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RECEPTION OF THE BANGLADESHI COMMUNITY OF MONTREAL FOR PROFESSOR DR. HAMID RABB,   Dr. Abdur Rabb,   Montreal

 The Bangladeshi community of Montreal organized a large reception for one of their own: Professor Dr. Hamid Rabb, MD (McGill), FRCP(C), FACP (UCLA), FASN (Harvard), Medical Director of the Kidney Transplant Program of Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland), and Vice-Chairman of the Department of Medicine of the same University. The reception was held on Saturday April 11, 2009 at the auditorium of the Lavoie School on Lavoie St., Montreal.

Dr. Hamid Rabb

Some 350 people attended the reception. The event was divided into three parts: speeches and the award ceremony, dinner, and a cultural function. The evening’s success was summed up by one participant in the following manner:” It was a spectacular event. The Bangladesh community has never held an event like this since Bangladeshis settled in Montreal several decades ago.” The committee that organized the event gave the community a very special gift that evening—an extraordinary program of activities. During the buffet dinner Dr. Hamid Rabb mingled with members of the audience. Many young people took their photograph with Dr. Rabb and asked for a copy of his speech. A number of people from outside Bangladeshi community also attended the event. 

A number of people spoke on the occasion. The chairperson Mrs. Irshat Alam spoke first. She spoke of Dr. Hamid Rabb in glowing terms and introduced the speakers to the gathering. There were three main speakers : the chief guest Professor Dr. James Martin, Lung Research Director at McGill University (Dr. Hamid Rabb’s teacher, mentor and later research partner); Professor Dr. Syed Tareque Ali, Professor of Mathematics at Concordia University, who spoke in English; and Prof. Bidyot Bhowmik who spoke in Bangla. Professor Bhowmik spoke of Dr. Hamid Rabb’s life and achievements with great affection. A representative of the Federal Ministry of Immigration and Multiculturalism read a message from the Minister that was endorsed by the Prime Minister for the occasion. There were also brief talks by Dr. Hamid Rabb’s father Dr. Abdur Rabb, sister Mrs. Shirin Rabb, and brother-in-law Mr. Ali Hossain Khan. Dr. Hamid Rabb spoke after the speeches of the main speakers. The following are the highlights of the speeches of the three main speakers. The entire speech by Dr. Hamid Rabb is quoted at the end of this report. 

As for his professional career, Dr. Hamid Rabb  worked at the University of Southern Florida and University of Minnesota for a total of nine years. He rapidly advanced in his career. He joined the Kidney Transplant Program of Johns Hopkins University as its Physician Director in 2001. The Johns Hopkins Hospital has been rated number one in the United States for the last 18 years in a row by US News and World Report. If that institution is the best in North America, said Prof Bhowmik, it is probably the best in the world. Dr. Hamid Rabb’s publications, which appeared in books, prestigious journal, and conference reports number approximately 360. Some of these publications are used as texts in medical schools and hospitals all over the world. 

Dr. Hamid Rabb has been competitively awarded many millions of dollars to support his research, employing many MD’s and PhD’s, some of whom are Bangladeshis. As an external reviewer for the US National Institutes of Health, he advises on the allocation of funds for research in US Universities. He does the same for other countries including Canada, Germany, Scotland, Australia, Netherlands, Ireland and England.

At a young age Dr. Hamid Rabb made a number of extraordinary achievements. In 2007 he received two prestigious awards: one for becoming a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, an elite group that includes numerous Nobel laureates, with an entry requirement having made a significant number of high impact medical discoveries prior to the age of 45. Among his discoveries is a new blood test for early diagnosis of acute kidney disease. Other discoveries are in the realm of immunologic injury to the kidney, a major contributor to kidney failure. 

The same year he received a second award as the top mid-career physician investigator among the five thousand or so members of the main international transplant organization, the American Society of Transplantation. 

In 2007 he was also promoted to the position of a full Professor—a rare honour for someone of his age, especially at Johns Hopkins University. 

Dr. Rabb is frequently invited to deliver lectures at Universities and hospitals of North America, Europe and Asia. These institutions are interested in hearing about his discoveries in medicine and the new methods of treating kidney diseases. 

Dr. Rabb is also an exceptional physician. Many patients with very complicated symptoms are sent to him from all over the US for diagnosis and treatment. He takes care of poor patients in inner city Baltimore, as well as dignitaries from all over the world. 

