How much activity one can pack into a lifespan? One, for sure, is likely to come across this question while talking to the Indian-American space scientist Dr. Nazeer Ahmed. This humble man from Karnataka’s Tumkur town owns 14 American patents, holds two doctorates from renowned American universities, has worked on several space missions of NASA, has taught in some of the most famous universities, authored half a dozen books, helped hundreds of students in pursuing their studies, dedicated sizeable chunks of land for an Eidgah and graveyard in Tumkur and is currently waiting for the publication of his translation of the Holy Quran into simple American English. But this is not all. Even while doing all this, he made a foray into the politics, won a seat in Karnataka Assembly and quit on his own accord.
Quality had been a hallmark of him whatever he chose to do. A rank student all through the schools and college, he won the sobriquet ‘Rank Nazeer’. He went on to acquire a BE from Mysore University, earned two doctorates in the US, one each from Caltech and Cornell Universities. He came to be known for his pioneering work on advanced composites and earned as many as 12 of the 14 patents he has, as of now.
For Rank Nazeer success came rolling and cascading down upon him. An engineering graduate from Mysore University in 1961, he went to the US to earn his MS in Physics and won a doctorate from Caltech (i.e., California Institute of Technology) in theoretical and applied mechanics and another from the Cornell. He worked on devising the Moon landrover for Apollo missions and still later as chief engineer on Hubble Space Telescope. As he told me, last fortnight, ‘this was the most precise instrument to be built in 20th century to explore the universe in the visible spectrum and look at the very edge of the known universe’.
Exploration of the infinite space propelled Dr. Nazeer into thinking of the Creator of the Universe. This led him to look into the scriptural sources of knowledge of the Divine creation. This is how he began studying the Quran. At one moment, he thought of writing a commentary and in fact wrote 800 pages on Surah Noor itself. But then he realized the immensity of the task, gave up the effort and fell into sajda and confessed to the Almighty that he was not up to the task. Essence of the tafsir however was transformed into a book titledWhat Makes us Human: Spiritual Perspective that got published later.
Nazeer sahib was here in Bangalore recently and was awaiting publication of his The Quran: An English Translation an attempt at rendering of the meanings of the Quran into simple American English. Not alone this, Dr. Nazeer has compiled a 9000-page Encyclopedia of Islamic History which readers could access on www.historyofislam.com and www.encyclopediaofislamichistory.com hoisted in 2009.
Dr. Nazeer visits Bangalore and Tumkur frequently and helps a lot of students through his Rank Nazeer Sahib Charities.