International and Comparative Librarianship

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This Blogosphere has a slant towards India [a.k.a Indica, Indo, South-Asian, Oriental, Bharat, Hindustan, Asian-Indian (not American Indian)].

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dr. Omar Khalidi - A Rare Scholar-Cum-Librarian - Obituary


Daughter's Speech What they Say about Omar
MIT's Obituary Professional Profile
Media Coverage Digital Collections

Dr. Omar Khalidi with Anwar Muazzam @

Dr. Omar Khalidi was born in Hyderabad, India in 1953 ( who worked at the MIT Libraries from 1983 until last month as Librarian for Aga Khan Program at MIT, Boston, Mass.,), son of Professor Abu Nasr Muhammad Khalidi (a well known scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies at Osmania University, Hyderabad).

  • Commemorating Dr. Omar Khalidi @ Facebook
  • Follow the friends at

  • Remembering Omar Khalidi – Memorial service Friday 12/3
    Posted December 2nd, 2010 by Heather Denny, MIT Libraries News
  • Remarks at the Memorial Service for Dr. Omar Khalidi
    Memorial Service for Dr. Omar Khalidi by Robert M Randolph, MIT Chaplain

    A speech given by his daughter, Aliya, at the MIT memorial service yesterday in his honor:

    "On behalf of my family, I want to thank you all for coming here today. Thank you for your emails, phone calls, and all the other ways that you’ve shown that you care for my father and our family.

    Being a part of the MIT community meant so much to my father. For 27 years, starting even before I was born, he devoted his life to academia and this intellectual community. He loved it so much that he wanted me to attend MIT for undergrad, and when I chose to attend Wellesley College instead, he would introduce it as “MIT’s sister institution, Wellesley.” Continue reading the Memorial Speech

  • Remembering Omar Khalidi Heather Denny, MIT Libraries
    The longtime MIT research librarian is remembered as a colleague, scholar and champion of social justice for Indian Muslims.
    Known for his kindness and patience as well as his passion for travel, politics, religion and culture, Khalidi was well respected by those in the MIT community.

  • MIT's official obituary: Omar Khalidi, longtime MIT research librarian, dies at age 57. He worked at the MIT Libraries from 1983 until recently.
    It is with great sadness that I pass on the news of Omar Khalidi's tragic death yesterday morning in an accident.
    May his soul be where he wanted it to be, and may his family and friends find solace in his scholarly legacy and the memories he left behind.
    Nasser Rabbat
    Aga Khan Professor
    Department of Architecture

    “This is sad and shocking news for all of us in the libraries who knew and worked with Omar, and our thoughts at this time are with his family,’’ Keith Glavash, associate director for administration at the MIT Libraries, said in a statement issued by the school. Man, 57, killed by train was a librarian for MIT - The Boston Globe

    Media coverage:
    Click here

    The untimely death of Dr. Omar Khalidi leaves a huge void in the field of Indian Muslim studies in general and in Hyderabad studies in particular. The author of more than two dozen books and scores of academic articles, his contributions are many. The subjects of his books include minority rights, history, architecture, economics, demography, politics, Urdu education, military history, library science, cataloguing, etc. But he will forever be remembered as the man whose incisive writings inspired the Sachar Committee to seek a community wise census of the Indian armed forces. This fact even though officially unacknowledged is widely known. Mohammed Ayub Khan, Omar Khalidi, Chronicler of Hyderabad and Champion of Minority Rights Is No More[a very detailed bio on works and life; Urdu Version of this news, is here]

  • Muslim community mourns former MIT scholar killed on Red Line
    By Michael Wyner, GateHouse News Service, Dec 02, 2010:
    "Cambridge — Estimates of nearly 1,000 people from across the country mourned Muslim scholar Omar Khalidi at a funeral service yesterday at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury."
  • Indian Muslim Scholar Dies in Boston
    "India has become a little poorer with the passing of Dr. Omar Khalidi, a great scholar and the man who articulated the voice of the Indian Muslims during some of their darkest hours. He died at 11:15 a.m., Nov. 29, in Boston at age 57. Dr. Khaldi had worked at Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) there for many years."

  • TRIBUTE: Omar Khalidi’s death shrouded in mystery SUMAN GUHA MOZUMDER, India Abroad - December 10, 2010
  • Friends suspect foul play in Omar Khalidi’s death, By Khabrein.Info Correspondent
  • Family, friends, community mourn Khalidi, IndUS Business Journal
    A funeral prayer service for Khalidi was held on Dec.1, at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, followed immediately by his burial. A memorial service honoring Khalidi was held on Dec. 3 at the MIT's chapel, followed by a reception.
  • Charminar Connection
  • Remembering Omar Khalidi,
    "As a tribute, we reproduce an interview that Khalidi gave to in December 2003 on the state of Muslims in India...."
  • “Hindutva’s Handmaiden”— Another Journalist Slain for His Work?
  • Omar Khalidi: An Icon says Goodbye, By Mubasshir Mushtaq
  • City-born scholar dies in US mishap, Deccan Chronicle 2010-12-01:
    He was known for reflecting the views of Indian Muslims in the West.

