Dr. Abidullah Ghazi: An Icon of Islamic Studies for Children
Muslim students attending Sunday schools worldwide can pay their best tribute to the scholar who devoted his life to preparing an Islamic curriculum in English by applying the knowledge in their daily life. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi, the founder of Iqra Education Foundation and the author of over 150 titles of children textbooks, left this world on the morning hours of Sunday, April 11, when millions of students were to use his books in their regular Islamic studies program.
He was a man of great stature, humility, and knowledge who teamed up with his wife to prepare the best gift anyone can give to his community's coming generation. It is a contribution that the Muslim community can never forget.
He is one of those Muslim community leaders whose contributions are hard to repeat. He was an institution in himself. Born in a family of scholars and activists, Ghazi studied at Muslim University Aligarh, London of School of Economics, and Harvard University. He was a political scientist, economist, and sociologist.
His academic qualifications and religious background produced the community's best outcome when his wife, Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, an expert in Curriculum development, joined him developing a comprehensive program on Islamic Studies. The combined efforts of the two became the strength of the community and its emerging generation. Countries after countries adopted the curriculum and traditional Islamic education system started opening to their efforts.
In a Muslim world dominated by men, the idea of a husband-wife team working toward revitalizing Islamic education was new. But the quality of the work was so high that all who initially were reluctant to see the benefit of the emerging education model gave in.
Dr. Ghazi was from India and deeply concerned with the affairs of Indian Muslims. He was actively involved in Muslim organizations of Indian origin, such as the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI) that also awarded him an award for his distinguished services.
The government of Pakistan also awarded him two of the country's highest awards. Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award for Seeratun-Nabi Program, (1983) and Nishan-e-Imtiaz (Order of Excellence) Award for Development of Educational Curriculum, (1988)
Dr. Ghazi was a proficient writer in English and Urdu and an accomplished poet. Apart from all these academic achievements, he was a humble and caring person who was always restless for his community. He was a passionate advocate of interfaith relations and initiated several programs in Chicago.
Born in the northern Indian town of Ambehta Saharanpur district on July 6, 1936, this unique scholar left the world on April 11, 2011, in his sleep. But what he contributed in his 85 years of life would continue to impact the community for centuries. One cannot describe the extent of loss that the Muslim community has felt with his departure. He is a pioneer in modern Muslim education and a bridge between tradition and modernity.