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Death of India's most prominent scholar
By Zafarul-Islam Khan
New Delhi, April 5: Maulana Mujahidul Islam Qasimi died at Delhi last night at the age of 65. With his death India and the World of Islam lost one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars and jurisprudents. Maulana Qasimi emerged as the most important scholar in the 131-million strong Indian Muslim community after the death of Maulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi two years ago. Maulana Qasimi's home state of Bihar has announced a day's official mourning today. His body has been airlifted to his village in Bihar's Darbhanga district where he will be buried with state honours this evening.
Maulana Qasimi was chairman of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Indian Muslims' most important organisation. He was elected to this post in the wake of the death of Maulana Nadwi, its earlier chairman. Maulana Qasimi was head of the Islamic Fiqh Academy and a number of other Islamic organisations working in cultural and political fields like the Milli Council. He used to take part in Islamic conferences in Muslim countries, especially the International Islamic Fiqh Academy based in Makkah, Saudi Arabia.
Maulana Qasimi was a graduate of Darul Uloom Islamic University at Deoband in north India. He started his public life as a judge of the Imarat-e Sharia of Bihar and Orissa, which is a community organisation aimed at deciding Muslim personal law cases. It was founded in 1921 after the closure of Islamic courts by the British colonialists.
Maulana Qasimi established the Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA) in Delhi in 1989 and continued as its secretary general until his death. Under his leadership, IFA conducted 13 fiqhi seminars around the country. These seminars discussed a lot of contemporary issues faced by the Muslim society, especially by Muslim minorities. Maulana Qasimi enjoyed deep knowledge of fiqh which elevated him to the rank of mujtahids. He believed in simplification of issues and taking the new developments into account.
Under his guidance IFA completed the Urdu translation of the 40-volume Fiqh Encyclopedia published in Kuwait. Its publication was about to start when death overtook him. Maulana Qasimi is the author of dozens of Islamic and fiqhi works in Urdu, some of which have been translated into Arabic and English. He always worked for the unity of the Muslim Ummah and tried to close the gaps between fiqhi schools in order to foster unity.
Maulana Qasimi was born in a village of Darbhanga district in Bihar on 9 October 1936. His father, Abdul Ahad Qasimi, too was a renowned scholar of his times.
Maulana Qasimi was suffering from cancer for the last four years but this did not stop him from active life until the last few weeks before his death. Many organisations and prominent personalities have condoled his death. Civil Aviation Minister Syed Shahnawaz Husain said that the vacuum left by Maulana Qasimi's death will never be filled.