    Dr Khalidi had penned over two dozen books including the one on Muslim representation in the armed and police forces in India. That book is said to have provided the basis for the religion-based census in armed forces by the UPA. His areas of research included sociology, ethnic groups, Islamic architecture and Hyderabad history.

    His famous works included Hyderabad: After the Fall and Import, Adapt, Innovate: Mosque Design in the United States.

    Islamic scholar Muhammad Zaheeruddin said in Hyderabad: “Khalidi had pioneered research on Indian Muslims. The facts he unearthed were astonishing. His book on communal violence led to a furore in Parliament.”

  • In Memory of Omar Khalidi | ArchNet « Ismailimail

    Professional Profile:
    Librarian for Aga Khan Program,
    Islamic Architecture, Regional Planning and Development
    MIT Libraries, 77 Massachusetts Avenue|Cambridge, MA 02139-4307

    He was an expert in research methods and library skills, with a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University, Emporia, Kansas, and in his profile at MIT, he says:
    Omar can help you with your research on art, architecture, and urbanism of the Islamic and the wider developing world. Regional and urban economic development and planning in the developing countries is also his expertise in the library. He enjoys helping faculty, students and the MIT community in their academic research on architecture, city planning and urbanism


    * BA, Wichita State University, Kansas (1980)
    * ALM, Harvard University School of Extension Studies (1991)
    * PhD, University of Wales-Lampeter, UK (1994)

    Refer to his Islamic architecture web pages for resources on the regional planning
    and development:

  • Much more of his works is here

    Digital Collections (Some of his research works on the Web are):
  • Crescent obscured: Indian Muslims in Britain - By Omar Khalidi

    Printed Sources (Online)
  • The Caliph's Daughter by Omar Khalidi [Princess Dürrüsehvar was married to Azam Jah, Prince of Berar and heir apparent to the throne of Hyderabad; and her cousin, Princess Nilüfer, great-granddaughter of Sultan Murad V, married Muazzam Jah, the second prince of Hyderabad]
  • Charting digital history, [This is about Omar Khalidi's digital ventures, and is a part of "Guide to Architecture in Hyderabad"]
    “Printing books has become very expensive, distribution is also a problem and digital publishing is the future and is the path to follow. Physical libraries are passé,” he says.
    About the Guide: It contains images and maps of built environment in Hyderabad, Deccan, India.
    In addition, the Guide provides short text to nearly 200 examples of civic, domestic,
    and sacred architecture in the historic city.
    He presented the Guide at Art, Patronage and Society in the Muslims Deccan, an
    international conference held at University of Oxford, UK in July.[source]
  • A Guide to Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu Manuscript Libraries in India
  • Wayland man identified in MBTA station death, GateHouse News Service
    According to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo, police, EMTs and subway personnel responded Monday morning to a report of a person under a Red Line train on the southbound side of the station. Pesaturo said the state medical examiner has not yet ruled on the death. The T wasn’t releasing any information on whether it was a suicide or accident.
  • Indian Muslims and Palestinian Awqaf, Jerusalem quarterly
  • Mosques in North America, in Mosques in the United States of America and Canada
  • Waqayi'-i musafirat-i Nawab Mustatab Ashraf Arfa' Wala Mir Layiq 'Ali Khan 'Imad al-Saltanah Sir Salar Jang, edited by Omar Khalidi & Sunil Sharma. Tehran: Nashr-i Tarikh-i Iran, 2009.[19th century travelogue in Persian lithographed in Bombay in 1889,]

    He was the past president (2008-2009) of Middle East Librarians Association, also associated with Indian Muslim organisations in the US including the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, the Indian Muslim Relief and Charities, the Indian Muslim Council, the Association of Indian Muslims and H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online [See the comments and citations by Dr. Frank Conlon]

    He was the author of more than two dozen books and scores of academic articles. His famous book 'Hyderabad: After the Fall' captured the events during the police action in then Hyderabad State in 1948 and the subsequent developments.

