Inna lillah we Inna ilayhi raji'un. Br. Abdul Mateen Chidda, a pioneer of the generation which founded MSA National. Those of us who attended the main session on Saturday evening at the ISNA convention in DC may recall that we honored him on stage and he addressed the audience via a video message but his wife received the plaque on his behalf. May Allah grant him Jannah. Ameen.
Information received from editor of Islamic Horizons magazine about Br. Abdul Mateen:
Abdul Mateen Chida was one of the early pioneers of Islamic work in North america during 60's and 70's and served as MSA Internal Secretary. It was in the 1970s that MSA’s printer effused to print the newsletter because it had a photo of Al-Quds. It was then MSA decided to acquire its own printing facility. A small press was purchased in Maryland when (now late) Mohammad Fazil Khan, an engineer, and Abdul Mateen Chida, also an engineer from Minnesota and a former MSA president, left their jobs to run the press. MSA could print what it liked.
Mohammad Abdul-Mateen Chida, founder and owner of Halalco, a Falls Church supermarket that opened for business in 1977, is a pioneer of ITALICS halal trade in this area. Coming from Hyderabad, India in 1963 for graduate engineering studies at the University of Minnesota, in 1971 he gave up his corporate career and moved to Washington, DC. Along with several other people, he spent the next seven years operating a small printing press for the MSA. Challenged by mainstream printing companies’ refusal to print Islamic literature, the MSA bought International Graphics to produce competitively priced Islamic literature and publications and to provide some revenue for itself. Chida recalls that the printing press was very old and that, for a long time, their work was quite time-consuming: "We had to collate the newsletters by hand, and though we had a typewriter, there was no composer." Many times Br. Mateen Chida use to sleep under the printing machine on card board stock to ensure the tasks are completed on time. Later, through community donations, they were able to purchase a newer press, a cutter, and a binding machine.
A few years later, as the growing Muslim population started demanding ITALICS halal meat, Chida joined a friend to operate the area’s first ITALICS halal meat market. Driven by their desire to conform to Islamic dietary laws, Chida and three friends would drive to slaughterhouses as far away as Virginia’s Shenandoah valley or Maryland’s Eastern Shore to slaughter, by hand, as many as 2,000 chickens for their customers. All profits were plowed back into the store so that they could avoid borrowing money from banks to expand their venture. "It's a great satisfaction that you are kind of helping people find what they want, kind of serving the community in some manner," he remarks.
Today, Halalco is Northern Virginia’s largest self-service Muslim supermarket, taking up half a strip mall in a mixed commercial and residential neighborhood. It has thirty employees and sells books, groceries, meat, Islamic clothing, artifacts, and other items. The owners have even opened up a restaurant on the premises. As a sign of the changing times, Halalco has been joined by at least forty other ITALICS halal meat stores in the metropolitan area. As a vendor at ISNA conventions, he was always one of the first to register for almost over three decades.