Nazir Ayaz Marhoom Long Serving President of New York Jamaat
My first contact with Nazir Ayaz Sahib was in 1982, when he came to my apartment to visit my brother-in-law, Dr Yunus Khan, who was his friend and a fellow student in Tonga, East Africa. I next met him when I needed his signature on my Nikah Form. Although a third generation Ahmadi, I was not an active member of the Jamaat. He was gracious enough to overlook my weakness and ever so gently invited me to keep a connection with the Jamaat. After my marriage, and on moving to Long Island, I did start attending Jamaat functions and enrolled my children to Tahir School.
Although I was older to him by a few years, he always treated me most affectionately as a younger brother. He encouraged me to make speeches for various Jamaat functions, and always called me at home to offer his praise filled critique. Whether it was by Ayaz Sahib’s design or the Grace of the Almighty that I improved in my study of religious knowledge and also in the practical aspects of faith. He encouraged me to attend Jumua prayers regularly, and that was made possible as our Finance Secretary Saleem Ahmad Sahib, applied for a job at my place of work and was hired with the proviso that he would be allowed time off for Jumua. The boss knew that Saleem Sahib and I belonged to the same community so he allowed me, too, to attend Jumua prayers.
Nazir Ayaz Sahib can be described as a model of simplicity, humility, and self-effacing servant of God and Humanity. For myself ‘though, I consider his greatest gift was to bring out the best in me. He made me write long research-requiring articles, Jalsa Salana speeches, and goaded me to memorize portions of the Holy Qur’an so I could lead Traveeh prayers.
Before the Respected Hafiz Sahib from West Africa assumed this duty, I led the prayers for almost 20 days at Bait-ul-Zafar. He would not take no for an answer and coerced me in learning, researching and delivering Daras of the Holy Qur’an during Ramadan and for sometimes regularly to Khuddam’s monthly meetings. I could never imagine that I would be able to do any of these duties but it was all Grace of God and Ayaz Sahib’s 9:30 pm phone calls. He also called upon me to do the Talawat at larger gatherings, saying that it warrants a “mature” Qari. Also, he sent me to churches and Synagogues for speeches and Q/A sessions. I was also deputed to invite college students to the Masjid during Ramadan and on Seerat Jalsas, through my acquaintances with some professors. So.the Hofstra Theology and Near Eastern Studies classes attended over several years. During the last visit of Mujeebur Rahman Sahib, he coaxed my daughter, Zainab, by mounting a barrage of calls on me to have him invited to Columbia and NYU. Both visits were highly successful.
In my wife, Nasrin, he discovered a willing worker. She handled the subscription to the Review of Religions for some years and other tasks for the Jamaat. But Ayaz Sahib discovered that she would be motivated by service to humanity. Over the last 20 years, she has handled and brought to an equitable resolution several cases of domestic violence, and marital discord. Indeed, it was the exposure to the government’s slow moving procedural machinery that encouraged her to seek public office.
Ayaz Sahib also brought out the best in me in applying my professional know-how. In 2003, he asked me to oversee a proposal to provide air-conditioning to the old Bait-ul-Zafar, The plan, roof-mounted A/C unit with ductwork was impractical. Alternates, like Split-System A/C’s were costly and the funds were limited. Again, he urged me to rise up to my (imaginary) reputation as a can-do engineer. Surfing the web, I came across Daikin, Japanese A/C Company that after a long hiatus were returning to the US and were looking for dealers etc. I spoke to their sales manager and offered the air-conditioning of the Masjid as a show case first project for his company. The manger was very cooperative and designed and provided (indeed donated 50%of cost) all the equipment, start up and service. The system is still running and was a positive factor in the sale of the building.
I have recounted only my and my family’s personal experiences with Ayaz Sahib. But I have no doubt that all who came in contact with him felt elated by completing an assigned task for him. He met or exceeded the financial targets; he successfully brought out the Ahmadiyya Calendar every year, he supervised the distribution and subscription of the Review.
Bt his greatest triumph is the creating the team of selfless workers that keep the largest Ahmadi Masjid running.
Indeed, the acquiring and financing of the present Bait-ul-Zafar on the contributions of ordinary folks, with no specialist doctors, no business millionaires or rich members is in itself a great success.
In my 32 years of knowing him, I never heard him complain, back bite or express displeasure at anyone, He was the personification of “Love for All, Hatred toward None” May Allah, the Merciful grant him Maghfirah Ameen.