Syed Abdul Fatha

Syed  Abdul Fatha
World Trade Center

Man of Deep Faith

Some men cram all the spaces of their hearts with people, places and activities, creating from complexity a fulfilling existence.

Others, like Syed Abdul Fatha, live lives so narrowly focused that other people, places and activities are crowded out. For Mr. Fatha, 54, there were only family and faith.

He was a Muslim who often prayed five times a day according to Muslim practice. He worked at the Pitney Bowes copy center at Aon Insurance in the World Trade Center, and when the work slowed he studied the Koran.

"He was going to buy me a Koran in Spanish because he wanted me to know about his religion," said Beatriz Soto, a co-worker. When Joanna Lewis, new on the job, botched a large copy order, Mr. Fatha stayed calm. "He'd say `No problem; we just have to do it over again,' " Miss Lewis said.

When Mr. Fatha came to the United States in 1995 he left six children and an ex-wife at home in Bangalore, India. He married an American citizen, but that union also failed.

In Newark, where he lived and worshiped, he met Nauza Umurally, a Muslim woman from Guyana. They were married in a Muslim ceremony in 1998.

Ms. Umurally said Mr. Fatha had planned to become a naturalized citizen. Then he was going to bring his children to America. Mr. Fatha had few friends outside the mosque and few interests outside of prayer. But he had his family, and an intimate relationship with his God. And that, he told others, was enough.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on June 16, 2002.

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