Last Ramadan Dr. Rabb served as physician of Hon. Sheik Hasina. She was most pleased and proud to see a Bangladeshi doctor in a very high position at Johns Hopkins University. In appreciation of Dr. Hamid Rabb’s dedication she cooked Bangladeshi foods on her own, and served Dr. Rabb and his family herself before sitting down to eat her own dinner at her son’s house in Virginia. 

Dr. Rabb visits Bangladesh once every few years. During his visits to the country of his birth he delivers lectures at various medical colleges and hospitals, and teaches the doctors of those institutions the new techniques of treating kidney diseases. Over the years during Bangladesh trips he has voluntarily seen hundreds of patients, especially the poor who cannot afford to see a specialist. 

Professor Dr. James Martin said:
“My knowledge of Hamid goes back to his days as a medical student when he came to my laboratory for a taste of research. Although he was clearly an exceptional student I could not know at that time that he would go on to have a highly successful career in medicine and research. I was fortunate enough that the slow immigration system in the US required him to wait for more than six months for a visa to return for his first faculty position. He volunteered to participate in research with me at that time. In fact he brought with him ideas that we worked on together that attracted a great deal of interest in the medical community and which formed the basis for a program in research for several years. Since those days I have had the pleasure to watch his rise to his current position. However admirable Dr. Hamid Rabb’s success has been in medicine and medical research I believe that his most admirable accomplishments stem from his humanity. He is a gentle but strong person, he is courteous but insistent, and he is humble but ambitious. He understands the human spirit. We are all immigrants to Canada in this room, I suspect. We have left our homes to make a life in a foreign country as did the Rabb family. As great a country as Canada is, it is not without its barriers to success for immigrants. Foreign qualifications are in general not recognized and many well qualified persons take jobs that are not consistent with their skills and education. It is therefore the children of new immigrants that must succeed and make their contributions to society. Hamid was fortunate that he came from a background of academic success. His father is a successful religious scholar and his mother highly cultured in her native literature. Such example was certainly important in guiding Hamid on his path to success. Of course, this in no way reduces his accomplishment but it means that the celebration this evening is also a celebration of the contributions of his parents to his success. Hamid is an example for his community and he has set a high standard for others to follow.”

Professor Bhowmik, who spoke a great deal about Dr. Rabb’s achievements, hoped that Dr. Hamid Rabb will one day become the second Bangladeshi Nobel Prize winner. Dr. Tareque Ali said that he was pleasantly surprised when he was told in a wedding party in 1982 that Hamid was accepted for admission to the McGill Medical School. To him Dr. Rabb looked like a boy in his early teens. Actually Dr. Rabb entered McGill School at the age of 17. Once Dr. Ali, while surfing the internet for information on a Mathematics international prize winner, the famous Iranian physicist Dr. Muhammad Sheikh Jabbari, was shocked to come across 10,000 links. “When I searched the internet for information on Dr. Hamid Rabb, I found 35,000 links!.” The day after the reception Professor Ali wrote to Dr. Hamid Rabb’s father: “I was very impressed by Hamid’s focussed and precise presentation. His clarity of thinking is truly remarkable. You are so fortunate to have a son like him.”

Dr. Hamid Rabb’s father Dr. Abdur Rabb credited his wife Mrs. Aishah Rabb for nurturing her son to grow up to be an intellectual leader as well as a compassionate and caring human being. He was also full of praise for his daughter-in-law Nausheen for her love, care and support for Hamid since they were married in 1987. She herself comes from a scholarly family with her Grandfather, Dr. Quadrat-i-Khuda, being a pre-eminent Bangladeshi scientist. Dr. Abdur Rabb further said, “My own father, a peasant from a Barisali village, had little formal education; but he was a man of great wisdom. His teaching shaped the formation of my personality. One of the things that he taught me is to love and care for all human beings. I have tried to follow his advice in my own humble way. I am glad to see that Hamid is trying to live according to my father’s teaching even better than I have. With a Harvard University specialization in the diseases of the kidneys (nephrology) Hamid could have made a great deal of money in private practice in the United States, but instead he chose a more difficult course of life in order to be able to contribute to the well-being of humankind. Bangladeshis from all over the world approach me for Hamid’s help and advice when they are faced with difficult heath problems. In spite of his busy schedule, Hamid always tries to help these people with a great deal of pleasure. I am also happy to say that in the forty-six years of his life nobody has mentioned to me that Hamid was ever rude or discourteous. I am proud to say that he has grown up to be a gentle, humble, loving and caring human being. As his parents, we value his personal qualities more than anything else.”

