Hazem Khera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOZ0Bw2oQ1A

4. This video shows speaking:  Ahmed Kaleem Hashmi, Abdus Sattar Ghazali, Ali Cemantur, Ostur, Dr. Rajabally, Shafi Rifai.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mcfzCg60go