By Danish Reyaz |Maeeshat | Mumbai
Syed Muzaffar Hussain needs no introduction. He burst into national news in 2013 for an interesting reason when he flew on a chopper skirting heavy city traffic to file for his nomination for Maharashtra Legislative Council just after solemnizing his daughter’s wedding.
He saved two important events of his life coinciding on the same day, just a few hours apart. Nevertheless, there is much more to Mr. Hussain than finding this ingenious solution to his problem.
His works speak louder than his words. A two-term MLC, an ex-Corporator and Deputy Mayor of Mumbai suburb Mira Road, has a bewildering array of public works that will leave you marvelling at his leadership capability.
Besides being a politician, Mr. Hussain is a highly successful businessman. A Builder and Promoter by profession, he has helped fund many developmental projects, including housing and infrastructure, especially in Mira Bhayandar, a city and Municipal Corporation in the Thane district.
Mr. Hussain is a man of tremendous confidence and self-belief who dares to think out of the box. His organic farming initiative in the barren land of Vidarbha is one such example. In addition, he is a philanthropist, ably managing several trusts focused on charity, education, health care, etc.
Otherwise, a man of calm and soft demeanour, Mr. Hussain is quite forthright about his views on the matters related to Muslims in this country. He is passionate about standing up for the Muslims’ causes, while he is also a vocal critic of the self-destructing fanaticism among Muslims.
So what made Muzaffar Hussain so much of a successful leader on the various front is a matter of interest. This cover story featuring him attempts to unravel his journey and all his works, of which Mira Road is reaping benefits.
An Able Son: Continuing the Legacy of Excellence
Mr. Muzaffar Hussain is the son of Mr. Syed Nazar Hussain, a man credited as one of the tireless souls for the foundation of Mira Road in the late sixties. The latter had a dream to equip the residents of Mira Road with world-class modern amenities and facilities, and to that effect, he slogged on amidst all odds. And now, his dreams have taken wings with Muzaffar Hussain, his son, stepping into his shoes.
“My father didn’t have much formal education. But he is an embodiment of hard work and vision,” said the proud son.” I have imbibed his teachings to be steadfastly focused on my goals regardless of trials and tribulations.”
He further adds, “My father started from nowhere and made it big. This fact always drives me to work harder and never give up in life.”
Foray Into Politics
Mr. Hussain got into politics quite early in his life. He was just 19 years of age in 1985 when he became a Youth Congress worker. The same year he was also elected as the President of the Mira Road ward.
“Inspired by my father, I always wanted to work for the people. And since politics provides a wider canvass to serve people, I naturally started gravitating towards it quite early in my life,” says Mr. Hussain.
In 1992, Mr. Hussain was elected as Municipal Corporator of Mira Bhayandar. He repeated the feat in 1996. In 1999 he became the President of the Maharashtra Youth Congress. Two years later, Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) was constituted, and he was elected as its first Deputy Mayor.
Mr. Hussain’s enterprising leadership quality and organizational skills came in for a big reward from Congress in 2004 when he got elected as the General Secretary of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress (MPC), a post that he held until 2019 before getting elected as the Working President of MPC.
In 2004, he was also elected as the Party Spokesperson and In-charge of the Media Centre for Maharashtra Pradesh Congress.
In one of the most significant achievements of his political career, Mr. Hussain was elected as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC) in 2004 till 2010 and then again from 2014 to 2016. The incumbent Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government has also nominated Mr. Hussain and 11 others for MLC; however, the recommendation remains pending with the Governor for the last 18 months.
Mr. Hussain contested Assembly elections in 1995 and 2010 (from Bhiwandi) & 2019 (from Mira Bhayandar) only to miss by a whisker. He says, “There is always a next chance. If the party gives me another go, I will have the best chance of winning. I have a support base cutting across all castes, communities, and religions.”
When asked why he chose Congress, he says, “I have had a very secular and liberal upbringing. My father never discriminated against anybody because of caste or religion. So, I have developed a kind of ideology that aligns well with the Congress.”
His commitment to the ideology is well evident from the fact that he has been a loyal soldier to Congress to date at a time when politicians don’t hesitate to switch sides for immediate benefits.
