Syed Abdul Majid, a Truman College professor and pillar of the South Asian Muslim community in the Chicago area, passed away Feb 2, 2021 at the age of 84.
Mr. Majid was born in a small village outside of Hyderabad, India, the eldest son of 15 children. His father was a surgeon who provided medical services to remote villages. Syed Majid came to the U.S. in 1960 to get an advanced degree at Bradley University in Peoria – five years before the U.S. officially began welcoming immigrants from non-European countries.
In 1964, Mr. Majid returned to India to get married. His bride, Ayesha Sayeed, was chosen by his parents, as was the common custom at that time. The couple did not meet until the day of their wedding. Because Mr. Majid valued education so highly, he encouraged his wife to finish her schooling. He supported her while she finished high school, earned a college degree, and went on to pursue a career. He always supported women’s rights – a fact much appreciated by his three daughters.
Mr. Majid got into computers early. He worked at Bell & Howell before joining Westinghouse, where he worked for many years. He eventually joined the faculty of Truman College, part of the City Colleges of Chicago system, to teach computer programming.
As a professor at Truman, Mr. Majid encouraged and inspired many students – including large numbers who were immigrants like himself and looking for ways to gain skills, job opportunities, and the chance to join the American middle class. Many of these students were working their way through school, and Majid would occasionally be recognized by a waiter at a restaurant. One evening, Mr. Majid and his family were waiting for a table at Reza’s in Andersonville. They were told it would be a long wait. A waiter overhearing the host take down names perked up. “Mr. Majid who teaches at Truman College?” To his embarrassment, Mr. Majid and his family were pulled to the front of the line like VIP’s – an honor he would have humbly refused if his hungry family had not overruled him.
As one of the first South Asian Muslims to arrive in Chicago, Mr. Majid helped to build a thriving community. He was a founding father of the Muslim Community Center in Chicago in 1969, and at times served as MCC’s President, Treasurer as well as taught at the Sunday school for many years. In the 90s, he was instrumental in establishing a second mosque and an Islamic school in Morton Grove.
Majid is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ayesha; 3 daughters, Hajira Perveen (Mark), Samina (Eric), Farhana; and four grandchildren: Adam, Zayd, Laeth and Soraya.
In order to comply with Covid safety guidelines, a small prayer service and funeral were held on February 3rd. A celebration of his life/memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his honor to an educational scholarship set up in his name to the MCC Academy, 8601 N. Menard Avenue, Morton Grove, IL 60053 or online at mccacademy.org (for either write in memo for the Syed Majid Scholarship Fund) or to the Greater Chicago Food Depository at https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org.