Dr. Israr Ahmed
April 26, 1932
University of Karachi, King Edward Medical University
Israr Ahmed was a prominent Pakistani Islamic theologian, philosopher, and one of the noted Islamic scholar followed particularly in South Asia as well as by the South Asian diaspora in the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America
Israr Ahmed (Urdu: ڈاکٹر اسرار احمد; 26 April 1932 – 14 April 2010; Msc, MBBS) was a prominent Pakistani Islamic theologian,philosopher, and one of the noted Islamic scholar followed particularly in South Asia as well as by the South Asian diaspora in the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America.
He was the founder of the Tanzeem-e-Islami and an off-shoot activist of the rightist Jamaat-e-Islami. Ahmed wrote and published 60 books on the different aspects of Islam and religion, nine of which were translated into English. Prior to that, he was a television personality and daily hosted a religious show on Peace TV.
Early life and educationIsrar Ahmed was born in Hisar, a province of East Punjab of British Indian Empire, on 26 April 1932. His father was a civil servant in British Government and had his family settled from Hisar to Montgomery, now Sahiwal, Punjab Province of Pakistan.
After graduating from a local high school, Ahmed moved to Lahore to attend the King Edward Medical University in 1950. There, he received MBBS from King Edward Medical University in 1954 and began practising the medicine. During his university studies, he worked briefly for Muslim Students Federation and was Nazim-e-Ala of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba.
In 1950, he joined the Jamaat-e-Islami led by Abul Ala Maududi, but left the party when the latter opted for electoral politics in 1957. Ahmed resigned from the Jamaat-e-Islami in April 1957 because of its involvement in the national politics, which he believed was irreconcilable with the revolutionary methodology adopted by the Jama'at in the pre-1947 period. His interest in Islam and philosophy grew further and subsequently moved to Karachi, Sindh Province in 1960s where he enrolled in the Karachi University. After submitting his thesis in 1965, he earned MSc in Islamic Studies from Karachi University.
Religious teachingsAhmed studied Islamic philosophy and recited the Qur'an while a student at Karachi University. At the university, he briefly lectured in philosophy and lectured in Qur'anic as well as Islamic traditions in different universities of Pakistan. In 1965, he sometime affiliated with the religious society but alleviated himself due to methodological differences.
He maintained a visiting lectureship position in Karachi University to lecture in philosophy, later moving to the Punjab University during the last years of his life
Literature and philosophyIn 1967, Ahmed wrote and published the important philosophy book, the "Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead", in which he briefly explained the abstract idea of the Caliphate system. He vehemently maintained that only by revitalising concept and importance of faith among the Muslims in general and intelligentsia in particular. His solution was to teach Qur'an in contemporary idiom backed by the highest level of scholarship. Commenting on scientific aspects, Ahmed wrote that "this undertaking would remove the existing dichotomy between modern physical and social sciences on the one hand, and Islamic revealed knowledge on the other."
In 1971 Ahmed gave up his medical practice to devote himself fully to the Islamic revival. In 1972, he established (or helped establish) the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qur'an Lahore, Tanzeem-e-Islami was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan was launched in 1991
He criticised modern democracy and the prevalent electoral system and argued that the head of an Islamic state could reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly. Although he did not like to receive it personally, Ahmed was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has to his credit over 60 books in Urdu on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, nine of which have been translated into English and other languages.
His television lectures generally focused on the revitalisation of the Islamic faith through studies of the Quran. Since early 2000s he started appearing on PeaceTV and lectured on Qur'an and Islam.
HealthAhmed relinquished the leadership of Tanzeem-e-Islami in October 2002 on grounds of bad health and Hafiz Akif Saeed is the present Ameer of the Tanzeem to whom all rufaqaa of Tanzeem renewed their pledge of Baiyah.
InfluencesSupporters describe his vision of Islam as having been synthesised from the diverse sources. He has also acknowledged the "deep influence" of Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, the 18th century Indian Islamic leader, anti-colonial activist, jurist, and scholar. Ahmed followed the thinking of Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, concerning what his followers believe is the "internal coherence of and the principles of deep reflection in the Qur'an". Furthermore, Ahmed followed Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi in regards to what he believes is the "dynamic and revolutionary conception of Islam."
"In the context of Qur'anic exegesis and understanding, Ahmed was a firm traditionalist of the genre of Maulana Mehmood Hassan Deobandi and Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani; yet he presented Qur'anic teachings in a scientific and enlightened way". Ahmed believed in what he called "Islamic revolutionary thought," which consists of the idea that Islam – the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah – must be implemented in the social, cultural, juristic, political, and economic spheres of life. In this he is said to follow Mohammad Rafiuddin and Muhammad Iqbal. The first attempt towards the actualisation of this concept was reportedly made by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad through his short-lived party, the Hizbullah. Another attempt was made by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi through his Jamaat-e-Islami party. Although the Jamaat-e-Islami has reached some influence, Ahmed resigned from the party in 1956 when it entered the electoral process and believed that such an involvement led to "degeneration from a pure Islamic revolutionary party to a mere political one"
Tanzeem-e-IslamiOriginally a member of Jamaat-e-Islami, Ahmed became disappointed with its electoral activity, "significant policy matters", and what he saw as the "lack of effort to create an Islamic renaissance through the revolutionary process." He and some other individuals resigned from JI and in 1956 founded the nucleus of Tanzeem-e-Islami, an attempt to create a "disciplined organization." "A resolution was passed which subsequently became the Mission Statement of Tanzeem-e-Islami."
Along with his work to revive "the Qur'an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-view" Ahmed aimed with his party to "reform the society in a practical way with the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah".