A doctor at the hospital said they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. The previous record was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.
As many as 191 benign tumours were removed from the uterus of an Omani woman at a private hospital in Kozhikode, north Kerala, on Saturday.
Doctors at the city’s Starcare Hospital claimed this was a new world record. They said the previous one was held by an Egyptian woman, who had 186 tumours removed from her body last December.
Dr Abdul Rashid, the hospital’s chief gynaecologist, told Hindustan Times they performed the operation in four hours without removing the patient’s ovaries or uterus. “We blended keyhole and traditional mechanisms to do it. We were expecting 80-odd tumours, not so many,” he said, adding that the woman was now recuperating from the procedure.
The existing record in the country is 84 tumours.
Dr Rashid said the hospital will soon update Guinness World Records authorities on the development. “We did not operate on the 34-year-old woman to break any record. We had initially considered laparoscopic surgery, but decided against it when we realised that the tumour was really big,” he added.
A team of three doctors had performed the surgery.
The chief gynaecologist said a leading medical body has already confirmed that this was a unique case. “The woman seemed to be in an advanced stage of pregnancy when she first came here, but we were keen on protecting her ovaries and uterus. She can now lead a normal life, and even conceive after a couple of years,” he added.
According to Dr Rashid, there has been a significant rise in middle-eastern patients visiting super-specialty hospitals in the state lately. “Our facilities are economical when compared to hospitals in the West, while keeping with similar standards. Kerala has always been a leading tourist destination, but it may soon become a medical hub too,” he said.
source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> India / by Ramesh Babu – Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram / November 19th, 2017
Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) was felicitated at Infotel Awards 2017 at Tagore Hall during a function held on Sunday. The award was given in recognition to the philanthropic work done by DAK during 2016 summer uprising wherein a group of six doctors namely Dr Mir Mushtaq, Dr Yasir Wani, Dr Masood Rashid, Dr Ijtaba Shafi, Dr Masood ul Hassan & Dr Zahid Nasti worked day in and day out and collected Rs 17 lakh which were utilised for the pellet victims in terms of medicines and surgical equipments.
A spokesperson of the DAK said that the award was given by MoS Health & Medical Education Asiea Naqash in presence of MLA Rafiabad Yawar Mir and Abbas Wani, MLA Gulmarg.
On behalf of DAK the award was received by Dr Arshad Hussain Trag (Joint Secretary, DAK).
President DAK, Dr Suhail Naik also received appreciation award in the said function for elevating the Paediatric health care at Sub District Hospital(SDH), Sopore.
President DAK Dr Suhail Naik has expressed his gratitude to the organizers and has assured that DAK will be continuing social work endeavors under various programmes.
source: http://www.kashmirlife.net / Kashmir Life / Home> Latest News / by KL News Network / November 13th, 2017
Dr. Parveen Akhter Lone, Prof. & Head of the Department of Oral and Maxillo-Facial Surgery, Indira Gandhi Government Dental College, Jammu has been conferred with Award of Excellence at Golden Jubilee Celebrations of King George Medical University, Lucknow .
Dr Lone is a distinction-holder and gold medalist during her BDS and was awarded with ‘Outstanding Student of BDS’ by International College of Dentists in 1991.
She has completed advanced course in trauma and attended various Workshops and conferences along with presentation of research papers & posters at national and international level.
She is also the Vice-President of J&K Chapter of the Association of Oral and Maxillo-facial Surgeons of India (AOMSI).
Recently, for her consecrated achievements in Dental field, she was awarded with Women Achievers Award – 2017 by Times of India Group.
source: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com / Daily Excelsior.com / Home / by Excelsior Correspondent / November 10th, 2017
Government has appointed IAS officer Parmod Jain as Chairperson of Jammu and Kashmir State Water Resources Regulatory Authority (JKSWRRA).
The SRO-458 issued by the Government today reads: “In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 139 of the J&K Water Resources (Regulation and Management) Act, 2010, the Government hereby appoints the new Chairperson and Members of the J&K State Water Resources Regulatory Authority”.
Parmod Jain is presently Vice-Chairman and DG IMPA.
