Asghar Ali Engineer
( 2004 , India )

...for promoting over many years in South Asia the values of religious and communal co-existence, tolerance and mutual understanding.

...I soon came to the conclusion that it was not religion but misuse of religion and politicising of religion, which was the main cause of communal violence.


Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS) was founded in 1993 in Mumbai by Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Dr. George Ninan and K N Pannicker. Though CSSS came into being after the 1992 Bombay riots, work on similar lines was carried out even prior to CSSS in the form of EKTA. EKTA was a collective of trade unions, civil liberties organizations, organizations struggling for gender justice, and other democratic organizations. These organizations felt the need to respond to communal mobilization and violence that was on rise in the 1980s, particularly in the northern and western region of the country.

Contact

Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
602 & 603, Silver Star
6th Floor, behind BUS Depot
Santacruz (East)
Mumbai – 400 055

INDIA
http://www.csss-isla.com/

Asghar Ali Engineer passed away on May 14th, 2013.

Biography

Asghar Ali Engineer was born in 1939, and took a BSc. in civil engineering from Vikram University. From 1980 he edited the journal The Islamic Perspective, and during the 1980s he published a string of books on Islam and communal violence in India, the latter based on his field investigations into the communal riots in post-independence India.

By 1987 he was well enough known to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the USA International Student Assembly and the USA Indian Student Assembly. In 1990 he received the Dalmia Award for communal harmony and is the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees.

1992 saw the destruction of the Babri Mosque and provided the impetus for the foundation by Engineer in 1993 of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), of which Engineer was the Chairman and which became the organisational focus of his work.

The objectives of CSSS are to spread the spirit of communal harmony, to study problems in the area and organise inter-faith dialogues.

To this end CSSS undertakes research, organises seminars, conducts training and mass awareness programs, publishes books and pamphlets and networks with other organisations.

Through CSSS and otherwise Engineer gave many lectures and was involved in many workshops (some abroad, mainly in India, some for the Indian police) promoting communal understanding and harmony.

He published 52 books, many papers and articles, including those for schola …

Asghar Ali Engineer was born in 1939, and took a BSc. in civil engineering from Vikram University. From 1980 he edited the journal The Islamic Perspective, and during the 1980s he published a string of books on Islam and communal violence in India, the latter based on his field investigations into the communal riots in post-independence India.

By 1987 he was well enough known to receive the Distinguished Service Award from the USA International Student Assembly and the USA Indian Student Assembly. In 1990 he received the Dalmia Award for communal harmony and is the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees.

1992 saw the destruction of the Babri Mosque and provided the impetus for the foundation by Engineer in 1993 of the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), of which Engineer was the Chairman and which became the organisational focus of his work.

The objectives of CSSS are to spread the spirit of communal harmony, to study problems in the area and organise inter-faith dialogues.

To this end CSSS undertakes research, organises seminars, conducts training and mass awareness programs, publishes books and pamphlets and networks with other organisations.

Through CSSS and otherwise Engineer gave many lectures and was involved in many workshops (some abroad, mainly in India, some for the Indian police) promoting communal understanding and harmony.

He published 52 books, many papers and articles, including those for scholarly journals. He edited a journal, Indian Journal of Secularism, and a monthly paper, Islam and Modern Age. He also published Secular Perspective every fortnight. Through the 1990s, Engineer received a number of awards, including the National Communal Harmony Award in 1997, and the USA Award from the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia in 2003.

Engineer was a Bohra Muslim, and an important component of his work was both to promote a better external understanding of Islam and to critique some of its manifestations from the inside (for example, Rethinking Issues in Islam in 1998).

His progressive interpretation of the scriptures often brought him into headlong conflict with the orthodox clergy at a great personal risk. Post-2001 some of Engineer’s work addressed the issues of globalisation, Islam and terrorism, but most of his work remained focused on the communal situation in India and, to a lesser extent, its relations with Pakistan.

 
 

On a modern interpretation of Islam

Ashgar Ali Engineer spoke about his background and his opinion on the secularisation in India and how Islam can be interpreted in a modern way opening the path to pluralism and democracy.

For the interview please follow the link.
Interview with Mint, India, September 2011.

Publications

  • The minority question in India. March 16-31, 2005. Download (pdf)
  • Contemporary challenges to secularism and democracy – A religious response. April 1-15, 2005. Download (pdf)
  • Globalisation and emerging challenges to Islam in Asia. Islam and Modern Age, April 2005. Download (pdf)
  • Communal riots in post-independence India. Hyderabad: Sangam Books, 1984.
  • The Shah Bano controversy. Hyderabad: Orient Longman, 1987.
  • The rights of women in Islam. London: Hurst & Co., 1992.
  • Benares rocked by communal violence. EaPW, 1992.
  • Muslims and education. Economic and Political Weekly, 2001.
  • Uniform civil code or legal pluralism. Mumbai: Institute of Islamic Studies and Center for Study of Society and Secularism, 2004.
  • Islam. Misgivings and History. New Delhi: Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd, 2007.
  • Islam in Post-Modern World. Prospects and Problems. Haryana: Hope India Publications, 2008.
  • Muslim Minority. Continuity and Change. New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House, 2008.
  • Rights of Women in Islam. New Delhi: Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd, 2009.
  • The Prophet of Non-Violence. New Delhi: Vitasta Publishing Pvt. Ltd, 2010.
  • A Living Faith. My Quest for Peace, Harmony and Social Change. An Autobiography of Asghar Ali Engineer. Orient Blackswan, 2011.