Islamic Perspectives

Obituary note: Dr M.A. M. Shukri

I am shocked and saddened to hear that Dr M. A.M Shukri: Director of Jamiah Naleemiah has died peacefully at Delmon Hospital, Colombo today (19 May 2020). Marhoom Dr M.A.M. Shukri is one of rare Islamic scholars that the Muslim community has produced. He is naturally talented with many skills. His primary education was in his hometown Matara: while he was attending his primary education, he was trained and educated by some of famous Islamic scholars of his time. He is graced and blessed with some natural talents. He excelled in his languages: namely Tamil, Arabic, English and Sinhalese languages. While he was a student at Colombo Zahira college, he won many awards in different competitions.

During his undergraduate studies at Peradeniya university, he became famous for his oration and debating skills in Tamil language. He won many awards in Tamil language speaking competitions sometime defeating some Tamil students too. He was educated and guided by late prof Imam at Peradeniya University and awarded first class degree in his graduate studies.  Subsequently, he was appointed as a Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic studies at Peradeniya university. He was the first Muslim scholar to be awarded a commonwealth scholarship to read for his Ph.D. at Edinburgh University from 1974-1978. He successfully completed his Ph.D. on the topic of one of greatest Muslim Sufi scholars in Islamic history and appointed as senior Lecturer on his return from Edinburgh.

Marhoom Dr Shukri was a talented Sri Lankan Muslim scholar who has contributed immensely for Sri Lankan Muslim education in many areas. He dedicated entire his life for education. He loved to read, write, and do research in the field of Muslim education. In fact, he has contributed to hundreds of international and local conferences. He has contributed over 60 years in the field of education. His radio talks on various Islamic subjects have attracted audience not only from Muslim community but also from non-Muslim communities as well. He produced some best research works on various topics related to Muslim history and Islamic topics. Moreover, he has produced hundreds of articles in Tamil and English languages.  

He was appointed as Director of Jamiah Naleemiah by Marhoom Al-Hajj Naleem in 1982.  Since then, he dedicated his life for Jamiah Naleemiah and Its development. Naleemiah is fortunate enough to have him as its director for more than 40 years. During his time, he stimulated a research culture among students. He encouraged students to read and do research in the field of education. Undoubtedly, Sri Lankan Muslim student community in Sri Lankan universities and at Jamiah Naleemiah are motivated and inspired by this great personality. He has been a father of education for Sri Lankan Muslim community. He produced some excellent books on different Islamic topic and translated some good books too.

When Muslim community was left behind in the field of education, he motivated the entire Muslim community to progress in Education.  one of the greatest contributions that he has done for the Muslim community is the compilation of Sri Lankan Muslim history. He edited a historical compendium on Sri Lankan Muslim community: Muslims of Sri Lanka: Avenues to antiquity is one of greatest contributions of late Mahroom Dr M. A, M Shukri. The entire Muslim community owe him a great respect for this contribution. This was a timely needed academic contribution to trace the origin and the history of Sri Lankan Muslim community. Unlike Tamil and Sinhalese communities have their religious and historical texts to prove their historical connection with the Island of Sri Lanka and yet, the Sri Lankan Muslim community did not have such historical texts to prove their historical connection with Sri Lanka in the past, but, Marhoom Dr. M.A.M Shukri managed to consult some of best historians in Sri Lanka to collect the origin and the history of Sri Lankan Muslim community from ancient time to modern time.

This historical document is one of the most important historical books on the history of Muslim community in Sri Lanka. I think this is invaluable contribution of Marhoom Dr M. A. M Shukri. In addition to his academic contribution, he closely interacted with Muslim community to engage in many social works and interfaith discussions. He earned a good will of many Sinhalese and Tamil academic communities. He developed his friendship with many leading Buddhist prelates and Tamil leaders. Today, the entire Sri Lankan Muslim community mourns for the lost of one of greatest Sri Lankan Muslim scholars. I am fortunate enough to study under his academic guidance and supervision. I can write pages about his life and contribution and yet, it is beyond the scope of this obituary note to do so. He is survived by his wife and children. May Allah forgive him and reward him with Jannath-Al-Firdous for his all deeds and works. We pray for him and console his family in this difficult time. (19 May 2020)

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