The members of the Authority are Kaneez Fatima, former Principal District and Sessions Judge, Ravi Magotra, former Director General Accounts and Treasuries and Ahmed Muzaffar Lankar, retired Executive Director Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation.
source: http://www.dailyexcelsior.com / DailyExcelsior.com / Home / by Excelsior Correspondent / Jammu – October 27th, 2017
The Vice Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Professor Tariq Mansoor has appointed Professor Tabassum Shahab as the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University, till further orders, in addition to his own duties. Prof Mansoor has made this appointment in exercise of the powers vested in him under Section 19(3) of AMU Act 1920.
Prof. Tabassum Shahab, a senior faculty member in the Department of Paediatrics, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College passed MD (Pediatrics) in 1981 from Madhya Pradesh and joined the Department of Pediatrics in March 1984.
Prof Shahab has published a number of research papers in important national and international journals such as Indian Pediatrics, Indian Journal of Pediatrics, Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, etc. He has also supervised 16 theses for MD Pediatrics and delivered lectures on important developments in the field of paediatric research at national level conferences and seminars. He has also served as a nodal officer of WHO and UNICEF’s global polio eradication programme.
Prof Shahab has also proved his mettle in administrative capacities as Nodal Officer, Minority Students’ Affairs, President, Gymkhana Club in University Games Committee, Chairman of Department of Pediatrics and Provost, Hadi Hasan Hall.
source: http://www.twocirlces.net / Two Cirlces / Home> Indian Muslim / TCN News / October 29th, 2017
In a development that is something Bihar should be proud of, Dr Mumtaz Naiyer, a UK-based scientist from Kishanganj district, has come up with an ‘exciting’ discovery on path to develop new type of vaccine to treat global viruses.
He along with other scientists from the University of Southampton has made a significant discovery in efforts to develop a vaccine against Zika, Dengue and Hepatitis C viruses that affect millions of people around the world.
In a study published in Science Immunology, researchers have shown that natural killer cells (NK cells), which are a fundamental part of the body’s immune system, can recognise many different viruses including global pathogens such as Zika, Dengue and Hepatitis C viruses, through a single receptor called KIR2DS2.
The Southampton team have shown that this NK cell receptor is able to target a non-variable part of the virus called the NS3 helicase protein, which is essential in making the virus work properly. Unlike other proteins, the NS3 helicase protein does not change, which allows the immune system to grab hold of it and let the NK cells deal with the threat.
Lead researcher Salim Khakoo, professor of hepatology, said the findings are very exciting and could change the way viruses are targeted by vaccines but warned that the research is still at an early stage, and animal studies/clinical trials will be needed to test the findings.
It is very exciting to discover that other viruses similar to Hepatitis C, such as Zika virus, dengue virus, yellow fever virus, Japanese encephalitis virus and in fact all flaviviruses, contain a region within their NS3 helicase proteins that is recognised by exactly the same KIR2DS2 receptor.
“We believe that by targeting this NS3 helicase region, we can make a new type of vaccine based upon natural killer cells, which can be used to help protect people from these infections,” said Khakoo.
In an exclusive interview with MuslimMirror, Dr Naiyer, a postdoctoral scientist at the University of Southampton who the first author of the paper, talked at length about his roller coaster journey from Bihar to the United Kingdom and study.
Here are the excerpts:
MM: Please tell us about your journey from Bihar’s one of the most backward districts of Kishanganj to the University of Southampton, United Kingdom?
Dr Naiyer: I was born in one of the remotest village of Kishanganj in Bihar. The place earlier was referred to as ‘Kala Pani’ because of sheer backwardness and no access to mainland India. You can consider my small village as ‘Kala Pani’ with no access to schools etc. So much so, electricity in my village arrived in 2016 after 70 years of independence.
I was born in the 80s in a humble family of farmers. My parents were illiterate but had great quest for education. I was youngest among my siblings with five elder brothers and two sisters. The eldest brother did not attend school, one studied up to class V and three attended college. One of them did masters and later PhD in English literature.
My father passed away when I was 8 years old. It was extremely difficult for my mother to support us. As madarsas are cheaper, my mother even asked me to attend the Islamic seminary and become an ‘Aalim’ (Islamic scholar). After my father’s demise, one of my eldest brothers Mr Zainul Abedin had to discontinue his studies to support the education of two younger brothers.
