Mohammed Raja-ullah Quraishi is an American Muslim of Indian origin. From being a brilliant Engineering student and a national level competitive sportsman, he rose to become a Top Technocrat, God-Conscious Social Activist, Islamic Socialite and Interfaith Advocate in United States, a kind of enviable versatility not seen in many. After a long and distinguished Engineering career, culminating as Chief Engineer, City of Chicago and many years of subsequent consultancy, which included disaster relief for Hurricane Katrina through FEMA, he is now wholly devoted to the cause of humanity, world peace, communal harmony, global moral consciousness and Islam’s positive contribution towards these objectives. He has also been actively involved in: fighting sectarianism within Islam having engaged in bridging the divide between Sunnis and Shias, dispelling misconceptions and advocating mutual understanding and respect; building bridges to harmonize Hindu-Muslim relations in India; redressing grievances, voicing legitimate concerns and empowering minorities in India and USA; improving Indo-Pak relations and cooperation among south Asian countries for constructive approach in nation building.
Quraishi has served professionally for five decades in varied civil engineering design and management areas. Major part of his career was primarily related to Chicago’s 4,300 mile combined sewer system, storm drainage and water resources projects involving heavy construction with a variety of major structures. Over 3 decades he held charge of planning and design of major sewer systems and rehabilitation of deteriorated sewers in Chicago. He has supervised the review and approval of drainage plans for residential, industrial and commercial developments, and street/highway improvement projects in Chicago. He also participated in intergovernmental technical committees on flood control, runoff, detention and inflow/infiltration control.
Quraishi served as a key member of the design team for the pioneering Deep Tunnel and Reservoir system (TARP), one of the world’s first, selected after evaluation of over 50 alternatives for Chicago metropolitan area’s storm water/combined sewage drainage/management and water pollution abatement. The system includes 120 miles of rock tunnels up to 33’ in diameter, 300’ below surface, 126,000 acre-feet of quarry storage in a 350′ deep main reservoir along with other reservoirs, 200 dropshafts up to 20’ in diameter and a huge underground pumping station. His involvement included directing/supervising computerized simulation of the hydraulic, hydrologic and water pollution modeling; hydraulic model testing for dropshaft design at St. Anthony Falls hydraulics lab, Minneapolis, Minnesota; design of a 16 foot water tunnel for Chicago; roadways, parking lots and site improvement. His earlier work included hydro-electric projects, dams, water supply projects, construction supervision and teaching.
Quraishi’s commitment to Islam as a practicing Muslim, love for his community, country of origin, India and country of residence, USA led him to bring out his best as a community leader and social activist. He is one of the most known Muslim faces of Chicago, which has been a hub of Muslim community and Islamic educational pursuits in America. He is founding member and past president of Muslim Community Center of Chicago, coined as the mother of mosques in the area. He is a founding member and past Chairman of the Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims in USA and Canada. He is also a founding member of Muslim Students Association of Greater Chicago and the Central Eid Committee of Greater Chicago. He is Founder and past Coordinator of Hilal Committee of Greater Chicago; past Executive Board member and Chair of Bylaws Committee of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago (CIOGC). He has been passionately active in interfaith and inter-community harmony initiatives in USA and in the Indo-Pak sub continent.
1. Early Education
In government schools at various cities/towns in British India’s C.P. & Berar, then Madhya Pradesh, India. Matriculation from Nagpur Board of Secondary School Education; Intermediate Science, Sagar University, Madhya Pradesh.
Names of wife and children — Wife, Shabnam-e-Firdaus (maiden name Qazi) Quraishi; daughters, Aazram Huda (Quraishi) Ahmed, Ruhma Raja (Quraishi) Ghazi; son, Ash-har Raja Quraishi; and daughter Shayma Raja (Quraishi) Ansari.
Names of parents, city of origin : Father — Late, Mohammed Baqua-ullah, Aligarh graduate of mid twenties; Mother — Late Saleha Khatoon Siddiqui.
Paternal origin: Uttar Pradesh. Great grandfather, a graduate of Darul Uloom, Deoband, U.P. moved and settled in Burhanpur, M.P
Maternal origin: Land lords and active freedom fighters in Wardha, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts near Nagpur, Maharashtra, India.
3. Views on current global scenario with specific relationship to Muslims
He envisions the end of interference in affairs of one country over other, hegemony, real or camouflaged colonization; Muslims working with God conscious people of all faiths to achieve interfaith harmony, going beyond dogmas and rituals to focus on common ground, cooperate in good, prevent evil in society for a peaceful, morally conscious world with human rights, gender respect and empowerment. Muslims need to get out of past glory, work harder to lift the community from depths of degradation in past centuries which made them displayer of exactly what they are not supposed to be, and become the Model Community as called for by the Holy Qur’an.
