By Suleman Kazi
This is a very sombre occasion. The Ummah has lost a most dynamic personality. Maulana Qazi Mujahidul Islam, known affectionately as Qazi Saheb, passed away into the mercy of Allah on Thursday 4th April 2002 / 21st Muharram 1423.
Although Qazi Saheb left no offspring yet he has left many, many orphans. I mean those people who profited from his vast knowledge and erudition are all now orphans. In a life span of 65 years, he will be remembered for among other notable things as being a great Faqih (Islamic Jurist). Alhamdulillah, his entire life was dedicated to steadfastly serving Islam and Muslims.
Qazi Saheb’s distinguishing trait was his unostentatious appearance and remarkable simplicity. He displayed profound insight and solicitude for the Ummah, showing exceptional acumen for resolving its problems. Despite suffering cancer and feeling extremely debilitated for the last 5 years of his life, he continued working tirelessly, with tremendous courage and fortitude, until his last breath.
Qazi Saheb was an outstanding graduate of Darul Uloom Deoband and a prodigious student of the great Indian scholar Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, Rahmatullahi Alayh. He was a prolific writer who authored over fifty books, both in Urdu and Arabic. He was editor of the journal Bahas-wo-Nazar. Besides writing extensively, he was also chief Qazi of the Imarat-e-Shariah in Bihar and Orissa. He established the Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) in India (see http://ifa-india.org), which aims to find solutions to contemporary Muslim problems and was a founder member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). After the demise of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Rahmatullahi Alayh, in 1999, he succeeded as its President. Moreover he was associated and affiliated to numerous national and international organisations, institutes and academies, for instance as executive member of the International Fiqh Academy in Jeddah and the Centre for Islamic Studies in Oxford. In due recognition of his eminent status, he became the recipient of various prestigious accolades both in India and abroad, for instance the Shah Waliullah Dehlawi Award from the Institute of Objective Studies, Delhi and Islamic Personality of the Year Award from the American Federation of Muslims, New York.
Founder of the Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA)
By establishing the IFA, Qazi Saheb single-handedly rendered a tremendous service to Muslims in India and elsewhere. The IFA has managed to draw together leading Islamic scholars to collectively deliberate on modern day issues affecting Muslims. This initiative has helped reinvigorate the spirit of interpreting Islam in relation to contemporary problems and issues, something that Islamic jurisprudence has always innately possessed. The IFA has made fascinating progress since its inception in 1989. Until today it has held 13 annual convocations, discussing a host of challenging matters including cloning, intellectual property rights, Internet, organ transplantations, etc.
Qazi Saheb’s approach to all matters was scientific. He was persuaded by cogent arguments and never allowed extraneous matters to becloud his judgment. Thus his professionalism enabled him to pursue and resolve intricate issues with clarity and conviction, always preferring debate and discussion whilst observing the Islamic etiquette. In this way, he followed the respectable and dignified path pursued by all great Islamic jurists.
Inspirational and Dynamic
Qazi Saheb was a very inspirational and dynamic person. He wanted to see the energies of the Ulama and professionals synchronised for the advancement of the Ummah. He encouraged people to take initiatives and would guide them in their cause. An example of this is the translation & printing of the 14 volume Encyclopaedia of Fiqh, published by the Kuwaiti Islamic Shariah Committee, which Qazi Saheb personally edited and supervised despite his ailing health and pre-occupations.
His last visit to England was in July 2000 when he attended as distinguished guest of the international symposium organised to honour the life and work of Maulana Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Rahmatullahi Alayh. He conveyed a very important message to Muslims in the west and it is truly worthy of being noted by Muslims everywhere.
He reminded Muslims that they were sent to these lands not as Pakistanis, Indians etc, but as Muslims. And our duty here was to communicate the great message of Islam. Our task was to relay with wisdom and soundness the teachings of Allah and His beloved Prophet, Sallallaho Alayhi Wasallam. He advised Muslims to leave aside petty issues and concentrate singularly on the cause of Dawah (Inviting people to Allah). He emphasised the importance of inviting humanity to the splendour of Islam.
