Dr. Israr Ahmed, (April 26, 1932 â€“ April 14, 2010) died in Pakistan on April 14. He was a Pakistan-based Muslim religious scholar followed particularly in South Asia and also in the South Asian diaspora in the Middle East, Western Europe and North America. Born in Hissar, (todayâ€™s Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant, he is the founder of the Tanzeem-e-islami, an off-shoot of the Jamaat-e-Islami. He hosted a daily show on Peace TV, a 24 hours Islamic channel broadcast internationally, and until recently on ARY Qtv.
His supporters describe him as having spent the â€œlast forty yearsâ€ actively engaged in â€œreviving the Qurâ€™an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-viewâ€ with â€œthe ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafah.â€ Ahmed is skeptical of the efficacy of â€œparliamentary politics of give-and-takeâ€ in establishing an â€œIslamic politico-socio-economic systemâ€ as implementing this system is a â€œrevolutionary processâ€.
Dr. Israr Ahmad was born on April 26, 1932 in Hisar (a district of East Punjab, now a part of Haryana) in India, the second son of a government servant. He graduated from King Edward Medical College (Lahore) in 1954 and later received his Masterâ€™s degree in Islamic Studies from the University of Karachi in 1965. He came under the influence of Abul Ala Maududi as a young student, worked briefly for Muslim Studentâ€™s Federation in the Independence Movement and, following the creation of Pakistan in 1947, for the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba and then for the Jamaat-e-Islami. Dr. Israr Ahmad resigned from the Jama`at in April 1957 because of its involvement in the electoral politics, which he believed was irreconcilable with the revolutionary methodology adopted by the Jamaâ€™at in the pre-1947 period.
While still a student and an activist of the Islami Jami`yat-e-Talaba, Dr. Israr Ahmad became a Mudarris (or teacher) of the Qurâ€™an. Even after resigning from the Jama`at, he continued to give Qurâ€™anic lectures in different cities of Pakistan, and especially after 1965 spent a great deal of time studying the Quran.
In 1967 Dr. Israr Ahmadin wrote â€œIslamic Renaissance: The Real Task Aheadâ€, a tract explaining his basic belief. This was that a rebirth of Islam would be possible only by revitalizing iman (faith) among the Muslims â€“ particularly educated Muslims â€“ and the propagation of the Qurâ€™anic teachings in contemporary idiom and at the highest level of scholarship is necessary to revitalize iman. 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 Ahmad gave up his medical practice to devote himself full time to the Islamic revival. In 1972 he established or helped establish the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qurâ€™an Lahore, Tanzeem-e-Islami was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan was launched in 1991.
Dr. Israr Ahmad first appeared on Pakistan Television in 1978 in a program called Al-Kitab; this was followed by other programs, known as Alif Lam Meem, Rasool-e-Kamil, Umm-ul-Kitab and the most popular of all religious programs in the history of Pakistan Television, the Al-Huda, which made him a household name throughout the country. His television lectures generally focused on the revitalization of the Islamic faith through studies of the Quran. Dr. Israr Ahmad also criticized modern democracy and the electoral system and argued that the head of an Islamic state can reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly. Although he did not like to receive it personally, Dr. Israr Ahmad was awarded Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has to his credit over 60 Urdu books on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, 9 of which have been translated into English and other languages.
Dr. Israr Ahmed relinquished the leadership of Tanzeem-e-Islami in October, 2002 on grounds of bad health and Hafiz Aakif Saeed is the present Ameer of the Tanzeem to whom all rufaqaa of Tanzeem renewed their pledge of Baiyah.
Supporters describe his vision of Islam as having been synthesized from the diverse sources. He has also acknowledged the â€œdeep influenceâ€ of Shah Waliullah Dehlavi, the 18th century Indian Islamic leader, anti-colonial activist, jurist, and scholar. Ahmad follows the thinking of Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi and Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, concerning what his followers believe is the â€œinternal coherence of and the principles of deep reflection in the Qurâ€™anâ€. He follows Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi in regards to what he believes is the â€œdynamic and revolutionary conception of Islam.â€
â€œIn the context of Qurâ€™anic exegesis and understanding, Dr. Israr Ahmad is a firm traditionalist of the genre of Maulana Mehmood Hassan Deobandi and Allama Shabeer Ahmad Usmani; yet he presents Qurâ€™anic teachings in a scientific and enlightened way …â€ Ahmed believes in what he calls â€œIslamic revolutionary thought,â€ which consists of the idea that Islam â€“ the teachings of the Qurâ€™an and the Sunnah â€“ must be implemented in the social, cultural, juristic, political, and the economic spheres of life. In this he is said to follow Mohammad Rafiuddin and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal. The first attempt towards the actualization 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, Ahmad resigned from the party in 1956 when it entered the electoral process and believes this involvement has led to â€œdegeneration from a pure Islamic revolutionary party to a mere political oneâ€.
