Immigrants come to Long Island from around the world. They are our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors. While it’s no secret that immigrants make substantial contributions to our communities, few can lay claim to the legacy that Dr. Faroque Khan can.
Born in 1943 in Kashmir, India, Dr. Khan always knew that he wanted to help others. After graduating from medical school in 1965, Dr. Khan left his home country for the United States, where he could continue his medical education.
“In those days in the U.S., there was a great dearth of physicians so every hospital was welcoming toward young, freshly minted doctors for training,” said Dr. Khan.
Dr. Khan came to the U.S. together with his wife, whom he met during medical school in Kashmir. She was the valedictorian of his class, and the two have been a formidable team since. They have been married for more than 47 years, and have two adult children, one who is a pediatric eye surgeon and the other who is a school psychologist.
The couple got married in 1966, and after completing their medical training, they settled in Jericho in 1971, where they remain to this day. Upon graduation, his wife chose to pursue radiology, and currently serves as chief of thoracic radiology at North Shore-LIJ, where she has worked for nearly 40 years.
Dr. Khan chose a different route. After graduating, he had two choices, start a private practice or stay in academic medicine and teach. He chose the latter.
“In teaching, we have an impact on the younger generation,” said Dr. Khan. “Being a teacher gives you a tremendous sense of satisfaction. You’re helping to mold the next generation.”
One of Dr. Khan’s former trainees was recently elected as chief of the medical staff at North Shore-LIJ. The thanks that Dr. Khan receives from his former trainees years and decades later are something that he truly treasures.
“Teaching has always appealed to me,” said Dr. Khan. “I must have trained 350 or 400 physicians who have all settled in different parts of the world. When you see someone you had an influence on, progress and develop and is now doing something great, that’s the most rewarding part of teaching.”
Dr. Khan moved up the ranks in academic medicine, teaching medicine at Stony Brook University and later becoming chief of medicine at Nassau University Medical Center. Then 12 years later came one of the most rewarding challenges of his career.
In 2005, Dr. Khan was chosen to be a consultant to the King Fahd Medical City hospital system in Saudi Arabia, serving as director of research and helping to jumpstart the medical program there, which has since flourished. He also helped to establish international collaborations between King Fahd Medical City and institutions such as Yale University and Bibi Halima Nursing College in Kashmir.
Dr. Khan was instrumental in the mosque’s founding, from acquiring the land in 1984 to its completion the following year, the Islamic Center of Long Island was the first mosque built from the ground up on the island. The center recently broke ground on a new 19,000 square foot expansion, which will add space for classrooms, athletic activities as well as a new interfaith institute, which will unite faith leaders from across Long Island.
“Our first Friday congregational prayer had three people, now we have two shifts with 600 or 700 people showing up,” said Dr. Khan. “That is a microcosm of what is happening on Long Island, in our communities, with the different ethnicities and religious groups coming together in a melting pot.”
As an immigrant himself, Dr. Khan knows firsthand how important immigrants are to Long Island and of the contributions they make.
“Immigration is the secret of the success of U.S., no question about it,” said Dr. Khan. “I came here with skills that were in demand and was welcomed and produced and contributed. We can’t have these 11 million people underground. We need a path to citizenship so they can contribute and their children can contribute.”