A Scholar and Man of Honour, Humility, and Devotion: A Tribute to Professor Dr. Jamil Farooqui

By Hazizan Md Noon

On Sunday, 24 December 2023, after returning from my Fajr prayer at an adjacent surau, I checked my WhatsApp messages and was shocked to learn of the unexpected and sad news about the passing of one of my cherished former colleagues, Professor Dr. Jamil Farooqui. The Professor was affectionately known among us as Prof. Jamil. Two messages arrived, one from the Department and the other from my colleague, Dr. Arshad Islam, a former lecturer in the Department of History and Civilization, and a close friend of Prof. Jamil. In that state of grief, I was moved to pen this brief remembrance of Prof. Jamil, who was a mentor and friend to many of us, particularly at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology (SOCA) and AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHAS KIRKHS) of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). 

In an attempt to accomplish this, I quickly planned the contents of my instant write-up in my mind. Despite the fact that my writing might be imperfect, I tried to come up with some biographical information about him, his works, thoughts, and my individual acquaintance with him along with some thoughts on him from our department’s colleagues. I utilized whatever I had to create my meager homage to him, including browsing the internet, asking friends, and contacting people I knew. As a result, in memory of this man, Prof. Jamil, I wrote this piece, which I hope will be useful to many of those who know or want to know him. I tried to double-check certain facts with different sources to make sure they were accurate; if not, I sincerely apologize in advance if there are any more incorrect facts about him that I should be made aware of.

Prof. Jamil was born on 15 January 1940 and was nearly 84 years’ old when he passed away on Sunday, 24 December 2023 in Lucknow, India. According to his nephew as per one message forwarded to me, Prof Jamil passed away of complications caused by kidney failure after a heart attack.  From Gorakhpur University in Gorakhpur, India, Prof. Jamil received his law degree after which he practiced as a lawyer. He then pursued and completed an alternative (advanced) master’s degree in sociology at the Institute of Social Sciences in Agra, India, and a doctorate at Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh (AMU), India (1973 – 1975). Additionally, he earned a diploma in Islamic Revealed Knowledge from the IIUM and completed a special course in research methodology sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research in New Delhi, India. 

Prof. Jamil had extensive experience conducting operational research, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses, and supervising theses for M. Phil and Ph.D. programmes. Sociological Perspectives, Research Methodology, and Islamic Sociology were his areas of expertise. He taught graduate classes at the Department of Sociology, I. K. Indore for three years from July 1967 to June 1970. He then lectured at the Department of Sociology, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) from July 1970 to December 1991, teaching graduate and postgraduate classes, guiding research as well as doing research. At AMU, he was also the Head of the Department of Sociology. The Professor had maintained active memberships in associations for professionals. He was a lifelong member of numerous international social science and sociology organizations. 

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Prof. Jamil having a meal with colleagues.
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Prof. Jamil and collagues on a trip.

Prof. Jamil was among the earliest academic staff to join the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the IIUM after it was established in 1990. Information attained from LinkedIn states that he joined the University in December 1991. Since then, he had made a tremendous contribution to the Department and the University both in teaching, researching and in other areas. He was a prolific writer who published many articles and books on various topics as reflected in his list of publications provided at the end of this write-up. He was also a frequent speaker at national and international conferences, where he shared his insights and perspectives with scholars and practitioners from various backgrounds and disciplines.

Prof. Jamil was not only a magnificent scholar, but also a kind and humble person, who always treated everyone with respect and dignity. He had a unique personality that made him a joy to be around. He was always ready to help and support his colleagues and students in various forms. He was indeed a role model and an inspiration to many of us, who admired his passion, dedication, and integrity.

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Prof. Jamil and former Department of Sociology and Anthroplogy colleagues.
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Prof. Jamil and colleagues of IIUM’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

It was an honour for me to collaborate on various research and academic projects with Prof. Jamil. For example, I was his co-researcher on the projects “Islamization as a Method of Universalization of Knowledge” (2014-2016) and “Social Life and Nature of Social Interaction among Muslims: An Exploratory Study from an Islamic Perspective” (2009-2011). We were both members of a research team led by Dr. Noraini Mohd. Noor, former professor at the Department of Psychology (now Professor Emerita), to study the phenomenon of “softies” in public universities, which resulted in the 2005 publication of a book titled, “Sexual Identity: Effeminacy Among University Students.” Prof. Jamil was always a collaborative and supportive partner, who shared his expertise and insights generously. He was a valued contributor to the book that I edited, titled, “Islamic Perspective of Sociology and Anthropology: Some Reflections,” that was published in 2017. For the book, he wrote a chapter titled, “Sociological Theorizing and Its Islamic Bases,” which was consistent with his other works’ focus.

