Prof. Doi was born on 16th July 1933, in Himmatnagar , Gujarat, India a sprawling city near Ahmadabad in India, and died at 9:00 P.M. on Friday, 26th March 1999/8th Dhul-Hijjah 1419 in a clinic in Madras, Southern India. He was buried in Madras. Prof. Doi's death came as a result of liver ailments, which though dormant from the 60's, resurfaced in October 1998 in South Africa and progressively deteriorated until it induced a coma a day before Professor passed away.
Prof. Doi lost his father at an early age. He was brought up by the hard work ofhis mother. He attended Himmat high school, in Himmatnagar. He stood first in his class always. He then went to Visnagar to complete his secondary school.
His real Journey in education really started when he got admission in BombayUniversity’s IsmailYusufCollege. He passed his B.A. with first class honors in 1957, and passed his M.A. with first class honors in 1959. He ranked top in BombayUniversity that year and was awarded by Government of India a merit scholarship to join the University of Cambridge as a research scholar. Here he obtained his Ph.D. in 1964 under the supervision of Prof. A.J. Arberry. During the period he stayed in Britain he also studied Law at the Hague Institute of International of Law.
Prof. Doi was then posted in 1966 to University of Nigeria Nassuka, Nigeria, in the Department of Religious Studies. He left Nsukka due to the Biafra war and joined University of Ile Ife, Nigeria, in 1967. In1968 he became Senior lecturer religious studies and Philosophy & in1969 he became head of Department of Religious studies and Philosophy. His main focus while in Ife was on Islam and Islamic Law. He wrote 3 books there, namely Introduction to the Quran, Introduction to the Hadith1971& Cardinal Principals of Islam 1973.
In 1977 Prof. Doi joined AhmaduBelloUniversity, ZariaNigeria as Professor and Director of the Center for Islamic Legal Studies. Here he continued his research In Sharia (Islamic Law). Over the years he guided many PhD students in various aspects of Sharia, Fikh and Sunnah . Due to his vast knowledge of Sharia he was affiliated and was the guiding force in the setting up of Sharia courts in Kano and Kaduna. His knowledgeof Sharia and comparative religion placed him in high esteem among world scholars. He was most sought after in all religious circles of all religions; Christianity, Judaism, Hiduism etc. Prof. Doi attended numerous International conferences which took him round the globe. He wrote numerous articles in all standard and famous magazines. His articles were on Sharia, Comparative Religion, Finance, Banking, human rights and politics. His opinion was most sought after when the first Islamic banks came up round the globe starting from the first banks in Egypt and Sudan. Here he wrote his very famous book, Sharia The Islamic Law, which is currently the standard text book in 164 countries of the world.
In 1988 He left Nigeria on the invitation by the Malaysian government to establish and teach at the International Islamic University, Selangor, Malaysia. He was the author of the concept that a Muslim needs to be a Muslim first then a Doctor, Engineer Teacher etc etc. Thus the IIU in Selangor was based on that concept. Its has a central department were the students get knowledge in all aspect of Islam, Quran, Hadith, Fiqh and Qiyas, and also continue their normal course of studies.
Field of specialization
Professor Doi was particularly gifted in his perception of Islamic Education. He regularly contributed towards the Muslim Education Quarterly published by the Islamic Academy of Cambridge. His motto was "Town and Gown goes together" i.e. that the scholars (gown) should not divorce themselves from the masses (town). He would explain that one's greatest service can only be directed towards the masses and that the greatest support and patronage also comes from them. Many of the papers which he presented in conferences and seminars around the world hinged upon the topic of education.
His very first paper which he presented in the University of Ife in 1975 was entitled "Teaching of Islamic Studies as an Academic Subject in Nigeria”. Some of the titles of his other papers on educational matters were "Teaching of Islamic Law Through Hostile Text-Books" delivered at the University of Sokoto in 1982, "Islamic Studies: Syllabi and Teaching in West African Universities" delivered in Kenya in 1977, "Philosophy of Islamic Education" delivered at the Ahmado Bello University in 1985, "Social Implications of an Integrated Education Curriculum in a Multi-Faith, Multi-Cultural Country" delivered at the Ministry of Education in London in 1990, and "Knowledge from an Islamic Perspective" delivered at a Symposium in Genting Highlands in 1991.
Another field of specialization was his editorial skills. He served on the board of numerous journals and magazines amongst which was the Journal of Islamic and Comparative Law published by the Ahmadu Bello University, Christian-Muslim Relations published by the University of Birmingham, Al-Nahdah published by PERKIM of Kuala Lumpur, The Search published by Centre of Islamic Arabic studies in Miami, The American Journal of Islamic Studies published by the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Herndon, Islamic and Comparative Law Quarterly published by the Institute of Islamic Studies in New Delhi, Perspective: Journal of Islamic Revealed Knowledge published by the International Islamic University of Malaysia, the Nigerian Journal of Islam published by the University of Ife and a few more.
In addition to this, Professor Doi regularly reviewed books on a number of diverse issues and regularly submitted them to the Muslim World Book Review published from London. Notwithstanding these achievements, Prof. Doi was known as a world-expert on the Islamic and geographical history of Africa, South of the Sahara since Prophetic times, and any researcher who wished to write on the subject, or understand its intricacies, would consult him. But it was noticed towards the end of his life in Pretoria that he concentrated more on the sciences directly issuing from the Qur'an and Sunnah.
His experiences varies from researching, lecturing to administration and designing and practically implementing of syllabi. These he gained as the opportunities and needs presented themselves. For example, at the university of Nigeria, Nsukka, there was a need to re-design the syllabus in Islamic studies which he did in 1965. In South Africa, he designed the course-material for Islamic Studies for the Lyceum college. When he moved on to the University of Ife, also in Nigeria in 1967, there was a need for African societal studies which he fulfilled by compiling various books such us Islam in a Multi-Religious Society: Nigeria, A Case Study, Islam in Nigeria: Changes since Independence, Consensus and Conflict in Islamic Belief and Practice in Yorubaland, and Shehu 'Uthman Dan Fodio: The Great Mujahid and Mujaddid of Africa. Going on to another university in Nigeria, the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, he used some of his administrative skills from the University of Ife to head the Centre for Islamic Legal Studies.
It was here that he was appointed as Professor, and he held this position until he left for the International Islamic University of Malaysia in 1989. At Zaria, due to the focus more on legal studies, Professor Doi's legal mind produced famous books such as Shari'ah: The Islamic Law, Women in Shari'ah, Non-Muslims under Shari'ah, and The Cardinal Principles of Islam. In Malaysia, he was appointed Professor in the Faculty of Revealed Knowledge, and also served as Deputy Dean and Dean of Academic Affairs in the same faculty. In Malaysia, the focus was shifted to studies and sciences directly issuing from the divine revelation (wahy), but this was to be integrated with the social sciences.
During this period, his publications reflected this pattern. His books in this phase such as Movements in Islam, Western Civilization: Islam and the Muslim Youth, Prayers From Qur'an and Sunnah, a translation of the Riyad al-Salihin, Shari'ah in the 15th Century Hijrah, Usul al-Fiqh: A Study in Methodology and Approach, and World-Wide Survey of Islamic Manuscripts bears this out. In 1993, when he came to South AfricaRandAfrikaansUniversity, the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre in Laudium was established to further Prof. Doi's academic interests, to prepare the local 'Ulama' and scholarly fraternity for the challenges of the modern world and to impart his experiences to them. While in Pretoria, with the help of the local 'Ulama', three main works were compiled. These were 'Ulum al-Qur'an: A Study in Methodology and Approach, 'Ulum al-Hadith: A Study in Methodology and Approach, and Islamic Law and Contemporary Society. All these books are currently in the press and is published by al-Madinah Publications, Laudium, and the International Centre for Islamic Studies, Sydney, Australia. and joined the
Arrival in South Africa
He arrived in South Africa in 1993 at the age of 61 and took up professorship at the RandAfrikaansUniversity. He also established the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre in 1994, an organ of the Pretoria-North Muslim Educational Institute of Laudium and directed it throughout the remaining period of his life. He was the professor at the Centre for Islamic Studies at the RandAfrikaansUniversity and Director of the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre until his death in March 1999. It should be noted that the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre, though functioning independently, played a crucial role at the RAU. The University, being a Western orientated institute, needed a Muslim academic support unit in order to achieve the academic goals of students through an Islamic vision, and not obtain a purely Secularist or Western outlook on Islam. The Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre played the role of unifying both approaches in one, in order to learn the scientific research methodology of the West and combine it with the pure and unadulterated teachings of Islam in order for the local 'Ulama to play the role of leading Muslim scholars in an un-Islamic environment without falling prey to the pitfalls of materialism and compromising of ones essential believes.
Initiatives and reforms in Rand Afrikaans University
With the arrival of Professor Doi at the RandAfrikaansUniversity, he took charge of the teaching at the Islamic Studies Department which was functioning as a Department subservient to the Department of Semitic Languages under the Faculty of Arts. He became the key figure at the University and rejuvenated the Department. As a result of giving recognition to the 'alim Fadil certificate (sanad), many local as well as foreign 'Ulama' - freshly graduated as well as aged 'Ulama' from Dar al-'Ulums and Islamic colleges and Universities throughout the world - took the opportunity of enrolling in the BA Honours course at RAU. In some instances where the student demonstrated extraordinary research and writing skills, the Mufti's certificate guaranteed him entrance into the Masters degree. For the first time, an undergraduate course in Islamic Studies was introduced at RAU on a full scale, and most of the 'Ulama' students of Prof. Doi taught in these courses.
Muslim students were made aware of the Orientalist writings against Islam and their subtle manner of presentation. Research methodology was taught in order to not only vocalize the message of Islam, but to reduce it to writing in an appealing and scientifically acceptable manner. He involved most of his post-graduate students at the Dar al-Salaam Research Centre in the devising of the under-graduate and Honours syllabus and imparted many of his writing and analytical skills to those who constantly worked with him. During his stay at the RAU, the Rand Afrikaans Islamic Society (RAIS) was established which today has a membership in excess of 350 male as well as female Muslim students. Professor Doi was also instrumental in procuring a Jamaat Khanah on the RAU campus complete with toilets and an ablution block which was consequently extended to cater for the ever growing Muslim enrolment at RAU.
Role at the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre
The Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre was established in 1994 for the purpose of promoting and facilitating much needed research on contemporary Islam, and to expose those who try to malign or misrepresent it to the world. It is a multi-dimensional intellectual resource institution committed to the critical examination of issues underlying the plight of the contemporary Muslim world. Owing to the immense interest that has awoken in Islam, it is imperative for Muslims that they establish their own centre for Islamic studies that could perpetuate Islam's vision of learning, and prepare future generations of leadership to find ways to understand, interact with, and contribute creatively to Muslim culture and civilization in South Africa, and throughout the world. The Centre plays many roles, including translation of various classical Arabic books into English, aiding students in their respective fields of research, media watch, organizing of Islamic forums and symposiums, as consultants to many professionals seeking advice on Islamic issues, and establishing a world-class Islamic reference library. Many efforts were made to upgrade and revise all of Prof. Doi's previous publications, a task which was somewhat achieved. The Centre invites a few students from Malawi and surrounding Southern African countries every year and affords them the opportunity to pursue post-doctoral studies at RAU under the direct supervision of the DSIRC so that they may return to their respective countries to service their communities as Allah-fearing academicians.
Courses taught by Prof. Doi taught at RAU
Apart from teaching in the undergraduate course of Islamic Studies, Prof. Doi taught all the courses at BA Honours level during his short span of five years at RAU. The Honours course comprised of the following six broad disciplines: (i) Qur'an and Related Sciences, (ii) Hadith and Related Sciences, (iii) Shari'ah and Islamic Jurisprudence, (iv) The Spread of Islam in the World, (v) Islam and Politics, and (vi) A Guided Research Essay. Sadly, Prof. Doi did not live to see his Ph.D. students graduate. From the years 1993 to 1997, 41 BA Hons. students, and 26 MA students graduated in Islamic Studies from RAU under Prof. Doi.
When he left south Africa he hadsix PhD. students who had not yet graduated, but were in the process of finalizing the submission of their dissertations. Students from far afield as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan, Uganda, Mauritius and Canada have been attracted to the programme. Some of the more noteworthy Honours dissertations include Bait al-Muqaddas and its Importance by Faizel Tickly, Syncretism in the Belief of Muslims in Transvaal by Shabier Khan, Methodology of Islamic Research by Ashraf Dockrat, Muslim Personal Law: Problems and Prospects by Ahmad Sattaria, Islamic Literature in South Africa by Khalid Dhorat, History of the Coloured Community of Natal by Idrees Esau, The Concept of God-Head in African Traditional Religion and Islam by Anwar Molwele, Muslim Schools in Transvaal by Eesa Badat, and The Role of Dar al-'Ulums in South Africa by Ahmad Nana. From amongst the Masters dissertations, the following deserve recognition: The Concept of Taqlid and Ittiba' by Zubair Bhayat, History of Jamiatul 'Ulama Transvaal by 'Abdullah Jeena, Contribution of Women Towards Islam by Sis. S. Nawab, Marriage Principles to Al-Kitabiyyah by 'Ali Yusuf, The S.A. Bill of Rights and Constitutionalism in Relation to Islam in S.A. by Faizel Manjoo, Towards a Codification of Muslim Personal Law of Inheritance by Mobeen Cassim, and Mansur al-Haqq's The Role of Hadith in Understanding the Qur'an.
