Sa'id Akhtar Rizvi

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Sa'id Akhtar Rizvi
Born (1927-01-05)5 January 1927
Saran District, Bihar
Died 20 June 2002(2002-06-20) (aged 75)
Resting place
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Ethnicity Indian
Occupation Islamic scholar
Known for being the Chief Missionary of Bilal Muslim Mission
Religion Islam
Denomination Twelver Shia
Children Muhammad Rizvi

Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi (Arabic: سيد سعيد اختر رضوي‎) (1927-2002) was an Indian born, Twelver Shī‘ah scholar, who actively promoted Islam in East Africa.

He spoke Urdu, English, Arabic, Persian, Swahili and knew Hindi and Gujarati. He was given authorisations (Arabic: Ijazah‎) by fourteen Grand Ayatullahs for riwayah, Qazawah, and Umur-e-Hasbiyah.


Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi

Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi was born in a place called Ushri, Saran district, Bihar state, India, in 1927. His father was Sayyid Abul Hassan Rizvi and who was also a Maulana. He had five sons and two daughters. His second eldest son, Hujjat-ul-Islam wal Muslimeen Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi lives in Toronto, Canada. He has followed his father's footsteps and has written many books as well. He is the Imam of the Islamic Shia Ithna‘asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) of Toronto, Jaffari Islamic Center.


In 1959 he came to Lindi, Tanzania, where he was appointed the local Islamic scholar (Arabic: 'alim‎). He there learned Swahili and improved his English in order to better perform his work as a scholar.[1]

In 1962, he proposed a plan of propagating the faith among the African people to Haji Ebrahim H. Sheriff in Arusha. An amended and improved plan was put into action in 1963.[1] This plan was circulated in the triennial Conference of the Africa Federation in Tanga in 1964, where it received the approval of Hussein Nasser Walji (approved in the general meeting of Dar es Salaam Jamaat.[1]

Marhum Mulla Asgharali M.M. Jaffer writes:

...the 1964 memorandum was received with mixed feelings but it got a boost from a resolution sent by Dar es Salaam Jamaat to do something in this (proselytizing) connection.[2]

Bilal Muslim Mission[edit]

In the end, the plan was adopted by the majority as a policy, marking the birth of the Bilal Muslim Mission.[1]

Marhum Mulla Asgharali M.M. Jaffer writes:

...the incessant and untiring efforts and contributions by Maulana Syed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi in this direction have been decisive and of great importance. His knowledge of Swahili and English enabled him to offer his service without any undue hesitation. He was appointed Chief Missionary of the Bilal Muslim Mission - an appellation signifying the new role of an Aalim among the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheris. For the first time in its history, the community lent its credence to this new appointment and realised that the function of an Aalim could be much more beneficial, varied and discursive.[2]

Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi was transferred from Arusha in the north of Tanzania to the group in Dar es Salaam in mid-eastern Tanzania. This expansions of activities created the need of an autonomous body, so Saeed Akhtar Rizvi went to Mombasa in southern Kenya in 1976 in order to meet the office-bearers of the Supreme Council. They decided to create two organizations, so Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania was registered on 16 April 1968 and the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya in 1971 with Rizvi as one of the founding members, the Chief Missionary and the Tableegh Advisor of the Late Chairman of the Africa Federation, Late Mohamedali Meghjee and to Marhum Mulla Asghar M.M. Jaffer, Alhaj Mohamed Dhirani and Alhaj Habibbhai Mulji.[1]


His name became synonymous with the word Tabligh (Islamic mission) among the indigenous people of East Africa, and he introduced correspondence courses in Islamic studies in English and Swahili besides several other courses for Shia students through the Bilal Muslim Mission.[1]

He traveled widely, holding assemblies and lecturing to university students in Africa, Europe, Canada and USA, making sure that his speeches reached intellectuals, new converts and those wishing to know more about religion.[1]


His funeral was attended by a very large crowd in Dar es Salaam. Although normally coffins are taken by a special van to the graveyard, two scouts holding two large black flags led the cortege to the burial site. Traffic police stopped the busy Saturday morning traffic to make way for the cortege, who walked on foot covering the route of the funeral Cortege from the Imambara to the cemetery in more than half an hour. Officials and Scholars from several countries were present. The obligatory Islamic funeral prayer (Salat al-Mayyit) was held by Muhammad Rizvi, the son of the deceased.[1]

Representatives from Bilal Muslim Mission credited him with raising the number of African Shi'as in East Africa from none to 100,000.[1]



Sayyid Akhtar Rizvi authored over 140 books, some of them having been translated into 22 languages.[1] they include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j
  2. ^ a b "Outline of Shi'a Ithna-ashari History in East Africa" by Marhum Mulla Asgharali M.M. Jaffer

External links[edit]