Mohammad Umar Farooq

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Mohammad Umar Farooq

By Afzal Usmani

The land of Ghazipur in eastern UP has produced many eminent Aligarians including former Union Minister of External Affairs Syed Mahmud, Prof. Abdul Aleem (Former Vice-Chancellor of AMU Aligarh), Dr. Obaid Siddiqi (Padam Vibhushan recipient Scientist), Prof. Rashid Hayat Siddiqi (Academician and Environmentalist), Mr. Shahid Mahdi (Former Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi), Dr. Monis Raza (Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, New Delhi), Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza (Screen Play and dialog writer) and present Vice-President of India, Mr. M. Hamid Ansari.

The same Ghazipur has produced a modest, humble, passionate, dedicated and committed Aligarian Mr. Mohammad Umar Farooq. His name is not very commonly seen on our email networks or Aligarh related websites because he does not participate much in public discussions but reads every thing and tries to deliver the good to the best of his abilities. He lived most of his life in a city which has scarcity of Aligarians but he drove hundreds of miles to attend the gatherings of Aligarians, took responsibilities and delivered them with commitment and passion. In his own words, Mohammad Umar Farooq describes himself, “I believe very strongly that what I am today is because of Aligarh. My grooming in the early phases of my life at this great institution of learning taught me good moral values and social skills. Aligarh Muslim University, besides providing modern education also provides environment and opportunities for the overall development of one’s personality.”

Mohammad Umar Farooq comes from a well-known aristocrat family of Bhitri, in Ghazipur District, U.P. His father, late Mohd. Mustafa Siddiqi was also an Aligarian and served as Chairman, Ghazipur District Board and as Honorary Magistrate in the1940s. His uncle, late Mohd. Mujtaba Siddiqi was an IAS officer and served as Registrar at Aligarh Muslim University during Mr. Badruddin Tyebji’s term as Vice Chancellor. Mr. Farooq is also related to late Dr. Syed Mahmud and is the first cousin of Prof. Obaid Siddiqi, the well-known international scientist and Prof. Rashid H. Siddiqi and is also related to Prof. Abdul Aleem.

The young Umar Farooq joined S.T.S. High School (AMU. High School) in 1952 and passed High School in 1954. After High School he continued his education at the Aligarh Muslim University and left Aligarh in 1964 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. During his stay at Aligarh, he was President, Social Service League and Editor, English Section of the A. M. U. School Magazine. He was elected cabinet-member of the Intermediate Students’ Society in 1954-55 and also of the A.M.U. Students’ Union in 1956-57 and officiated as Honorary Secretary. He was appointed Senior Hall of Sir Sulaiman Hall and Under Officer of the 2nd U.P. Engineers’ Battalion in the early 60s. While living in Sulaiman Hall he actively participated in Literary & Cultural Activities at Hall as well as University level. On 26th January, 1961, he participated in “Fancy Dress” competition organized by Sulaiman Hall and dressed as "Mughal-e-Azam, King Akbar" of the Bollywood epic “Mughal-e-Azam” which was released just few months back in 1960. He arrived at venue dressed as Mughal-e Azam, Akbar the great riding on a real elephant. This gave a new height to the event in the residential life of Aligarh Muslim University.

Umar Farooq as "Mughal-e-Azam, King Akbar" of the Bollywood epic Mughal-e-Azam in Sulaiman Hall AMU Aligarh

Umar Farooq receiving a prize from Nawab Chattari, Chancellor of AMU Aligarh

Umar Farooq as acting Hony. Secretary of AMU Student's Union at Union Hall AMU Aligarh

This was the time when Aligarh Muslim University had students like Mr. Hamid Ansari, Mr. Ahmad Saeed ‘Anda', Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, Mr. Ishrat Aziz and Mr. Shahid Mahdi. Mr. Umar Farooq’s nomination for AMU Students’ Union Presidency was also filed against Dr. Abidullah Ghazi but he withdrew his nomination. After leaving AMU Aligarh he started his career in U.P. Irrigation as Assistant Engineer and worked till 1969 before he came to U.S. in 1970. He worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years and retired in 2002 as Chief of Nutrient Management in the PA Department of Environmental Protection. After living in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for almost 40 years he recently moved to Atlanta, Georgia.

