Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Majid Kazi — the Indian Doctor Who Went on to Become Saudi King’s Personal Physician

Here is one of my best interviews. That Dr. Majid Kazi is a gem of a person is pretty evident from the quotes that he granted liberally in the following conversation with me. The interview first appeared in Arab News and then The Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle. It met with a huge applause from Saudi Arabia's expatriate community. Picture No. 1 shows the good doctor with the late King Fahd. In Picture No. 2, Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam honors him with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award. — Siraj Wahab, May 1, 2007

Everybody Is Unique in His Own Way, Says Dr. Majid Kazi

By Siraj Wahab

JEDDAH, March 29, 2006 — Nov. 15, 1974, remains one of the most important days of Dr. Majid-Uddin Kazi’s life. For it was on that day he received a letter that would launch a brilliant and distinguished career for this noted Saudi royal cardiologist of Hyderabadi origin.

The letter came from Saudi Health Minister Dr. Abdul Aziz Khowaiter. “I am pleased to inform you that you have been selected as my personal adviser for the establishment of modern health facilities in Saudi Arabia for the prevention, detection and management of heart diseases,” the minister wrote to Dr. Kazi.

That letter came just five years after Dr. Kazi’s 1969 arrival in the Kingdom with his wife, Carol Ann Kazi, and a six-month-old son.

In 1977, he was appointed personal physician to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and a decade later was promoted to the rank of a Cabinet minister when he became the personal physician to King Fahd. But that key post also meant that he had to keep a very low profile.

There is little disagreement that he is the highest-ranking person of Indian origin in Saudi Arabia. By virtue of being the royal cardiologist he was granted Saudi citizenship.

Now at 68, Dr. Kazi is still an adviser in the Royal Court having been reappointed last year to the ministerial-ranked position for four more years.

Dr. Kazi speaks with the precision of a surgeon, but he is extremely shy. At times one notes a little embarrassment in him when his public stature is discussed, perhaps because he thinks he owes everything to good fortune.

“Everybody is unique in his own way,” he says. “There is a hidden rainbow in each one of us. When a sunray goes through a droplet with the right tilt, and God’s help, a rainbow can be woven.”

The Saudi Arabia to which Dr. Kazi came in 1969 was a far different place than it is today. “At that time, Saudi Arabia was still an underdeveloped, sparsely populated, peaceful and charming place. There were sand dunes where now stands the modern, well-equipped King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center.”

Dr. Kazi credits his wife for his successes. “She played and is still playing a vital role. She used to push me forward rather than pushing me around. I wished I were half as great a believer in the academic excellence of our children.”

Carol Ann Kazi is a certified art instructor who specializes in painting. Until a few years ago she used to run Riyadh’s Desert Designs, a popular arts-and-crafts shop. The couple is blessed with two daughters and two sons.

Dr. Kazi was thrilled earlier this year when he went to Hyderabad to receive the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. “What an exciting moment it was for me to be able to see, hear and shake hands with the Indian president. I consider it an honor for my family and me. I was deeply touched by Dr. Abdul Kalam’s wisdom, articulation, knowledge and humility. I couldn’t agree with him more when he called on Indians and persons of Indian origin to have wings for ascent in every walk of life but never to lose ‘Indian-ness,’ which essentially comprises civility, nobility and humility.”

Dr. Kazi hails from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. His father Kazi Hameeduddin was a leading lawyer and a prominent Muslim leader of his times. Dr. Kazi’s brother, Qazi Saleem, was a successful Urdu poet and politician. He represented Aurangabad in Parliament during Indira Gandhi’s reign. When Qazi Saleem died recently, almost all the major Urdu publications came out with a special edition on him.

Dr. Kazi’s elder brother always was an inspiration to him. “During my childhood, Qazi Saleem was already a famous new groundbreaking poet. I was enchanted by his style, thoughts and imagination. With a view to imitating him I used to compose childish poems. Several of them were printed in children’s magazines in India, such as ‘Phulwari’ and ‘Khilona.’”

