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Ahmed Kamal Abul-Magd (1930-2019):Iconic thinker
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 18 - 04 - 2019

Ahmed Kamal Abul-Magd, one of Egypt's most renowned Islamic thinkers and writers, died on 3 April. He was 89. Hundreds attended Abul-Magd's funeral and several public figures and institutions mourned the death of the man who was a politician and constitutional expert, a pioneer in thought and law since the 1960s.
Abul-Magd, a professor of public law, was known for his ability to conduct a balanced and quiet dialogue. He was also known for his tolerance and broadmindedness. However, his patience did not stop him from uttering the truth which, as people who were close to Abul-Magd said, he considered the highest degree of self-jihad.
Abul-Magd was born in 1930 in Assiut in Upper Egypt. He graduated from the Faculty of Law in Cairo University in 1952. Following his graduation, he received two diplomas in public law and Islamic law from Cairo University. He obtained a PhD in law from the same university in 1960. He also obtained a Master's degree in comparative law from the University of Michigan in 1959.
Abul-Magd played a major role in founding and setting the agenda of the powerful Socialist Youth Organisation, Egypt's main political movement during the 1960s and early 1970s. The organisation prepared Egyptian political cadres who had a strong ideological vision and who later held ministerial, political and diplomatic positions.
Abul-Magd held a number of high profile positions. He held posts in the Ministry of Youth from 1971 to 1973 and that of information from 1973 to 1975. He was a member of the National Council for Women and the Arab Organisation for Human Rights, vice president of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and a member of Al-Azhar Islamic Research Complex. After being replaced at the NCHR, Abul-Magd said he would continue “fighting for human rights in Egypt and the Arab world”. Abul-Magd was also a judge and president of the Administrative Tribunal of the World Bank in Washington.
He wrote several books, including Dialogue without Confrontation, Contemporary Islamic Vision, Muslims and the Age, and Studies in Arab Society.
In 1976, Abul-Magd was awarded the Order of the Republic of the First Class.
On the Arab level, Abul-Magd made his own valuable contributions. He took part in the drafting of the constitution of many Arab countries, including Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. He was a member of the Royal Society for Research on Islamic Civilisation in Jordan and a member of the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Rabat.
In his book Islam without Fear, author Raymond William Baker listed Abul-Magd as “the most influential Islamic scholar in the world today”. Following the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the Arab League appointed him commissioner responsible for dialogue between civilisations.
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb said in a statement that Al-Azhar was mourning the “great Islamic thinker”, who was also a member of the Islamic Research Complex, “who died after a long blessed age. He dedicated his life to the defence of right, justice and freedom and the spread of knowledge. He had the manners of scientists, the greatness of noblemen and the tolerance of Islam,” the statement said.
Al-Azhar praised Abul-Magd who it said was known for his wisdom and the abundance of his legal and intellectual production. “He enriched the Arabic and Islamic library with numerous and valuable books, characterised by deep ideology, strong presentation and original understanding. He was indeed a school of moderate Islam in the true meaning of the word,” the statement added. Sheikh Al-Tayeb offered his condolences to Abul-Magd's family, friends, followers and students.


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