Assalamu Alaikum

In the early hours of November 24, it was with great sadness and a heavy heart that I received the news of the passing of Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr.

I have known Dr. Sakr for nearly 40 years. He was my colleague at IFANCA, a friend in life, and confidant in social issues. He preceded me at the University of Illinois where he received his PhD in biochemistry. He was a scientist and a scholar, having received his education from then Grand Mufti of Lebanon.

Dr. Sakr was a visionary. As a student at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, he saw the need for an organization that would create a bond between Muslim students. He brought the same idea to the United States and founded the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA), which later evolved into the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Dr. Sakr was also a founding member of the World Council of Mosques, Islamic Medical Society of North America, American Islamic College, and a founding member of IFANCA and chairman of its Religious Advisory Council.

Dr. Sakr taught at several universities, including American University of Beirut, Western Illinois University, and National University of Health Sciences (formerly National College). He served as acting president and executive vice president of the American Islamic College in Chicago. He was selected as an outstanding Educator of America in 1973.

Dr. Sakr authored 58 books on various subjects in science, religion, and Islam including A Muslim Guide to Food Ingredients; Understanding Halal Foods: Fallacies & Facts; Gelatin; Shortening in Foods; Food Supplementation; A Handbook of Muslim Foods; Cheese; Dietary Regulations and Food Habits of Muslims; Overeating and Behavior; Alcohol in Islam; Honey: A Food and a Medicine; and Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices (co-authored).

Dr. Sakr was often invited to deliver sermon at Friday prayers throughout the United States. He was also a sought after speaker and fundraiser, traveling wherever he was called to offer his wisdom and help raise funds for worthy causes.

Perhaps most significant of all, Dr. Sakr was a mentor to so many young people who appreciated his nonjudgmental approach and his ability to relate to their needs and mentality. In that capacity, he transformed my thinking too; when I found myself not wanting to pray behind a certain imam in Chicago, he simply asked, “Who do you pray for?”

That question never left my mind. Farewell my friend and the friend of millions. Your generosity and wisdom live on in your extended family and the many lives you touched. May you enjoy the fruits of your efforts in the highest levels of Paradise!


Muhammad Munir Chaudry, president