After an active academic life in India, Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad  dedicated half a century in Australia for an initiative to help build up Muslim Ummah together with wider community’s involvement through active communications, activities, and widely available Australasian Muslim Times AMUST

I first met Dr Ahmad in Adelaide soon after he arrived in Australia 50 years back. I was  teaching physics in Adelaide University and under Australian Government Fellowship pursuing  PhD programme (Rocket-borne Ozone Layer study).

We interacted and followed up on our efforts even after I took up an appointment in Malaysia where I was to head a global effort to revive Islamic Astronomy institution for half a century including observatories and other avenues.

What is the background to Dr Ahmad’s mission?

Between the 8th and the 14th century CE, we witnessed an Islamic ‘Golden Age’ when Islamic Civilisation throughout much of the Mediterranean and the Middle East and further to the east and the north rapidly spread.

While Londoners slept in mud huts beside the river Thames, Muslims in Spain were building modern roads and bridges, elegant buildings, street lighting, public baths, and using deodorants.

It is now accepted wisdom that in Europe’s dark ages, the light came from Muslim Spain which inspired the European Renaissance.

Yet, after ruling over large domains of the world across vast parts of Asia, Europe, and Africa for about 1300 years, the  Muslim World went into disarray and decline post breakup of Muslim Khilafah and later  Muslim communities faced siege-like conditions in the West and elsewhere.

Muslim states have been devastated by wars in many countries including Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. This has led to large numbers of economic Muslim refugees.

In some places such as Budhist Myanmar, Muslims have been displaced and killed. Lately, even in supposedly benign places like Denmark have been targeted while in a peaceful place like New Zealand they were massacred in Christchurch mosques.

In this scenario we need the emergence of a leadership that deploys the language of religious thought and promotes an understanding of citizenship. We need interfaith dialogue to promote mutual understanding for peaceful coexistence so that new communications technologies can bring closeness and understanding between communities.

Islam has long been unduly  projected as a threat in parts of the World.

Just because Islamic Empires defeated the West at times inside Europe does not justify its prejudice against Islam.

Seemingly the power brokers vilify Islam and demonise Muslims, thereby fanning the fires of bigotry and fear among the good people in the West.

Indeed, people in the West have come to the rescue of Muslims in many ways including hosting refugees and and protested to stop wars against Muslim lands in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

Dr Ahmad’s legacy is in recognising the  need to rebuild unity of humankind through the fundamentals of Islam that emphasise social justice, peaceful co-existence, and wider community involvement.

Dr Qazi Ashfaq Ahmad indeed was, to reword poet, Sir Iqbal “Tu shaheen he perwaaz he kaam tera” meaning:  You were a falcon and flight was your calling.