Leading Islamic scholar, author and activist Asghar Ali Engineer, 74, died at his Santacruz home on Tuesday. He had been ailing for the last three months.
In 1993, a year after the destruction of Babari masjid, he founded the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism. He chaired the center and it had been the focus of his work since.
Engineer was also the founder of the Asian Muslim Action Network and the director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. He authored 65 books, papers and journals, on Islam, communal problems in India and on rights of Muslim women. Lately, he was working on the codification of the Muslim personal law.
A leader of the Progressive Dawoodi Bohra movement – which split from the mainstream Shia Dawoodi Bohra sect on economic and social issues -- Engineer was vocal on matters relating to the community and the nation. “He took up leadership a few years after the movement started and brought about several reforms,” said Saifuddin Insaf, 72, one of its leaders.
His last rites would be conducted on Wednesday at the Sunni cemetery in Santacruz West. “He always said he wanted to be buried at the cemetery where most of his colleagues and friends from the Progressive Writers’ Association, including Kaifi Azmi and Ali Sardar Jafri, have been buried,” said his son Irfan Engineer, 51.