As there were no schools nearby, I studied at home and a single teacher used to teach all the children in the village. I was directly admitted to standard three in a government school, which was 4 km away from my village. There were no roads and the situation in rainy season was like a nightmare. There was a strict discipline in our family for education. No matter how bad the day, one cannot miss the school.
I studied up to high school in my village. After that, I moved to Patna. Since my medium of instruction was Hindi till high school, it was difficult to switch to English books at 10+2. Contrary to my elder brothers who studied arts, I choose science with biology, physics and chemistry. I had a dream to become a doctor as I had seen young children die in my village without medical facilities.
However, after repeated attempts I could not clear Premedical Test (PMT) conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Bihar Combined Entrance Examination (BCEE). I moved to Delhi from Patna in the year 2000. I cracked BDS (Bachelor of Dental Surgery) entrance examination of Karnataka and B.Pharm (Bachelor of Pharmacy) entrance examination of Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi. Unfortunately, I could not afford any of these two. Then, I decided to do a simple B.Sc. course.
I appeared in the entrance test of B.Sc. (Biosciences) at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and I got selected for the course. That year, Jamia had lauched B.Sc. (Biotechnology) programme. The central university gave us an option to choose either of the programme. In addition, those who were top in the merit list have an option to choose biotechnology. I choose biotechnology.
Teachers were very supportive. Till that time, I had no predefine goals for an academic career like this. But later, I attended lectures of prominent academicians and scientists in my university. That changed my attitude completely towards higher education.
Surviving in a metro city like Delhi was not an easy job. The money I used to get from my family was not enough. I used to give tuitions in the posh colonies of Delhi to earn some bucks and support myself. Apart from that, I received Merit Scholarship by Central Wakf Board, Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, for consecutive two years at bachelors level. I must say my brothers tried their best to support me throughout my academic journey.
After my bachelors, I joined Jamia Hamdard, New Delhi in its master’s programme in biotechnology, which was one of the best in the capital. Here too, my teachers were very supportive and encouraged me to do pursue research. I got training in institutions like Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi. I got an exposure to quality research at my masters level. I was the recipient of Tasmia Merit Scholarship for best academic performance at masters level university exams in Jamia Hamdard.
My M.Sc. final year was full of turmoil. I lost my mother just a month before my final year’s examination and my family was going through financial crisis. Somehow, I managed to continue my studies.
I appeared in national level exams like National Eligibility Test (NET) jointly conducted by CSIR-UGC. I was awarded NET -Lectureship and Junior Research Fellowship by the UGC to pursue Ph.D. I also cleared GATE with 97 percentile.
After my masters, I joined National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune, an autonomous institution of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for my Ph.D. This is one of the top biotechnology research institutes in India. It is also a national cell repository. One of the best Immunologists in the country Dr Bhaskar Saha who is also a Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Awardee mentored me.
During my Ph.D., I gained knowledge in molecular immunology and cell signaling. I worked on Human Visceral Leishmaniasis also called Kala-azar. My research work ‘Identification and Characterisation of Interleukin-10 Receptor Antagonist’ was published in the journal ‘Human Immunology’. The financial support was provided by the UGC for five years in which I was awarded Junior Research fellowship (JRF) for two years and senior research fellowship (SRF) for three years.
At the end of my Ph.D., I received offers for postdoctoral fellowships from University of Montreal, Canada; John Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; National Institute of Health, Bethesda, USA; and Imperial College London, UK. Previously, Khakoo lab was in Imperial College London, which was later shifted to University of Southampton where I work now since March 2012.
Although I had options to join other labs in the USA and Canada, I decided to join Professor Khakoo’s lab for my postdoctoral research as my research goals were best matched with the objectives of Khakoo lab.
At University of Southampton, I started working on clinically important viruses such as Hepatitis C virus, Dengue, Zika, etc. and tried to understand how Natural Killer cells – which are fundamental part of body’s immune system – can clear the viruses.
MM: Tell us about your research.
Dr Naiyer: This is a well-presented study and a significant advancement in this field that identifies the important role of the receptor KIR2DS2. Since I come from India, which has thousands of cases of dengue each year, I can understand the suffering of patients with dengue. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to ease the suffering of these dengue-affected patients.
