The Passing of a Truly Gentle Soul - On the death of Dr Zaki Badawi
Shaykh Dr Zaki Badawi died as he lived - in service to his faith, his community and the country he loved. Condolences, quiet gestures of grief and prayers poured in from across the country as the word of Dr Badawi’s passing spread. The traditional Muslim invocation “to God we belong and to God is our return” was repeated again and again as friends and long-time associates struggled to come to terms with his death.
Few Muslims, if any, could inspire the kind of public tributes that the Egyptian-born scholar has. From the Prince of Wales to the Prime Minister, civil liberties activists to media personalities, politicians to religious and community leaders - all acknowledged the contribution of this intrepid scholar leader.
An indefatigable force in British Islam for four decades, Dr Zaki Badawi was one of the country’s most influential Muslim personalities. Principal and Founder of The Muslim College, Chairman of the Imams and Mosques Council of the UK, Founder of the Muslim Law Council and former Imam and Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, Sir Dr Zaki Badawi was a man of tremendous stature - a respected scholar, a bridge builder, a consistent and powerful voice of reason and hope, especially in recent, turbulent times.
A founder, with Sir Sigmund Sternberg and Rev Dr Marcus Braybrooke, of the Three Faith Forum, Dr Zaki Badawi was a champion of the universal values that he believed all peoples and faiths shared, long before such ecumenism was popular.
Generations of British Muslims benefited from his insight and wisdom. For the staff at Q-News - The Muslim Magazine, Dr Badawi’s passing has been deeply felt.
Publisher and Founding Editor Fuad Nahdi said:
“The gap Shaykh Badawi leaves behind is going to be very difficult to fill. He was a high calibre well-rounded scholar who never allowed circumstances to colour his edicts, an activist who knew how to pursue an agenda within a complex political network and an institution builder.
“But what made Shaykh Badawi unique is that he was a born leader who had little time or tolerance for representational politics and the antics that went with it. Of the national leadership feted in the corridors of power he was the only ‘alim (Islamic scholar).
“Right from its inception Q-News has enjoyed his total support and commitment. He read every issue page to page and it was always a pleasure to hear his comments. He was proud of the magazine and its achievement for it represented what he admired and respected most: critical self-retrospection, humour, independence and intelligence. He viewed Q-News advocacy of British Islam as part of the debate on the matter he initiated more than 30 years ago.
“Disagreeing with Shaykh Badawi was both a frustrating and futile exercise. He never personalised an argument or harboured malice just because you disagreed with him - to make him any enemy you really had to work very hard at it. On the few occasions I dared to disagree with him it always finally emerged that I erred.
“I will miss his intelligent conversations full of humour, wit and insight, his compassion and love, his enthusiasm, his optimism and, most important of all, the love he always had for his faith and community.”
Managing Editor Fareena Alam said:
“You were always at ease with Dr Zaki Badawi. Even when there was immense pressure on Muslim communities, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and more recently the London bombings, his optimism never flagged. He had faith in the capacity of British Muslim to give the best of themselves and their faith to Britain. Never patronizing, he showed a unique respect for young people. He gave hope to countless women who suffered from gross misinterpretations of Islamic law. As a respected jurist, his religious counsel was much sought after for its balance, relevance and practicality.
“He always reminded me that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted ease for his followers, not hardship. Dr Zaki was a champion of faith and he sought to forge strong bonds between people of all faith. His embrace was generous. Dr Zaki didn’t play politics with religion. He was a great and treasured friend of Q-News and always knew the importance of independent Muslim media. Even when we disagreed, he would receive us with a hearty smile and a cup of tea.”
Q-News is proud to have been part of two major events aimed at honouring Shaykh Badawi’s for his achievements twice during his life: first to mark his 80th birthday and to congratulate him on his knighthood.
May God grant Dr Zaki Badawi’s soul rest and eternal blessing and mercy. Our prayers are with him and his family. May his incredible life be an abiding example to all people of faith and may his vision of a truly British Islam flourish. Ameen.
Information on funeral arrangements will be made available on the Q-News website (http://www.q-news.com).
Messages of condolence to Dr Zaki’s family and colleagues can be sent to:
The Muslim College
20-22 Creffield Road
London W5 3RP