Asghar Ali Engineer passes away

Asghar Ali Engineer passes away

Asghar Ali Engineer passes away

Eminent Islamic scholar, social activist, author and Dawoodi Bohra reformist leader Asghar Ali Engineer passed away here on Tuesday following age-related ailments. He was 74.

Asghar Ali was suffering from pulmonary complications and septicemia. The funeral will be held on Wednesday in Mumbai. He is survived by son, Irfan, and daughter Seema Indorewala.

Born in a Dawoodi Bohra Amil (priest) family on March 10, 1939, in Salumbar, Rajasthan, Asghar Ali mastered Quranic tafsir (commentary), tawil (hidden interpretations of Quran), fiqh (jurisprudence) and hadith (Prophet’s teachings, sayings) apart from learning the Arabic language which was taught to him by father Sheikh Qurban Hussain.

Though he graduated as a civil engineer from Indore, Asghar Ali pursued the study of world religions. After graduation he joined the civic engineering department in Mumbai, and after two decades took voluntary retirement in order to bring about reforms in the Dawoodi Bohra community.

A prolific writer, Asghar Ali  wrote editorials for various news papers and also held rallies. In 1972 he was elected general secretary of the Central Board of Dawoodi Bohra Community at its maiden conference in Udaipur.

He faced verbal and physical attacks and assaults from obscurantist groups for his bold stand.

 However, even as he was ushering in progressive changes in the minuscule Dawoodi Bohra community, the social reformer also began focussing on ways to bring peace and harmony amongst communities in India.

In 1980 he founded the Institute of Islamic Studies and in 1993 the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Irfan, a prominent human rights activist and labour lawyer, said: “Dr Asghar Ali  had a special love for Urdu language and literature.

Despite his hectic schedule involving meetings, coordinating fact-finding teams and writing articles and books...serious reading of Indian and world literary works never came to a halt. He also wrote several treatises on the great poet Mirza Ghalib and cult Hindi short story writer Premchand even as he reinterpreted religious scriptures in a new light.”

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