Rifaquat Ali Cheema, 722/Liaquat

Rifaquat Ali Cheema - 2011

By Kazi Zulkader Siddiqui, 671/Latif

Rifaquat Ali Cheema, kit no. 722/Liaquat House joined Cadet College Petaro in 1966 and left the college in 1971 after completing his Intermediate.

He was born on 3 April 1952 Kakka Kaulo village in Dist. Wazirabad, Punjab, and was married to Mrs. Shahnaz on 1 January 1982. They have two daughters - Yusra and Sidra.

Rifaquat was a great sportsman at Petaro and afterwards as well. He was the Captain of the College Football team during his last year at Petaro. He was a member of the Famous Forties during 1968 as well.

He acquired his primary education at his native Kakka Kaulo village and middle education at Wazirabad before moving to Petaro for his 8th class.

While he was at Petaro, during 1970-71 he was appointed the JUO of Liaquat House. He was also the President of the Urdu Debating Society in the same year.

After leaving Petaro, Rifaquat graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from UET Lahore in 1976.  He then moved to the USA and got his MS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY in 1984. At present he works as a Research Engineer at Modine Manufacturing Co. in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In this capacity, Rifaquat has the eminence of developing new inventions in the field of heat exchangers. Along with Robert J. Barfknecht, Frank M. Grippe and David E. Janke, he holds the patent for heat exchangers having contoured inserts and method of assembling the same. He holds another patent on serpentine slit fin heat sink device with 4 others.

He continued playing football even after Petaro, and was very active on the national scene. He became the Captain of the Pakistan National Football Youth Team during those years before leaving for the USA.

Rifaquat has been very active with Petarian activities in North America. He is regarded very highly and has been the Chief Coordinator of the Petarian Association of North America (PANA) during 2005-2006. He hosts Petarian dinners and events at his own home every year as well. Petarians from the mid-west often gather at his place.

He is also a prominent member of the Muslim community of Wisconsin. He has been the Treasurer of the Islamic Society of Southeastern Wisconsin in Kenosha.

Rifaquat Cheema - 1971

Rifaquat Cheema as JUO - 1971

Rifaquat Ali Cheema - 1993


My experiences during Hajj 2010

Rifaquat Cheema, 722/L

We finally made it back home to Wisconsin on 29th of November. Our journey lasted around 3 weeks with the intent to perform the Fareeza of Hajj; and with the hope that our efforts will be accepted despite our human shortcomings in the process.

I am not qualified enough to explain each ritual of Hajj or to convince anyone of its importance in our lives. So I will just write my observations of the process only.

Just before we left, Shabieh Zaidiís email was a beautiful send off from the heart of a genuine friend. I appreciated it a lot as it kept on reminding me of his words throughout my journey. And Kazi bhaiís presentations on Hajj focussed on the important aspects of the essence of Hajj although we had gone through the ritualistic aspects at our Masjid here. And as I departed, I thought that I would need everyone's prayers as I make my way to the House of Allah.

I am sure I have lot of sins in my account (being a weak human being), so I requested for forgiveness of all my intentional and unintentional acts which might have hurt anyone.

I also resolved to try my best not to repeat the intentional mistakes in future. For unintentional oneís, I count on Allah's mercy.

Probably the most tiring leg of the Hajj journey was long flight from Chicago to Amman and back.

I must give full credit to the Saudi government for taking care of such a massive gathering in a very nice manner. I am sure they are looking for opportunities for continuous improvements in the process. It is quite likely that minor details may not be brought to the attention of the higher authorities and there are many which may be beyond their capabilities too.

During our twenty days trip, we first went to Madina. The Masjid-e-Nabawi was very impressive and a sight to behold with its beautiful interiors and exteriors. It is so well maintained.

The last time I saw it was before its expansion. At first sight, I was worried about possible security checks at every gate with long lines, but my fears were allayed very soon and found the entrances to be very convenient.

At Madina airport, our luggage was brought to curb side after immigration  without any inspection and ready to be loaded on our buses. This was very convenient.