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Prof. Jamil and colleagues of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at IIUM Gombak campus.
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Prof. Jamil and colleagues in IIUM.FM

Sometimes, Prof. Jamil and I also participated together in some academic seminars and conferences, where we presented our research findings and exchanged ideas with other scholars and practitioners. He was an engaging speaker, who captivated the audience with his knowledge and passion. He was also a keen listener and learner, who respected different viewpoints and perspectives.

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The late Prof. Jamil and myself.
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Another photo of the late Prof. Jamil and myself.

Prof. Jamil was not only a colleague, but also a friend, who I had enjoyed spending time with during our free time, though occasionally. We sometimes had food at the Human Sciences food court, where we talked about various topics, academic and non-academic. It was through this rather casual chit-chat that I discovered his other side as a successful sportsman who once represented his nation in hockey tournaments.  He had such a unique personality that made him approachable, fun and easy to talk to. He was also a caring and compassionate person, who showed interest and concern for others. The day he left the University for good in July 2016 after serving his term for twenty-five years is a day I will never forget. Together with my other colleague, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Noor Azlan Md Noor, my family and I said goodbye to him at the airport before he left Malaysia, hugging and wishing him the very best. He promised to stay in touch and thanked us for our friendship and assistance. My heart will always hold you close. Prof. Jamil. According to one source, he left Kuala Lumpur and in retirement stayed at his family home in Mohamedabad, UP, India.

Prof. Jamil has a long list of publications to his credit. Several of his publications are well-known and have received recognition from various academic circles. In keeping with the University’s goal of integrating and Islamizing knowledge, his works also demonstrate his attempts to explain various societal issues from an Islamic perspective. In his professorial lecture delivered in conjunction with his promotion titled, “Towards an Islamic Sociology,” Prof. Jamil, being a critic of Western secular knowledge,  among others said, “Western sociological knowledge is unable to comprehend and highlight the ethos of Muslim societies because it is basically Western, it looks at others from its own perspective, evaluates them in terms of its own parameters, studies them with its own methodology and presents a distorted picture of them. It completely ignores the ideological basis of social realities and fails to appreciate the process by which they are translated into action and take shape. The reliance only on what appears always gives partial knowledge rather than complete knowledge. Indeed, it has certain weaknesses.” He then proceeded by discussing on the Islamic parameters of knowledge and Islamic parameters of social life in his attempt to explain and propose the construction of Islamic sociology which to him has three main dimensions namely the fundamentals of ideology, Islamic thought, and empirical world.

Below, I’m sharing a list of his works that may be helpful to some in their respective fields in an effort to carry on his legacy and uphold the Islamic teaching of sharing knowledge with others. 

