Muslims in Western Massachusetts mourn the passing away of Dr. Kimat Khatak to COVID-19 after a life full of work to serve the religious and social needs of the community.
“He was a sincere and strong leader as well as a down-to-earth friend,” said Dr. M. Saleem Bajwa of Khatak, who died Jan. 7 of complications from COVID-19, Massachusetts Live reported.
“He was loved by Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life.”
Born in Pakistan in 1937, Khatak served for long years in his homeland before moving to the US to pursue further medical studies in 1974. He met Bajwa shortly after he had finished a fellowship in cardiology at Baystate Medical Center in 1979.
Before moving to Massachusetts, Bajwa was involved in establishing Islamic centers in New York, which encouraged Khatak to establish one in Western Massachusetts.
“There were many Muslim families here and Muslim students on campuses, but no organized society or center,” Bajwa recalled.
“Dr Khatak became very enthusiastic and we started meeting with the families weekly, initially at our houses, for religious services as well as social connections.”
Bajwa said that the “families were mostly from Arab and Indo-Pakistani background, and there were a good number of families long-established here.’
“They families, too, were enthusiastic about the idea of having an Islamic society and center and we, being physicians, were accept as leaders, influential and well-respected, with great love,” Bajwa said.
“We started the society in 1983 with Dr. Khatak as the first president and I served as treasurer and religious leader. A year later, we bought a small house with a good piece of land in West Springfield and turned it into the society’s center.”
Khatak was also loved by his patients from all faiths and sects.
“He wanted to continue serving his patients, until his last minute of life. That is the way he left this world,” said Bajwa.
Dr. Khatak’s death also reminds us of other Muslim leaders who have passed away due to COVID-19 pandemic.
In April last year, the President of the Islamic Commission of Spain, Riay Tatary Bakry, passed away at the age of 72.