Interfaith leader leaves legacy of understanding
By David Sharos For The Sun December 4, 2012 11:14PM
State Rep. Darlene Senger talks to Murad Bhaidani, president of the Ismaili midwestern council, right, and center volunteer Nizar Jiwani during the Ismaili Jamatkhana (House of Worship and Community Center) open house in Naperville on Thursday, Jun. 3, 2010. | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: January 6, 2013 9:44AM
Nizar Jiwani was more than a father, husband and friend. He was someone who “was committed to bringing people of diverse faith backgrounds back together,” say those who knew him best.
Jiwani, 45, of Aurora, passed away Nov. 21 after developing both shingles and meningitis after a fall. During surgery, Jiwani’s heart stopped, and doctors were not able to resuscitate him.
“He always talked about people and their common values and was a man committed to service,” said the Rev. Lisa Telomen, of Grace United Methodist Church in Naperville. “I met him a few years ago when we did a 9-11 observance service at Wentz Hall on the North Central College campus. He did the closing prayer where he called all people to be compassionate and to work towards a better future for our children.”
An active volunteer with the Naperville Interfaith Leadership Association, Jiwani’s activities ranged from getting youth involved with planting trees on Earth Day to working in other communities outside Naperville to bring people together.
Murad Bhaidani, president of the NILA organization in Glenview, said Jiwani worked for him in Glenview and volunteered with several organizations. The two knew each other for 12 years.
“Of all the people I’ve met in my life, he was the most objective person I knew, both about himself and others, and a deep critical thinker,” Bhaidani said. “He was also a great project manager who always had a complete understanding of things.”
Friend Tina Jagshi of Naperville said Jiwani brought her into the faith group she works in today and that he kept community leaders in the loop.
“Nizar was actually the person who got me involved in interfaith and volunteerism,” Jagshi said. “He had made a point to involve Darlene Senger and Mayor (A. George) Pradel in all things to keep them abreast of what was going on in the community.”
Jagshi, who know Jiwani almost nine years, found herself working closely with him during the past three years. Losing him, she said, will affect far more people than his friends and immediate family.
“People say it’s a loss to family and friends, but it’s also a loss to the total community and to the people he would have still touched in his life, but they’ll never get to know him,” she said.
She said the fact that 800 to 900 people showed up for his funeral Nov. 26 in Des Plaines is a testament to how important he was in the community.
“Nizar was always able to look at things from other people’s perspective, which is something I will admire and remember about him the most,” Bhaidani said.
Jiwani is survived by his wife, Salima Jiwani, and two boys, Zahir, 12, and Keeya, 10.