Using Political Power to Develop Mira Road
Mr. Muzaffar Hussain has seen Mira Road grow leaps and bounds, with him being a prominent architect of this transformation. A visit to Mira Road makes it amply clear how the well-known politician has utilized his resources and connections to develop the town. “I made it a point to use my political status as a vehicle to bring development to Mira Road,” he says.
Mr. Hussain didn’t wait long to rise in politics to start working for Mira Road development. He has been a real trier from the very beginning. His indomitable zeal has led Mira Road to develop into what it is today- a self-contained modern township.
With his political clout and continuous follow-ups with authorities, he has successfully brought electricity, water supply, proper roads and drainage, public transport services, gas pipeline, municipal hospital, schools and many more facilities to Mira Road.
The Role of AsmitA India Ltd in the Infrastructural Development
Apart from politics, Muzaffar Hussain is a very reputed and successful real estate developer. The privately-owned AsmitA Group, AsmitA India Realty, is a prestigious global real estate development company in Maharashtra.
Over the years, AsmitA Group has played a pivotal role in Mira road’s real estate development. Under the stewardship of Mr. Hussain, the company has been churning out quality housing facilities at competitive rates and continues to build iconic structures.
AsmitA India Realty’s current smart home project, AsmitA Grand Maison, has already bagged the “The Smart Real Estate of 2022”. This one-of-a-kind property offers luxury experiences with hi-tech homes, cutting-edge facilities, and a smart app to live an extraordinary life.
Mr. Hussain has also relentlessly pursued establishing parks, hospitals, blood banks, morgue rooms, stations, skywalks, supermarkets, and departmental stores in Mira Road. When the supermarket idea was yet to catch up in India in the 1990s Mr. Hussain, as a visionary, established AsmitA Supermarket and many more in Mira Road. The company has further built an app called “Amart Fresh” for online grocery deliveries to enhance the overall living experience through smart technology.
AsmitA Club, on the other hand, is no different when it comes to elevating the conveniences by offering health and lifestyle amenities such as a fully-equipped gymnasium, banquet lawns, swimming pool, etc., in the Mira Road area.
While Mira Road cruises along on development path, there has been much planning in everything. One can’t miss noticing a Hindu crematorium, a Christian graveyard, a Muslim burial ground, and a jogger park, all standing side by side in a single plot of land.
Explaining such planning, Mr. Hussain quips, “Aren’t we all united in death? These adjacent burials and crematoriums serve as a reminder for us to be united in life too.”
Healthcare and Education
Muzaffar Hussain has equipped Mira Road with all the facilities needed for a thriving self-contained city. However, he has paid great attention to ensuring the best education and healthcare for his people, aligning with his motto of ‘balancing corporate stewardship with social responsibilities.’
As part of the AsmitA Group Initiatives, Mr. Hussain runs The Umrao Institute of Medical Science And Research, now managed by Wockhardt Hospital. It’s an institution full of expert doctors and laced with modern medical equipment and technologies.
With more than 330 beds, it is a multi-speciality and tertiary care hospital equipped with critical care across multiple specialities and serving residents of Mira Road and nearby suburbs and towns stretching from Borivali to Vapi.
The hospital also introduces innovative services like Patient-Record Digitization, Real-Time Wave Monitoring of Treatment, and ICU on Wheels for the first time.
“The population of the Mira Road has increased manifold, and this has necessitated a world-class multi-speciality hospital in Mira Road to reduce people’s reliance on needing to go to Greater Mumbai for specialized emergency medical care,” says Mr. Hussain.
Education is the backbone of progress for any society, and Mr. Hussain understands this more than anybody else. Under the aegis of AsmitA Group, several educational institutions starting from Universal AsmitA High School, NH English Academy, NH Kids Zone, AsmitA Junior College of Arts and Commerce under The Sultan Khan Educational Trust to AsmitA College of Architecture, are imparting education to the new generations in Mira Road for a better future.
Besides the English medium schools, there is also N.J. Urdu Medium School. Talking about the reason behind an N.J. Urdu School, Mr. Hussain says, “While I insisted on English medium schools, my father believed that we must also consider low-income migrants living in Mira Road who would want their children to study in Urdu.”
Religious education is of as much importance as worldly education for us, mainly to guide us on how to lead a pious life according to Qur’an and Hadith. For that cause, there is Ashraful Ulema Islamic Institute under The Jama Masjid Al Shams Madressa and Orphanage Trust, where students can take admissions for various courses, including the Aalim course, which is nothing but graduation in Islamic learning.
