Ahmad Kutty

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Ahmad Kutty
Full name Shaikh Ahmad Kutty
Born 1946
Kerala, India
Alma mater Islamiya College Santapuram
Main interests Islam
Principal ideas Moderation
Notable awards One of The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World

Shaikh Ahmad Kutty (born 1946 in Kerala, India), is a prominent North American Islamic scholar. He is currently senior resident Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto[1] and has taught at Emanuel College of the University of Toronto as an adjunct instructor.[2] He is the father of Faisal Kutty.

Early education and background[edit]

Shaikh Kutty graduated in the traditional Islamic sciences and received the Ijazah (title) of al-Faqih fi al-ddeen (first rank) from Islamiya College Santapuram, a leading Islamic institution in south India.[3] He was an active member and then became a leader and editor with the Kerala branch[4] of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind founded by Abul A'la Maududi. He served as an editor for the Jamaat Kerala mouthpiece Probadhanam.[5] During his tenure he also translated Sayyid Qutb's Social Justice (al-adalatul ijtimaiyyah fi al-Islam) into Malayalam in the early 1970s.[1]

Shaikh Kutty then attended the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia, from where he obtained his Licentiate in Usul al-Ddeen (first rank).

In 1973, he arrived in Canada with a full scholarship to pursue his M.A. in Islamic studies from the University of Toronto. He secured a further scholarship to carry out his doctoral studies in Sharia thought specializing in the work of Shah Waliullah From 1975 to 1980 he pursued his Doctoral studies in Shari’ah thought at the McGill University Institute of Islamic Studies under the supervision of Professor Charles Adams[6] and Prof. A. Üner Turgay.[7] The Institute, established in 1952 by Wilfred Cantwell Smith,is the first institute of Islamic studies in North America.

During a visit to India in 1976, an arrest warrant was issued for Shaikh Kutty under the The Emergency (India) declared by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s administration for his activities with Jamaat-e-Islami and Probodhanam. In India, "the Emergency" refers to a 21-month period in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi unilaterally had a state of emergency declared across the country. Officially issued by President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352(1) of the Constitution for "internal disturbance", the Emergency was in effect from 25 June 1975 until its withdrawal on 21 March 1977.[8]

His son Faisal Kutty recounts as one of his earliest childhood memories as running from safe house to safe house, until the family was able to leave India.[8]

In 2003, Shaikh Kutty made international headlines when he and Imam Abdul Hamid were detained and held in a Fort Lauderdale jail after disembarking from their flight on September 11.[9] The two were travelling to Florida to speak at an Islamic conference. He is a well-known scholar, preacher and speaker on Islam and Muslims. Ironically, among the topics to be discussed at the conference was the danger of Islamic fanaticism. After returning to Canada, Shaikh Kutty asked:

"But if the American immigration officials can go after me and Hamid who are well-known for preaching moderation, what happens to ordinary Muslims?"[9]

Career[edit]

Shaikh Kutty served as an Imam in various mosques and Islamic centers in Montreal during his McGill days. He then held the following positions:[1]

  • 1973-1975: Assistant Director: Islamic Center of Toronto
  • 1979-1982: Director/Imam: Islamic Center of Toronto
  • 1984-1994: Director/Imam Islamic Foundation of Toronto
  • Senior Lecturer/Imam at the Islamic Institute of Toronto & and a non-resident Imam/Khatib (orator) at the following centers/mosques in Toronto: Islamic Center of Canada, Masjid Toronto, Bosnian Islamic Center, and Ansar Mosque

Shaikh Kutty has served on the Fiqh Council of North America, the pre-eminent Islamic law body on the continent. He has served as Imam and resident scholar at various institutions in Montreal and Toronto, including Toronto's Jami Mosque and the Islamic Foundation of Toronto. He is currently resident scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto.

He is a prolific writer and has written a number of articles, books and journal articles. He is a regular scholar answering Islamic law questions on IslamOnline. In addition to his participation in lectures, seminars and inter-faith dialogues in North America, Shaikh Kutty is invited as a guest speaker in functions all over the world.

Initially a strong supporter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and Abul A'la Maududi and a proponent of the Salafi movement, he has become disillusioned by these movements and now calls for return to the spiritual message of Islam. He propounds a flexible approach to Islam in contemporary times. His speech to the Students Islamic Organisation of India Kerala annual conference in 2012 focusing on the crisis in the Muslim world is illustrative of his view and approach.[10] Shaikh Kutty was one of the 120 imams across Canada who signed a statement condemning acts of terrorism. The statement coordinated by the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations read:

“Anyone who claims to be a Muslim and participates in any way in the taking of innocent life is betraying the very spirit and letter of Islam.”[11]

His break with the Salafi and orthodox position has led to some Salafis claiming that he is not an authentic scholar.[12]

Honors and awards[edit]

Shaikh Ahmad Kutty was considered one of The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]