Natural Killer Cells play important role in fight against cancer and viral clearance. Our study focuses on how a single vaccine can be effective against multiple viruses. Our findings, which was recently published in prestigious journal “Science Immunology” also suggests that this strategy for virus therapeutics could be easily translated into the field of cancer.
2. What kind of encouragement did you find from your family and friends?
Dr Naiyer: My family was supportive. My brothers would often say, ‘Do not think about money, you just focus in your studies and leave rest to us’.
I had a very healthy competition with my friends and some of them genuinely motivated me.
MM: given the literacy rate of your area, what did inspire you to select this stream in higher studies?
Dr Naiyer: During my growing up years in the 90s, the sentence I often hear in my surrounding was “padh likh kar kuch nahi hota” (education gives you nothing). Most of the parents would send their school going to children to Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab and other metro cities of India to earn money and livelihood. That was such a discouraging period for education in my area called Seemanchal, which resulted in very high number of unskilled labour force.
Nevertheless, I was never tempted to leave my school or studies and determined to prove that education is the most powerful tool. Despite hardship, I keep going systematically. Even during my bachelors and masters in Delhi, people from my area would say “kab tak padhte rahoge miyan” (how long would you study)?
MM: Why did not you go for engineering and other short-term professional courses like others belonging to humble family background do to support their families?
Dr Naiyer: As I said before, I wanted to become a medical doctor, so engineering or any other short-term courses were never in my mind.
MM: What are your future plans?
Dr Naiyer: I want to contribute more to science and use my knowledge and expertise against the serious threats to humankind posed by dangerous viruses such as Zika, Dengue, Ebola, etc.
I would like to establish my own lab and become a principal investigator. If given the opportunity, I would like to return to India and want to contribute to the Indian science.
MM: Is there anybig project in your mind?
Dr Naiyer: I am contemplating to write grants for my own funding to support my research work. I shall apply for grants in Medical Research Council, UK, and Wellcome Trust, UK.
MM: Where do you want to see yourself 10 years down the line?
Dr Naiyer: After 10 years, I want to see myself as a successful scientist who has contributed a bit for the welfare of humankind by doing high-level science. I want to become an expert in my field.
Do you have any plan for the educational upliftment of your area, especially for Muslim youth?
Dr Naiyer: This is interesting question. I would definitely plan and would happy to contribute for the educational upliftment of my area. I along with some other friends from Bihar are trying to develop a unique platform where we can support meritorious students from Seemanchal (Bihar) irrespective of their financial conditions.
I have a dream to establish school/colleges, hospitals and healthcare in every block of Seemanchal. I would also focus in girls/women education. I would share the road map at appropriate time.
MM. Do you want to give any message to the youth of the community?
Dr Naiyer: Our community has some deeper problems and the youth are looking for microwave solutions. Our community has limited resources, please use them effectively. You must work hard, and should not waste time and resources.
The message I would pass to the youths is that there is no short cut for success. You cannot bypass the stairs of education and reach on the top through a side-lift. If you try, it would be disastrous for your career. Do not fear failures as failures are there to make you strong.
source: http://www.muslimmirror.com / Muslim Mirror / Home> Health / by admin – Muslim Mirror Staff / October 10th, 2017
The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity).
The Unani system of medicine, which was introduced by the Arabs and Persians sometime in the 11th century, is said to be dying a slow death. Though India is still one of the leading countries in Unani medicine today, with the largest number of educational, research and healthcare institutions, the number of Unani practitioners here is far less than what it was in the past. In Maharashtra, a doctor has been making efforts to make Unani medicine system more relevant and accessible in contemporary India. Dr Yusuf Ansari, a 62-year-old resident of Malegaon, has authored over two dozen books in the past two decades which are used by Unani students across the country. The books are based on the Unani medical curricula laid down by the government, but some of them, like the ones on physiology, surgery and pathology, are also referred by MBBS students.
The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity). The foremost book on Unani — ‘The Canon of Medicine’ — was written by Avicenna in the ninth century. While Avicenna’s works were followed by other writers as well, the content and language of these books made them a bit difficult for students to follow. “All these books are scholarly pieces, but seeing that many students found these books a little difficult to follow, I attempted to write a book which would be in tune with the contemporary times and would be lucid and understandable for students as well,” said Ansari.
