UTD community honors life of lost Comet with philanthropy

Katheryn Ho | Graphics Editor



Abdul-Hadi Diwan, an interdisciplinary studies senior and beloved member of the campus community, died tragically in the late afternoon of Feb. 9 after a motorcycle crash off Coit Road. Following his death, UTD’s Muslim Student Association launched a humanitarian fundraiser to honor Hadi’s commitment to charitable action, with funds designated for emergency relief and aid charities in Gaza, alongside religious initiatives. At the time of publication, the fundraiser has raised $56,000.

Diwan was a member of MSA – UTD’s largest Muslim organization – and the greater Dallas Muslim community. His father and friends said he was deeply committed to volunteer work and the personal development of his peers, while professionally, he was involved in disaster relief. Notably, Diwan developed a sustainable natural food production plan for the City of Murphy to help the underprivileged.

MSA board members said they were inspired and reminded of a duty to “create a better world” after Hadi’s death, which is why they started the LaunchGood charity campaign. This campaign is intended as Sadaqah Jariyah – a belief in Islam emphasizing charity and continuing the good deeds of those who have died for divine rewards.

Over 5,000 members of the community from Texas and beyond, including hundreds of UTD students, attended Hadi’s Janazah – or funeral prayer service – at East Plano Islamic Center. Hundreds attended online and thousands in person, recalling his smile, infectious laughter, the example he set for his peers and the generosity he poured into the community. Diwan’s father, Aftab Diwan, is a local leader in the Muslim community, previously serving as principal of Brighter Horizon Academy and IANT Quranic Academy. Yasir Qadhi, the Sheikh leading the Janazah service said it was the largest crowd of attendees he’d ever seen for a young person.

“A small favor that each one of you can do [is] some sort of continuous monthly charity, whether it’s sponsoring an orphan or sponsoring a water project or something in his name,” Qadhi said.

Muhammad Ikram, an MSA board member and Hadi’s close friend, said they and a few friends had plans to dine out after Jumu’ah prayer on campus Feb. 9. While on the way to the restaurant, Ikram noticed an accident at the intersection of Coit with a motorcycle that looked similar to Hadi’s. Ikram was able to identify Hadi and notified dozens of his friends, who showed up to the ER.

“I was in my car and he was on his bike [before we left],” Ikram said. “I asked him to rev it up for me since it was super cool, and for the first time, I got a good glance at the bike.”

Aftab Diwan, who received the details of the crash from law enforcement, said a young sedan driver failed to yield while turning into the wrong lane on Coit, ran a red light and collided with Hadi, who was passing through the intersection on a green light. It’s unclear whether Hadi died upon impact or later in the hospital.

“There were 20 – 30 of us in the hospital and I wanted people to be around each other that night – I didn’t think it was a good idea to send people off on their own while emotions were raw,” Ikram said. “So, [we] had a gathering at the mosque later that night. Fifty or so of us just sat in a circle sharing stories of Hadi.”

Hadi’s friends said he had an entrepreneurial spirit; Aftab Diwan said he had ambitions of starting business ventures and giving back to the community philanthropically, as well as starting a Muslim political foundation. While a student at The School of Interdisciplinary Studies, Hadi planned to use these studies in environmental science, marketing and math to improve health benefits and protect nature.

“For us as Muslims, the value is not necessarily in remembering someone,” Aftab Diwan said. “The value is in following an example they set or further continuing the good that they began. For me, it’s not simply about the memory of Hadi – it’s about following the legacy. He was constantly engaged at one point or another, whether at a simple basic level, helping an individual, or trying to work within the community … He was concerned about others’ personal and emotional state and helping people toward goodness.”

Sophomore Ibraheem Bahbahani, one of Hadi’s closest friends, met Hadi in the Reflection Rooms in the Student Union where Hadi was often found praying. Ibraheem said he trusted Hadi immediately and that the two became close friends sharing a sense of brotherhood in only a couple of short meetings. Bahbahani said what stood out to him about Hadi is that he was principled in his “deen” – the Muslim way of life which prioritizes good deeds and divine compliance.

“Whenever we used to be in a large group hangout, especially in school, he was the guy who made everyone laugh, made everyone smile,” Bahbahani said. “He wouldn’t be in a single room where he wouldn’t make anyone who’s in a bad mood turn into a good mood …. It’s just that sense of ‘I’m gonna be there for you.”

Bahbahbani said he visits Hadi’s grave in Farmersville, Texas regularly.

“I sit with him and talk to him. It’s important – I’m still coming to terms with it and it keeps me sane,” Bahbahani said. “We [used] to talk for hours about our plans for the future; what we envision after school … He had so much potential and he cared about how to help the community as a Muslim. It was ingrained in him even before I got to know him… He was loyal and generous with his time and love – he took care of his people. He taught me a lot. I’m trying to live on that legacy because of him.”

Ikram said Hadi had gained a strong conviction to reform the campus MSA organization just a few days before his death. The day before he died, Diwan had applied for a committee position in MSA to start planning a fund for Umrah – a religious pilgrimage to Mecca. MSA is planning to continue this initiative.

“We were literally expecting to do so much,” Bahbahani said. “It was going to be like every other weekend with him. This death is a reminder for all of us close to him that it can happen to any of us in just a second. So I’m living every day like it’s my last and reminding myself that this is all temporary, because Hadi was just with me yesterday, all fine and healthy, and the next second he’s gone. It’s a reminder for all of us.”



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