In Memory of al-Ustaz Shaikh Mohammed al-Shakir

Al-Ustaz Shaikh Mohammed al-Shakir was born on the 26th of January, 1933/ 30th Shahr Ramadan, 1351 H in Karbala, Iraq. His father, Shaikh Yahya bhai, was serving as the representative (ʿāmil) of His Holiness Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA in Karbala at the time.

He was initially homeschooled by his father and later joined Quaderia High School in Burhanpur for his secondary education, going on to pursue a B.A. at the Ismail Yusuf College in Mumbai and subsequently an M.A. in Architecture at Bombay University. In 1369 H, Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA directed him to enrol in Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, commencing his studies at the academy from the 9th of its eleven years. In a short span of three years, he concluded his studies at Aljamea and was awarded the degree al-Faqih al-Jayyid (the competent jurist), after which he joined the office of Syedi Amirul Jamea Shahzada Yusuf bhaisaheb Najmuddin QR, the late rector of Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah. While serving under Syedi Najmuddin QR, Shaikh Mohammed al-Shakir, or Shakir saab as he came to be known, continued his pursuit of knowledge. Four years after graduating from Aljamea, he was sent to Cairo, Egypt, by Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA to further his education at Cairo University, becoming the first ever graduate of Aljamea to do so. 

While in Cairo, Shakir saab engaged in an in-depth study of Fatimid history, taking keen interest in the architecture and surviving artefacts of the Fatimid era and compiling a wealth of research material on the subject. During the revival and restoration of al-Jami al-Anwar, fragments of a historic inscription were unearthed and used to reconstruct the masjid’s original foundational inscription which was then installed above the main entrance of the masjid by Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA. Shakir saab documented his research on this historic inscription in Arabic which was published in 1424 H. He also authored an Urdu publication on Fatimid literature in collaboration with Shaikh Ashiq Husain titled ‘Knowledge and Literature During the Time of the Fatimids,’ which was published in 1370 H. In 1423 H Shakir Saab submitted his doctoral thesis on the life of al-Malik al-Mukarram to SOAS in London where he travelled frequently.

In the year 1389 H, when Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA embarked upon a historic journey of North Africa, Shakir saab accompanied him, chronicling in detail every aspect of the journey. His notes, in conjunction with personal memoirs of Amir al-Jamea al-Muqaddas, served as a historic record and were instrumental in the publication of ‘Al-Dāʿī al-Fatimī fi al-Āthār al-Aimmat al-Fatimiyyīn’, a publication by Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah that recounts this historic journey of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA

Shaikh Mohammed al-Shakir in the presence of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin at St Catherine’s monastery, South Sinai, Egypt.

Throughout his life, Shakir saab served with exceptional diligence and exemplary determination. He strived for excellence in all his endeavours and guided other Khidmatguzars to do the same. He lent his expertise to iconic construction and restoration projects such as Raudat Tahera, Maqsura Maulatona Zainab AS and the Fatimid Jawami in Cairo. His example of combining life long learning and its application in service continues to serve as an inspiration for generations of graduates from Aljamea-tus Saifiyah. 

He passed away on the 8th of Zilhijja al-Haram, 1425 H at the age of 74 in Mumbai. After araz was done of his passing, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA wrote words of prayers for him, followed by the blessed words ‘ghani khidmat kidi’. Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA led his janaza namaz in Fatimi Masjid, Mumbai on the eve of Arafa. He is buried in Naryalwadi, Mumbai.