With the passing away of Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, at the age of 91, I have not only lost my father, I affectionately called Abbu, but also a co-founder of AMUST, its Chief Adviser, writer, editor and a long time proofreader till his last days.
It was back in 1990, when my fellow Muslim activists cajoled me to start a community newspaper presenting news and views from an Islamic perspective as well as serving the needs of the fast growing multilingual Muslim community.
With my full time university job, providing for a family of five young children, involved heavily in Islamic activism and various community organisations and institutions, I was looking for a companion who could provide strong leadership and support for this new project.
Professionally a biochemist, I was not a trained journalist, but had gained some experience in editing, publishing and managing various Islamic publications, newsletters, magazines and journals, over the last 20 years since my arrival in Australia.
Abbu was an engineering academic, Islamic scholar and community leader engaged in various learning and teaching activities already, however when I called for help for my new project, he enthusiastically, not only encouraged for me to go ahead but assured me of his full support in planning and management of the new publication.
Hence Australian Muslim Times commenced its publication from January 1991 as a multilingual community newspaper initially produced on a fortnightly basis and later becoming a weekly with slight change of name to Australasian Muslim Times AMUST.
AMUST was produced for a number of years in English, Arabic and Turkish languages with periodical supplements in Bosnian, Urdu, Farsi and Bengali with the help of a large team of multilingual editors, writers and helpers from the extended family and the community from our large family home/office in Bonnyrigg.
I must give credit to Abbu who kept in line the large multilingual team of producers. dealing with their diverse idiosyncrasies through strict discipline of meeting the deadlines and producing AMUST regularly and strictly on time as scheduled.
After a long break when I was retiring in 2013 from my university job, I looked into the feasibility of restarting AMUST and again with Abbu’s encouragement together with my daughter’ Rubinah’s advice on modern multimedia technologies, Australasian Muslim Times AMUST was reborn in July 2014 as an English-only, full colour community multimedia news platform with monthly print and digital newspaper, weekly Email newsletter and a frequently refreshed news website and online social media presence.
In addition to contributing as a writer from time to time, Abbu was the proofreader of the final manuscript before it was sent to the printers and always demanded it as per schedule with the result that AMUST has always come out on time for the last seven years.
Abbu used to take a few hours to proofread the newspaper meticulously and at his age used to get tired. Last year when my sister gently advised him if he could take it easy and could occasionally skip the proofreading he got very angry and categorically stated that he will keep proofreading AMUST until he died.
And that’s what he did. He last proofread AMUST Issue # 195, February 2022, one week before he passed away.
Inna lillahe wa inna alaihe rajeoon. We are from Allah and to Him we return.