Those sweet early years have left Dr. Kazi with many wonderful memories. “At age 11, I got my first gold medal when my poem was selected in the provincial middle school competition, and it was published in a children’s magazine from Delhi. I used to be thrilled to take part in the children’s program of the newly-established Aurangabad Radio Station. I used to write for the children’s program at times and was paid ten rupees a couple of times. Back then, it was a joyous moment for your work to be selected and rewarded with 10 rupees.”

Dr. Kazi’s early childhood and primary education were in, what he calls, “my beloved city of Hyderabad.” He returned to Hyderabad as a medical student in 1956 to seek a degree in medicine at Osmania Medical College.

“Immediately after graduation, I worked as a tutor for a year at Gandhi Medical College where I had spent the first six months of my first year in medicine, being among the top 40 students of that college. We used to call ourselves the ‘40 Pillars’ of the institute. Later, I was transferred to Osmania Medical College where I spent my early youth tumultuously, studying and celebrating our annual college day function that used to last three days.”

In college, he continued to develop his writing skills, penning sarcastic comedies and taking active part in dramas. “I used to enjoy being on the college stage with the nickname of ‘Sher Khan.’ We used to mix hard work with pleasure. Early in the morning, I would walk to the public gardens and study for exams under tall trees and enjoy the soul-nourishing breeze. The culture, education, interactions and celebrations of the city of Hyderabad all played a vital role in my life.”

The good doctor is never one to boast, and he advises those looking for good role models to look inside themselves rather than look to him. “I strongly believe in teamwork rather than a one-man show. It is good to be mild — but not meek. At least when it is your turn, get up and speak. I am no role model, so please don’t copy me. I am less than a dust particle floating in space. By chance, the rays of the sun illuminated it for a while.”

For the tens of thousands of Saudis young and old who live healthier and longer lives because of the healthcare system he helped to create, it is a dust particle that is likely to shine brightly for many years to come.


Sidhusaaheb said...

Although it is no longer fashionable in the 'modern' world, where being 'confident' to the extent of being brash is the norm, I think humility is one of the most important qualities for a human being to have, as amply demonstrated by the example of Dr. Kazi and his achievements.

Dr.Majid Kazi said...

I wish to express my deep appreciation,gratitude and delight for a comment from a verstyle,dynamic and busy Siddhu Saheb.I enjoy watching him and listening to him.He is a philospher,poet and an artist at the same time.He spreads cheerfulness and goodness all the time.
And by the way Siraj betta ,it is so nice to interact with you and read your so many wonderful interviews.Mashallah at such a young age you have become remarkable journalist.Keep up your wit ,intelect & enthusiasm. Majid Kazi

Siraj Wahab said...

Thank you so much. I need your guidance at all times. You are such an inspiration. God bless you. Ameen.

Anonymous said...

I am the daughter-in-law of Dr. Majid Kazi. First, I would like to thank you for your interest and the efforts you have made in publishing articles on the life and times of Dr. Kazi. We are honored and privileged to have Dr. Kazi as the patriarch of our family. He is a most disciplined, humble and loving person I have ever come across and extremely selfless. His encouragement and love allows us to grow as good human beings. He is not at all possessive or imposing by nature. We like to be around him all the time, trying to learn and absorb all the minute details of his lifestyle. Our father is extremely family oriented and by setting such an example he has given us the importance of family values. All in all we wish him all the best and we pray that his loving shadow is always prevalent to guide us through the thick and thin of times.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting story. Hyderabad's connection with the holy land goes
far back in time. The Nizams used to send money from Hyderabad for the maintenance of Kaabatullah
and Masjid-e-Nabvi. In fact, they had devoted certain property like Madinah Building near Charminar
for the Harmain Sharifain. All this income used to be sent to Makkah and Madinah. I wish you could
write about it. A little research could lead to a very interesting report.

Siraj Wahab said...

