Social reformer Asghar Ali Engineer passes away

Asghar Ali EngineerProminent Islamic scholar, progressive thinker and social reformer Asghar Ali Engineer passed away in Mumbai today, after a prolonged illness. He was 74.

He was ailing for several months and breathed his last at his Santacruz (East) home around 8 a.m. The funeral is likely to be held on Wednesday, his family members said.

The leader of the Progressive Dawoodi Bohra movement, Engineer made valuable contributions towards promoting secularism and interfaith harmony. His liberal, rational views, based on his deep understanding of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence, are most pertinent.

He had taken an active interest in reforming the Muslim family law by suggesting the revocation of the system of oral triple talaq (divorce). He noted that the system was outdated and found no mention in the Quran.

Engineer was also against polygamy among Muslims, which, according to him, was allowed only in exceptional circumstances. He had noted that certain strict conditions were in place for a man if he wished to marry more than once, thereby making the practice 'next to impossible'.

''In his lifetime, through outstanding scholarship and activism, Dr Engineer championed the cause of peace, non-violence and communal harmony. His valuable contribution towards promoting secularism and interfaith harmony are particularly noteworthy. His liberal, rational views, based on his deep understanding of Islam and Islamic jurisprudence, are most pertinent in our times,'' vice president Hamid Ansari said in his condolence message.

A strong advocate of empowerment of Musklim women, Engineer suggested that mehr (bride money), given to bride by the groom at the time of nikah, should be in the form of gold or silver and not cash as he believed the value of currency was time bound and eventually depreciates with each passing year. He also expressed his opposition to the practice of deferring payment of the mehr amount.

Engineer, a widower, is survived by his son Irfaan and daughter Seema Indorewala.