Dr. Muhammad Abdo Yamani
(1938-2010)
By Dr Abidullah Ghazi
Executive Director of IQRA’ International Educational Foundation

The passing away of Dr. Ado Yamani on 8 th of November is a deep personal loss for me as well as for our institution, IQRA' International Educational Foundation. Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun. Similar loss, I am sure would be felt worldwide by those who came in touch with him and benefited from his wisdom and support.

Death of a scholar is the death of a whole world, as it is said. Dr. Yamani was much greater than a scholar and the Muslim world has suffered a greater loss in his demise. He was no doubt a scholar par excellence, but he was also an administrator, financier, philanthropist, humanist, family person and a sincere friend. He was truly a citizen of the global village with a heart full of compassion for his community, country and humanity. There will be thousands people across the world, who were helped by him or IQRA Charitable Society, who would not only miss him but also suffer a setback to their current programs and future dreams and hopes.

It was my pleasure and honor to know him, endear him, benefit from his generosity, enriched by his advice and inspired by his support. We elected him Chairman of IQRA' International; however, due to the political climate after 9/11 we have to take an independent course, yet we remembered him and his noble directions on every step and would always continue to regard him as our friend, guide and philosopher.

He was educated in America and admired its system, freedoms, rule of law and open environment. He loved to visit this country and spent many of his vacations here. He was an Americophile. He always followed political social and religious developments in America and helped various community endeavors. His special interests were in education and social uplift of the African-American community. He wrote al-Qissah al-sud fi Amrika (Black Muslims in America), describing their history, present conditions and future prospects. His interest in American Islamic College of which he was Chairman of the Board of Directors, was to a great extent to make it provide quality education to the African-American community. He was also Chairman of IQRA’ International Educational Foundation and supported its educational efforts to develop a complete program of Arabic and Islamic Studies suited to modern pluralistic society. He wanted to promote the translation and adaptation of IQRA Program in major modern languages to provide comprehensive, integrated and systematic Islamic and Arabic education to every Muslim child of the world. He had very close relations with the leadership of Muslim community of North America and regarded himself as one of them. He supported various ISNA efforts and offered generous help to many organizations

He was a man of inter-faith and had respect for all cultures and all religions. If the Sufi was not reprehensible term in Saudi Arabia, he could be described with that one word Sufi as it is understood by the rest of the world, spiritual, open hearted, tolerant, harmonious, hospitable and generous. He told us, " America is not a jungle but civilized society, this unusual situation could not last very long, America would soon discover its true spirit, you must continue your work and have compassion in your hear for that society that has given you so many opportunities and work for all Americans." He also advised us to vigorously engage in interfaith dialogue and inter-religious work.

The story of my encounter with him is very unusual but extremely important. While I was at King Abdulaziz University, I was called upon to help an American Muslim who was in difficult circumstances. That incident led me to his office and initiated a relationship that formally lasted 12 years but informally would continue till, InshaAllah we meet together in the Hereafter. My relationship with him afforded me the opportunity to observe him and be inspired by his unceasing, constant and uninterrupted charitable work with great smile. I have never seen him say no to anyone who came to him for any need. When I met him first he was sitting alone in his small office without a visitor. The king has relieved him of his position of Minister of Information and his brother-in-law Shaykh Saleh kamel had established IQRA’ Charitable Society as an educational Trust to use his extraordinary education and humanistic talent to establish educational and technical institutions, specially for Muslim minority areas.

He was one of the busiest people on the globe, but found time to write a column, invent a story, and produce academic works. His series Teach Your Children deals with the love of Rasulullah, Sahabah and Ahl-al-Bait. His series Lil uqala’ faqat (For the Wise Only) deals with contemporary issues and challenges for the educated elite to think and reflect.

The tragedy of 9/11 very adversely affected IQRA Charitable Society work, and it had to abandon most of its projects and completely wind up from USA, Britain and the entire western world. The Iraq war further frustrated the educational and humanitarian efforts of Dr.Yamani and IQRA’ Society which was itself closed down. A difficult turning point came to our relationship when he asked us also to suspend our operations also and we could not accept his decision. The abrupt severance of relationship created many financial and social problems but al-hamdulillah IQRA’ International has overcome most of that and continues to serve both the Muslim Ummah and our country through Islamic educational programs and interfaith initiatives.

We absolutely had no hard feelings and fully understood the reasons for his advice and we had hoped that as a great admirer of American system he appreciated our audacity being an American citizen, in spite of their curtailment there were enough left to make use of them and survive. However, we are still bound with the bond of love and gratitude that enabled IQRA’ to stand on its feet and become a viable institution.

Jazakallh ya Shaykh Muhammad Abdo, we love you, appreciate your support, May you rest in peace and May your this worldly dreams of this world for the Ummah of Muhammad saws be realized through your children and family. We shall always miss you and pray to meet you on Kawthar InshaAllah.

 

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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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