Shah Ahmad Shafi, the top leader of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh and long-serving director general of Chattogram Hathazari Madrasa, passed away on Friday evening at the age of 103.
He breathed his last around 6:40 pm on the day while undergoing treatment in Old Dhaka's Asgar Ali Hospital, said Hefazat's Chattogram Metropolitan chapter leader Mawlana ANM Ahmad Ullah.
Ahmed Shafi's body was taken from the Asgar Ali hospital to Faridabad Madrasa in Dhaka. Later his body will be brought back to Hathazari Madrasa tonight.
From Fajr prayers to Zuhr prayers, his body will be kept in the class room of Hathazari Madrasa so that the students can see him for last time.
His namaz-e-janaza will be held at 2pm Saturday at Hathazari Madrasa ground. His son Anas Madani will conduct the janaza.
After the janaza there, he will be buried in the graveyard in front of Baitul Atiq Jame Mosque inside the Madrasa campus on Saturday afternoon.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and President M Abdul Hamid expressed deep shock at the demise of the religious scholar.
Ahmad Shafi was admitted to Chattogram Medical College Hospital on Thursday night. He was airlifted to Dhaka on Friday afternoon for better treatment.
The elderly scholar had been suffering from old age complications including diabetics, high blood pressures and breathing problem.
Ahmed Shafi, fondly called by his students "Boro Hujur", had been serving as the director general of Chattogram's Darul Uloom Moinul Islam Madrasa since 1986. As the top scholar of Hathazari Madrasa, he had been leading the Qawmi madrasas across the country, which follow India's Deoband syllabus.
He was born in 1930 in Chattogram's Rangunia.
The Islamic scholar was the president of Befaqul Madarishil Arabia Bangladesh – the Qawmi madrasa education board in Bangladesh.
Relying on Qawmi leadership, he had been serving as the ameer of Islamist advocacy group Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh.
Recently, the brewing conflicts over picking the successor of Shafi for the madrasa turned into student protests and he had to step down on Thursday. He was sent to Chattogram Medical College Hospital after being relieved of duties.
Highly respected by religious scholars in Bangladesh, Shafi authored 19 books. He, however, had been criticized several times for his controversial statements over women's role in society.
After the formation of the Ganajagaran movement in 2013 demanding capital punishment of the war criminals, Ahmed Shafi took to the street with Hefazat-e-Islam demanding execution of atheist bloggers claiming that they shepherded the Ganajagaran movement.
The namaj-e-janaza of Ahmed Shafi will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday at Hathazari Madrasa after Zuhr prayer, Mawlana ANM Ahmad Ullah told The Business Standard.
Country lost an eminent Islamic scholar: President
President Abdul Hamid also expressed deep shock and sorrow at the death of Ahmed Shafi. In a condolence message, the president said he played an important role to spread Islamic teachings both in the country and abroad.
"With his death, the country has lost an eminent Islamic scholar," the president said in the message.
He contributed to modernise madrasa education: PM
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed deep shock and sorrow at the death of Ahmed Shafi. In a condolence message, she said Ahmed Shafi played a key role to spread Islamic teachings. He also made contribution to modernise Qawmi madrasa-based education.
The premier prayed for eternal peace of the departed soul and conveyed profound sympathy to the bereaved family.