Thank you Sidhusaaheb and Aijaz Syed Sahab for your valuable comments. Special thanks to Mrs. Asma Qadri for that wonderful insight into the life of Dr. Kazi. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It is difficult to describe what we feel as his children in a few paragraphs. Words alone will not do his fatherly leadership justice. What can I say to describe his unconditional love, never-ending forgivingness, blind trust, rapid helping hand, and unbreakable spiritual belief other that it is a wonder that in today’s rough world such qualities even exist in a person everyday, for every minute, and with every person from King to servant.
I hope that readers of this article realize that you can still reach glory by means of a true heart. Cut throat business might get you quick money but it is the feelings that linger long after the money has ran out. We are here on earth for such a short time so let your intentions be to lend a helping hand and make a difference in society for greater than leaving a wealth is leaving a legacy.

Siraj Wahab said...

"Words alone will not do his fatherly leadership justice." Wonderful comments, Samia. Superb and very well-written. Mashallah. Thank you so much for sharing these precious thoughts with the readers of this blog. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Majid Kazi's brother, Qazi Saleem, as he very rightly mentions in the interview above, was a successful Urdu poet and politician. He represented Aurangabad (a historic city in India's Maharashtra state) in Parliament during Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s reign. When Mr. Qazi Saleem died last year, almost all the major Urdu publications came out with a special edition on him. That is correct. I am posting here for the benefit of readers the obituary of Qazi Saleem that Professor Abdul Wahab Jazb wrote in Lokmat Times, the English daily that is published from Aurangabad.

Qazi Salim, an Avant-Garde Urdu Poet — By M.A. Wahab — Qazi Saleem’s demise left Urdu poetry poorer. He was a towering figure with his inimitable voice and cadence. He belonged to the avant-garde Urdu poets who shunned the traditional poetry’s rut — especially ghazal — and wrote path-breaking poetry in the form of blank verse and even free verse. He didn’t belong to the traditional and classical Urdu poetry. He embellished his poetry with his erudite knowledge of Greek, Roman and Hindu mythology. With the magic wand of his poetry he created new vistas and new worlds. After Wali and Siraj, Wajd stood greatest in traditional ghazal and nazm (verse) but Qazi Saleem gave a new direction to poetry, opening new vistas and horizons. His famous line with haunting refrain “Saleem you dismount from the mountains” has many layers of meaning. He was educated at Aligarh where one of the greatest Urdu poets Shahryar (of “Umrao Jan Ada” fame) was his classmate. He had dabbled in politics also. He was one of the founders of Indira Congress in Marathwada and was its first MP from Aurangabad constituency. But poetry was his passion — not politics. One is reminded of his poem “Misfit” written in the background of his younger brother Qazi Shamim’s disappearance. I have rendered it into English (along a few other poems) which is rich in its novel imagery and Hindu mythological references. So far two collections of his poetry have seen the light of the day. The first was entitled “Najat Se Pahle” (Before Deliverance) and the latest “Rustagari” (Rescue/Deliverance). Through his brother Dr. Majid (King of Saudi Arabia’s personal physician) he came into contact with Ghazi Al-Gosaibi — a great Arabic poet, a cabinet minister in Saudi Arabia and translated his poems into Urdu. Despite his stature as a poet and man in public life he was very polite, gentle and suave. May God rest his soul in peace and give patience and courage to his near and dear ones. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and brother Dr. Majid Kazi, a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
I take this opportunity to thank Professor Wahab for this obituary.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember having read this story of the Indian doctor in the Bombay newspapers first. I am impressed by his humility.

Anonymous said...