3.1 Views about the Role of Muslims in America
Keeping in focus the Islamic imperative of promoting good, preventing evil and cooperating with all in noble endeavors, strive to influence the government and society in pursuance of the aforementioned global vision.
3.2 Messages for young Muslims
Acquire highest level of education, worldly and spiritual; build a living relationship with the Qur’an in light of the prophet’s exemplary life, rational thinking, freedom of thought, contemplation on Qur’an’s message for the good of humanity, as emphasized by its numerous verses; participate in actions to contribute for the betterment of society, human brotherhood, global peace, concern and care for the needy.
3.3 Future plans and ambitions
Continue efforts toward the vision, travel and interact with different people, experiencing their cultures for enrichment of mind, thought and action.
- Retired Chief Engineer (Sewer Design), City of Chicago
- Key participant, design of Chicago metropolitan area’s pioneering Deep Tunnel and Reservoir System.
- Consulting Engineer
- Registered Professional Engineer, State of Illinois
- MS in Civil Engineering (Purdue University), W. Lafayette, Indiana, USA
- Master of Engineering, University of Roorkee (Gold Medalist), India
- Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), University of Jabalpur, India
- Post Graduate Courses in Stuctural Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago
4.2 Teaching/ Educational Involvement
- Taught civil engineering to army officers, College of Military Engineering, Poona, India
- Teaching Assistant at Purdue University, W. Lafayette, Indiana, USA
- Served in the principal selection committee for Solomon School, City of Chicago, USA
- Served in the first Local School Council for the City of Chicago’s magnate school, Von Steuben
- Metropolitan Science Center.
- Taught in Sunday Islamic school for many years at Muslim Community Center, Chicago, USA
4.3 Community Involvement
- Past chairman and founding member, the Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims in USA and Canada, the first in USA to work for Indian Muslims.
- Past president and founding/life member, Muslim Community Center, Chicago
- Founding member, Muslim Students Association of Greater Chicago and Central Eid Committee of Greater Chicago; Founder and past coordinator, Hilal Committee of Greater Chicago
- Past Executive Board member and Chair of Bylaws Committee, Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Active participant in Inter-faith and Inter-community harmony initiatives in USA and in the Indo-Pak sub continent.
University captain and national level field hockey player in India; active participant in other sports; winner of a number of trophies in Chicago’s tennis tournaments.
4.5 Areas of Expertise
- Civil Engineering-Water Resources
- Design-Management-Project Director
- Hydraulics, Hydrology, Flood Control, Water Supply, Drainage, Sewerage
URS/Dames and Moore/BRW — 1998 to 2009
Title: Senior Civil Engineer/Specialist — Hydraulics, Hydrology, Drainage
- City of Chicago Sewer Projects
Senior Project Manager for preparation of construction plans and contract documents of a variety of combined sewer projects throughout the City of Chicago. Design comprised high level sewers in open cut, earth tunnels, deep tunnels in bed rock, heavy structures including connections, junctions, diversion structures, drop structures and connection to deep tunnel.
- Katrina Hurricane Relief and Flood Damage Assessment in Albany area, New York, with FEMA
From November, 2005 to July, 2006: Assisted Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under URS/NISTAC consortium contract. Worked in the Public Utilities Group of FEMA in New Orleans, Louisiana area and then in Albany area, New York State for assessing damages, preparing project reports and estimates of damages to public utilities for Federal aid.
- New Jersey Transit, Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link, MOS-1.
Worked on plans and specifications for relocation and/or protection of utilities including storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water lines parallel to and crossing the proposed rail road alignment partly in tunnel and partly at street level in downtown Newark.
City of Chicago, Department of Public Works and Department of Sewers — 1968 to 1998
Last Title: Chief Sewer Design Engineer & Assistant Chief Engineer
Responsible for hydraulic studies and drainage analyses for areas of basement flooding; design and preparation of contract plans for combined sewer systems as part of the city’s capital improvement program; review and approval of drainage plans for residential, industrial and commercial developments and street/highway/improvements in public right-of-way; enforcement of detention requirements, city code and department standards; processing of street/alley vacations, dedications and subdivisions.