Readings In Social & Islamic Issues
Sexual Identity: Effeminacy Among University Students
  1. Inter Communal Conflict: A Study of Communal Riot, Journal of Objective Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1990.
  2. Islamic Perspective of Methodology in Social Phenomenal Context, Journal of Objective Studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, 1991
  3. Islamic Concept of Society, Journal of Objective Studies, Vol.4, No. 1, 1992.
  4. Ethnocentric Trends in Sociology: A Critical View, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Vol. 11, No. 8, 2, 1994.
  5. Toward A Theory of Social Chaos, Journal of Objective Studies, Vol. NO. 1, 1996.
  6. Education and Muslim Situation, Part I, The Islamic Quarterly- A Review of Islamic Culture, Vol. XLIV, No. 1, 2000.
  7. Education and Muslim Situation, Part II, The Islamic Quarterly-A Review of Islamic Culture, Vol. XLIV, No. 2, 2000.
  8. Bases of Social Life in Islam, The Islamic Quarterly- A Review of Islamic Culture, Vol. XLVI, No. 3, 2002.
  9. Sociological Thought of Shah Wali Allah Al Dehlawi, The Islamic Quarterly- A Review of Islamic Culture, Vol. XLVII, No. 3, 2003.
  10. Ummatic Unity: Challenges and Strategies, International Journal of Muslim Unity, Vol. (3) No.1, 2005.
  11. Islamisation of Traditional Values, Islamic Studies, Vol.44, 2005.
  12. Islamic Concept of Knowledge, Studies on Islam, Vol.2, No.2, 2005.
  13. Anomalies of Muslim Societies, Radiance, Vol. XL, No.7, 2005
  14. The Qur’anic Perspective of Social Sciences, Islamization of Human Sciences, ed. Mohd. Yousof Hussain, IIUM, 2006
  15. The Muslim Society: Past and Present, Communication in Muslim Nations, ed. Mohd, Yousof Hussain, IIUM, 2006
  16. Understanding Culture, International Communication in Muslim Societies, ed. Mohd. Yousof Hussain, IIUM, 2009.
  17. The Qur’anic Bases of Sociology, Radiance, Vol. XLVIII, Issue No.35, 2010.
  18. Dawah As the Prophetic Mission, Radiance, Vol. No. XL VIII, Issue No.48, 2011
  19. Civilization in Islamic Perspective, Journal of Islam in Asia, (Special Issue, No.1, 2011.
    The Status of Women In Islam, Readings in Social and Islamic Issues, ed. Jamil Farooqui, IIUM 2012.
  20. The Muslim World and the West, Readings in Social and Islamic Issues, ed. Jamil Farooqui, IIM, 2012.
  21. Mashre Ka Mutala: Andaz-Fikr Aur Masael (Study of Society: Theories and Problems), Tahqiqat-e-Islami, Vol. 1, No. 7 (Jan.& March), 1988.
  22. Ahyaye Islam: Khwab Ya Haqiqat (Revival of Islam: Dream or Reality), Zindagi-E-Nau, Vol. 25, No. 28, 1999.

It would be incomplete for me to conclude this account without sharing some thoughts on him by his colleagues at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the IIUM. Here are a few of them that I was able to gather.

  1. Rohaiza Rokis: “Professor Dr Jamil Farooqui possessed profound understanding of the world around him that gave him a murabbi figure. He gave his full commitment to sharing his knowledge with others. With an impressive academic and Islamic scholarship in Sociology and enviable accomplishments to his name, Prof. Jamil walked amongst us with humility, treating every individual, regardless of their background, with utmost respect and dignity. His passion for knowledge was infectious, leaving an indelible mark on the countless souls he inspired throughout his teaching career. Beyond the academic realm, Prof. Jamil was a pillar of compassion and empathy. He dedicated himself to ensuring that students could access him easily. Not an ounce he had of arrogance, he showed his care for me. His commitment to lifting me up was a testament to his genuine character.” 
  2. Sohela Mustari: “A simple man who always tried to support the students psychologically, socially and in some times economically regardless of their nationality. He used to ask the students about their families and societies and always treated the students with affection. He was a man of knowledge. I learnt from this mentorship of how to remain humble towards others. I never saw him to be angry or harsh to anyone. He was always simple and shared his smile with everyone, even towards the cleaners and the shopkeepers. It was not easy to bear the news that our beloved mentor Professor Jamil Farooqi is no more in the world. We pray to Allah (SWT) to forgive him and to reward this simple, humble, kind, knowledgeable scholar of Islamic Sociology with the highest place of Jannah. Ameen.”
  3. Nor Azlin Tajuddin: “We lost a great selfless murrabi but Prof. Jamil’s legacy will continue to live on through his students. He was incredibly generous with his ilm’ and smiles. May Allah forgive him, accept all his good deeds and grant him Jannat al-firdausi.”
  4. Szariannie Sulaiman: “Almarhum Prof. Jamil was more than an educator; he was a mentor who believed in the potential of every student he encountered. His impact reached far beyond the classroom. May Allah bless his soul and place him among the solihin. Al-Fatihah.
  5. Nurazzura Mohamad Diah: “He was an old school gentleman who did ordinary things in a great manner.”
  6. Nor Aisah Areff: “The kindest soul with a generous heart.”

With the passing of this great and humble scholar, we pray to Allah swt to shower His mercy upon his soul and place him among the blessed ones in Jannah.Amiin!

I would like to thank and acknowledge the assistance of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nurazzura and Sr. Yanie for providing me with some relevant photos, Dr. Arshad Islam for the various messages containing important information on Prof. Jamil and others for their various forms of assistance. May Allah swt bless you. Thank you. ***

(Prof. Dr. Hazizan Md Noon is an academic from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, IIUM.)