Home Thinkers Series Dr. Israr Ahmed: Thinker, Advisor, Reformer

Dr. Israr Ahmed: Thinker, Advisor, Reformer

Dr. Israr Ahmed's enduring legacy in Islamic scholarship resonates worldwide. Through his teachings, writings, and institutions, he continues to inspire and guide, keeping alive his vision for a genuine Islamic identity that remains relevant and cherished by many around the globe.

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Dr. Israr Ahmed was a renowned thinker, adviser, and reformer, highly respected in India, Pakistan, the Middle East, and America. He founded Tanzeem-e-Islami, an organization aimed at establishing a caliphate in Pakistan.

Born on April 26, 1932, into a Mughal family in the Hisar district of Haryana state, Dr. Ahmed’s ancestors originally hailed from Muzaffarnagar district. After the 1857 rebellion, his family relocated to East Punjab. Following the creation of Pakistan, he moved to Lahore, where he excelled in his FSC examination at Government College. He earned his MBBS degree from King Edward Medical College in 1954 and an MA from the University of Karachi in 1965. Dr. Ahmed practiced medicine until 1971.

From a young age, Dr. Ahmed was known for his sensitive temperament, intelligence, and maturity. He was profoundly influenced by Allama Iqbal, feeling a deep personal and social loss upon learning of Iqbal’s death. His engagement with Iqbal’s works began at the tender age of ten, profoundly shaping his outlook. Dr. Ahmed was convinced that the decline of the Ummah stemmed from its estrangement from its foundational sources. Inspired by this realization and driven by a deep passion, he dedicated himself to reviving Islam’s central role in guiding the Ummah.

Alongside Allama Iqbal, Dr. Ahmed was influenced by prominent figures such as Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi, Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, Dr. Rafiuddin, and Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani, all of whom significantly shaped his thought and approach.

During his academic years, Dr. Israr Ahmed was an active member of Islami-Jamiat-Talaba and was appointed as Naazim-e-aala (National President). After graduating, he joined Jamaat-e-Islami. However, due to differences over electoral politics and intellectual disagreements, he left Jamaat. Subsequently, he dedicated himself to Islamic research and, in 1975, founded Tanzeem-e-Islami, serving as its founding leader.

In 1981, Dr. Ahmed became a member of the Majlis-e-Shura (Advisory Committee) under General Zia-ul-Haq. That same year, the Government of Pakistan recognized his contributions by awarding him the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence), the third-highest civilian award in Pakistan. Dr. Ahmed opposed the prevailing electoral politics and was a staunch advocate for the practice of Khilafat-e-Rashida. He was also a vocal critic of Western, particularly American, military intervention in Islamic countries.

Dr. Israr Ahmed suffered from heart disease and back pain for many years. He passed away on April 14, 2010, at the age of 78, and was laid to rest in Gardentown Cemetery. He is survived by his widow, four sons, and five daughters.

Contributions

Dr. Israr Ahmed’s contributions to Quranic scholarship, religious leadership, and his high personal stature are recognized not only by his followers but also by conscious Muslims of his time. Dr. Ahmed’s notable contribution was the promotion of Quranic teachings to the public through lessons and harmonizing religious sciences with the modern age. He is regarded as one of the greatest religious scholars of the modern era, with his services highly valued in Pakistan and other Islamic countries. Dr. Ahmed established three key institutions: Anjuman-e-Khuddamul Quran, Tanzeem-e-Islami Pakistan, and Tehreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan, all of which actively pursue their goals with a clear awareness of their missions.

Dr. Ahmed was deeply committed to moving the Ummah away from purely jurisprudential debates and minor issues, aiming instead to bridge the divides within the community, highlight the preeminence of the Qur’an, and lead people to recognize it as the primary source and a living miracle of the Holy Prophet, guiding life back to its rightful path. Inspired by this vision, he delivered speeches titled “Musalmano par Qur’an Majeed ke Huqooq” (The Rights of the Holy Qur’an on Muslims), later published as a book. His philosophical strength was further reinforced by the words of the great reformer Shaykh-ul-Hind, Maulana Mahmood-ul-Hasan Deobandi, and the thoughts of Allama Iqbal, whom he considered a profound interpreter of the Qur’an. Dr. Ahmed himself stated:

“The fact is, in my view, the greatest exponent and advocate of the Qur’an in this era is Allama Iqbal. The depth and grasp with which the greatness of the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Allama Iqbal, to the best of my knowledge, has not been matched by anyone else. When he speaks of the Qur’an’s greatness, it is as if he sees it in his vision and experiences it firsthand.”

He goes on to add,

“His couplets resonate with the ecstasy and pleasure of faith and belief, the passion of love for God and the Prophet, and compassion for the community. His sermons are a manifestation of his attempts to study the Holy Qur’an at the highest academic level of his time. Through his teachings, the late Allama sought to bridge modern mathematics, physics, philosophy, and psychology with the fundamental teachings of the Holy Quran. Clearly, without such integration, it is absolutely impossible for the vehicle of religion to advance in the current era.”

Establishment of Anjuman-e-Khuddamul Qur’an

Dr. Ahmad influenced millions and sparked a revolution in their lives through his Quranic teachings, which garnered widespread discussion even during his student years. As interest in these teachings grew, he felt compelled to organize the study and teaching of the Quran more formally. In 1972, he founded Anjuman-e-Khuddamul Qur’an in Lahore, aiming to revive the struggle for Iqamat-e-deen and strengthen the Ummah’s connection with the Holy Qur’an. This association expanded to include many branches both within the country and internationally.

