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Dhaka Tribune

Hefazat chief Ahmad Shafi passes away

He breathed his last in a Dhaka hospital a day after resigning from the Hathazari madrasa

Update : 18 Sep 2020, 07:09 PM

Shah Ahmad Shafi, the chief of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, died while being treated at a Dhaka hospital, a day after stepping down as the director general of the Hathazari madrasa in Chittagong

He passed away at 6.30pm on Friday at the Asgar Ali Hospital in the capital, ANM Ahmad Ullah, the publicity secretary of Hefazat’s Chittagong unit told Dhaka Tribune.

Earlier in the day, Shafi was flown to Dhaka after being in intensive care at the Chittagong Medical College Hospital, where he was brought in around 1.30am on Friday.

CMCH Deputy Director Dr Aftabul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that his oxygen saturation sharply fell and he was in an unconscious state.

Shafi was flown to Dhaka from Chittagong around 4.30pm, said CMCH Director Brig Gen SM Humayun Kabir.

The nonagenarian Islamist leader has long been suffering from various old-age complications, including diabetes and high blood pressure.

The namaz-e-janaza will be held after Zohr prayers on the Hathazari madrasa premises in Chittagong on Saturday, said Hefazat’s Chittagong city unit Publicity Secretary ANM Ahmad Ullah.

On Thursday, he stepped down as the director general of Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam, popularly known as Hathazari Madrasa, following the student unrest over the last two days.

The Hathazari Madrasa has more than 7,000 students who learn lessons on the basis of the principles of Deoband school of Islam.

Soon after his resignation, Shafi was taken to the CMCH as his physical condition deteriorated.

President Md Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister and Awami League President Sheikh Hasina, and Jatiya Party Chairman and Deputy Leader of Opposition GM Quader expressed their condolences over Shafi’s death.

Shafi was also president of Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasa Board – Befaqul Madarisil Arabia Bangladesh.

Called the ‘Boro Hujur’ by Qawmi madrasa students, he is respected by a section of Muslims as one of the top Islamic scholars in Bangladesh.

He has been on the news headlines on and off, especially for his radical views on some issues, like secular bloggers, statues, and clothing of women, which drew flak on a number of occasions.

Militant group Ansarullah Bangla Team, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, has killed nearly a dozen secular activists and war crimes trial campaigners since the Shahbagh movement in 2013, after Shafi advocated death for its organisers terming them atheists.

But very little is known about the personal life of Shafi who is known as Boro Hujur (the oldest cleric) among his followers.

Shafi, believed to be 98, was born in Chittagong’s Rangunia. At the age of 10, he was admitted to the Hathazari madrasa.

After studying there for ten years. He moved to India in 1951 and enrolled himself at the Darul Uloom Deoband madrasa.

Four years later, Shafi returned to Chittagong and joined the Hathazari madrasa as a teacher. He was serving as the chief of the madrasa since 1987 before stepping down on Thursday.

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