President of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB)
The AIMPLB was established in 1972 and is a representative body of Indian Muslims which seeks protection of their Islamic rights. In what was his last address as its president, Qazi Saheb made a powerful speech at the annual meeting of members last year when he publicly urged leaders of the VHP, RSS and BJP, who had been making derogatory and sacrilegious remarks about Islam, to re-examine their understanding of the religion. He told them courageously and unequivocally that their poor understanding was a result of ignorance. They should try understanding Islam in a better light.
One of his lasting contributions to the AIMPLB is the publication of the Compendium of Islamic Laws, which he edited and completed prior to his demise. The work was initiated by the Board’s founder secretary-general, the late Amir e Shari’ah, Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani, Rahmatullahi Alayh.
A person of Qazi Saheb’s calibre was rare for this age. It was destined that he should pass away at this critical moment otherwise Indian Muslims are facing the most terrible persecution and challenge to their existence. His inspirational guidance and leadership will be sorely missed.
Qazi Saheb was a man of multifarious talents. He had many sterling qualities but, above all, he will be remembered as a great Faqih. As Mufti Zubair Bayat Saheb, Director of Darul Ihsan Research and Education Centre (see http://www.direct.za.org) , has written in his obituary of Qazi Saheb, that he was the original inspiration for the inception of Muslim Personal Law in South Africa. He will be greatly missed by the Ulama. His demise is a great vacuum in Islamic scholarship and leadership.
In concluding, it is perhaps apt to recall the words of Shaykh Hasan al Basri on the definition of a Faqih. (Incidentally, Qazi Saheb also quoted this same definition during his speech at the symposium, while alluding to the responsibilities of the Ulama in their duty of resolving the problems of the Muslim Ummah.) Shaykh Hasan al Basri, Rahmatullahi Alayh, said in his commentary on the Hadith: ‘He for whom Allah desires great good, He grants him understanding in the Religion’. “Have you ever seen a Faqih? The Faqih is he who has renounced the world, longs for the hereafter, possesses insight in his Religion, and worships his Lord without cease.”
Furthermore, Shaykh Asim ibn Damura, Rahmatullahi Alayh, said: “The true, the real Faqih is he who does not push people to despair from Allah’s mercy, nor lulls them into a false sense of safety from His Punishment, nor gives them licenses to disobey Allah, nor leaves the Qur’an for something else. There is no good in worship devoid of knowledge, nor in knowledge devoid of understanding, nor in inattentive recitation.”
And, Shaykh Amr ibn Murra, Rahmatullahi Alayh, said: “Be wellsprings of the Science and beacons in the night, wearing old clothes but possessing new hearts for which you shall be known in the heaven and remembered on the earth. Thus Knowledge dies when those who possess it die. By Allah, I do swear it! The earth will never be empty of one who establishes the proofs of Allah so that His proofs and signs never cease. They are the fewest in number, but the greatest in rank before Allah. Through them Allah preserves His proofs until they bequeath it to those like them (before passing away) and plant it firmly in their hearts. By knowledge they have taken the reality of things, so that they found easy what those given to comfort found hard, and found intimacy in what the ignorant found desolate. They accompanied the world with bodies whose spirits were attached to the highest regard. Ah, ah! How one yearns to see them!”
Let us therefore remember Qazi Saheb in the proper way. His life was one dedicated to serving the Ummah and finding solutions for Muslims. We have truly certainly lost someone who was a beacon of guidance and knowledge, someone who had great insight and foresight. However, whilst we feel the pain of his loss, let us renew our commitment to continue his mission of being of service to Islam and Muslims. This will really prove to be a small but lasting tribute to such a great personality, Insh’Allah.
May Allah forgive Qazi Saheb, accept his services for Islam and grant him the loftiest stages of Jannatul Firdaus. Aameen.