Dr. Muhammad Abdo Yamani (1938-2010)

Posted by on Nov 11, 2010 in Community Archive, Featured Article | 4 comments

(A Tribute from Dr. Abidullah Ghazi)

The passing of Dr. Muhammad Abdo Yamani on the 8th of November comes as a deep and personal loss for me as well as for our institution, IQRA’ International Educational Foundation (“Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun”). I am sure that similar sentiments are felt worldwide by all those who have met and benefited from Dr. Yamani’s insight and support.

According to an old proverb, the death of a scholar is the death of a whole world. Given that Dr. Yamani was a highly regarded scholar, the Muslim world has suffered a great loss with his demise. Having authored over 350 books on a multitude of topics, he was undoubtedly a scholar par excellence. Dr. Yamani was a person of many attributes. Beyond his vast knowledge of the Din— he was also an administrator, financier, philanthropist, humanist, a family man, and a sincere friend. He was truly a citizen of the global village with a heart full of compassion for his community, his country and humankind. There are sure to be thousands of people across the world who have been personally helped by him.

It was my pleasure and honor to know Dr. Yamani, to benefit from his generosity, be enriched by his advice, and to be encouraged by his support. Dr. Yamani was initially elected by IQRA’ to be the chairman of our Foundation, unfortunately due to the hostile political climate after 9/11 we regrettably had to alter our decision. Yet we continued to hold Dr. Yamani in the highest regard and we will forever remember him as our friend, guide, and seeker of truth. Dr. Yamani received his higher education in the United States and he admired the country’s governmental structure, constitutional freedoms, rule of law, and open environment. He loved to visit this country as he spent many of his vacations here. He was, in every sense of the word, an Americophile.

He always followed political, social, and religious developments in America and helped with various community efforts. His special interests were in the education and social upliftment of the African-American community. He wrote al-Qissah al-sud fi Amrika (Black Muslims in America), in which he described their history, present conditions, and future prospects. His interest in the American Islamic College (AIC), of which he was Chairman of the Board of Directors, was to a great extent a means to provide quality education to African-American students. Dr. Yamani was a great support in assisting IQRA’ Foundation develop a complete program of Arabic and Islamic studies. He sought to promote the translation and adaptation of IQRA’s program into major languages of the world with the intention to provide a comprehensive, integrated and systematic Islamic and Arabic education to every Muslim child around world.

Dr. Yamani maintained a very close relationship with the leaders of Muslim communities in North America and he regarded himself as “one of us.” He supported various ISNA-efforts and presented generous financial assistance to a number of organizations. Dr. Yamani was a man of interfaith and inter-Islamic dialogue, holding deep respect for all cultures and all expressions of man’s quest for the Divine. If the term “Sufi” had not been such a reprehensible term in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Yamani could be described with that very word. In fact, Islamic spirituality and traditionalism was inherited from his ancient Hijazi family that shaped his openhearted, tolerant, harmonious, hospitable and generous character. He once told us regarding the post 9/11 tensions between the Muslim World and the West, “America is not a jungle but civilized society. This abnormal situation cannot last very long, for America will soon discover its true spirit. Therefore you must continue your work and have compassion in your heart for this society that has given you so many opportunities. You must work for all Americans.” He also advised us to vigorously engage in interfaith dialogue and inter-religious work.

The story of my first encounter with Dr. Yamani is out of the ordinary, but I felt very important. Once while I was teaching at the King Abdulaziz University, I was called upon to help an American Muslim who was in difficult circumstances. This would lead me to Dr. Yamani’s office where an inspirational relationship was triggered for 12 years. My bond with Dr. Yamani afforded me the opportunity to observe him and remain inspired by his unceasing and uninterrupted charitable work. In the years that I had known him I had never seen him to say “no” to anyone who came to his door. When I first met him he was sitting alone in his small office. The king has just relieved him of his position as Minister of Information and his brother-in-law, Shaykh Saleh Kamel, had established IQRA’ Charitable Society as an educational trust in order to make use of his remarkable education and humanistic talents at establishing educational and technical institutions, especially in Muslim-minority communities. Dr. Yamani was one of the busiest people I had ever known, yet he found time to write a weekly column, invent a story, and produce academic works. His series “Teach Your Children” dealt with the love for Rasulullah, the Sahabah and the Ahl al-Bayt. His other series Lil uqala’ faqat (For the Wise Only) dealt with the contemporary issues and challenges that the educated elite could reflect on.

The tragedy of 9/11 adversely affected IQRA’ Charitable Society. Due to this, most of the projects were forced to be discounted and abandoned within the United States, Great Britain, and other areas of the West. The war in Iraq further frustrated Dr.Yamani’s educational and humanitarian efforts and IQRA’ Charitable Society was eventually closed down. A difficult turning point came to our relations when he personally asked us to suspend our operations as well. However, despite our great love for Dr. Yamani, we could not accept his request. We hope that as a great admirer of the “American way” Dr. Yamani could appreciate our determination and willingness to fulfill our mission of education our children.

Despite our parting of ways professionally, we at IQRA’ are tied to Dr. Yamani with immovable bonds of love and gratitude for it was he who enabled IQRA’ to stand on its feet and become the viable institution that it is today. “Ya Shaykh Muhammad Abdo! Jazakallah! We love you, and are grateful for your support. May you rest in peace and may your dreams in this world for the Ummah of the Messenger of Allah be realized through your children and family. We shall always miss you and pray to meet you again at Kawthar!” Abidullah Ghazi Executive Director IQRA’ International Educational Foundation

4 Responses to “Dr. Muhammad Abdo Yamani (1938-2010)”

  1. Muhammad Mayanja says:

    May Allah be pleased with Dr Abduh Yamani. I met him personally in Jeddah and he assisted our organization Uganda Muslim Youth Assembly to fund scholarships and students dawa caravans.


    bonsoir cher cheikh mohamed abdo yamani je me presente je suis la petite fille scherazade de cheikh DAOUD de la zaouiya belkaidia j’ai tooujours souhaiter vous rencontrere un jour vous m’avez vu a l’age de 5ans maitenant j’ai 46ans le livre que vous m’avez offerte je l’ai toujours il me suit la ou je vais merci cheikh je souhaite vraiment vous voir prochainement inchallah

  3. Mlik Uzair Ahmad says:

    I am Ph.D student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. My research topic is Mohd Abdu Yamani, life and his contribution to the Islamic and Arabic studies covering also KSA,s political and deucational system in the second half of 20th century and onwards. I am very keen to come in touch with someone who can provie material on the topic. It is so because I am in the dire need for the copperation in term of material.
    I will be oblidged and grateful

    Best regards
    Malik Uzair Ahmad

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