Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Dr. Sakr got his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He was a founding member and president of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) as well as a founding member of the World Council of Mosques, Makkah. He was the first director and representative of the Muslim World League to the U.N.
Dr. Ahmad Sakr passed away on November 23, 2015. May Allah SWT have mercy on him and admit Him to Paradise. The path Dr. Sakr followed was one that faithfully emulated our Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. His dedication will always stand out in the beautiful memories we have of him, and will always remind us of the strengths and blessings of faith. He played an inspirational role in the founding of many Islamic institutions and centers, including the first Islamic college in the United States, the American Islamic College of Chicago. He was a founding member and president of the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), and a founding member of the World Council of Mosques in Makkah. Dr. Sakr was a staunch supporter of ICNA, active in interfaith activities, published more than fifty books, and was a board member of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.
Dr. Sakr was a selfless community leader and tireless Islamic worker. He was regularly invited to fundraise for various community projects and he did so without compensation. He happily accepted his role in serving communities around the country and beyond. He also offered his guidance and wisdom to individuals facing personal problems, be they Muslim or non-Muslim, and he was always tried to make himself available to those in need.
One of the early Muslims hoping to build a strong community in America, Dr. Sakr collaborated with brothers and sisters from nations around the world who had settled in the U.S., helping to clear the path for the future Muslim generations in America. They prepared the foundation for the vibrant and active American Muslim spirit that we see around us today. They learned to adapt to a new culture, assimilating into the American fabric of life while holding strong to the teachings of Quran and Sunnah. Dr. Sakr’s confidence in meeting the challenges he and his contemporaries encountered set the bar high so that today’s generation can move forward armed with trust in Allah SWT, guided by His light and empowered through the knowledge of His deen. He was a father, an uncle, a teacher, and a counselor. He inspired in us the ability to channel the strength of Omar, the gentleness of Abu Bakr, the shyness of Othman, and the knowledge of Ali, may Allah bless them all.
Dr. Sakr once shared with me an issue that bothered him. He said, “Why do the obstructionists do what they do, despite having knowledge and understanding that what we are trying to do to build Islam [in America] is a good thing? They make us fail in endeavors again and again.” I pondered this question for many years since then, and I finally realized the obstructionists’ aim was to disrupt our unity. I would say to Dr. Sakr, my teacher, if he were still with us, a phrase uttered by the Emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius: “What we do today echoes in eternity.” Thus, we must persevere to make today better.
I would also say to him, “My teacher, you have departed from us as we face challenges today that are unprecedented. We have met the challenge of absolving our faith from the deception enacted by people from our own creed. We must now carry the torch of faith and pass it on, uncorrupted, to the next generation. Then, insha’Allah, we will deliver the new generation to a safe ground so they can grow into faith with the clarity that the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, left us with.
“I say to you my teacher, we will, God willing, be the men and women who stand firm, carrying this generation on our shoulders and uplifting the spirit of the dejected. Allah only allows us to succeed when we care for the weak and empower the destitute. May Allah SWT allow us to meet on the Day of Judgment in the circle of the beloved Prophet and his companions. Ameen.”