Supervised the City Wide Sewer Studies for Chicago’s 4,300 miles of combined sewers. Scope included evaluation of hydraulic capacities by use of computer models calibrated from rain/flow monitoring, evaluation of structural condition by televising and physical inspection, development of a system for hydraulic, structural and serviceability rating of sewers, projection of long-term budget level costs, and programming and prioritizing its rehabilitation work on the basis of structural/hydraulic needs and available funding for sewer replacement/rehabilitation and maintenance.
Supervised design and construction of the Transfer Station to handle Chicago’s sewer and catch basin cleaning debris.
Represented Chicago’s Department of Sewers in a committee of six departments responsible for the development and design of Chicago’s “City-wide Infrastructure Management System.” This system was designed as a planning and conflict resolution tool with an interactive computerized database of existing infrastructure elements and their condition, complaint history and past and future capital improvement projects. The system also has a capability of cost estimating and graphic display/reports of future plans for streets, bridges, sewer & water systems, utilities and other infrastructure elements.
Responsible for planning and design of Chicago’s Auxiliary Outlet Trunk Sewer Projects involving heavy construction with a variety of major structures including junctions, drop structures, diversion structures, connection to deep tunnel, tide gate structures, and outfalls.
Supervised the design of a 16-foot diameter reinforced concrete lined water tunnel in bedrock, roadway improvements, parking facilities, and site improvements for Chicago’s Jardine Water Filtration Plant.
As project manager of major sewer construction and rehabilitation projects, supervised and coordinated the design, preparation of contract documents, bidding, shop drawing approvals, contract modifications, payments to contractors, and field inspections. Work involved coordination with right-of-way, transportation, geotechnical, structural, mechanical and electrical sections of Chicago’s Department of Public Works.
Supervised the preparation of technical reports for Federal grants; participated in intergovernmental technical committee on flood control, runoff, detention and inflow/infiltration control.
Contributed as follows in the design of the “Tunnel and Reservoir Plan” for the flood and pollution control in the Chicago metropolitan area — a multi-billion dollar project with 120 miles of rock tunnels up to 33’ in diameter, 150’ to 300’ below surface, 126,000 acre-feet of quarry storage in a 350′ deep main reservoir along with other reservoirs, 200 dropshafts up to 20’ in diameter and a huge underground pumping station.
- Simulation of hydrologic, hydraulic and pollution aspects of the combined sewer overflows from Chicago and its suburbs, and evaluation of 52 alternative solutions by the use of numerous computer models. Work included development and calibration of models, preparation of extensive input data including drainage area/sewer system characteristics and proposed project configurations, and production runs for 25 years of rainfall history.
- Computerized studies of open-channel backwater effects, flood routing in Illinois waterways, surging in shafts of deep tunnel systems, and balancing of flows in interconnected sewers.
- Project manager for the hydraulic model studies conducted at St. Anthony Falls Hydraulic Lab, Minneapolis, for the design of dropshafts and drop structures.
- Project manager for the Lakefront Outfall Study conducted to intercept storm and other waste discharges to Lake Michigan.
Harza Engineering Company, Chicago, IL — 1966 to 1968
Civil Engineer II
Worked on various hydropower and water resources development projects including Central Arizona Project, Karun River Project in Iran, West Pakistan Water & Power Development Project, Chicago Deep Tunnel Project and Poza del Silencio Hydro-electric Project, El-Salvador. Work included hydraulic computations, layouts, preliminary designs and cost estimates of major rock fill and arch dams, spillways, penstocks, powerhouses, canals and related facilities; economic analyses including benefit/cost evaluation and financing/payout studies.
Governments in India (University, State and Central) — period 1960 to 1965
Last Title: Assistant Executive Engineer/Instructor
Supervised construction of a water supply project including pumping stations, pressure mains, filtration plant, overhead tank and distribution system for a town of 65,000; designed reinforced concrete structures for a university campus; supervised construction of campus buildings; taught engineering courses to army officers at the College of Military Engineering, Poona, MS, India
Years of Experience
- URS Corp./Dames and Moore/BRW: 11 Years
- City of Chicago: 30 Years
- Harza Engineering: 2 Years
- Governments in India: 4 Years
2009- Current: Expert advice, part time consultancy
1998–2009: URS Corporation/Dames and Moore Group/BRW, Chicago, IL
1992–1998 : Department of Sewers, City of Chicago
1968–1991: Department of Public Works, City of Chicago
1966–1968: Harza Engineering Company, Chicago
1960–1965: Governments in India (University, State and Central)
6. Contact Information
M.Raja-ullah Quraishi, PE
Send an email to him here.