Dr. Ahmad explained his motivations, saying:

“In 1967, I reached the conscious conclusion that forming a Jamaat was essential for the exaltation of the Word of Allah. At that time, I had already begun the work of Dawat-e-Ruju’l-ilal-Qur’an (the call to return to the Qur’an) on my own. By the grace of Allah, in 1972, we reached a significant milestone when the central Anjuman-e-Khuddamul Qur’an Lahore was established specifically for Dawat-e-Ruju’l-ilal-Qur’an. On this occasion, I wrote in the ‘Meesaq’ that this organization is not my ultimate goal but rather a matter of the transitional period and an initial stage.”

Establishment of Tanzeem-e-Islami

Dr. Ahmad resigned from Jamaat-e-Islami shortly after becoming a member in 1957 due to a strong disagreement with the policies of the Jamaat. He believed that the movement had deviated from its original principles. Despite his differences with Maulana Maududi, he remained magnanimous, ensuring that these disagreements never devolved into personal criticism.

After leaving Jamaat-e-Islami, Dr. Ahmad waited for the members who had also left the Jamaat to form a new organization that he could join. However, when no such organization emerged after extensive negotiations and meetings, he decided to establish his own.

In 1975, Dr. Ahmad founded Tanzeem-e-Islami, initially serving only as its convener. He hoped that those who had left Jamaat-e-Islami due to disagreements and supported the formation of this new organization would assume its leadership. However, this hope was not realized, and in 1977, during the third annual meeting of Tanzeem-e-Islami, he reluctantly accepted the leadership role.

In asserting the organization’s principles, Dr. Ahmad emphasized:

“In forming this organization, we did not adhere to the constitutional, legal, and democratic principles that were imported from the West. Instead, we completely abandoned them in favor of the principle and method of Nizaam-e-ba’yt (the system of allegiance), as dictated by the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger. This has been the method of our ancestors and is prevalent in all religious movements of our past. Ba’yt is also for tazkiyah (self-purification) and correction of actions, which is called ‘Ba’yt-e-irshad.’ All movements that have arisen for Jihad-fi-sabeelillah (struggle in the way of Allah) have also been based on this system. When Syed Ahmad Barilvi R.A. revived the original Muhammadan way in Pakistan and India, he did so through ba’yt. We do not want to do Western imitation in any form. We prefer and consider the method derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, followed by our righteous predecessors, to be superior and beneficial. That is why we have not adopted the democratic and constitutional methods of organization from the outside but have embraced the method of allegiance and have made the Qur’anic instruction of ‘أمرهم شورى بينهم’ (Their affairs are a matter of consultation among them) our guiding principle. We believe that this is in compliance with the Prophet’s command ‘عليكم بسنتي’ (Hold fast to my traditions), and our progress and success lie in adopting the method of organization derived from the Sunnah.”

A Special Curriculum

A special curriculum based on the Holy Quran was developed, starting with Surah Al-Asr. In this curriculum, Dr. Ahmad has effectively clarified the concept of religion and explained the religious duties of a believer. This curriculum systematically incorporates verses from the Holy Quran that are directly addressed to Muslims, providing both intellectual and practical guidance. As a result, this comprehensive curriculum has been widely disseminated in the form of Quranic lessons. It includes key sections such as the second rukuu’ (section) of Surah Luqman and the last rukuu’ of Surah Furqan, which guide individual life, the complete Surah Tahreem for family life, and Surah Hujurat for guidance on national, communal, and political life. 

Quranic Lectures

The series began in 1989. For each session, a topic was chosen, on which Dr. Ahmad would deliver a lecture. After each lecture, he would address various questions logically and thoughtfully. These Qur’anic lectures attracted eminent scholars from different schools of thought, as well as lawyers and journalists. Dr. Ahmad covered a variety of topics, including “System of Life in Islam,” “Spiritual and Moral System of Islam,” “Political System of Islam,” “Reality of Faith,” and “Social System of Islam.”

Writings

He rose to international prominence as an interpreter of the Qur’an. Without exaggeration, hundreds of his audio and video lectures have been translated into numerous languages around the world. Undoubtedly, he played a crucial role in establishing Islam’s true identity, a contribution that will never be forgotten in history. He has authored over 100 books, many of which have been translated into different languages. His works include several comprehensive books on the interpretation of the Holy Quran and the biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

A few titles are as follows:

  • Malfoozat Doctor Israr Ahmad
  • Islaah-e-ma’shira ka Qurani Tasawwur
  • Nabi Akram se Humare Ta’alluq ki Buniyadein
  • Tawba ki Azmat aur Ta’seer
  • Haqeeqat-o-aqsaam-e-shirk
  • Qur’an Ke Hum Par Paanch Huqooq
  • Islam aur Pakistan
  • Allama Iqbal aur Hum
  • Istehkam-e-Pakistan
  • Musalman Ummaton ka Maazi, Haal, aur Mustaqbil
  • Pakistan ki Siyasat ka Pehla Awaami wa Hangami Daur

Conclusion

Today, as we reflect on the legacy of Dr. Israr Ahmed, we are reminded of the profound impact he has had on Islamic scholarship and the interpretation of the Qur’an. His contributions have left a lasting mark on the world, and his efforts to elucidate the teachings of Islam continue to resonate across the globe. Through his extensive writings, lectures, and the institutions he founded, Dr. Israr Ahmed’s dedication to reviving the essence of Islamic principles is evident. His vision for a true Islamic identity remains as relevant and vital as ever, guiding countless individuals in their spiritual and intellectual journeys.

References

  • Doctor Israr Ahmad: Beeswi Sadi Ka Azeem Mudarris Wa Da’ee-e-Qur’an, Ph.D. Research, Hamdard University
  • Inferaadi Nijaat aur Qur’an ka Laa.iha-e-‘amal
  • Itaa’at ka Qurani Tasawwur
  • Doctor Israr Ahmad Ka Manhaj-e-tafseer

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