Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee

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Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee
Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee.jpg
Fyzee in June 1949
Ambassador of India to Egypt
In office
Succeeded byK. M. Panikkar
Personal details
Born(1899-04-10)10 April 1899
Matheran, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died23 October 1981(1981-10-23) (aged 82)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
  • Educator
  • author
  • jurist
  • diplomat
  • Islamic scholar
AwardsPadma Bhushan (1962)
Notable Works
  • Outlines of Muhammadan law
  • A Modern Approach to Islam
  • Cases in the Muhammadan Law of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
Cricket information
Domestic team information
Career statistics
Competition FC
Matches 2
Runs scored 17
Batting average 8.50
100s/50s -/-
Top score 8*
Catches/stumpings 1/-

Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee (10 April 1899 – 23 October 1981) was an Indian educator, jurist, author, diplomat, and Islamic scholar who is considered one of leading pioneers of modern Ismaili studies. He also served as India's first ambassador to Egypt from 1949 to 1952, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jammu and Kashmir from 1957 to 1960.[1]

His best-known literary work is Outlines of Muhammadan law, which states that "in order to understand Islamic law, one has to be familiar with historic and cultural background of the law".[2][3] He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan award by the President of India in 1962, India's third highest civilian award.[4] In his writings, Fyzee advocates the need to incorporate modern reforms in Islamic law without compromising on the "essential spirit of Islam".[5][6]

Early life[edit]

Fyzee was born on 10 April 1899 to the Tyabji-Fyzee family of Sulaymani Ismaili Bohra in the Matheran town of Maharashtra. He took his initial education in Mumbai and completed his LL.B degree at Government Law College, Mumbai.[7] In 1922 he went to England and studied at St John's College, Cambridge. At Cambridge he also studied Arabic and Persian under eminent orientalist Reynold A. Nicholson.

He competed in a few First-class cricket matches between 1928 and 1930.[8][9]


In 1925, at the age of 26, he became a barrister-at-law and started his career as an advocate in the Bombay High Court from 1926 to 1938.[1][10]

From 1938 to 1947, Fyzee was Principal and Perry Professor of Jurisprudence in Government Law College, Mumbai. After the partition of India, he remained in that country and served as the first Indian ambassador to Egypt from 1949 to 1951. In 1952 he was appointed as a member of the Union Public Service Commission, New Delhi. He also held the position of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Jammu and Kashmir from 1957 to 1960.[1][10]


We need not bother about nomenclature, but if some name has be [sic] given to it, let us call it liberal Islam

-Fyzee on Liberalism in Islam[11]

Apart from his academic and government duties, Fyzee made significant contributions to the modern scholarship of Ismaili studies. He wrote several books based on Islam, which promoted the idea of modernizing Islam.[1]

Following are some of books written by Fyzee.[12][13][14]

  • Outlines of Muhammadan law: This is Fyzee's most famous book. The first edition was published in 1949 by Oxford University Press. This book discuss topics related to "Islamic law" with respect to India and topics related to "Freedom of religion".[15] The fourth edition of the book included topics related to change in English law with respect to Muslim immigrants in England. It also incorporated new laws resulting from the formation of Bangladesh and the introduction of Islamic policies in Pakistan.[16]
  • A modern approach to Islam: This book posits a re-interpretation of Islamic jurisprudence and re-discovery of original Islamic philosophy. In this book, Fyzee argues that modern reforms can be incorporated in Islamic law without compromising on the "essential spirit of Islam".[5][6]
  • Cases in the Muhammadan law of India and Pakistan
  • Cases in the Muhammadan law of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
  • Compendium of Fatimid Law
  • The Pillars of Islam

Honours and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Farhad Daftary (30 November 2014). Fifty Years in the East: The Memoirs of Wladimir Ivanow. I.B.Tauris. pp. 91–. ISBN 978-1-78453-152-2.
  2. ^ "Fyzee, Asaf Ali Asghar – Oxford Islamic Studies Online". 6 May 2008. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  3. ^ Edited by John L. Esposito. "Fyzee, Asaf Ali Asghar : The Oxford Dictionary of Islam – oi". Retrieved 4 October 2015.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee (2005). Cases in the Muhammadan Law of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-565450-9.
  5. ^ a b "A Modern Approach to Islam: Asaf A. A. Fyzee – Oxford University Press". 20 December 2007. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b Abdulkader Tayob (2009). Religion in Modern Islamic Discourse. Hurst Publishers. pp. 134–. ISBN 978-1-85065-953-2.
  7. ^ "Alumni | Government Law College". Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Asaf Fyzee | India Cricket | Cricket Players and Officials". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "National library". National library. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Fyzee, Asaf A. A. (Asaf Ali Asghar) (1899–) – People and organisations – Trove". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  14. ^ "The pillars of Islam /". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Outlines of Muhammadan law (Book, 1974)". []. 28 May 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  16. ^ Asaf Ali Asghar Fyzee (1974). Outlines of Muhammadan law. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-560375-0.