Dr Husain Nagamia of Tampa, passed away on June 4, 2021, at the age of 81. He was born June 29, 1939, in Baroda, India, son of the late Fakhruddin and Kamaljehan (Refai) Nagamia. His wonderful achievements leave a positive legacy and there is much to celebrate when assessing all that he did. History class...
Dr Husain Nagamia of Tampa, passed away on June 4, 2021, at the age of 81. He was born June 29, 1939, in Baroda, India, son of the late Fakhruddin and Kamaljehan (Refai) Nagamia. His wonderful achievements leave a positive legacy and there is much to celebrate when assessing all that he did.
History class in the U.S. consisted of reading about the Greeks, Romans, and then fast forward to the conquering of England and the European Renaissance. Although the main goal at that time was to not fall asleep, it wasn’t hard to notice this huge gap in our history education. That gap that neglected to mention the vital contributions from the Middle East and North Africa was normalized. I never really questioned this until I truly learned about the history of Islam and science, specifically medicine, from
Dr Husain Nagamia. To the world, he was the Chairman/Founder of the International Institute of Islamic Medicine (IIIM), a Cardiothoracic surgeon, Past President of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), member of the Founder’s Committee of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (JIMA). To me, he was Uncle.
I was a resident when we first implemented an IIIM essay competition for undergraduate and medical students about the history of Islam in medicine. I didn’t know much about IIIM and only knew of Dr Nagamia through a family friend connection. But I quickly learned of his genuine passion for educating young Muslim professionals about their history in their own field, and ultimately their identity. I didn’t realize at the time how that would shape me. We did this essay competition for a few years, where we learned about surgical instruments developed by Muslims during the Golden Age of Islam, advances in the understanding of the circulatory system and optics by Muslim physicians. We learned about all the papers Dr Nagamia wrote and published about the history of Islamic medicine and surgical procedures and Neo-Islamic medicine throughout the years. Despite his amazing achievements, a wealth of knowledge and being so busy, he always reached out to me and included me in the planning of these competitions. He expressly wanted youth involvement in these efforts because he knew that it wasn’t about him, but about the mission and vision, whether he was there for it or not.
1992, eventually NIIMS was born in 2019, the Nagamia Institute of Islamic Medicine and Science. Dr Nagamia oversaw the creation of an independent institution solely dedicated to Islamic medicine and science history, the first of its kind in the United States. An institution that engages with and teaches local students, showcases a unique and rare Qur’an exhibit, provides monthly education webinars on medical advances both current and historical. Dr Nagamia’s vision became a physical reality. He was also a well-published author and wrote a variety of publications and academic articles on different topics. These include:
This vision and passion weren’t singular events. This journey was 25 years in the making, to which Dr Nagamia dedicated a lifetime. Understanding that our Islamic history isn’t just for one culture or group, he collaborated with leaders and motivated people around the world to spread this knowledge and passion for our history. This led to multiple presentations at international IMANA meetings, to collaborative research projects, to the creation of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine (ISHIM), and many other international conventions. Dr Nagamia was attending these meetings every year and was only forced to stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic. These meetings created lifelong friendships, friends who are now feeling the pain of the loss of Dr Nagamia. His legacy invigorated people to know their history and ultimately know themselves.
Dr Nagamia knew who he was. Born in 1939 in Baroda, India he remained connected to his roots where he studied medicine. He was one of the founding members of the American Federation of Muslims of Indian origin, dedicated to the universal education for minorities in India to achieve 100% literacy. He had all these accomplishments and was still working in his busy clinic! But his main passion and dedication were to his family. He was married to Dr Zubeda Nagamia for 55 years, travelling together around the world as they spread this passion for Islamic history. His daughter, Dr Afshan Ahmed, son, Dr Sameer Nagamia, and grandchildren were his pride and focus as he attended every major event, most recently his youngest grandchild’s high school graduation.
Dr Nagamia was one of those people with the great blessing to have changed their community so much during their time here on Earth and also leaving a legacy that is a Sadaqahjariyah. He was one of a kind and will be dearly missed. Though we grieve, he would urge us to continue the work because it wasn’t just his; he made sure it was ours.