Since last Saturday’s reception, numerous people have sent emails and made telephone calls to Dr. Abdur Rabb to express their appreciation of the celebration and of Dr. Hamid Rabb. The credit for having organized such a wonderful evening goes to Mrs. Ishrat Alam, Mr. Nazrul Alam Shanu, Mr. Ithrad Zuberi Salim, Mr. Bashir Munshi, Mr. Shawkat Ali Anu, Mr. Shakhawat Hossain, Mr. Lutfur Rahman, Mr. Mominul Islam Bhuiyan, Dr. Mahiuddin Talukdar, Dr. Abdul Muttalib, and Mr. Rafique Bhuiyan. Professor Dr. Syed Tareque Ali and Professor Bidyot Bhowmik delivered excellent speeches. Mrs. Shamshed Ara Rana did a wonderful job as an MC. Khalid Hussain Shaheen did a great job in designing the announcement of the event and providing a large and beautiful banner for the wall of the stage. The beautiful cultural show was organized by our talented and popular singer Mr. Shafiul Isalam; and the sumptuous dinner was supplied by the well-known Café Royal. 

TEXT OF PROFESSOR DR. HAMID RABB’S TALK

Assalamu alaykum, nomoshkar, bon soir medames et messiures. I thank the Bangladeshi community of Montreal, specially the citizen’s committee headed by Mrs. Ishrat Alam, for the honor that they have bestowed on me. For the benefit of our young people and those who came from outside the community, I shall deliver my speech in English. 

I love Bangladesh and Bangladeshis everywhere in the world, and try my best to do what I can for them. 

I love Montreal because I grew up here. Montreal is my home. I also love the Bangladeshi community of Montreal, whose members loved and supported me when I was growing up in this city. After finishing medical school at McGill, I studied at UCLA and Harvard to improve my training, and my goal was to return to Montreal. I came back here after finishing my studies but at that time, in 1991, academic job opportunities for me were not available and for complex reasons, some of which were not in my control, went back to the US where I felt I would have the opportunities to continue to develop professionally. Yet, wherever I live, I always have special love and concern for the Bangladeshis of my community. 

The main goal for today’s function is to help inspire and mentor the members of the Montreal Bangladeshi community, particularly the youth, into developing their full potential as individuals as well as citizens of the local and global communities. I would like to share 10 points with you that I believe are important in order to meet these goals, with a bias from my own experiences and perspectives. These are weaved and modified from thoughts of others, but came to my mind very easily this afternoon since I try to follow these principles:

1. Develop a vision, a dream. Not someone else’s vision, your vision:  something that inspires you and elevates you. It could be that you will be the best business person, the best politician, the best scientist, the best cook, the best actress. Hold on to that vision and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve it.

2. Take the path less travelled. Don’t follow what others do or take the easy path. Take the path that excites you, the path that you think can make a difference for you and others.

3. Choose a topic of focus that not only excites you, but one that helps others –either in the short or long term. Then, choose a route that you can follow that will be financially feasible. If you follow your vision, you will be able to reap economic rewards that will enable you to realize your vision. The real reward for good work is to have the resources and environment that allows you to continue to do good work.

4. The importance of work. One needs to work consistently and hard. Day in, day out. The difference between most people who are exceptional and those who are only very good is that the exceptional ones have worked harder, sacrificed more, and continue to sharpen their skills in their area of expertise.

5. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Be outstanding at one thing. Accept that others will do better than you in different things, but put all your energy and focus on doing one thing better than anyone, not only at your school or work, but in the country or the world.

6. Cultivate trust and integrity at your home, work and friends. Support others, minimize personal criticism, and avoid controlling others. Your professional performance will be elevated by your relationships with people.

7. Communicate with others about what you are doing, accept criticism but don’t be discouraged or necessarily change your actions due to it. Seek feedback, and really listen to it. Find mentors in and outside your community.

8. Avoid judging others and help other people be successful. Don’t quantify every action towards a goal, do things because they feel right, not only to your brain but also to your gut and instinct.

9. Eat right, exercise regularly, avoid smoking, drugs, alcohol and dietary excess. Take care of your mind with rest, connecting with nature and spirituality. 

10. Enjoy what you are doing and remember every day that there are so many others who don’t have the opportunity that you do, either due to their political circumstances, economic, social or health limitations. Thus, the opportunities that you have should not be wasted since so many of the world’s population, particularly in Bangladesh, do not have your opportunity. What you are doing is not only for yourself but for all of those who don’t have the opportunities that you have.

