Obituary – B.S.A. Abdur Rahman

Iqbal Samman for Shafey Kidwai
Samina Baig

B.S.A. Abdur Rahman
Noted philanthropist, businessman and founder
of B. S. Abdur Rahman University,
Janab B. S. Abdur Rahman passed away in Chennai on January 7 after prolonged illness. He was 88.
Member of Tamil Muslim family from coastal town of Kilakkarai, Abdur Rahman sahib has left a rich legacy of philanthropy. Though little educated himself, Rahman Sahib was a man with great vision and immense zeal. He took up the family’s pearl trade in Colombo and moved on to setting building and construction business. He moved incessantly between important trading cities. He was early to arrive in Dubai even while it was known only as a small port for seafaring and dhows and set up Ascon which built all the important buildings of the Emirates. He would set up all such businesses that were related with construction such as air-conditioning, cables, lifts, brick kilns, petrol bunks etc. Several of the Chennai’s landmark buildings such as Cricket Stadium, new Lighthouse, Gemini Flyover and Valluvar Kottam (Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar’s memorial in Kodambakkam) were constructed by East Coast Constructions, a company established by him.
He was the main contributor to the construction of Kowloon Mosque in Hong Kong. He set up businesses all over the major cities in India, Gulf, the United Kingdom, the United States. He personally donated Rs. 2.5 crore for the construction of India Islamic Cultural Centre on Lodhi Road in Delhi and collected another Rs. 1.5 crore from others. He also set up the 100-bed Yusuf Zulaikha Hospital in Kilakkarai in Ramanad district of Tamilnadu.
He started the Crescent Engineering College in Vandaloor near Chennai in 1984 which later became the epicenter of the B. S. Abdur Rahman University and founded nearly 14 schools and colleges which also include Thassim Beevi Abdul Kader College for Women in Kilakkarai. It is named after his sister.
“Rahman sab was highly pragmatic while being entirely transparent and moved with amazingly great speed”, says Ibnu Saud, social activist from Chennai.
“Crescent College was one of the first 14 self-financing engineering colleges to be set up in the State by him,” recalled S. Mohamed Tajuddin, Director of Placement. Capt. N. A. Ameer Ali who spent several year working on educational projects with Abdur Rahman Sahib, says he accepted no excuses and went on with his work. Yusuf
“He was an affectionate person who built people. The University is in the hands of qualified professionals as he promoted excellence. Our university has more women faculty than men,” said Prof. Arockiadoss.
He has left a business empire which may be worth over Rs. 10,000 crore today. The enterprises set up by him employ over 7,000 persons. Of his four sons, Arif, the eldest looks after the operations in Dubai. Second son Abdul Qadir is in-charge of the B. S. A. Rahman University in Vandaloor, Chennai. Third son Ashraf is managing the 1,200 MW thermal power plant at Tuticorin which was set up at an estimated cost of Rs. 7,000 crore. Fourth son Khalid is looking after businesses in Chennai. He is also survived by two daughters and wife Dr. Rahmathunnisa.