Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad is by profession a retired engineer and academic having earned his major qualifications at Aligarh Muslim University, India, University of Wisconsin, USA and University of Sydney, Australia.
However his major passion in life is, and has been for most of his life, the application of Islam in the daily life of mankind, both for Muslims and people of other faiths and beliefs.
He is a tireless community worker having founded the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare (IFEW), Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair (MEFF) and many other large and community organisations and institutions. Ashfaq also has been very active in the interfaith community in Australia and internationally in India, Malaysia, UK, USA and Saudi Arabia.
Born in India
Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad was born on 12 December 1930 into a middle class landlord family in Eastern UP, North India. His father was a lawyer and his mother was a housewife.
Orphan at 4 Years Old
When he was two years old, his father died and when four years old, his mother died. Ashfaq Ahmad and his only elder sister, Akhtar Bano, grew up with their grandfather and aunty (Phoophi) in Mohammadabad Gohna, Azamgarh.
Involved in Freedom Struggle
Ashfaq belonged to the Sheikhain family of Farooquis, Siddiquis and Abbasis of Arab ancestral origins, hailing from Ghazipoor, UP, involved in legal profession of Qazi in Mughal empire and then judges and lawyers during the British Raj.
During World War II (1939-1945), there was a great political upheaval in India that motivated Ashfaq Ahmad to get involved in the freedom struggle for India from Britain during the 1940s.
He met and worked with Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, first education minister of India and Dr Zakir Hussein, Vice President and later President of India.
Joined Islamic Movement
In his final year of his Engineering degree, Ashfaq decided to revert back to Islam, and join an Islamic movement, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind. Jamaat-e-Islami is an Islamic movement in India, founded by Islamic scholar, Abulala Maududi. Six years later, Ashfaq became the Ameer (President) of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind in Aligarh Muslim University,1955-1959.
Marriage to Jamal Ara
Ashfaq married his bestfriend’s sister, Jamal Ara. They had six beautiful children: Zia, Najm, Fauzia, Sadia, Najia and Manar. This pivotal life event led Ashfaq to becoming a serving leader of a multi-generational family network of over 80 people maintaining 5 decades of tradition. Ashfaq & Jamal Ara built an interconnected family empire that continues to thrive & grow today.
Ashfaq was a Lecturer in Engineering at Aligarh Muslim University 1955-1958 and Senior Lecturer at Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi, India 1958-1961.
Masters in USA
Ashfaq moved to the US for one year to complete a Masters in Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. He was a founding member of Muslim Student’s Association in USA & Canada 1959-1983.
His Grandfather Passes Away
Ashfaq was raised by his grandfather who was a retired judge who passed away at the age 103 in 1960. Ashfaq’s only elder relative and role model who took care of him as an orphan, died when Ashfaq was 30 years old.
Moved to Kashmir
Professor Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad, served as Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering and acting Principal at Regional Engineering College in Srinagar, Kashmir, 1961-1963. He held an influential position.
Sacked & Threatened!
Due to political interferences between Indian and Pakistan in Kashmir, he was suddenly terminated from his job in 1969 and threatened with anti-national charges. He had to leave his home and country with his wife and six children to an unknown new land, Australia.
Arrival in the “Lucky Country”
Ashfaq arrived in Australia to do his PhD at the University of Sydney. He did not know much about Australia but was amazed at how well he was treated by Australians, and came to love Australia developing great friendships. He decided to burn his boats and settle in the “lucky country” and became a citizen in 1973 together with his family.
Papua New Guinea
Ashfaq, his wife and two daughters lived in Lae, PNG from 1978 to 1983 where Ashfaq served as Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and established Muslim community organisations and institutions in PNG.
With a growing extended family, Ashfaq founded a weekly study circle called Usrah and Australasian Integrated Family (AIF) that was later named Islamic Foundation for Education & Welfare (IFEW) both continue to date.
Founded the Multicultural Eid Festival & Fair
Ashfaq noticed that Eid was only celebrated in people’s private homes. Back in his home country, Eid was celebrated in large gatherings and festivals, and he wanted to have the same feelings of celebration with his friends and families.
Editor-in-Chief of AMUST
Ashfaq co-founded the first multilingual high quality Australasian Muslim Times Newspaper in 1991. Pictured with Qamar-al-Din Champion (AMUST Journalist). After a two decade long break. his eldest son re-started it and Ashfaq contributed to the newspaper till final days.
Australian Community Achievements & Awards
- Founding Secretary, Australian Islamic Mission (AIM) 1972.
- Founding President, Muslims Australia (also known as Australian Federation of Islamic Councils AFIC) 1976-77.
- Editor-in-Chief, Australian Muslim Times 1991; Chief Advisor, Australasian Muslim Times AMUST, 2014-2022.
- Member, Board of Trustees, International Council of Islamic Information (United Kingdom), since 1993.
- Founder and Patron, Islamic Forum for Australian Muslims (IFAM) 1993.
- Founder, Member and Patron, Aligarh Muslim University Alumni of Australia (AMUAA), since 1992.
- Member, Association for Indian Muslims (United States), 1992.
- Founder and Patron, Islamic Foundation for Education and Welfare, since 1986.
- Co-Founder and Chief Organiser, Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair (MEFF), since 1985.
- Founder and Member, Council of Islamic Affairs New South Wales (now ICNSW), 1974-1976.
- Founding President, Sydney University Muslim Students Association, 1972-1974.
- Assembly Member, Council of Parliament of World Religions, USA, since 1993.
- Establishment of the Interfaith Youth Friendship Centre, 2006.
Awards and recognition
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Australian Muslim Achievement Awards, 2011.
- Sir Syed Award, AMU Alumni of Australia, 2003.
- Centenary Medal for contribution to Australian society, 2001.
- Services to Islam Award, Australian Muslim Professionals (FAMP), 1994.
- Community Service Award in recognition of a valuable contribution to the Bicentenary, 1988.
Charles Sturt University is undertaking the Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad Biography Project, which aims to document Dr Ahmad’s contribution to society throughout his life. For more information, contact [email protected]
Order of Australia Medal
At the age of 90, Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad received the Award Medals from the Governor of NSW, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley, AC, QC on Tuesday 8 September 2020 at Government House.
Final Event: Mobinah’s Wedding
The last social family event Ashfaq attended, was of his granddaughter, Mobinah’s wedding. He gifted a Quran and a beautiful message of wisdom, lessons and values. This event was 3 weeks prior to his death.
10 February 2022
Passed Away at 91 years old
At the age of 91, Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad OAM passed away in the presence of his eldest son, Ziaul Islam Ahmad reciting a poem from his childhood by Mohamed Allamah Iqbal.
His memory and legacy is kept alive through the thriving organisations he started, his books and publications, his pioneering ideas and events, his reputation as a dedicated Australian Muslim, friends, networks, multicultural and interfaith contacts and over 80 family members: children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
We thank Allah for bringing this soul on earth, for giving him a long life where he made such an incredible impact.
Let us all remember death and live this life to only please Allah. Indeed, we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.