After Aligarh, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania became Mohammad Umar Farooq’s home. During his stay in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he was always an active member of the community at large. He founded and served the Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania as President. He was also an active and founding member of The Islamic Society of Greater Harrisburg and served as its President. Umar Farooq’s passion for Aligarh never died even in the small capital of Pennsylvania where there were only two Aligarians, so he became member of the Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington, D.C. He used to drive over 100 miles to attend meetings and events of the Association that he had served as President and Trustee. He played a key role in establishing the Association. In 2004, he was elected as President of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations. His zeal and passion to work and abilities as an organizer played a key role for the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations to establish on its feet. It was in his leadership that the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations took some bold initiatives and created the culture to do some real work to help the community and the Aligarh Muslim University. In 2007, he was elected as member of Board of Trustees of the Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations for 5 years.

Mr. Umar Farooq with Drs. Abdullah and Hasan Kamil at IIIrd annual Convention of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations in New York City in July 2004

Mr. Umar Farooq with other Members of Board of Directors of FAAA. (L-R): Qamar Khan, Mohd. Khalid, Umar Farooq, Riyazuddin Alvi, Muzaffar Habib A. Abdullah and Afzal Usmani at IIIrd annual Convention of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations in New York City in July 2004

Mr. Umar Farooq addressing at IVth annual Convention of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations in Chicago in July 2005

Mr. Umar Farooq with Dr. Abidullah Ghazi at Iqra Foundation in Chicago in July 2005

L-R: Javed Akhtar, Umar Farooq, Shabana Azmi, Talat Farooq and Farooq Shaikh

In 2005, When Aligarh Educational Endowment (AEEF) was established and the management requested Mr. Umar Farooq to join the efforts to make AEEF a reality and external funding Agency to help the community in general and his beloved Alma Mater, Aligarh Muslim University in particular. He immediately joined the efforts and since then he is working with AEEF till today. At present he is also member of the Advisory Board of Asian Indian Americans of Central Pennsylvania and of the Aligarh Alumni Association of Atlanta. Since October 2009, he lives in Atlanta Georgia with his wife Talat Farooq.

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Umar Farooq is a success story of Aligarh distinctive character

Mr. Mohammad Omar Farooq is a success story of Aligarh distinctive character, culture, tradition, and typically expressed in his attitudes and beliefs mostly because of his frivolous activities at AMU in late 50s and early 60s.

I personally know Mr. Omar Farooq Sahib since Minto Circle days and also as close friend of my elder brother Mr. Syed M. Ameen in Aligarh and USA; he, as AMU student was a multi-talented and very effectual organizer of public meetings, and was elected in all AMU Unions e.g. Minto Circle Union, Intermediate Society Union and AMU student’s Union. He is an alumnus of AMU-Minto Circle School: in large parts of India, Minto Circle was an icon, fairly in the same way that Private English schools enjoys respect in India. People, who did not study at AMU Minto Circle School, will find this a little surprising. But in any city does a single school come to symbolize elitism in quite the same way? Moreover; nowhere one can find students who believe as though the best moment of their lives was their time in this school, even if it is fast changing, but still some of the brightest most prominent people I know went to Minto Circle.

Mr. Omar Farooq at AMU was actively involved in many activities, including AMU mock-Convocation, Drama Club and other cultural activities of the University. Omar Farooq sahib (known to many of us as Farooq Bhai) was very popular among teachers for his witty remarks and use of literary dialogues in the class. His interaction with Syed Mohammad Tonki sahib on ‘Munney Mian’ and our Hindi and Sanskrit teacher Pundit Dharam Pal sahib is quite fresh in minds of Minto Circlets. Similarly, his verbal debate and discussion with Sunni Theology teachers on Arabic words and idioms were quite gleeful and entertaining.

Aligarh Alumni Association Washington DC was established in 1975, and was only confined to Washington Beltway; Mr. Omar Farooq became 4th President of this Association in 1978. His contribution to this Association is enormous; he introduced and made this organization accessible to Aligs beyond Washington DC area through postal mail and telephone interaction. During his Presidency, he organized first ever AMU convention, that encouraged establishment of various Aligarh Alumni Association in USA and Canada that eventually resulted in the formation of Federation of Aligarh Alumni Association in May 6, 2001. Though the Federation was instated but it was in the state of obscurity or was inconspicuous for many years, till Mr. Omar Farooq became its President, who again continually wrote and introduced Federation to global AMU Fraternity through AMU NETWORK.

