Asghar Ali Engineer: A Global Model of Islamic Wisdom

Asghar Ali Engineer: A Global Model of Islamic Wisdom

by Prof. Robert D. Crane

  Misunderstanding of Asghar Ali Engineer, who on May 14th, 2013, passed to his eternal reward, has always been at the center of controversy.  This has resulted in part from his favorable use of the term secularism.  In India it means freedom for religion without communal prejudices, whereas in America secularism means opposition to all forms of religion as allegedly the principal source of oppression, conflict, and chaos, rather than as the best or only cure for them.
  America’s Founders all condemned democracy as the worst form of governance because it is based on man as the source of truth and justice, as in the French Revolution, which was based on the power of an elite to manipulate the mob.  The Founders of the Great American Experiment in just governance said they had created a republic, which by definition recognizes a transcendent source of truth and justice.  The task of the legislature is to seek it.  The Executive Branch of government must follow the leadership of the legislature, which follows a technique of consensus known as democracy.  The judiciary is charged with making sure that the executive branch does so.  The fourth and fifth branches of governance, namely, the media and the think-tank community, ideally should promote transparency, including the exposure, rather than the power, of special interests.
  Secularists in America consider Thomas Jefferson as a guardian against religion because he taught that freedom of religion requires separation of organized religion and organized politics.  They ignore the profound wisdom in his statement that a people can remain free only if they are properly educated.  Proper education consists of teaching and learning moral virtue.  A people can remain virtuous only to the extent that both the personal and public lives of the individual are infused with awareness and love of divine providence, by which he meant God.

  This was Asghrar Ali Engineer’s life teaching and is the basis of Shaykha Moza’s Qatar Foundation, where I am the Director of the Center for the Study of Islamic Thought and Muslim Societies.  Her unparalled vision and mission is to bring the best of all civilizations and religions to Qatar in order to bring out their universal wisdom through an interfaith model of harmony in the pursuit of peace, prosperity, and freedom through transcendent and compassionate justice, as the Islamic civilization did a thousand years ago.
  This was precisely what Ali Engineer tried to do in India and throughout the world.  He may have thought that he had only two thousand followers, but to that he should have added a few zeros.

May God reward him with His Eternal Presence,


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