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Courier Article by David Locker
Sunday, July 22, 2001

Accomplished Newburgh Resident Shares Insights

Newburgh author Sajjad Haider was born in British India in 1924, migrated to Pakistan in 1947 and came to the United States to study in 1964. He has lived here ever since, eventually earning a doctorate in special education and developing a special-education school in the Minneapolis public school system.

After 22 years as principal and after official recognition for his program by the U.S. Department of Education, Haider retired to Newburgh. He now works as a human development consultant and writes books on peace through universal divine love and light.

Sajjad's first book written in English is Love, Virtues and Commandments: An Interfaith Perspective (ABC Int., 1997). The book's main point is that the different religions of the world should get along with each other because they receive their illumination from the same God.

Haider argues that God is creator of the world and makes Himself evident to us in His creation. He sees no conflict between religion and science.

Increases in scientific knowledge only make more apparent God's handiwork. Humans are the crown of creation and have free will to obey or disobey God's commandments.

These commandments are articulated to us by God's messengers, who relay God's messages to each group of people in their own language. Some of these messengers have been Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Muhammad. The essence of their messages is that man should obey God's laws.

If these laws are not obeyed, there is the prospect of judgment. If they are obeyed, there is the reward of eternal life. In his typically lyrical and beautifully written prose, Haider puts it this way: "[Laws] are the fountains flowing into the streams of eternal Truth, providing hope and salvation for mankind."

Haider believes that faith in God is made manifest by obeying His laws. Hypocrites are those who think that they can obey some laws and disobey others. These people are dangerously intelligent and skillfully selfish.

In Haider's second English-language book, Time Bears Witness (ABC Int., 1999), he explains that God created time when he created the world. Time has witnessed the results of man's disobedience--world wars, religious wars, civil wars, ethnic cleansing, and slavery. Yet time has also witnessed human models of submission in the different religious traditions.

The heart of the book is devoted to the inspiring stories of such persons from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These were individuals of prayer who performed acts of love and justice for the grace and favor of God alone.

Sajaad's international perspective was influenced and shaped by his life story. He earned a degree in agronomy and in 1964 immigrated to the United States for graduate study in soil science at Montana State University.

He left his wife and two adolescent daughters behind in Pakistan and enrolled his son, who is mentally handicapped, in a special education program in London. After receiving his master's degree, he went to pick up his son and was told that he would be dependent on others for the rest of his life. This was a great shock to Sajjad and a turning point in his life.

He returned to Montana and told his professors he wanted to change majors and pursue a graduate degree in special education. They were reluctant but admitted him as a provisional student. Haider often studied through the night with no sleep. His grades were excellent, and he received a fellowship.

After receiving his master's in special education, Haider returned to Pakistan but couldn't find work in his chosen field. He returned with his family to Southern Illinois University, earning a doctorate and teaching briefly before heading to Minneapolis.

Both of Haider's books are available at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.

David Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.