Colleagues and friends of the late Dr Kalim Siddiqui participated in a memorial conference on April 23 to pay tribute to his remarkable academic as well as social and political work. It was Dr Kalim's 20th anniversary since his untimely death in South Africa in April 1996. Rich tributes were paid to his great work that has inspired a generation of scholars and activists.
Monday April 25, 2016, 10:43 DST
Hundreds of admirers of Dr Kalim Siddiqui participated in a memorial conference for the late scholar and activist in Toronto on Saturday April 23 to pay tribute to him on the 20th anniversary of his death.
Dr Kalim Siddiqui is best known as the founder and Director of the Muslim Institute in London as well as the Leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. His death on April 18, 1996 in South Africa where he had just attended the highly successful international conference on ‘Creating a New Civilization of Islam’ left a huge void in the Ummah.
Dr Kalim transcended sectarian barriers that are being erected and promoted today with such vengeance in the Muslim world.
He was an academic, a visionary as well as an activist. He left a huge imprint on Muslim political thought through his writings and speeches. He demonstrated clarity of thought that unfortunately is lacking in many other Muslim writers and scholars today.
Dr Kalim transcended sectarian barriers that are being erected and promoted today with such vengeance in the Muslim world. He always talked and wrote in terms of the broader goals of Islam and the Prophet’s Seerah and Sunnah. He exuded confidence where others spread pessimism.
His understanding of Western political systems and thought was sharp and directed Muslims to seek solutions to their problems in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the Seerah of the noble Messenger, peace be upon him (pbuh). He insisted that the Islamic civilization would emerge only from within the roots of Islam and not through ideas borrowed from the West.
ICIT Director Zafar Bangash who was a close colleague and associate of Dr Kalim’s from the very beginning, highlighting his extremely eventful life taking the conference participants on a journey into Dr Kalim’s life struggles. In his welcoming address, he traced the origins of the Muslim Institute as well as the profoundly important document called the Draft Prospectus of the Muslim Institute. He also listed the numerous books and papers that Dr Kalim authored many of them on display at the conference. He made special reference to two aspects: Dr Kalim’s invitation to Imam Muhammad al Asi to embark on the tafsir of the noble Qur’an and his (Dr Kalim’s) paper on the Seerah, Political Dimensions of the Seerah that was published posthumously.
The Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought (ICIT) has taken up both proposals and produced a significant body of literature in the form of Imam al-Asi’s monumental tafsir, ‘The Ascendant Qur’an: Realigning Man to the Divine Power Culture’, as well as series of books on the Seerah of which ‘Power Manifestations of the Seerah: Examining the Letters and Treaties of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)’ by Zafar Bangash are best known.
Dr Kalim’s son, Iqbal Siddiqui flew in especially from London to participate in the conference. Iqbal had been working closely with his father, especially on the Muslim Parliament project, as well as the preparation of Dr Kalim’s last book, ‘Stages of Islamic Revolution’, whose first edition was published a few day’s before Dr Kalim’s untimely death. In addition to Iqbal Siddiqui, Dr Ali Mallah, a social and political activist in Canada, briefly spoke about Dr Kalim’s life struggle.
Imam Muhammad al Asi, the mufassir of the noble Qur’an (The Ascendant Qur’an) addressed Dr Kalim’s repeated emphasis on the Seerah and the Sunnah. He pointed out that while there is a vast body of Hadithliterature, it is important for Muslims to realize that this literature must be evaluated in light of the Qur’an. Any hadith that does not conform to the Qur’an must be rejected, he said. The Prophet (pbuh) could not have said anything that ran contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an. There had to be something wrong in the trasmission of hadith; after all, the transmitters were not perfect human beings; only the noble Messenger (pbuh) was protected by Allah from sin or error.
He then pointed out that Dr Kalim was careful to talk about the Sunnah and the Seerah, that is, what the Prophet (pbuh) did and what his life history was. This, said Imam al Asi, is an important point to bear in mind about Dr Kalim’s intellectual contribution.
The fact that so many people still remember Dr Kalim 20 years after his passing away and given the fast-paced changes in the Muslim world is a tribute to his great contribution. Dr Kalim’s thoughts and ideas need to be more widely circulated and studied. They are as relevant today—or perhaps even more so—than they were even 20 years ago.
He was a great scholar as well as activist who while in poor physical health, never rested for a day and continued to struggle for the upliftment of the Ummah.
May Allah rest his soul in peace, Ameen.