Ansari’s first attempt was a book called ‘Tahafuzz-e-Tibb’, or preventive and social medicine. “The idea was to link the concept of Unani medicine with contemporary medical problems. I wrote the book to make this effective medical form understandable and more relevant. The book, however, was published only in 1996 after which I was asked to write more on the subject,” said Ansari.
Interestingly, Ansari’s primary degree has not been in Unani medicine. Coming from a very humble background, Ansari gained an MA in English, and for a time used to work for Rs 20 per week. He eventually joined a Unani college as an English language teacher to make ends meet. It was only in his 30s that Ansari’s interest in Unani medicine peaked and he decided to pursue a degree in it at the same college where he taught English.
Apart from Unani medicine, Ansari also writes in various science journals on subjects such as electronics and information technology. Ansari believes that education is the only way to empower communities in the country. His son Mohammad is the first IITian to emerge out of Malegaon. His sister Dr Zubaida Ansari was the first female scientist from Malegaon and is now a part of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences. His nephew Aleem Faizee runs a popular community website in Malegaon. “Today, this medicinal system is suffering because it is seen to be associated with a certain community. My attempts have been to ensure that people open their minds and see things for what they are really worth,” says Ansari.
source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> India / by Zeeshan Shaikh , Malegaon / July 10th, 2017
Dr Kaseed Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi have been working together for nearly 35 years. Ali tells his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member.
Patients coming out of doctor Kaseed Ali’s chamber in violence-hit Trimohini area of Basirhat town are carrying, apart from the medical prescription, advice on communal harmony.
Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi are working together for nearly 35 years. Ali has made it a point to tell each of his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member and any loss to him would have been a personal loss to the Ali family.
“Over the last five days, I was always tense about his family’s security. I told the local leaders from my community to ensure his safety. Fortunately, since I have been practising here for the past 45 years, the leaders took my advice seriously and Debu’s family is safe,” Ali said.
“I find no difference between Debu and my two sons. I consider his wife as my own daughter-in-law and his kids as my own grandchildren,” Ali says.
Boiragi said a doctor’s chamber is the right place to spread the message of communal harmony.
“We are telling everyone how our professional engagement led to emotional bonding between two families and this was normal for Basirhat. It is not that patients are unaware of these facts. But it is time we remind each other of the true character and traditions of Basirhat,” Boiragi said.
Close to his chamber is a medicine shop run by Benoy Krishna Pal, who was horrified by the violence at Trimohini. He even planned on leaving the town with his family, until a Muslim friend, Gazi, asked him not to.
However, Gazi refused to take any credit.
“I did not do anything special to be thanked for. Anybody would have done the same to save a childhood friend. We are like brothers,” he said.
source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> India / by Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri / Hindustan Tim ess, Bashirat (West Bengal) / July 10th, 2017
A 23-year-old Urdu science magazine uses popular science to inspire progressive thought
Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz likes to describe a process that is a combination of four of his passions — botany, education, philosophy and religion. “The roots imbibe water and nutrients from the soil. The leaf photosynthesises, produces food, retains just enough for its own sustenance and sends the rest to the parts of the tree that need that food. This is the natural world’s law of diffusion — movement happens from the region of high concentration to the region of low concentration. If we see the tree as our community, that is how resources should flow too,” says Dr. Parvaiz, publisher of the magazine Urdu Science.
The first issue was launched at the World Book Fair in New Delhi in 1994. It dealt with AIDS and the myths surrounding condoms. In the last 22 years, the magazine has covered a gamut of subjects including water conservation and the need for a National Water Policy, common ailments and how to prevent them, sex determination, balding, sleep, life on Mars, and animation.
“Science is very effective in feeding the intellectual hunger of young people.Only with knowledge can they think for themselves and learn to analyse the religious scripts that they memorise. Most often it is the children of the poorest Muslims who attend madrasas. With only religious texts to lead them, and if they can read only in one language, how can you expect them to develop their personality and prosper in society?” asks the mild-mannered crusader, at present the Vice-Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad.
