UK Muslim Scholar Zaki Badawi Dies

Doctor Zaki Badawi, an influential cleric who called for Muslims to integrate fully into British life, died in London aged 83, the Muslim College said. Prime Minister Tony Blair led tributes to the influential Muslim cleric Dr Zaki Badawi, who died on Mon

UK Muslim Scholar Zaki Badawi Dies

Egyptian-born Badawi was the chairman of the Council of Mosques and Imams, founded the Muslim College in London and had been an imam of the London Central Mosque. A spokeswoman for the College, where Badawi was the principal, told AFP that Badawi was speaking at the Islamic Finance Summit in London. "He was at a conference at the time, he collapsed, an ambulance came and took him to hospital," she said. His funeral would probably take place on Friday, she added.

Prime Minister Tony Blair was to pay tribute to Badawi later Tuesday at the launch of the Muslim-Christian Forum at London's Lambeth Palace, his spokesman said. Leading reformist Badawi forged close ties with the Christian and Jewish religions and joined with other faith leaders in a message of unity after the July 7, 2005 London bombings, carried out by apparent Islamist suicide bombers. He was consulted by Blair's government in the wake of the attacks on how best to tackle extremism in Britain. Blair's spokesman said: "He was a scholar with an international reputation and a pioneer in the area of inter-faith relations."

Heir to the throne Prince Charles said: "The sudden loss of Zaki Badawi is a devastating blow to this country and to me personally. "His brand of wisdom, scholarship, far-sightedness and above all humour has ensured that Zaki played an extraordinarily important role in the life of this country and amongst the Muslim community."

Badawi sparked controversy in the aftermath of the London bombings by suggesting Muslim women should remove the Islamic veil to avoid being targeted. A week after the attacks, he was denied entry to the United States with no explanation but accepted an unreserved apology offered later. He was due to speak in New York on the law and Islam. Badawi was a frequent broadcaster and writer on Islamic matters.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of human rights group Liberty, said: "People of all faiths, as well as those without faith, will mourn the loss of Dr Badawi, who provided unique leadership in a world gone mad." Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the main Muslim Council of Britain umbrella group, said Badawi's passing constituted a major loss for British Muslims. "We pray that God almighty grants him a place in his paradise with the martyrs, the prophets and the righteous," he added.

Britain's Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks said Badawi was "the face and voice of Islamic dignity and tolerance in Britain. He was a man of conscience and courage and I cherished his friendship." The leader of the world's Anglicans, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, called Badawi a "uniquely effective interpreter of Islam" whose death was a great shock to those who worked with him in interfaith dialogue.

Influential

For decades Dr Badawi, 83, was a leading reformist figure, calling for the Muslim minority to engage fully with British life, according to the BBC News Online that dubbed him "One of the UK's most influential Muslim" scholars. Egyptian-born Dr Badawi founded the Muslim College in London, according to the BBC.

Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks was among the first to offer his condolences, saying Dr Badawi was the "face and voice of Islamic dignity and tolerance", the BBC reported. "He was a man of conscience and courage and I cherished his friendship," Sir Jonathan added to the British Broadcaster.

Versi told the BBC that Badawi's death was a "loss to all communities". "Dr Badawi was a great scholar of Islam and has made a huge contribution to the Muslim community. His devotion to interfaith dialogue was unparalleled."

In the aftermath of the July 7 London bombings, Badawi was consulted by government on how best to tackle extremism, the BBC said. A statement from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) mourned the loss of Badawi, saying they were "shocked and saddened" by Badawi's death. "We are deeply shocked and saddened by his sudden demise. Dr Badawi's passing constitutes a major loss for British Muslims. We pray that God Almighty grants him a place in His paradise with the martyrs, the prophets and the righteous," Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the MCB, was quoted as saying on the MCB Web site.

Background

Badawi, scholar, teacher and community activist, was born in Egypt in 1922. He was renowned for his interest in Islamic theology and law and as a representative and advocate of Muslims in Britain. He was the principal of the Muslim College in London, which he founded in 1986, and frequently published and broadcast on Islamic affairs.

Badawi was educated at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He obtained al-Aliyah, the equivalent of a Bachelor of Arts degree, from the College of Theology at the university, and Al-Alimiyah degree (Masters) from the Faculty of Arabic Language and Literature, Al-Azhar, in 1947.

In the same year, he received the King Faruq First Prize for the best post-graduate student. After teaching at Al-Azhar for a short while, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1951 to study psychology at University College London. In 1954, he obtained his Bachelors degree. Badawi continued his studies and was awarded a doctorate from London University in Modern Muslim Thought.

Shortly after obtaining his PhD, he returned to Al-Azhar University and taught Muslim Thought and Scientific Research Methods. He was then sent as a representative of the university to Malaya to establish a Muslim College there. After teaching Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Malaya in Singapore, he lectured in the same course at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.

In 1964, he was appointed Professor of Islamic Education at Ahmadu Bello University in Northern Nigeria and later Professor of Islamic Education and Dean of Arts at Bayero College, Nigeria. In 1976, he was appointed research professor at the Hajj Research Center of King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia stationed in London. In 1978, and still in the United Kingdom, Badawi was appointed director of the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC) and Chief Imam of London Central Mosque in Regents Park.

During his time at the ICC, Badawi was instrumental in establishing the Sharia`h (Islamic Law) Council as a facility to reconcile conflicts between Islamic law and the British civil code. Badawi was elected chairman of the Imams and Mosques Council by the National Conference of Imams and Mosque Officials of the UK in 1984. He held this position until his death.

Badawi established the Muslim College in London in 1986. By 1989, and with Badawi as its principal, the college realized its founding objective as a postgraduate seminary for the training of imams and Muslim leaders in the West.

 

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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