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26 April 1932|
Hisar, British India
|Died||14 April 2010
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
|Cause of death||Cardiac arrest|
|Notable work||The Call of Tanzeem-e-Islami|
|Era||20th-century Islamic scholar|
|School||Islamic philosophy, Quran and Sunnah, realism, rationalism, logician|
|Islamic law and Quranic exegesis|
|Call to Qur'an, revival of Khilafah, and prophetic model of revolution|
Israr Ahmed (Urdu: ڈاکٹر اسرار احمد; 26 April 1932 – 14 April 2010; Msc, MBBS) was a Pakistani Islamic theologian, philosopher, and Islamic scholar who was followed particularly in South Asia as well as by South Asian Muslims in the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America.
He was the founder of the Tanzeem-e-Islami and an offshoot activist of the rightist Jamaat-e-Islami. Ahmed wrote and published 60 books on different aspects of Islam and religion, nine of which were translated into English.
Early life and education
Israr 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 the British Government who relocated his family 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. He received his MBBS from King Edward Medical University in 1954 and began practising medicine.
In 1950, he joined Jamaat-e-Islami led by Abul Ala Maududi, but left the party when the latter opted for participating in electoral politics in 1957. Ahmed resigned from the Jamaat-e-Islami in April 1957 because of its involvement in 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 he subsequently moved to Karachi, Sindh Province in the 1960s where he enrolled in Karachi University. After submitting his thesis in 1965, he earned his MSc in Islamic Studies from Karachi University.
Literature and philosophy
In 1967, Ahmed wrote and published the important philosophy book, Islamic Renaissance: The Real Task Ahead, in which he briefly explained the abstract idea of the caliphate system. He maintained that only by revitalising Iman 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."
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. Ahmed was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has authored over 60 books in Urdu on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, nine of which have been translated into English and other languages.
Ahmed relinquished the leadership of Tanzeem-e-Islami in October 2002 because of bad health. Hafiz Akif Saeed is the present Amir of the Tanzeem to whom all rufaqaa of Tanzeem renewed their pledge of Baiyah.
Like Wahiduddin Khan, Naeem Siddiqui and Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Ahmed also worked closely with Syed Abul A'la Maududi (alternative spelling Syed Maudoodi; often referred to as Maulana Maududi) (1903–1979) and Amin Ahsan Islahi. Supporters describe his vision of Islam as having been synthesised from the diverse sources. He has also acknowledged the "deep influence" of Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, the 18th century Indian Islamic leader, anti-colonial activist, jurist, and scholar.
"In the context of Qur'anic exegesis and understanding, Ahmed was a firm traditionalist of the genre of 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 Abul Kalam Azad through his short-lived party, the Hizbullah. Another attempt was made by 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".
Originally 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".
According to Tanzeem-e-Islami's FAQ, while both Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tanzeem-e-Islami share belief in reviving the Caliphate as a means of implementing Islam in all spheres of life, Tanzeem-e-Islami does not believe in involvement in electoral politics, armed struggle, coup d'état to establish a caliphate, and has no set plan of detailed workings for the future Caliphate. Tanzeem-e-Islami emphasises that iman (faith) among Muslims must be revived in "a significant portion of the Muslim society" before there can be an Islamic revival.
Abul Ala Maududi
While Ahmed "considers himself a product" of the teachings of "comprehensive and holistic concept of the Islamic obligations" of Abul Ala Maududi, he opposes Jamaat-e-Islami's "plunge" into "the arena of power politics," which he considered to have been "disastrous."
Danger of foreign powers
In response to the state of emergency in 2007, Ahmed called for lifting the emergency, reinstatement of Supreme Court justices, and withdrawal of all actions taken in pursuance of the proclamation of emergency and the PCO law besides resignation of President Pervez Musharraf.
In a televised press conference, Ahmed called for resignation of Pervez Musharraf from both president and chief of army staff. Ahmed appealed to President General Musharraf to lift the state emergency and step down for the nation's greater interests. At the television news channels, Ahmed also predicted and warned the nation that, "If the situation worsens, the NATO forces are waiting on the western front to move into Pakistan and may deprive the country of its nuclear assets while on the eastern front, India is ready to stage an action replay of 1971 events and has alerted its armed forces to intervene in to check threats to peace in the region."
Criticism and controversy
In 2006 Canada's National Post newspapers quoted Ahmed as saying that "Islam's renaissance will begin in Pakistan... because the Arab world is living under subjugation. Only the Pakistan region has the potential for standing up against the nefarious designs of the global power-brokers and to resist the rising tides of the Jewish/Zionist hegemony.
Asia Times reports that in September 1995 Ahmed told the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America: "The process of the revival of Islam in different parts of the world is real. A final showdown between the Muslim world and the non-Muslim world, which has been captured by the Jews, would soon take place. The Gulf War was just a rehearsal for the coming conflict." He appealed to the Muslims of the world, including those in the US, to prepare themselves for the coming conflict.
Death and funeral
Ahmed died of cardiac arrest at his home in Lahore on the morning of 14 April 2010. According to his son, his health deteriorated at around 1:30 am with pain in the back. He was a long time heart patient.
- "About the Founder:Dr. Israr Ahmad". Tanzeem.org. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- Hashmi, Salima. "On the Philosophy of Dr. Israr Ahmed". Grand Strategic review. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Our Staff Reporter (15 April 2010). "Prominent scholar Dr Israr Ahmed dies". Dawn Archives, 15 April 2010. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- islamabad.net, "Dr. Israr Ahmed" Archived 29 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- Peace TV. "Dr. Israr Ahmad". Peace TV promotion. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Mumtaz Ahmad, "Media-Based Preachers and the Creation of New Muslim Publics in Pakistan," NBR Special Report 22, February 2010 
- "Biography of Ameer Tanzeem-e-Islami Hafiz Akif Saeed". Tanzeem.org. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "The Khilafah Movement Famous Personalities". Khilafahmovement.org. 26 April 1932. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- "Background/History of Tanzeem-e-Islami". Tanzeem.org. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- "Tamzeem-e-Islami Frequently Asked Questions". Tanzeem.org. Archived from the original on 20 March 2016. Retrieved 22 March 2016.
- Our Reporter (20 November 2007). "Dr Israr advises Musharraf to call it a day". Dawn News Archives 2007. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
- "FBI's Latest Outreach Outrage", by Steven Emerson, IPT News, 7 November 2007
- ""Al-Qaeda clone takes root in the US," by B Raman, July 3, 2003". Atimes.com. 3 July 2003. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- News, Arab. "Renowned Islamic scholar Dr Israr Ahmed is dead". Arabnews.com. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2011.
- Veteran religious scholar Dr. Israr Ahmed passes away Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
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