The nucleus of Tanzeem-e-Islami, which Israr Ahmad founded, was created in 1956, following the resignation of Ahmad and some other individuals from Jamaat-e-Islami over its electoral activity and â€œsignificant policy matters. They came together and tried unsuccessfully to form an organized group … A resolution was passed which subsequently became the Mission Statement of Tanzeem-e-Islami.â€
Later, disappointed with what he saw as the â€œlack of effort to create an Islamic renaissance through the revolutionary processâ€ he again attempted to create a â€œdisciplined organization,â€ namely Tanzeem-e-Islami.
Along with his work to revive â€œthe Qurâ€™an-centered Islamic perennial philosophy and world-viewâ€ Ahmed aims with his party to â€œreform the society in a practical way with the ultimate objective of establishing a true Islamic State, or the System of Khilafahâ€.
According to the Tanzeem-e-Islami website Ahmed and the party believe â€œthe spiritual and intellectual center of the Muslim world has shifted from the Arab world to the Indo-Pakistan subcontinentâ€ and â€œconditions are much more congenial for the establishment of Khilafah in Pakistanâ€ than in other Muslim countries.
According to Tanzeem-e-Islamiâ€™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 dâ€™Ã©tat to establish a caliphate, and has no set plan of detailed workings for the future Caliphate. Tanzeem-e-Islami emphasizes that iman (faith) among Muslims must be revived in â€œa significant portion of the Muslim societyâ€ before there can be an Islamic revival.
While Ahmad â€œconsiders himself a productâ€ of the teachings of â€œcomprehensive and holistic concept of the Islamic obligationsâ€ of Abul Ala Maududi, he opposes Jamaat-e-Islamiâ€™s â€œplungeâ€ into â€œthe arena of power politics,â€ which he considers to have been â€œdisastrous.â€
Nov 19, 2007 Ahmed warned that â€œthe 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 border 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.
Ahmed has also been criticized as making anti-Semitic and Islamic supremacist statements.
Canadaâ€™s National Post newspaper reported in 2006 that, according to Ahmad:
â€œIslamâ€™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 Israr Ahmed told the annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America that:
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.â€
On July 27, 2007, VisionTV, a Canadian multi-faith religious television channel, aired an apology for broadcasting lectures by Mr. Ahmad. The channel had taken Ahmad off the air earlier that week for his derogatory comments about Jews. In reply, Ahmed â€œstrongly refuted the impression that he hated the Jews or he held anti-Semitic views,â€ according to the National Post, but a â€œwritten statement, issued by his personal secretary in Lahore, went on to explain Mr. Ahmadâ€™s belief that the Holocaust was `Divine punishment` and that Jews would one day be `exterminated.â€
The Post gave several quotes about Jews by Ahmed including
â€œIt is apparent to any careful observer that the Jews have continued to suffer the floggings of Divine punishment in the present century â€“ the Holocaust during the Second World War being a case in point.
[T]he conflict between the Jews and Muslims is going to result, ultimately, in the total extermination of the former, according to the Divine law of â€˜annihilation of the worse.â€™â€
Miss Shagufta Ahmad has submitted her master thesis entitled, â€œDr. Israr Ahmadâ€™s Political Thoughts and Activitiesâ€ to the McGill University, Canada in 1994. The thesis discussed in detail the intellectual development of Israr Ahmad and the influence of Allama Iqbal, Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Maududiâ€™s political thought, especially his theory of revolution and the activities of his three organizations, Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qurâ€™an, Tanzeem-e-Islami and Tehreek-e-Khilafat. Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qurâ€™an published the thesis in 1996.
The veteran scholar died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Lahore on the morning of 14 of April 2010 between 3:00 and 3:30 AM. According to his son, his health detriorated at arround 1:30 in the morning with severe pain in the back, he was a long time heart patient.
His funeral (Namaz-e-Janazah) is planned after Asr (afternoon) prayers at Model Town Park, Lah