In the campus, boulders display signages with scientific information and many trees carry their botanical names. “A person will absorb anything that is part of his environment,” he said to the graduate, post-graduate and doctoral students at the inauguration of an Urdu writers’ workshop. As an Urdu-medium student in a madrasa in Delhi, young Parvaiz hardly found any books or magazines in Urdu that could satiate his curiosity. In the Sunday markets of old Daryagunj, he used to find Russian books translated into Urdu, and that is how he discovered Benjamin Franklin. As a high-school student, he set up a science lab in his house. Years later, when he became the principal of Zakir Hussain College, he started a new venture in another corner of his house — Urdu Science.
“Survival depends as much on physical health as on intellectual growth, and sadly, the low potential for growth for poor students in madrasas is a problem across our subcontinent,” he says. An active member of the Modernization of Madrasa Education Project, he says that it is “ironic and tragic that clerics who lead our prayers and teach us about religion and the Koran do not have the means or the knowledge to impart a broad and progressive education. They accept that religious education is not enough, and many of them are now waiting for progressive teachers and educators to come forward and teach at madrasas.”
Having completed a PhD in botany, Dr. Parvaiz started writing in Urdu for Quami Awaz, then edited by Mohan Chirag. Noticing that most Urdu-medium students opted for the humanities, he wanted to popularise science. As a first step, he started a society called the Anjuman Farogh-e-Science, with patrons like Nobel Laureate Prof. Abdus Salam, Jamia Hamdard founder Hakeem Abdul Hameed, and Jamia Hamdard Chancellor Saiyid Hamid. The not-for-profit organisation held its first Urdu Science Congress in New Delhi in March 2015 and the second in Aligarh, this February.
“Urdu was a language of poetry and literature. People of different faiths patronised Urdu. But in those days, and even today, information in the language was very limited. And that is why I started this organisation and this magazine. My wife Shaheen helps me with proof-reading. And now I also have assistance from my colleague Dr. Tariq Nadwi.” Dr. Parvaiz is proud that the magazine has attracted enough Urdu science writers to contribute, and the magazine has so far never had to translate an article from another language. Issues from 2005 are available on the Academia.edu website.
Translation is an important key to dissemination of knowledge, agrees Parvaiz. He is on a personal mission to compile a glossary of scientific words in English, with meanings explained in Urdu. Sharing a slice of history, he says, “Delhi College was started as a madrasa by Ghaziuddin Khan. Here, mathematician Master Ramchandra and Maulvi Zakaullah translated many of the Western scientific texts into Urdu through the Vernacular Translation Society. It was there that I studied and later became the principal. I started Urdu Science when I was there. And I feel very humble that I now head MANUU, the university aiming to promote Urdu.”
A voracious reader of both religious texts and international science, Parvaiz says, “Science helps us interpret the Koran in many ways. And that is as relevant today as it was when the first issue of Urdu Science was launched.”
Mala Kumar is a children’s author, editor and freelance journalist.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Literary Review / October 15th, 2016
This is Day 22 of the 2017 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series – June 17, 2017
by Syed Husain
It was in the summer of 1976, following my post-doctoral assignment at Stanford Research Institute in California, I was offered a faculty position at University of North Dakota, School of Medicine. Although it was a tempting offer, leaving San Francisco and moving to Grand Forks with three small children was a difficult thing to consider.
Recalling the Persian proverb, “Mulk-e-Khuda Tang Neest, Pa-e-mera Lung Neest” (The Kingdom of God has no limits and no broken legs do I have to limit my travel), I decided to accept this offer – though I knew a Muslim community to draw on for support in North Dakota would be virtually nil.
A leap of faith indeed, but as a Muslim, I had a firm belief in my Creator and my destiny.
As we started our journey across the country, it was full of amusement and excitement. We only had ourselves to rely on – myself, my wife, and my three children, ages seven, four and one. The passage through Yosemite with tall redwoods, the majestic Grand Tetons, the enchanting Yellowstone National Park, the amazing Mount Rushmore and the Badlands was an experience to behold.
Finally, we arrived in the small college town of Grand Forks. And, we found the people of this land of Aurora Borealis, sun-dogs, snow and tumble-weed to be friendly, hospitable and compassionate.
