On Saturday 24 December 2016, the world lost a towering man of knowledge with expertise in Islamic law and jurisprudence. A life-long devoted seeker of knowledge having lived his entire life within the embrace of Al-Azhar, Dr Ra’fat Usman leaves behind a legacy of knowledge through his literary works that adorn the libraries of Egypt and beyond and through his hundreds of students around the world. Tributes are being forwarded by many in Egypt including the Grand Imam, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar, and former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Dr Ali Jumu’ah.
Dr Ra’fat Usman lived a life of service to knowledge and religion through learning, teaching and research. He died at the age of 81 years. He served in numerous capacities throughout his life and at the time of his death, he was the dean of Al-Azhar’s Faculty of Islamic Law and Jurisprudence in Cairo, executive member of Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy (Majma’ al-Buhuth al-Islamiyyah) and distinguished member of the Supreme Council of Senior Al-Azhar Scholars (Hay’at Kubbar al-‘Ulama’).
An expert of Islamic law and comparative study of Islamic jurisprudence, he leaves behind an important literary legacy with many works including ‘Leadership of the State in Islamic Law’ (1975), ‘International Relations in Islam’ (1974), ‘The Fiqh of Women in Engagement and Marriage’ (1984), ‘Trade in Islamic Jurisprudence’ (1980), ‘The Fiqh of Inheritance in Islamic Law’ (1987), ‘Common Themes of Islamic Law’ (1986), ‘Judiciary in Islamic Law’ (1989), ‘The Crescent of Ramadan in Different Parts of the World’ (1989), ‘Governance in Islam’ (1990), ‘The System of Shura and Western Democracies’ (1997), ‘Ijtihad, the legality of different opinions and the decorum of difference’ (1999), ‘Interest Mortgage and the Purchase of Homes’ (1999), etc.
The United Kingdom Branch of the World Association for Al-Azhar Graduates (WAAG UK) joins with Al-Azhar University in expressing grief and condolences at the passing away of Dr Ra’fat Usman. The vice-president of WAAG UK, Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, who studied with Dr Ra’fat Usman at Al-Azhar University commented: “The most remarkable attribute of Dr Ra’fat Usman was his love for knowledge, further beautified by the sheer humbleness of his character.”
For details to the works and achievements of Dr Ra’fat Usman, visit: www.azhar.eg
[The above photo is of the vice-president of WAAG UK Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, meeting his teacher Dr Ra’fat Usman at the international conference of Al-Azhar ‘Countering Extremism and Terrorism’ in Cairo on 01/12/14]