KULIM: The family members of the late Muslim scholar Kassim Ahmad are at peace with his passing earlier this morning, with his eldest daughter saying he had a “beautiful” death.
His daughter, who declined to be named, said in her father’s final hours, she had whispered to him to “hang on” until his grandchildren from Australia arrived to see him.
“As two of his eldest grandchildren arrived, he stopped breathing. He was so calm. He had a beautiful death. It was like he had make-up on.
“The way he died shows he was with God and his believers. There were no struggles,” the woman, who is in her 50s, said when met at Kassim’s home at the Kulim Golf and Country Resort here today.
Recalling better days, she said Kassim had been full of life and was the most informed person in the family despite being advanced in age.
As part of his daily routine, she said, he would go through news sites and blogs and read the Quran.
“He always told us to read the Quran daily with a critical mind. He also told us not to listen to every hadith or ulama, as it was all manmade. ‘Quran is the true way’, my father always said.”
She said a few days before Kassim slipped into his coma, he reminded them of a saying, “Kun Fayakun”, which is Arabic for “be, and it is”.
“He lived by this quote from the Quran for the whole of his life.
“My father also lived by another Quranic principle that ‘every soul will have a taste of death’ from Surah Al Imran. So death for him was imminent,” she said.
Kassim’s eldest grandson, 20-year-old Adam Parkins, said he would carry on his grandfather’s legacy in Australia.
“I met my grandfather last year, and he asked me if I wanted to be like him some day.
“I said, why not. I want to be like him,” the construction management undergraduate said.
Kassim’s son, Ahmad Shauqi Kassim, 50, said he would continue to fight for compensation from a court case his father had previously won.
“He asked us to fight for his rights. He wanted us to carry on fighting since he had been put through many years of hardship.
“My father had been unjustly treated. He was an intellectual but was deemed deviant and banned from giving any speeches,” Shauqi told reporters amid tears.
Kassim leaves behind his wife of 57 years, Shariffah Fawziah Syed Yussoff Alsagoff, 79; two daughters and a son in their 50s; and 11 grandchildren aged 13 to 31.
He had been hospitalised for the second time due to a lung infection before slipping into a coma and dying. He was 84.
Kedah-born Kassim was best known for his literary works, “Universiti Kedua” (Second University), which includes his experience of being detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), and “Hadith: A Reevaluation”, a critical study on the authority of the hadith as a source of Islam.
Aside from an honorary Doctorate of Letters conferred by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), he did not receive any accolade from the government for his contribution to literature and other intellectual works.
He was also a poet and writer, which eventually led to his renewed interest in Islam in the early 1970s.
Kassim is expected to be buried at the Tanah Perkuburan Masjid Kilang Lama cemetery here after mahgrib prayers.