Dr Amjad Ali, who passed away in Karachi on 27 August 2023, was a saintly personality who left a mark on those who knew him, however briefly. He trained as a cardiologist in England in the late 1960s, during which time he was also associated with the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS). He attended its sixth annual conference held in Lancaster in 1969 and served on the FOSIS executive committee of 1969-70 that included Abdullah Naseef, AbdulWahid Hamid, Abdullah Jibril Oyekan and Ebrahimsa Mohamed. These were the glittering stars of the twentieth century Islamic firmament.
In the 1970s, Dr Amjad worked by day at the Liaqat National Hospital in Karachi and pursued religious studies in the evenings at the Banori Town Darul Uloom. He was at the forefront of the Tablighi Jamaat’s work for the decades to follow but did not seek centre stage. He was dedicated to educational work and the Ibn Abbas and Aisha Siddique madrassas he founded were reputed for their emphasis on Arabic language teaching. The Aisha Siddique madrassa “was one of the first centres for authentic and high standard religious educational instruction for women in Karachi” (statement of Muftia Sajida Abida Farooqi, his niece and also the madrassa’s administrator ). Dr Amjad himself was proficient in Arabic and translated speeches for Arabic-speaking attendees at the Tabligh conventions held in Raiwind.
He lived the ascetic life without the trappings that could have been his birthright. His father was the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Choudhury Muhammad Ali (in office in 1956). He was educated at the elite Karachi Grammar School. Dr Amjad remained unspoilt and without airs, driving friends visiting from London in an old ’77 Toyota. Among the books on his recommended reading list was Ali al-Hujwiri’s Kashf al-Mahjub (Revelation of the Hidden). For some, sufism is a form without a reality; for Dr. Amjad, it was both a form and a reality.