“We are saddened by the death of Asghar Ali Engineer, an Islamic scholar and tireless voice for dialogue, who had always opposed all forms of religious bigotry,” Fr Pushpa Anbu, from the Society of the Divine Word, as he spoke to AsiaNews about the Indian Muslim scholar who passed away last Wednesday in Mumbai at the age 74 after a long illness.
A friend of AsiaNews and a great expert on Islam, Asghar Ali Engineer headed the Centre for the Study of Society and Secularism in Mumbai and was well known for his fight for human rights within Islam.
Fr Anbu, who is the secretary of the Islamic Studies Association (ISA) and editor of Salam, knew the Muslim intellectual well, and remembers him as “a man of great sensitivity and culture; a real asset to interfaith dialogue.”
“Engineer,” he explained, “will remain in the hearts of all the people who knew him, and his efforts and writings on peace and dialogue between communities will continue to inspire and instil hope in people.”
Born in Salumbar (Rajasthan) on 10 March 1939 into a family of religious officials, Engineer studied Islam, Islamic culture and Arabic at great length. He also placed his profound knowledge of the Muslim world in the service of interfaith dialogue.
For his work, he received many awards.
In 1997, the Government of India gave him the National Communal Harmony Award, one of the country’s most prestigious prizes. In 1987, the US International Student Assembly and the US Indian Student Assembly recognised his work with the Distinguished Service Award.