In closing, I want to give special recognition to my Mother, Aishah Rabb, who has given me love, guidance and support over the years; and my father, Dr. Abdur Rabb, who has sacrificed for the family and continues to be a role model at home and the community. I have special thanks for my wife, Nausheen Rabb, who has provided me love and companionship during my challenges over the years, always striving for the right path for our family and selfless in her pursuits. Unfortunately, she had to go to Bangladesh suddenly to take care of her mother who became ill. My sons Adib, Samir and Nabil – my source of joy, curiosity and my legacy. My sister Shirin and her husband Ali Khan, who have prospered in Montreal and raised three wonderful children, Adil, Kameel and Aliya. My special thanks to my professor and mentor James Martin, who has guided me and accepted me as person and physician since I was a medical student, always a source of inspiration and guidance. My uncle, Professor Tariq Ahmedali has always given me advice, company and affection. I want to recognize my good friend Nadim Rahman, who since childhood has complemented my own approach with humanism and common sense, always being available to me when I took the lonely path needed to follow my dreams.

On his return to Maryland Dr. Hamid Rabb wrote the following letter of thanks to Mrs. Ishrat Alam and her team for the honour accorded to him:

April 14, 2009

Mrs. Ishrat Alam
Chairperson
Citizen’s reception committee

Re: Event of Saturday April 11, 2009

Dear Mrs. Ishrat Alam,

Greetings. I would like to express my appreciation and thanks for the
wonderful function that you and members of your team organized. There are so many people who contributed that it does not do justice for me to write only one letter, but hopefully by sending it to you the message can be disseminated.

In a short period of time, you were able to put together both a community, scholarly and culturally focused program. I know it was a lot of work for everyone. I was really impressed how professionally it was organized. One of the things that really touched me was how emotional the audience was. The manner in which the evening was orchestrated really helped all members of the community to feel good about them, have heightened self-esteem, and become more motivated for higher goals in their personal and professional lives. 

The children and young adults, the intended primary target of the
evening, told me that they were quite thrilled and many have taken my contact information. I am also very grateful for the thoughtful gift of the beautiful pen (it looks so expensive that I am reluctant to carry it in case I lose it!). Another aspect I really appreciated was the inclusion of the Canadian government official and the letter from the minister with joint support of Prime Minister Steven Harper.

Overall, it was truly a spectacular event that I will remember all my
life, and hope that this will empower and motivate all of us to be
better in our thoughts and actions!

Sincerely,

Hamid Rabb, M.D.
Professor & Vice Chairman
Department of Medicine
Medical Director, Kidney Transplantation
Johns Hopkins University


 (Articles on Dr. Hamid Rabb recently published in some Bangladeshi websites contain errors. Those articles were based on information obtained from second-hand sources. Dr. Hamid Rabb was not aware of those articles, nor is he responsible for the contents of those publications.)

 

 

[Editor’s note: Dr. Abdur Rabb is one of the Bangladeshi pioneers in Canada. He was a professor of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Dhaka for five years from 1958 to 1963. In 1963 he came to Canada where he studied and taught Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Sufism for more than forty years. Dr. Rabb also writes and delivers public lectures specially on the need for self-purification, Islam as a religion of moderation, and the necessity of making adjustments in the teaching of Islam in some of its details, not in its fundamentals, to make Islam more relevant and attractive to the young Muslims in the west]

 

 

  

 

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(2) 

Speech at an Interfaith Wedding in Montreal

Dr. Abdur Rabb (Montreal)

A large majority of the Bangladeshis now in Canada came to this country in the last 30 years. The children of this first generation Bangladeshis are now studying in colleges and Universities, or joining the work force. As adults they are also getting married. In the greater Montreal area there have been a number of weddings in the last few years. Some of our young people married outside the Bangladeshi community. In a number of cases they found their spouses in the Pakistani community.  A Bangladeshi young man marrying a Pakistani girl has almost become a fashion. Our young people are also marrying Christians and Hindus. I have had the privilege and honour of converting some of these young people and performing their marriages. I have also been delivering wedding speeches and performing du’a ceremonies at weddings.

Recently there was an interfaith and international marriage in our community. The bride’s father Mr. Nazrul Alam Shanu is one of the most successful Bangladeshi businessmen of Montreal. He also does a great deal of work for the well-being of the Bangladeshis of this city. His family is truly interfaith, intercultural, and international. Himself a Muslim, he married a Buddhist lady from Chittagong; his son married a Pakistani lady, and now his daughter has married an American Christian. Many people appreciated the speech that I delivered at his daughter’s wedding. I therefore decided to share that speech with a larger number of people.

Ladies and gentlemen:

Assalamu alaykum (peace be with you), good evening, bon soir, nomoshkar !

