Born in March 1939 in Madras, India, Mahboob Khan earned a BS degree from Madras University. In 1966 he immigrated to the United States to complete his MS and PhD degrees in solid-state physics at the University of Colorado/Boulder. He was an early founder of the Muslim Students Association (MSA) during his years in Boulder.
Khan moved from Colorado to southern California in 1975 to accept an electrical engineering job with Rockwell International (now defunct). There, he founded the Islamic Society of Orange County (ISOC), which eventually included a mosque, an Islamic center, and an elementary school. Khan was president of ISOC until 1980, when he moved to San Jose to take a position with Fairchild Semiconductor. Khan’s successor as the head of ISOC was Muzammil Siddiqi, a fellow Indian expatriate who would serve as president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) from 1997-2000.
In the early 1980s, Khan was a founding member of ISNA. In 1983 he was a founding member of the California-based Muslim Community Association (MCA), where he served as board chairman. The MCA, which declares its affiliation with ISNA, is made up of two mosques, a cultural center and an elementary school.
The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that at least twice in the 1990s, Khan’s MCA mosque hosted Ayman al-Zawahiri, who would later go on to become al Qaeda‘s No. 2, and helped raise money for him — while Khan was running the mosque.
In December 1992, Omar Ahmad, a leader in Khan’s former ISOC mosque, hosted Omar Abdel Rahman, who would later be convicted for his role in numerous terror plots, at his (Ahmad’s) Santa Clara, California apartment. Rahman was in town for an ISOC fundraiser, where he dismissed nonviolent definitions of jihad as false and weak; stressed that a number of unspecified enemies had “united themselves against Muslims”; and asserted that fighting such adversaries was obligatory for all Muslims. “If you are not going to the jihad, then you are neglecting the rules of Allah,” Rahman told the ISOC.
In addition to his affiliations with the MSA, ISOC, and MCA, Khan in 1998 founded the Santa Clara-based American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice, whose chairman would later defend the Taliban even after 9/11.
Khan died of a heart attack in Santa Clara on April 16, 1999. His widow, Malika Khan, was a founding member (with her husband) of the Muslim Community Association and is currently a board member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations‘s California chapter. Of the couple’s five children, the most politically noteworthy is Suhail Khan. The family’s other children included two additional sons (Salman and Sajid) and two daughters (Sumiya and Sana).