I highly appreciate and congratulate you on publishing your interview with Dr. Majid Kazi first in Arab News and now on your website. I have known Dr. Kazi for a long time through my uncle Dr. Khaled A. Sami who worked as Head of the Department of Anesthesiology. My advice to you is simple: Please try to spare some time to the community too. As a journalist you have to render all your services to your employer. No doubt. But my request to you is to please try to highlight the community’s efforts instead of focusing just on personalities. Our identity as a Muslim is based on a collective effort not as an individual effort. I was sad after reading the comments of Dr. Kazi wherein he credited his wife for all his successes. He did not have a single word of praise for his parents who tried their best to make him an honorable, reputable and successful physician. Going by his own words, Dr. Kazi used to walk to the public garden to read under the trees: It indicates how much his father must have sacrificed to see his son as a doctor. I am assuming that he was a man of limited resources. It is my request to you that while highlighting the personalities you should highlight the resources of our community. By the way, the credit for introducing Indians to Saudis goes to our former Indian Ambassador T.T.P. Abdullah. He worked hard to bring Indian manpower to Saudi Arabia.

Dr.Majid Kazi said...

I wish to extend my appreciation, thanks & Duas to Mr.M.Ahemad for his valuable comments.I was deeply impressed and touched by his sadness,not finding my father's name in this particular interview. To me,what beamed through his sadness, was Mr.Ahemad's deep regard and devotion to universal parental contribution for kids.
Indeed,most parents leave no stone unturned for the wellbeing and welfare of their children.During other interviews and public meetings,I saluted them for that, including my in terview in Etemaad Daily(26-3-2006) & Siasat Daily(11-2-2007).We can never pay back our parents in the same coin for their love .sacrifices and devotion. By the way my late parents(May Peace of God be on their souls) were very fond of me, my kids and above all my wife who stood by me through thick and thin & looked after my parents.
As per the wishes of my parents,we moved out of Canada where we had nicely settled down, to Riyadh for less than 1/4th salary in oct.1969
.After that ,till their last breath "Alhamdulillah" my parents lived with us in Riyadh with occasional visit to India.As per their prayers and earnest desire, Almighty God arranged for them to be burried in Janat-e-Baqui in Madeena Munawara.
I think the best way to homage to one's parents is trying to live up to their expectations and striving to be what parents aspired kids to be.
Let me take this oppertunity to pay tribute to the Nizam Trust Fund in Hyderabad .My Late father did not have foreign exchange to buy me Air ticket to U.S.A.in 1962 when I was going for higher studies.The Nizam trust came to my rescue and bought me one way air ticket to U.S.A.& rest is the history."Alhamdulillah" Majid Kazi

Anonymous said...

Dr Majid Qazi and persons of his stature will always remain the source of inspiration for the budding talent of Aurangabad and Hyderabad. It was his dedication towards his profession that earned him stripes.
However, the role of devoted and dynamic jornalists like Siraj Wahab could also not be ignored in bringing such stories to the fore. We as masses owe so much to the journalists like him.

Anonymous said...

Siraj Bhai your photographs are nice. They also reflect your passion towards hsitory and culture.

Siraj Wahab said...

Thank you, Dr. Kazi, for that wonderful riposte to Mr. Ahmed's uncharitable comments. Honestly I was offended by the tone of his missive. But then you disarmed him with refreshing candor that is your hallmark. Mashallah. In retrospect I think his comment was a blessing in disguise. We got more insight into your personality. At some point of time in future, I will do a story on Nizam Trust Fund, the one that you said bought you the one-way air-ticket to United States and history as well. People should know about the fund.

There is one more point that I need to clarify here: Mr. Ahmed wants me to highlight the community’s efforts instead of focusing just on personalities. “Our identity,” he writes above, “as a Muslim is based on a collective effort not as an individual effort.” I totally disagree with me. It is my belief that the bane of our community has been the lack of good role models. Our youngsters need successful people to look up to. Dr. Kazi is a great role model. We need to learn from him. When this article first appeared in Arab News, it inspired a lot of youngsters. And it will inspire a great number of our young people in the future too. Let me take this opportunity to request Mr. Ahmed to look around for good role models so that I can write about them. Thank you Dr. Kazi and thank you Mr. Ahmed for your comments.

Siraj Wahab said...

