26 July 2023 Shabbir Akhtar remembered by Ishtiaq Ahmed

“Dr Shabir Akhtar: A monumental loss for the Muslim Ummah and the intellectual world..

Their journeys are short but their impact is for generations to come. Such would be the case with Dr Shabbir Akhtar, a son of a bus driver from Bradford, a man of an exceptional intellect who went on to inspire many through his groundbreaking writings. Today we hear that he has joined his maker. Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. Dr Shabir’s sudden death at a relatively young age is an enormous loss to the Muslim ummah. For me the loss is even greater for he was a dearest friend and an intellectual inspiration.

Together,  we enjoyed our intellectual excursions over many years. Along with an exceptionally brilliant mind he had an absolute command on the English language and the sharpness of wit to go with it, making him an outstanding orator and debater. His traits came through during the infamous Rushdie affair when he became the intellectual voice of the British Muslims. He went on to write and publish the very first rebuttal of the ‘Satanic Verses’  “Be Careful with Muhammad: The Salman Rushdie Affair” at my insistence. A quick glance of his monumental published work demonstrates the intellectual pedigree of this giant of a man from Bradford, including,

  • The Education of Muslims in the UK
  • The Muslim Poetic Imagination
  • The Final Imperative: An Islamic Theology of Liberation
  • A Faith for All Seasons: Islam and the Challenge of the Modern World
  • Be Careful with Muhammad: The Salman Rushdie Affair
  • The Light in the Enlightenment: Christianity and the Secular Heritage
  • Reason and the Radical Crisis of Faith
  • The New Testament in Muslim Eyes: Paul’s letter to the Galatians
  • Islam as Political Religion: The Future of an Imperial Faith
  • The Quran and the Secular Mind: A Philosophy of Islam.
  • Love in the Wrong Season: Collected Poems

Dr Shabir wrote widely on Islam and Christianity. His articles have appeared both in academic journals and in the national press. Several of his books have been translated into the major Islamic languages. 

Dr Shabir was also a brilliant poet but not something that he saw it as his principal trait yet he had some of his work published. He use to say ‘poetry is something that comes natural to me’, which he has to keep it under wrap for the fear of it taking over all the other things that he needs to do. .Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un..”
Ishtiaq Ahmed, Bradford