Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi
Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi was an Indian-born, Twelver Shiá scholar, who promoted Islam in East Africa. Fourteen Grand Ayatullahs gave him authorisations (Ijaaza) for riwayah, Qazawah, and Umur-e-Hasbiyah.
Rizvi was born in Ushri, Saran district, Bihar state, India, in 1927. His father was Sayyid Abul Hassan Rizvi who was also a Hakim (Yunani medicine doctor) and a religious scholar. He had five sons and two daughters. His second eldest son, Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi, lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is the Imam of the Islamic Shia Ithna‘asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) of Toronto. He spoke and wrote in Urdu, English, Arabic, Persian, and Swahili and was also familiar with Hindi and Gujarati.
In 1959, he was appointed the Resident Aalim for Lindi, Tanzania. In 1962, he conceived a plan for propagating Islam. His plan was proposed and approved at the triennial Conference of the Supreme Council of Africa Federation of K.S.I Jamaats of Africa in Tanga in 1964. and became the Bilal Muslim Mission. Marhum was transferred from Arusha to Dar es Salaam in mid-eastern Tanzania and Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania was officially registered in 1968. The Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya was founded in 1971. He introduced correspondence courses in Islamic studies in English and Swahili through his mission. He travelled and lectured to university students in Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States.
His funeral was held in Dar es Salaam with two scouts holding black flags in the cortege to the burial site. Officials and Scholars from several countries were present. The Islamic funeral prayer (Salat al-Mayyit) was given by his son, Muhammad Rizvi.
Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi authored over 140 books, some of them having been translated into many languages.
The Bilal Muslim Mission has been able to accomplish a lot in its objective of spreading the true teaching of Islam, through the hard work of its dedicated founders. This was achieved with minimal means and resources. The main source of spreading the true faith was person to person or through correspondence and publication of books and their dissemination. People from Guyana in South America to Poland in Europe and from Malaysia to West Africa benefitted and embraced true Islam. At the time of his death according to PEW research, there were approximately 2 million Shias in Tanzania.
Tribute by Africa Federation
Commemorating the 10th Death Anniversary of Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi who passed away in Dar-es-Salaam on 8th Rabi-ul-Aakhar 1423 (20th June 2002).
A brief biography – Allamah was born in a place called Ushri, Saran district, Bihar state, India in 1927. He left behind five sons and two daughters. His second eldest son, Hujjat-ul-Islam wal Muslimeen Maulana Seyed Muhammad Rizvi, lives in Toronto, Canada. He has followed his father’s footsteps and has written many books as well. He is the Resident Aalim of the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) of Toronto, Jaffari Islamic Center.
In 1959, at the age of 32 years, Marhum Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi came to East Africa as a Resident of Aalim under the Africa Federation. He was initially posted in Dar-es-Salaam, before being transferred to Lindi. He took a keen interest in learning the local language – Kiswahili which enabled him to perform his work as a scholar more effectively, and as a Missionary in particular.
In 1962, the late Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi proposed a plan to the Africa Federation to propagate the faith among the indigenous African people and it was put into action in 1963. As a result, the Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania and Kenya were established in 1968 and 1971 respectively. Marhum Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi was one of the founding members, the Chief Missionary and the Advisor on Tableegh matters to the Africa Federation, he worked with Marhum Mohamedali Meghjee, Marhum Mulla Asghar M. M. Jaffer, Marhum Abdulrasul Lakha, Alhaj Mohamed Dhirani and Marhum Habib Mulji.
Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi, has left a legacy of tabligh and missionary work that will remain imbedded in the annals of history in East Africa and beyond, he left his footmarks as a teacher, a missionary, a prolific writer and a preacher. Allamah has authored over 140 books, some of them having been translated into 22 languages.
His dream of doing tabligh in Africa came true with support from the community leaders in Tanzania followed by the formation of the Bilal Muslim Mission. Allamah took formal classes to learn Swahili in order to effectively reach out to the African people. As a result of these efforts, tens of thousands of Africans have accepted the Shi’a faith.
Late Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi had also vast knowledge on matters of fiqh, the past Marja-e-Taqleed from Ayatullah al-Uzma Seyyid Muhsin al-Hakim, Ayatullah al-Uzmah Sayyid Abul Qassim al-Khoui, Ayatullah al-Uzmah Sayyid Muhammad Reza Golpaygani and the present Marja-e-Taqleed Ayatullah al-Uzmah Sayyid Ali Hussaini al-Sistani (May Allah [swt] grant him long and healthy life) entrusted Allamah Seyed Saeed Akhtar Rizvi as being capable of answering questions on fiqh.
The work of Allamah Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi has reached the lives of thousands of people and will continue to do so in the years to come. He is truly an inspiration to us all.
A special Appreciation Seminar organized by the Hawza ‘Ilmiyya of Qum in memory of the Late Allamah Sayyid Sa‘eed Akhtar Rizvi, the Africa Federation Chairman Alhaj Anwarali Dharamsi, accompanied by Sheikh Murtadha Alidina, the Resident Aalim of Dar es Salaam Jamaat will be travelling to Qum on Tuesday 6th March 2012 to attend the Seminar.
May Allah SWT repose the departed soul in the abundance of His mercy and rest him amongst the chosen ones – Ameen. We request our readers to remember marhum and all the Marhumeen with Sura-e-Fateha.