The International Institute of Islamic Thought
London Office, UK


PRESS RELEASE: Sheikh Zaki Badawi (1922-2006) - An Obituary

It is with deepest sadness that we announce that Sheikh Dr. M.A. Zaki Badawi O.B.E., K.B.E., Principal of the Muslim College, founder of the Imams and Mosques Council (UK), chair and founding member of the Forum Against Islamophobia and Racism (FAIR), founding member of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS UK), and arguably the nation's greatest and most celebrated spokesman for the cause of British Islam has died in London on 24 January 2006 at the venerable age of 83.

Despite his advancing years, the humble scholar with the humble heart worked tirelessly to the very end, collapsing whilst giving a talk in London, characteristically engaged until the moment of his death in a gentle but unfailing campaign for the cause of Islam and the Muslim community.

A charismatic figure with an almost fatherly, watchful eye over the nurture and development of Britain's Islamic community his passing leaves a void, which, will be immensely difficult to fill. It is a tremendous loss to the Muslim community and a testament to the legacy of a self-effacing man, to whom ambition was a stranger, and flattery an embarrassment. Dr. Badawi's was a powerful, empathic, intelligent, and warm personality. Always polite, cheerful, engaging, and respectful his sharp wit and delightful sense of humour were a joy and inspiration to all who had the good fortune to meet and know him, both on a professional, personal, and social level.

A visionary who understood the needs of the Muslim community decades before it had come of age, Dr. Badawi worked relentlessly to turn this vision into reality. Unthwarted by obstacles, undaunted by seats of power, fearless of the media, he easily commanded the respect and attention of royalty, heads of state, politicians, journalists, the establishment, as well as, and perhaps most challenging of all, the general public and diverse cultures making up the British Muslim community. Indeed, it is far from exaggeration to affirm that he has played a major role in putting both British Islam and British Muslim identity on the map, giving it a respect and history, which will long be remembered. His was a voice and his were ideas constantly in demand and his passing away marks the end of an era.

Dr. Badawi's was also an illustrious and distinguished life - a graduate of Al-Azhar University feted with numerous awards, distinctions and achievements, his high-minded and honourable nature forbade him from indulging in the accolades of men. These were but mere laurels of this world to him when the Hereafter was the only reward he sought. Nevertheless awards serve a function, they recognize the legacy of men and allow us to express our esteem and appreciation for the achievements of others, and, in accordance with this precept, the AMSS UK paid tribute to Dr. Badawi's brilliant model of hard work, dedication, and service by honouring him with their 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Award was presented at a dinner to mark the occasion of his eightieth birthday at the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre on 15 January 2003 and jointly organized by the AMSS, Al-Khoei Foundation, FAIR and Q-News. Attended by over a hundred and fifty representatives of not only British Muslim organisations but people from every sector of the community and establishment, from politicians to leaders of other faith communities, the diversity amongst the crowd was itself testimony to not only the varied work that Dr. Badawi has been involved in, but how much he is respected for his immense efforts. The evening ended with telling words of gratitude from Dr. Badawi himself, who reminded the audience that this should not just be a celebration of his life, but of the progress and achievements of the British Muslim community. In his inspiring speech, Dr. Badawi spoke of how he had helped to nurture a confident British Muslim identity over the decades and how far the community had come from the days when he first conveyed this message. It came as no surprise then that his closing remarks were met with a standing ovation when he ended the evening by declaring that, "The British Muslim community has arrived!"

Fusing the best of Islamic knowledge with the best of western thought and armed with a resultant uncanny understanding of the peculiar needs and requirements of the Muslim community attempting to straddle with practicality the two realities of their lives, Dr. Badawi arguably became best known for his role as Principal of The Muslim College, a place and achievement which he cherished greatly and a base to which he fondly returned after his many speaking engagements throughout the world.

Founded in 1987 as a religious academic institution specialising in the study of Islam, its culture and history, it was an idea born on his arrival at the Islamic Cultural Centre in 1978, where after holding a conference for all Imams in Britain to acquaint himself with their work and explore ways of cooperation he set to work and found that few of them spoke English; a village imam being imported into Britain is a very disastrous thing, particularly for the youth, he opined. Ever the realist his solution was to establish the Muslim College, which began functioning in 1990. With great foresight he set about training Imams in public speaking, to give sermons which are relevant and entertaining, as well as training them in counseling and other skills. Also introduced to students were what have come today to be indispensable skills required of Muslims: journalism, mass media, teacher-training etc.

Dr. Badawi has also been an integral part of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists UK since its inception in 1996. A founding member of the Association as well as long time member of its Executive Committee he was a strong and guiding force behind its growth and development; his wisdom and input have been a deep loss to the organization.

Dr. Badawi's consistently clear message and decades of unflagging hard work have borne fruit. Leaving behind him the legacy of a confident British Muslim identity he has also greatly furthered the cause of inter-faith dialogue and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims both in the UK and abroad.

May Allah have mercy on his soul and may He bless our Ummah with more men and scholars of his calibre.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family.

Press Release from the IIIT London Office:

IIIT London Office Condemns the Horrific Attacks on London

The London Office of the International Institute of Islamic Thought strongly deplores the cowardly attacks in central London. These are despicable and heinous crimes which have caused the death and suffering of innocent people. Our thoughts and minds are with the families of the dead and we send them our heartfelt condolences. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured. Those who have committed these despicable attacks must be brought to justice. Such shocking and senseless acts are crimes not only against every British citizen but against humanity.

IIIT (UK) 7th July 2005



by Jasser Auda

HB: £21.95, €31, $28.95
PB: £12.95, €19, $18.95


by Gamal Eldin Attia

HB: £21.95, €31, $28.95
PB: £12.95, €19, $18.95


Translated by M. T. el-Mesawi

HB: £24.95, €36, $35
PB: £16.95, €25, $25

Fiqh for Minorities

by Taha Jabir al-Alwani

£4.50 (Pbk)

This publication is No. 10 in the IIIT Occasional Paper Series.

Peace and the Limits of War

by Louay M. Safi

£5.50 (Pbk)

Visit the Publications section to view this title. Click here to view the lastest publications advert (pdf format).

1999-2014 © All rights reserved