—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
NEW YORK, NY (April 4, 2018) – It is with great sadness that the Islamic Circle of North America announces the passing away of Dr. Irfan Ahmad Khan, one of the foremost scholars of the Quran in the country and a member of the ICNA General Assembly, last night.
‘O Allah, accept the good deeds of the deceased and raise his ranks among the rightly guided. Make spacious his grave and illuminate it for him.’ ‘O Allah, have mercy upon him protect him from the punishment of the grave and the torment of the Fire and grant him a high place in Paradise. May Allah grant patience and hope for Allah’s reward to the loved ones of the deceased.’
He was very active in interfaith dialogue. He was the founding President of the World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations (WCMIR). A respected Islamic scholar and author, Dr. Khan was committed to inter-religious dialogue and understanding. He was currently serving as Chair of the Inter-religious Engagement Project as well as a trustee for the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR). He was the founding member and co-chair of the Annual Muslim-Christian Dialogue of the United States. “He always encouraged all of us to find common ground between Muslims and Christians and his extensive knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam, as well as Christianity and Philosophy contributed greatly to our discovery of many convergences.” Dr. Bonn Clayton, Co-chair of the dialogue.
Dr. Clayton added “I spoke with him recently and he was enthusiastic about our Topic of Maryam for our 2019 Dialogue. He had written several papers on this topic and wanted to make the Muslim presentation.”
Dr. Khan was born in Saharanpur, India in 1931. He graduated from Aligarh Muslim University in 1952 with a Bachelor’s degree in physical sciences, and then pursued his Master’s degree in Islamic sciences at Rampur. In 1986, he obtained his doctorate in Western philosophy from the University of Illinois.
From 1958 to 1973, Dr. Khan taught Western philosophy, Muslim theology and Indian religions at Aligarh Muslim University. In 1974, he moved to the United States and began teaching Islamic Philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as the University of Iowa, the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and the American Islamic College in Chicago.
Dr. Khan has traveled throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and North America, organized and presented at conferences and written numerous articles, sharing his uniquely modern, pluralistic perspective on contemporary philosophical and religious issues. In addition to his work with WCMIR and CPWR, he has been actively involved with the International Committee for the Peace Council since 1994, and co-founded the Interreligious Engagement Project for the 21st Century. He has also served as an advisor and board member for numerous international organizations and movements, such as Globalization for Common Good.
Over the last 50 years, Dr. Khan has also worked on developing a methodology for approaching Qur’anic teachings, and recently authored a new translation and commentary: Reflections on the Qur’an: Understanding Surahs Al-Fatihah & Al-Baqarah.
“He never hesitated to speak his mind and present his point of view no matter who was in the audience. He loved ICNA leadership and its workers and hosted them at his home. He had good relationship with black Muslims. He lived in that area and opened his home for new converts. The basement of his house served as Masjid and shelter for new Muslims.” said Asim Ansari, one of his earlier students.
His funeral was well attended by hundreds of people from all walks of life and nationalities, at Muslim Community Center of Chicago. He was buried earlier today at Chicago’s historic Rosehill Cemetery in Muslim Lot.