Tonight we are celebrating a truly interfaith marriage: a marriage between a Muslim bride and a Christian groom. As the great Mahatma Gandhi said, “Ishwara Allah tere nam, sabko sammati de vagaban.“Some call you Ishwara, and some call you Allah; but you are the same. Please give goodwill to all.” We Christians and Muslims worship the same Creator. In my speech I shall refer to our Creator as the Lord. For those not familiar with Islam, I would like to say that Jews, Christians and Muslims are all members of the same family: the family of Abraham. From the Muslim theological point of view, Islam is the continuation of the teaching of Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Historically speaking, Islam is a further development and updating of Judaism and Christianity. Muslims share a great deal with Jews and Christians. We accept Moses, Jesus, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and other Judaeo-Christian prophets as genuinely God-sent prophets. We accept the story of the miracles of Moses and Jesus. We believe that Moses talked to his Lord, and Jesus was born of a virgin mother. Whenever we mention the name of anyone of these prophets, we are required to say, “May the Lord bless him.”

Now a word about the newly-wed bride and the groom. Shubana, the bride, was born and brought up in Montreal. She is an interior designer, now working for a reputable company in Montreal. Her father Mr. Nazrul Alam Shanu came to Canada from Bangladesh 28 years ago. He is the example of an ideal immigrant to Canada. Hard work, honesty, good planning, and good luck have made him one of the most successful Bangladeshi businessmen of this great country. He is also greatly involved in many activities to help the Bangladeshi community of Montreal. Himself a Muslim from Chittagong, Bangladesh, he fell in love with a Buddhist lady whom he married.

Steven Eliot Koss is an American working for the US Air Force.  A Catholic Christian by birth, his forefathers came to America from Germany. You could see many differences between the backgrounds of the bride and the groom: one Canadian, another American; one with Bangladeshi ancestry, another German; one coming from a Muslim-Buddhist religious background, and another Catholic Christian. Love is so powerful that it conquered all these differences. It so happened that these two young people were vacationing in Quebec City. They both met in a restaurant in that city, and fell head over heel in love instantly. It was truly love at first sight, and that culminated in their union in holy matrimony yesterday.         

Friends, we are here tonight to celebrate love: the love of Shubana and Steven. They opened their hearts to one another, and we are deeply grateful to them for opening their hearts to us as well, inviting us to witness and share in this precious moment with them. They have brought the fullness of their being as a treasure to share with one another.  What a great joy it is for two human souls to join together to strengthen each other in all their endeavours, to support each other through all sorrows, and to share with each other in all joys! Our Lord has instructed all who enter into this relationship to cherish a mutual esteem and love; to bear with each other’s infirmities and weaknesses; to comfort each other in sickness, trouble and sorrow; to provide for each other, and for their household, in temporal things; to pray for and encourage each other in things which pertain to the Lord; and to live together to experience the joys of life. They have entered into this relationship reverently, discreetly, soberly, and in the Love of the Lord. As the years go by, they will find more and more in one another a loveliness which neither comes nor goes, which neither flowers nor fades. Everything in their marriage can partake of this mysterious beauty beyond beauty, until wherever you turn you see reflections of this loveliness.

Now let us pray.

We pray that the bride and the groom live a humble life sharing and caring for each other.

We pray that they love all without expectation of return.

We pray that they have the courage to do what they think is right.

We pray that they work as participants and not merely as spectators on the stage of life.

We pray that the vision that brought them together remains radiant and strong. Love is stronger than conflicts, and bigger than life’s changes; the miracle always invites us to learn, to blossom, and to expand. It is to love that they must always return.

No greater joy can come in to their life than pure conjugal love, loyal and true to the end. We pray that the love with which they have joined their hearts and hands never fail, but grow deeper and stronger as the years go on. Their lives will be in the hands of our Lord. May the Lord be always with them.We pray that peace always dwells in their hearts and in their home; may they have true friends to stand by them, both in joy and in sorrow. May they be ready to help all those who come to them in need; and may blessings descend in abundance upon their house!

” We pray that the light of our Lord surrounds them,

 

That the love of our Lord enfolds them,


That  the power of our Lord protects them,


May the presence of our Lord watches over them.

Wherever they are, our Lord is too! ‘’

Go in peace; go in peace; and may the Lord be with you always.  Amen.

Now the bride and the groom will exchange rings with each other. We pray:

 O Lord, we pray that with these rings  Shubana and Steven will  keep faith with each other in unbroken loyalty, remain at peace with each other, and  live together always in mutual love. Amen.
 



 

 

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