After settling in the faculty housing, my priority was to find out how many Muslims, including students, were on campus. As the Ramadan was approaching, I wondered if they had facilities to pray and observe Ramadan. Surprisingly, I found only one another Muslim faculty and a handful of students with no place to worship. Later, I located four more families in a radius of fifty miles from Grand Forks that became the “core group” of Muslims in the area.
In this isolation, as Ramadan arrived, we made frantic calls to Chicago, Montreal, Minneapolis and Winnipeg to confirm the sighting of the moon. To determine the duration of fast and follow the fiqh ruling, we decided to follow the times in Winnipeg, the closest city with a sizable Muslim population. Those were long days — we were fasting for 19 hours a day with the sun setting around 9:45 p.m.
The University had appointed me as Muslim Faculty Adviser, and I was able to get space in the student union for our Jummah prayers and iftars. This small community had no provision for halal meat and no place to buy spices and other ingredients to prepare our food. A good Samaritan in the community located a farmer, who helped us sacrifice a heifer or a black angus.
This farmer became the source our halal meat supply for the rest of our stay (15 years) in North Dakota. Families would share the meat and drive to Winnipeg or as far as Chicago to get condiments and other supplies. The spouses in this small core group got together and started preparing meals, iftar and sahoor for their families and for students as well on weekends. We began to feel the baraka (blessings) of Ramadan in this newly formed community.
Fasting was difficult, but we managed and grew closer as a family (and as a married couple) in doing so. When we finally made it to iftar time around 9:45 p.m. and broke our fast, my wife and I (we were the only ones fasting in our family in the ‘70s) were grateful. Our children would beg us to take them to McDonald’s for ice cream after we prayed Maghreb and ate dinner, around 10:30 p.m. at night, but it was hard to get the energy to do so.
The nights we rallied and took them were very special to all of us – small treats that meant so much to our children and to us.
The summer season in North Dakota is short, sweet and very precious. It was amazing to see farmers busy harvesting crops under floodlights into the wee hours of the night. Our neighborhood on the outskirts of Grand Forks bordered a large farming field. The rumbling noise of trucks hauling beetroot and sunflower seeds were a reminder to us to get up for our sahoor.
I recalled my childhood days back in Hyderabad, India, when at sahoor time hawkers pass through Muslim neighborhoods singing local folklore, breaking the quiet of the night as these trucks did and reminding the community that sahoor time was soon to end.
Our children (and the daughter of one other Muslim family in town) were the only Muslim students in their schools. The school authorities were kind, compassionate and understanding. They were cognizant of the Islamic principles and provided our children with a private bathing facility and a place to worship. This was back in the 1980s in an educational community that probably had never seen or interacted with Muslim kids before.
Alhamdulillah, this conducive, inclusive and inter-faith understanding of the teachers and the school district authorities nurtured a healthy, positive civic atmosphere and a sense of belonging for our children. Our children use to wait eagerly for the arrival of Ramadan and for the celebration of two Eids.
These occasions were a real source of joy to these few host Muslim families and their children and to the small group of students. We celebrated Eids in a church, in an International Students’ Home on campus and in our homes.
This was our Little Mosque on the Prairie much before the celebrated television show.
This was our forging of an American-Muslim experience in a community that sometimes didn’t understand us, but developed friendships and deep relationships with us based on love, kindness and mutual respect.
In our sojourn of 15 years (1976-1991) in North Dakota, we also saw swings in the population of Muslim students and in the community due to graduations, termination of University of North Dakota’s Pilot Training programs with Gulf Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines and faculty transfers/retirements. In recent years, the economy of North Dakota has improved greatly due to oil exploration in Williston Basin.
The city of Fargo (one of the largest cities in North Dakota, about an hour away from Grand Forks) has seen a sizeable number of Muslim immigrants arriving. The city of Grand Forks also has its share and has seen a surge in new arrivals. We wish them all a Happy Ramadan and Eid Mubarak.
Syed Husain, Ph.D. is a retired professor of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, University of North Dakota and a retired Scientific Review Administrator at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. He now has eight grandchildren forging their own American-Muslim experience.
source: http://www.patheos.com / Patheos / Home> altmuslim / by Syed Asif, Guest Contributor / June 17th, 2017