    His other books include 'Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India: Army, Police, and Paramilitary Forces During Communal Riots' and 'Muslims in Indian Economy'. See all the books at

    What they say about Dr. Omar Khalidi:

    The Forum places in record its deep sense of sorrow at the sudden and tragic demise of Dr.Omar Khalidi Saheb in America. In him, the Muslim Ummah in general and Indian Muslims in particular have lost a dauntless fighter against injustice and discrimination. The Forum appeals to Muslim leaders to take suitable substantial steps to perpetuate his memory. May Allah admit him in the Jannath Firdouse, Aameen. Summa Aameen, S.M.PASHA, Convener, THE ALL INDIAFORUM OF MUSLIM JOURNALISTS

    The Islamic Manuscript Association expresses sincerest condolences to his friends, colleagues and most of all to his family, whom we keep in our prayers. We remember him with much affection and respect. The Islamic Manuscript Association

    SAMSA mourns the loss of a noted scholar of South Asian Muslim Studies, Dr. Omar Khalidi (1954-2010)
    “I was shocked by this news of the premature passing of Omar Khalidi, a prolific scholar on Indian Muslims, both historically and currently. He was a longtime member of the board of the South Asian Muslim Studies Association and contributed constructively to many of the conference panels which it sponsored at AAS, Wisconsin, ACSIS and the European Conferences on Modern South Asian studies. He and I contributed a joint paper to a major conference on Muslims in South Asia in New York City in 1989. He was a goldmine of information on bibliography and on resources on South Asian Muslims; scholars often sought his help in locating hard to find sources. He courageously pursued his research on this important topic in the face of much unfounded criticism. His death is a great loss to his community and to scholarship on Hyderabad and on South Asian Muslims in general.” Prof. Theodore P. Wright, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Political Science, State University of New York at Albany, @ South Asian Muslim Studies Association

    Dr. Kahlidi dedicated his life for promoting social equity in India. His legacy will continue to inspire the younger researchers to carry on the task of promoting social equity and justice for all ethnic groups in India. A Tribute to Dr. Omar Khalidi
    By Dr. A. Khan, Chicago, IL.

    With the death of Dr Omar Khalidi, an Indian-American scholar, on November 29 in Boston, USA, the world has lost a champion of minority rights. By Rauf Parekh

    "The untimely death of Dr.khalidi has come as a shock to all who knew him as a crusader in his observations and in his writings.His death has raised many questions and personal memories for many.

    It would take a lot of time for me to take the cause of his death as a mere accident? It is for the US govt and particularly Obama administration to conduct a fair Inquiry in to the circumstances of the death of one of close associates of US administration under Obama, working to bridge US and Muslim gap.Equally it is also incumbent on our Indian government to urge the US government to reach to the the bottom of the actual cause of the death of Dr.Omar Khalidi and press for an Inquiry by US administration."
    A Tribute To Late Dr.Omar Khalidi: FOUL ACCIDENT? Ahmed Sohail Siddiqui [posted also here]

    Omar Uncle was a man of great intellect, a Muslim scholar, and an excellent historian. He was a man who had pride for his heritage for his roots in Hyderabad, India and for Islam. Dr. Omar Khalidi – Gone Too Soon. @ 1000 Thanks & Counting

    Dr. Khalidi was the type of person for whom it was said that, “you can get out of India, but India can never get out of you”. Without him, the Indian community in and around the Boston area can never be the same again. Tanvir Salim from Boston

    Khalidi was well-known in three different circles - for his expertise on Islamic architecture, for his research on the economic situation of Muslims in India, and for his general knowledge of issues surrounding India. Attaulla Khan, Indian Muslim Council-USA, in 'Friends mourn Wayland scholar hit by train' The MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA

    Dr. Khalidi was a pioneer in the field of research on Indian Muslims and Contemporary Politics. He left behind him a monumental legacy that had a significant impact on the political landscape of India and a multitude of people were motivated and inspired by his work. Dr. Khalidi was born in Hyderabad and was the son of Professor A.N.M. Khalidi, a well known scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies at Osmania University. Rasheed Ahmed, Indian Muslim Council-USA

    India has become a little poorer with the passing of Dr. Omar Khalidi, a great scholar and the man who articulated the voice of the Indian Muslims during some of their darkest hours. SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS

    Dr Omar Khalidi, the Muslim scholar who passed away on Monday, worked tirelessly to lift a mirror for the Indian polity to reflect on its secular credentials and to the Muslim community about the human potential that lay within, says Altaf Makhiawala recalling his association with him."
    He was a strong advocate that Indian Muslims in the diaspora had a proactive role to play in modern India by funding modern secular education for all Indians and to work at rooting out bigotry from within our respective communities.

    For India, which prides itself on her secular polity and communal harmony, voices like Dr Omar Khalidi, who kept a check on the excesses of the State, will be sorely missed. And as India carves a new global role for itself on the world stage today, I fervently hope it will pay serious heed to Dr Omar Khalidi's scholarly recommendations and take one of its largest and most backward minority groups along with it on its path to progress.