Thank you, Tauseef, for your compliments.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible story. Do such people really exist in today's highly materialistic world? A king's personal physician and this humility? Incredible and unbelievable. That is what makes this story fantastic. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Your website is wonderful. I wandered here by a mere click of a wrong alphabet. I was searching for the speeches of the famous American Imam Siraj Wahaj and instead typed Siraj Wahab. And as in the case with Internet, one thing led to another. And then I chanced upon this great doctor's great story. What a fascinating piece of writing. I was very touched. I enjoyed the comments and free-wheeling discussion on the blog. More importantly, I was humbled by Dr. Kazi's sweet reaction to some criticism from one person. He is nothing short of a faith healer. I applaud you for this blog which is acting as a bridge of understanding. We need these bridges. We need each other. I am going to recommend this blog to all my fellow Muslim friends here in Wisconsin and abroad. Good job. God bless.

Dr.Majid Kazi said...

Dear Siraj,
Thanks for bringing to my
attention the recent
comments by Ms.BettyMustafa
on your blog,which I too feel is in many ways a
"Beckoning Beaming Blog"
I am deeply touched and admire her comments about building bridges of understandings between people.
Indeed we all need each other,regardless of caste, creed and colour to share and safeguard Almighty's bounties for us on our planet.The bridges of understandings across different nations,different cultures and different faiths,help reduce hostility,prejudice and darkness of ignorance.The sunshine is for and the sun shines for entire mankind.Nobody wins by roller skating in
"baffelo herd". Cheers.
Dr.Majid Kazi

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have found overseas trained doctors to be on whole substandard. The good king can keep his Indian doctors to himself, so long as they do not come to Australia.

If you disagree, you can contact me at bburns_2000@yahoo.com.

Dr Brian Burns

Sydney, Australia

Anonymous said...

Dr Burn's comments about Indian doctors are unprofessional, unethical and appear to be thoroughly biased.They reflect his own his personal character .You need to think about your own shortcomings before finding yourself competent enough to pass judgement on others.

India doctor said...

Great! India Doctor are spreaded everywhere in the world.

Anonymous said...

we all need each other,regardless of caste, creed and colour to share and safeguard Almighty's bounties for us on our planet.

Anonymous said...

I am a friend of his son. They are very humble people.

Dr William Foster said...

I had occasion to work with my colleague Dr. Majid Kazi several times during my employment at King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital, 1979 t0 1992, and have the greatest respect for my friend. I wish him and his family my best wishes and greetings. Dr William Foster, Anaesthetist.

Tareq Wahab, tareqwahab@gmail.com said...

It's my father's article and I loved the way he wrote the article. My father is a great supporter, tutor and helper in my life. I'm inspired by him and wish I can become like him one day. Inshaallah.

Tareq Wahab, tareqwahab@gmail.com said...

It's my father's article and I loved the way he wrote the article. My father is a great supporter, tutor and helper in my life. I'm inspired by him and wish I can become like him one day. Inshaallah.

dr.saravanakumar said...

dr.kazi should have been a man of great respect and wisdom.The way saudis look for doctors of india should have inspired by the good work humility of these men from india.i also understand the struggle he would have had initially.i am a non muslim but appreciate these great people who have done good for the country and brought respect.i admire him

Anonymous said...

Today my daughter Noor is writing a report about her Grandfather, Dr. Majid kazi. And while she was searching she found this website. After almost 9 years, I am reading this again and feel even prouder than before. Thank you Mr. Siraj for this beautiful piece of work. Thank you for believing in my father to write about him.

Today as my children grow, I remember something very special about him.
Every time my father saw us, his eyes sparked with happiness. He never judged us for the mistakes we did yesterday. He always looked at us with pure love and delight. I will never forget that feeling of comfort we had when we were around him. I feel that way with my children. I hope that it brings them joy like it did for me.

Dr. Majid is living in Jeddah with his wife and two sons and their family. We miss him and hope that he will get better and have a long healthy life.


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