In addition to the above developments, during his tenure at M.L.C., Mr. Hussain further built Indira Gandhi Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Blood Bank, and Mahatma Gandhi Library, adding to the world-class facilities in Mira Road.
A Visionary Agriculturist
There is another intriguing facet to Mr. Hussain’s personality. He is also an agriculturist whose heart lies in organic farming. “Unlike politics and real estate, where my father had nudged me to join, organic farming is my own charted territory,” says Mr. Hussain.
When he was just 30 years of age, he purchased 150 acres of land in the Nagpur district of Maharashtra in 1996. The land was barren, and nobody knew what he would do with it. Finally, after a long wait, Mr. Hussain started farming it in 2016.
“I utilized the years in between to extensively research about natural farming, starting from the soil, seeds, and organic fertilizers to the environment and market potential of different plants and crops,” he says.
According to Mr. Hussain, after contributing to the urban life, he thought to do something for the villagers. In addition, he also wanted to stay connected to his father’s native land, Amravati in Vidarbha, with his future contributions. That’s why he took up organic farming so that the poor farmers of this region could augment their income.
Vidarbha is known to be a water-deficient region in Maharashtra. Also, the lands here are mixed with stones and pebbles, making farming difficult. However, these things didn’t deter Mr. Hussain. “When I started, even the local farmers had written me off, but I went ahead,” says Mr. Hussain.
Today Mr. Hussain’s farmland stands as a successful experiment in organic farming. Farmers and government officials from across Maharashtra visit his farms and get trained in the new farming model.
There are 20 commercially viable models of farming and plantation developed by Mr. Hussain. These models are the amalgamation of different techniques of farming used in other parts of the world, albeit with some innovations. Like for sugarcane plantation, Mr. Hussain uses the Pit system prevalent in China and South-East Asia, offering 100-150 tons yield per acre compared to the standard 50-60 tons of yield per acre by an Indian sugarcane farmer using the traditional method and chemical fertilizers.
Similarly, Mr. Hussain has surprised everybody by growing spices at more than 45-degree temperature at his farm, which is otherwise believed to grow only in cold-weather regions such as hilly areas and South India.
His recent innovation in organic food production has given birth to AsmitA Organic Farms, a farm-grown brand aiming to support small farmers and raise the bar of healthy eating by providing 100% organic and fresh produce to the urban population.
He says, “I envision increasing small-time farmers’ income to 2-3 lakhs per annum from the present 25-30 thousands with my organic farming model, using plant and animal-based fertilizers and modern innovative techniques.”
He laments that although India is an agriculture economy and the largest job-creating sector, unfortunately, the sector has seen less growth than other sectors. However, he firmly believes that the correct form of organic farming can radically change the Indian Agriculture system and the fate of farmers.
Renovation of Al Shams Mosque
Syed Muzaffar Hussain is deeply involved at the community level too. He is the Managing Trustee of the Jamia Masjid Al Shams mosque. Anybody who has been to Mira Road would say that Jama Masjid Al Shams, with its full grandeur and glitters, is a sight to behold. Lately, the mosque has gone through renovations and modernizations, thanks to Mr. Hussain.
The mosque, then a smaller one, was founded in 1979 by his father for the convenience of local Namazis. As the area’s population grew, the mosque was expanded and refurbished from 1997 to 2020. But that was not enough. During the 2020-2022 period, it got transformed into a completely modernized mosque.
“For the last two years, the mosque was either closed or received fewer footfalls due to COVID. So we took that opportunity to modernize it with an investment worth of 5 Crore,” says Mr. Hussain.
Built on one acre of land, the re-incarnated mosque is now fully air-conditioned and equipped with some of the best modern green-initiative gadgets and operations.
An expansive (20×15 ft.) entrance with generous use of Burma Teakwood leads you to a 3,000 sq. feet courtyard covered with a Ferrari-tensile shed. The shed is designed to reflect heat to keep the stone floor cool. On the other hand, the gold-leafing works on the pillars and partitions coupled with soothing lighting that illuminates the interior and the exterior, especially the blue dome and solitary minaret, dramatically enhance the magnificence of the mosque.