    I have lost a dear mentor today. And the Indian Muslim community -- one of its intellectual guiding lights. Dr Omar Khalidi's voice will be sorely missed,[source]

    "Noted Scholar Dr. Omar Khalidi Passes away. "Maut se kis ko rastgaari hai, aaj woh kal hamari baree hai." Mohd Tariq Intezar[source]

    "This is a Great shock on the day when we all are trying to look into the concerns of Muslim community in India. The immeasurable loss to the academia after accidental death of Dr. Omar Khalidi may not be regained." Khwaja Mohd Ziyauddin [source]

    Dr. Khalidi was a pioneer in the field of research on Indian Muslims and Contemporary Politics. He left behind him a monumental legacy that had a significant impact on the political landscape of India and a multitude of people were motivated and
    inspired by his work. Abunaimath Shahab, IMC-USA Mourns the Death of Dr. Omar Khalidi, [source]

    Kashif-ul Huda, Editor-in-chief, said “It’s a huge loss for Muslim community both in India and US. Dr. Khalidi wrote historic, path breaking book ‘Khaki and Ethnic Violence’. prays for highest place in Jannat for the departed soul. offers deep condolences to the bereaved family of Dr. Khalidi.”Source:

    Dr Omar Khalidi's death is a big loss for the Indian Muslim community. Good writers come and go, but a fearless writer is seldom born. Syed U Rahman [source]

    "Md Safiullah of Deccan Heritage Society remembers the man as the person “who traced out Christopher Armstead, who was the Mint Master between 1935 and 1945 in Hyderabad, and put me on to him and he proved to be a source of information for me."

    "Sometimes passionate, sometimes combative, Khalidi held to his beliefs as he wrote Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India: Army, Police, and Paramilitary Forces During Communal Riots, Muslims in Indian Economy and Hyderabad after the Fall...Though a historian, Khalidi started pursuing other avenues to make his mark and make history accessible, one of them being digital. Using his social networking skills he put out a PDF file hosted on the MIT site sketching out the state of monuments in Hyderabad." Obituary In the passing away of Omar Khalidi, Hyderabad has lost a passionate historian. SERISH NANISETTI The Hindu : FEATURES / FRIDAY REVIEW : Chronicler of city: December 3, 2010.

    Dr. Omar Khalidi is no more, a Great loss to Telangana NRI Community,
    On a personal note, it is a great loss to us. We lost a good friend, mentor and a fellow activist. The days at MIT would not have been more richer but for Dr. Khalidi and our shared ideals of secular, pluralistic and democratic India where equality and justice prevail and all sections of Indians can access the fruits of democracy. We organized several events at MIT focusing on issues related to social justice in India

    In the following, shared the last communication I had with him two weeks ago regarding Telangana/Hyderabad - When asked him about his thoughts on Andhra ruling class conspiring to alienate Hyderabad from Telangana. He replied the following way,

    "No amount of Andhra money and muscle can (and should) separate HyderAbad from its base, Telengana. It is not like Chandigarh. The Andhrulus are far from the city. Let us chat one of these days..."

    May his soul rest in peace.

    Bottom line:

    Dr Khaladi, was more of a researcher than an armchair commentator. He had advised me not to loose track of research and base my submissions on hard facts.

    To hammer home the point, hard facts should be the only arrow, in one’s quiver, he told me, adding he had all the copies of Muslim India, because it contains huge data to rely upon. SYED ALI MUJTABA SYED for The Ground Report India.

    ==============More to follow here==============

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    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    One thing to point out..
    In the article on Khalidi Bhai...that has been posted, there is a spelling mistake (armchair, not armed chair).
    "Dr Khalidi, was more of a researcher than an armchair commentator"

    10:30 PM  
    Blogger M Taher said...

    Thank you bro; the correction is now done in the extract (posted here).

    I hope, the original author (SYED ALI MUJTABA SYED, The Ground Report India) will take a note of this typo.

    10:33 PM  
    Anonymous Sriram said...

    I had not realised that Khalidi had passed away. A great loss. His writing and more than that the cataloguing of History of Hyderabad was great. I wonder if Hyderabad Historical Society still exists and is active...

    12:10 AM  
    Blogger ziyauddin said...

    A real tribute to Omar Khalidi will be to carry his interest of research on Indian Muslim...

    3:12 AM  
    Blogger Waleed el-Shoabki said...

    إنا لله وإنا اليه راجعون
    كل تعازي القلبية الي أسرة المرجو له الرحمه والذي سنفقده جميعا عمر خالدي. قال رسول الله (صلي الله عليه وسلم) يموت المرء الا من ثلاث صدقة جارية, أو علم ينتفع به, أو ولد صالح يدعو له.
    صدق رسول الله صلي الله عليه وسلم.
    وشاء المولي عز وجل أن يجمع عمر خالدي بين الثلاثه في حياته وبعد مماته. رحمه الله

    وليد الشبكي

    10:17 AM  

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