The Ph.D. programme, the apex of any learning institute, will Insha Allah, will soon yield Imran Sharif's The Principle of Majlis al-Shura and its Impact on Saudi Governance, Khalid Dhorat's An Interpretation of the Event of Karbala (61/680) with Special Reference to the Position of the Sahabah in Early Islam, and Ashraf Dockrat's Shaikh Muhammad Tahir al-Fattani: A Sixteenth Century Sunni Bohra Gujarati Muhaddith.
Prof. Doi's Vision for South Africa
Prof. 'Abdur Rahman I Doi introduced a revolutionary phase in the academic history of South Africa. Ever since his arrival in South Africa, he demonstrated how academic ability could be combined with taqwah, and how the faculty of reasoning and logic be always subservient to divine revelation (wahy). In every research, prominence was given to the opinion of Salaf al-Salihin, those scholars belonging to the golden epoch of Islam, and never was the opinion of any modern 'enlightened' Islamicist allowed to impinge upon his Islamic perception. Professor always struggled to uphold the turath (legacy) of the past, and to give Muslim scholars prominence in the academic world and acclaim for all they struggled for. The efforts of the Orientalists to discredit or place into disrepute works like the Muwatta of Imam Malik, and the efforts of Burton to prove that the Qur'an was only compiled three centuries after it was revealed, Schacht's premise that Islamic fiqh was based on Arab customs only and other such fallacies against Islam were scientifically falsified. Hitherto, the South African academic society was never blessed with such a person as Professor Doi, and the general perception that a Professor be also a deviate and a modernist was shattered with his appearance. It will not be an overstatement to say that Professor 'Abdur Rahman Doi won the heart of many 'Ulama' and scholars in South Africa. His courses in RandAfrikaansUniversity attracted only scholars who upheld the true brand of Islam as propagated by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and disseminated by the Sahabah and the Tabi'un. The course material of the undergraduate students in Islamic studies and the supervision of post-graduate dissertations all reflected upon a return to the original Islam. However, this return to the original was always given a dynamic and a new meaning, and its relevance was made to exhibit itself in the context today's modern world. Professor Doi applied this same methodology in the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre, of which he was the Director. This made the DSIRC one of the few Research Institutes in South Africa to operate on salient Islamic principles. His many books such as the 'Ulum al-Qur'an, 'Ulum al-Hadith, Usul al-Fiqh, Sex, Family, and Society, 'Uthman Dan Fodio compiled in Pretoria all reflect this approach.
A few incomplete projects in South Africa
Professor's unfinished primary projects at the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre in South AfricaSouth Africa. Approximately three years were spent in gathering information for this project, and many interviews with old and young educationists were conducted. Many valuable documents were also procured for the purpose. The information has to be still processed and prepared for publication. The second project is a Comprehensive Dictionary of Shari'ah. Unlike other dictionaries in this genre, this dictionary aims at exploring the lexical significance of various Islamic terms in all the various fields of Islamic sciences, and not only in fiqh. Terms and definitions are supplemented and re-inforced by their common usage as employed in the Qur'an, Sunnah, and early classical poetical and historical texts. Work on this project has already started. The third project is Movements in Islam. This manuscript, a rough skeleton of which is present, has to be updated to include all modern Islamic heretical or orthodox movements. The aim of this book is to compare the various ideologies of Islam since its inception, and how the true one stands out to be the most congenial to the truth. It is hoped that these projects could be completed for the benefit of the ummah by the Dar al-Salaam Islamic Research Centre. Many manuscripts of the Salaf al-Saliheen were only published years after their death, while many became lost and misplaced over time. may be said to be three. The first is a project entitled Contribution of Muslims Towards the Field of Education in
He was 66 years of age when he passed away. His wife Badrunnisa Doi whom he married in 1959, two sons Zakir & Suhail and one daughter Jamila succeeds him, all of whom are married and settled.