“The aim behind the entire renovation work was to provide maximum comfort to the worshippers and a delightful experience to the visitors. There is hardly any mosque in the Mumbai suburbs that can beat the splendour of Al Shams mosque,” says Mr. Hussain proudly.
Take a glimpse of the magnificent mosque- https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq0aIp8F-aS1sKITS4mVUBQ
A Way Out to Aazan Controversy
As the controversy about Aazan and Hanuman Chalisa shows no sign of abating, Mr. Hussain is one of the first to set an example. Thanks to his persuasion, Al-Shams mosque’s management has reduced the Aazan sound to below 55 decibels during the night after 10 PM to 6 AM and 75 decibels during the daytime as per the Supreme Court guidelines.
In addition, the mosque uses modern equipment and trained muezzins to call out soothing Aazan as the one heard in Mecca and Medina.
Further, Mr. Hussain has also ensured that festive Eid and Friday prayers are conducted in two jamaats so that Namazis don’t spill out on the roads due to overcrowding, inconveniencing people of other faiths.
Mr. Hussain says, “Allah won’t accept prayers offered while creating the slightest problem for others.” He then adds, “We have shown the way, and hopefully, other mosques will follow suit and end the controversy before it takes an ugly turn.”
Know Your Neighbour Initiative
In 2006 several bomb blasts ripped through the city of Mumbai. In a crackdown by the police, several arrests were also made from the Mira Road area, bringing a bad reputation to the locality. Police and media accused Mira Road of being a haven for terrorists; however, few of the arrests were contentious.
“We had nurtured our town with blood and sweat with a dream of it to be peaceful and an example of communal harmony. To a large extent, we were successful, but those arrests were shocking and heart-breaking for us,” says Mr. Hussain.
But instead of crying hoarse against those arrests, Mr. Hussain took the initiative to prevent any antisocial elements from taking refuse in Mira Road. Mr. Hussain says, “Since Mira Road was a newly-developed area, the residents didn’t have much idea about their neighbours. So perpetrators could have used this opportunity to hole up here to evade arrests.”
“We created awareness among the residents that if they find any suspicious persons around, they should report it to the Imam of the mosques or the police.” Mr. Hussain says, “Also, a panel was made to visit each home and collect family members’ data, making them believe it was good for their own good.”
Mr. Hussain further says, “Not anyone arrested on terror charges had visited the local mosques or interacted with the people living here. By involving common people, we managed to keep the antisocial elements at bay,” He further stated that Muslims should replicate such an initiative elsewhere as well.
His World View
We live in a post-truth world where deception and propaganda have replaced facts. As a result, hatred against Muslims is rampant. Mr. Hussain says that due to the rise of right-wing politics aided by social media, Islamophobia seems to have increased drastically worldwide; however, the root of it lies in Second World War.
According to him, during the Second World War, the territorial disputes among the European countries were largely solved, but conflicts among the Muslim countries were kept alive. And subsequent failures or reluctance of the United Nations to solve matters related to the Islamic World provoked further disturbances.
Secondly, after Jews were killed and weakened in the Second World War, the next target was to weaken the Muslims in terms of their resources, economy, and morale. Labelling Muslims as terrorists started early in the 1960s in the wake of Israel and Arab conflict.
Nevertheless, Muslims also share responsibilities for the situation. Instead of making themselves educationally and economically powerful, a large section of the community, especially the political and religious leaders, invariably term everything as a western conspiracy to hide their failures.
When talking about communalism taking deep root in India, he says, “It is due to politics. The ruling party aims at political hegemony over India. And this is not possible without polarizing people on religious lines. So they won’t miss any opportunity in inciting communal violence to further their agenda.”
Nevertheless, he says to defeat such a sinister design, people from both communities have to stand up for each other. In Mira Road, we have set an example. He recalls, “Whether it was Babri masjid demolition riots, bomb blasts or any other riots, Mira Road has always remained peaceful, thanks to communal harmony of the people living here, a cornerstone principle upon which the place was founded.”
Mr. Hussain says that sometimes a hate wave comes and touches everybody, as we see today. But he also believes that Hindus of this country are secular by and large. “So, I am hopeful the current phase of craziness will go away with time,” he says.
An Orator Par Excellence
His profound understanding of national and international matters, coupled with a fine oratory skill, gives Mr. Hussain an intellectual aura. So when he speaks, you can’t help but listen to him with rapt attention. Whether Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, or English, Mr. Hussain has impeccable command over these languages to hold his audience spellbound.