The strange part was that our passports were taken away from us at Madina airport and we didnít get them back until it was our time to leave the Kingdom. I found out later that the passport always travelled with us in the custody of bus driver.

When we arrived at our hotel in Madina, even before our luggage was brought to lobby, hotel employees were busy selling us SIM cards for our cell phones. The level of their room service was based upon how many phone cards you bought from them. Subsequently I found out that their earnings were not too great and that won our sympathies for them.

Shopping in Madina was fun, people were nice. Almost every shopkeeper could speak Urdu.

The mosque was right across from our hotel. Thus, making it in time for all prayers was very convenient. Ladies always prayed in the designated ladies section. However, twice a day they were given the opportunity to pray next to Rauda Mubarak. And during that period, the area was blocked for men. This area is known as the Riyadh-ul-Jannah, and is believed to be one of the gardens of Heaven according to the Hadith of the Prophet.

Riyadh-ul-Jannah was always crowded. So one day I decided to go at 1:00 am to observe the process and see how they manage people in that area for an hour or so. I wanted to pray there too, but could not imagine myself pushing and shoving to make space for myself.

That small area has standing room for barely three hundred people. Police will let in three hundred, but only fifteen persons can pray in front row. The rest must wait for their turn. They keep on rotating fifteen at a time. It took nearly half an hour for all to clear out before they would let the next three hundred come in.

I think if they let in hundred persons at a time and allow them to pray at the same time, the process can possibly take less than five minutes. In this way, at least six hundred can pray in half an hour. This can possibly double the output. Having lines can also help, but that need to be in culture of our people and cannot be taught on the spot to respect the ones ahead of them.

We enjoyed our stay in Madina including all sightseeing. These visits to Madina must be a big boost to the city's economy.

We travelled from Madina to Makkah two days before the start of the Hajj. We went straight to Azizia area where we were staying. On the next day, we performed Umra and discovered how simple the few important steps are.

The Saudi government hands out books to explain each step of Hajj. I think it is also the duty of all countries to train their people before they send them for Hajj.

When we are on the streets of our cities, we all know how to lead into traffic and how to prepare to leave it. However, we seem to lose this traffic sense during tawaf. People do not seem to know how to enter into the circular motion of the tawaf or how to exit after completing the seventh round. This causes utmost hindrance to an otherwise steady motion.

When few persons try to break the line and move straight in or out of an otherwise circular motion, it brings a commotion to an a otherwise smooth flow for a minute or so. That is enough to cause a huge push to those who are forced to pause caused by this action.

We observed that the defaulters are mostly people from our native countries i.e. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. I don't expect them to know all this, but a few days of training before departure can help. 

In Mina, we went to our tents, which were quite comfortable. I had assumed that every Haji in Mina would have an assigned space in some tent somewhere. But I was surprised to see a number of people spending days and nights on road sides with no place to go. Within a day or so, the streets were littered with garbage.

It is amazing to see how four million people are moved from one location to next to next within 24 hours.

Each area was designated by numbers at Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa. The peak of our spiritual activity was after noontime in Arafat. Every person had his/her hands up in prayer and repentance Ė asking for forgiveness from Allah. Rituals of salat takes secondary place during the standing at Arafat Ė a fareeza of a lifetime.

The rainfall on final day of Hajj was considered as a blessing. But try imagine walking through streets littered with garbage amidst heavy rain and no drainage.

Upon our return from Mina to Makkah, we put up next to the Haram Shareef. I had a beautiful view of the Holy Mosque and could see people performing Tawaf through our room window. I would observe when the Masjid was not very crowded to immediately go and avail every opportunity of Tawaf. During our stay, I saw many Hujjaj from Pakistan spending all day outside the Mosque because their residences were too far to travel back and forth so many times in a day.  

I also had the good opportune to meet brother Shuja Zaidi over a cup of tea at his office in Makkah Hilton. It was a short but very memorable meeting indeed.

I did remember all my friends at every step and had many opportunities to seek Allah's forgiveness with special Duas for those who have asked for it. 
May Allah accept our prayers and our manasik of Hajj, and bless everyone to be able to perform this journey. May He accept our endeavors and grant us His blessings.