Dr. Israr Ahmad was born in Haryana (India) on 26th April 1932. He completed his high school from Haryana and matriculated with distinction from Punjab University. He witnessed the creation of Pakistan and was associated with the movement in his school and college life. During his medical education from King Edward Medical College Lahore (1950-54), he became a student leader and was elected head of the Islami Jamiat al-Tulaba, a student organisation. Later he joined the Jamaat-e-Islami but resigned in 1957 because of policy differences. In 1965, he did his MA in Islamic Studies from the Karachi University and topped the list of successful candidates.

He remained closely associated with Moulana Maududi (d. 1979) and Amin Ahsan Islahi (d. 1997) – two great scholars of the last century. He also drew inspiration from the works of Shah Wali Ullah (d. 1762), Mahmud al-Hasan Deobandi (d. 1920), Hamid al-Din Farahi (d. 1930) and Abu al-Kalam Azad (d. 1958). From early high school days, he was exposed to revolutionary literature of the Jammat-e-Islami (JI) and Moulana Maududi. The blend of Iqbal’s intense poetry and the brilliant essays of Mawdudi acted as a catalyst for the structural framework of Islam’s politico-socio-economic system in his mind and he espoused the same, till he breathed his last.

Dr. Israr left JI in 1957, rather, was deliberately shown the door, though parting was a better way forward. In 1957, when a meeting of a JI “shoora” was held in Machigote, Pakistan, it was decided that one with differing views cannot be a part of gathering committee (Arkaan-e-jamaat ijtema), cannot share his differences with any “rafeeq” and neither is entitled to write a word of difference. This kind of decree was unbearable to any sane person and he had left his flourishing medical profession and devoted it to the pious cause of Islam.

In 1972 he helped establish the Markazi Anjuman Khuddam-ul-Qurân in Lahore, and Tanzeem-e-Islami was founded in 1975, and Tahreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan was launched in 1991. He expressed his contentment upon knowing that Iqbal also wished for an organisation which would purely produce students whose roots are deep in Quran, fully equipped with western philosophy and contemporary subjects.

Dr. Israr Ahmad first appeared on Pakistan Television in 1978 in a program called Al-Kitab; this was followed by other programs, known as Alif Lam Meem, Rasool-e-Kamil, Umm-ul-Kitab and the most popular of all religious programs in the history of Pakistan Television, the Al-Huda, which made him a household name throughout Pakistan. His television lectures generally focused on the revitalisation of the Islamic faith through studies of the Quran. Dr. Israr Ahmad also criticised modern democracy and the electoral system and argued that the head of an Islamic state can reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly. Dr. Israr Ahmad was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1981. He has to his credit over 60 Urdu books on topics related to Islam and Pakistan, 29 of which have been translated into English and other languages

“Islam is not a mere ‘religion’ of values, beliefs and dogmas but an all-encompassing worldview, its ‘Al-Deen’, meant to supersede all other isms and schisms,” was a profound statement, propagated and disseminated by Dr. Israr Ahmad. He stressed that the need is more evident and urgent than before for Muslims to revert back to Quran.

As provocative as he may have been in his lectures, Dr. Israr brought essence and importance of Islam’s politico-socio-economic system back into vogue in the public sphere, after Maududi’s essays. He confronted the Muslim apologists head on and impressed the most powerful rulers of Muslim world to break the shackles of western enslavement and present true picture of Islam in front of the world. He had a good command on Urdu and English languages and words would flow magically from his mouth and he believed in this magic not because he was aware of his skill but because he understood that Islam had won hearts over centuries through the powerful and peaceful strength of its spoken words and not through the hoofs of its horses.

He vehemently said that Quran is the “ultimate constitution of world, the final testament, the perfect manifesto”, revealed to mankind to create just world order. He used to say Quran contains divine music, so “recite it beautifully, memorise it, understand it at a philosophical level and debate with Non-Muslims through this Quran and go out all guns blazing”. But unfortunately, Muslims are still in the deep slumber, chasing the western mirage, which is nothing but a charade.

He was possessed by the philosophy and divine music of Quran and approached it very objectively. Any person who has listened to his lectures or read his exegesis and books would simultaneously have learned two lessons, one on Quran and second on Iqbal. It was out of sheer brilliance that he used Iqbal to such a good effect in his lectures and created a frequency, wherein he related almost all his couplets with every theme of the Quran.

From PTV to Peace TV, Dr. Israr came to be known as living spirit of Quran, who would preach and practice Quran by keeping up with Islamic tradition and would call a spade a spade. One can have difference of opinion on many issues with Dr. Israr based on the knowledge and wisdom but it can’t be denied that he was another flicker on the horizon who untiringly offered his invaluable services for an Islamic renaissance. I am one among those fortunate students who was brought on the path of Islam by Dr. Israr and continue to work towards his vision. Alongside this sublime endeavor, he continues to be my spiritual mentor.

He was not a one in the crowd but a crowd in one and the oration of Quran was his signature move. He was in the maelstrom of controversy as well but it’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit goes belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly. His place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

The writer is a Doctoral Candidate in Political Economy at Jamia MilliaIslamia, New Delhi, India. He hails from Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Dr. Israr Ahmad also criticised modern democracy and the electoral system and argued that the

head of an Islamic state can reject the majority decisions of an elected assembly.