Now his effort to establish The Aligarh Education Endowment Fund (AEEF) program will ultimately benefit our coming generations and the history will record his achievements and others as the golden years of AMU-Federation accomplishments. The efforts of his team deserves appreciation by all those who believe in the establishment of a social order based on Sir Syed Mission of mass education among deprived groups within Indian society.

Syed M. Naseem
Ph. D., 1970
Washington DC

Syed M. Naseem is an AMU Alum and lives in Washington D.C. Metro area and can be reached at

Mohammad Umar Farooq

ASA All .
I must congratulate Mr Afzal Usmani on writing about one of our very distinguished seniors bhai Umar Farooq.I feel absolutely delighted to read his profile as this reminds me of the golden and unforgettable days of Aligarh students life . I used to be much junior to him but remember his active life on the campus and was impressed by his colourful and multifarious personality .I must say bhai Umar Farooq represents the best of Aligarh traditions and could be counted among ideal specimen of Aligarh culture and spirit .I take this opportunity to wish Farooq bhai a very happy,long and healthy life .It is rather unfortunate that I could not meet him during my visits to US and he failed to fulfil his promise to.

Dr Saleem Kidwai
American Studies Division
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi-110067,India

M. Umar Farooq

Dear Afzal: ASAK

You are doing a great job in recording the services of those who made great contribution in bringing the Aligarh movement to USA.

Sir Syed has written at some place that 'woh quameN jo apney purkhoN k kaarnamoN ko bhul jaati haiN ziyadda din zinda nahin rahtiN'.

Remembering people like Farooq bhai will be an encouragement for others.

God bless you.

A. Abdullah
M.Sc. 1967
Potomac MD

M. Umar Farooq

ASAK and thank you Afzal for sharing the many wonderful facets, past and
present of Umar Farooq Bhai. He is a true Aligarian, which is the same as
saying he is a great human being. We are continuously blessed by his guidance
in the FAAA.

We wish him well now and always.

Best wishes for 2010,
Syed Ali Rizvi,
Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations,
Lexington, MA

M. Umar Farooq

My Dear Afzal Mian,
Thank you once again for providing us information about our celebrated Aligs
this time you have taken me back to Kashmir House 1st introduction night (1964),
organised by Farooq Bhai & Prashant Mehta.Though it was my 4th year in suleman hall
I was the junior most who was allowed to sit with these seniors ,one of my friend who was junior to me in the hall was deputed to bring the new students from their room on the terrace for the introduction,(i will not take his name as he is also a senior professor now),but he tried to sit there& Farooq bhai got furious,& asked him to go down.Next day he was entertained by Tea & samosa at paradise restaurant by Farooq bhai.
Afzal i can never forget those days when students like Farooq Bhai,Prashant Mehta,
Late Hashho khan,Late Iqbal 80,& sharifur Rehman khan(intresting character),were our seniors,Farooq bhai & prashant Mehta both became Senior halls-Dignified& graceful
seniors.Mehta i do meet when i visit delhi,one of our(mehta &myself) class fellow,
Akbar hamid jung has been nominated to look into the University Affairs by the govt of INDIA,as member enquiry commitee.
Thank you very much for giving the Photographs of Farooq bhai & Abdullah bhai,(with whom i represented AMU Volley Ball Team in two Interversities-Abdullah bhai was the captain in 1962-63.
I wish to extend my salam & respect to Farooq bhai & Abdullah bhai,& ofcourse lots of best wishes to you for the wonderful job you are doing by reminding all of us our old memories.May Allah Almighty bless you & your family.
I will try to see you this time ,as i am planning to visit my daughters in New Jersey &Dallas,inshaallah in february.We can meet when i am in Dallas in2nd week of february.
Please note that now i am not in Karachi,I have taken an assignment as prof of Pathology in one of the universities in Saudi Arabia.

Regards, & Allah Hafiz,
Dr Jawed Aziz
M.D., 1976

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