He was awarded the ‘Best Speaker’ in Maharashtra Assembly in 2009 by the Honourable President of India, Smt. Pratibha Tai Patil.
Thanks to his political life, corporate leadership, and social activism, he brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas to the table. Moreover, he speaks dispassionately and honestly to present a very rational and impartial perspective on any topic. No wonder after each of his speeches, you will end up informed and enlightened.
Positions Held in Several Trusts and NGOs
Mr. Hussain has discharged his responsibilities in various capacities in different organizations. He has served as the trustee of Jama Masjid Al-Shams – Madressa and Orphanage Trust, Sultan Khan Education Trust, Darool Mohammediya Madressa Trust, and The Umrao Institute of Medical Science and Research, Vilasrao Deshmukh Foundation, AsmitA Education and Health Foundation.
On the other hand, he has held a Patron Member position with ISKON and Akshar Purushottam Sami Narayan Trust. In addition, he has been an Honorary Vice-President of Bharat Sevak Samaj, Maharashtra. His association with these organizations goes to prove his secular credential as well.
Moreover, he is a member of the Indian Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi. He is also a member of some overseas organizations, such as the World Water Council (Japan) and the Indian Muslim Federation (United Kingdom), life member of Islam Gymkhana Mumbai, Royal Western Turf club, and Worli Rifle Shooting Association.
Educational Importance and Significance
Syed Muzaffar Hussain has proved to be the able heir of his father by taking the latter’s dream to a whole new height. “I don’t want the legacy of my father to die down. Though not able to educate himself enough, my father educated and empowered me and my siblings. And we are doing likewise- giving the best education to our children,” says Mr. Hussain.
Hussain emphatically says that education is the only thing that has the power to transform your life and society at large. “Come what may educate your children,” he says.
Mr. Hussain’s passion for education is amply reflected in his family. All his children are highly educated and reputable individuals in their own right. His son Mr. Mazhar Hussain, has an excellent academic record with an MSc in Marketing & Business Analytics from the prestigious Hult International Business School in the U.S.A.
Mr. Mazhar is now actively involved in the family business, having taken over the responsibility of running Mr. Hussain’s real estate business, supermarkets, and online grocery store. His business management competency has allowed his father the time to engage more in political, social, and charitable activities.
After completing her hotel management and wedding planning in Dubai, Mr. Hussain’s daughter, Ms. Affreen Syed, is now taking care of AsmitA Resorts Club. She also manages her I Cloud Kitchen business named Affreen’s Luxury Dining and Catering. The other daughter, Dr. Rukhsaar Syed, M.D in Radiodiagnosis currently working at the prestigious Lilavati Hospital.
Not only Mr. Hussain’s children but also his siblings’ children are highly educated and have carved out their niches in various fields of their choice.
When asked what the community should do in terms of education to better their lot, he says, “While various organizations are doing fantastic works regarding Muslim education, we have to move over from the Lathe machines and ITIs.”
He says that we must adapt to the changing times heavily driven by computers. Information Technology (IT) education is a must for our Youth in today’s time to get them respectable jobs and move the community forward.
Syed Muzaffar Hussain is a leader the community requires the most. He is clear-headed, pragmatic, and passionate about bringing about transformational societal changes. He is somebody who has never allowed his corporate goals to come in the way of his social responsibilities.
The sheer amount of work he has done in Mira Road reveals that if a leader has the will, he can contribute massively in terms of development and other areas of public interest.
An old proverb says where there is a will; there is a way. Mr. Hussain, however, has an interesting take on it as he says, “Where there is a will, there are hundreds of ways.” And we couldn’t agree more.
Like an indefatigable fighter, Mr. Hussain continues to be active in politics leading pad yatras, protest marches, and hunger strikes in the public interest. At the same time, he is diligent in ensuring that the hospitals, schools, and other institutions of public services that he has built and nurtured over the years are working efficiently enough to fulfil the needs of the people.
He has come well on his visions and has been immensely successful. Moreover, he is just 55 years of age with many years of public life ahead. We at Maeeshat Media recognize his yeomen’s works and dedication to the community and wish him a lot more success in the future. May Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala bless him profusely in this world and hereafter.