Born to a highly religious family of north Indian Muslims, Rashid Shaz was brought up in a revivalist atmosphere. His uncle Muhammad Hasnain Syed was among the founding fathers of the Jama’at-e-Islami movement led by Syed Abul A’la Maududi in the pre-partitioned India. During the emergency era, in 1977, while the young Rashid was still in school he witnessed the imprisonment of virtually all the male members of his family as a consequence of their association with the Jama’at movement. Later when the political climate changed and the family had some sigh of relief, young Rashid was sent to Aligarh where he obtained his bachelors, masters, M.Phil and Ph.D. degrees in English literature. During his stay on the campus he also edited Tajdeed magazine as well as brought out a special issue of the Aligarh Magazine on the ‘Problems of Muslims in India’. Later, he proceeded to Sudan for his Arabic and Islamic education where he spent some good and most enjoyable moments of his life at the African Islamic Centre (now International African University) and Ma’had Taleem Al-Aali, Khartoum.
As young Rashid had a natural flavour for writing, his articles frequently appeared in respectable journals in English and Urdu while he was still a student. In 1985, he established, with the help of some of his friends on the campus, the Institute of Muslim Ummah Affairs that later organised in New Delhi, in 1991, a National Convention of Indian Muslims. In 1993, he founded the Milli Parliament that held its first grand session in Mawlankar Hall, New Delhi. Later the Milli Parliament held its sessions in different parts of the country; political session – Patna, 1996, Religious Session – Hubli, 1997, Special Session – Indore marking the birth of a new vision for India, 1998, Special Session – Bangalore, 1999. During this period of his intense involvement in the public arena Dr. Shaz also addressed a huge number of public gatherings from as remote areas as small townships in Bihar and Karnataka to major events in the Hague, London and New York. And to sharpen the vision of his friends and supporters he frequently held workshops and training camps at his facilities in Delhi and Aligarh.
In 1994 Rashid Shaz launched Milli Times International from New Delhi that soon became one of the most influential tabloids. For all seven years, as long as the newspaper was in operation, he oversaw its entire activities. In 2004, he launched a bimonthly multi-lingual journal www.futureislam.com to give the ummah a direction and a vision. In post-9/11 world, plagued by alarming confusion in the Muslim mind, futureislam has gradually emerged as one of the major forums where genuine debates within the House of Islam are underway.
Dr. Shaz has authored some twenty books in English, Urdu and Arabic published from New Delhi, London, Beirut and Riyadh. Some of his books have been groundbreaking on issues of Islamic import and a cause intellectual storm. From his revivalist childhood to providing a mesmerising leadership and spending the prime of his life in hectic public activities, Dr. Shaz has experienced various facets of the Muslim mind from close quarters, rather has lived with them. All this, he reflects back, has been crucial for his self-education and for developing his own insight into the nature of the Muslim malaise. Today, he advocates for a major shake-up of the Muslim mind, as he believes that the problem lies nowhere else but right inside the Muslim mind. ‘Those eager to make a new beginning must accept beforehand that the traditional mind will lead them to nowhere. A new Muslim mind is the minimum to start with. Without reactivating our brains we would even fall short of realising in full the nature and magnitude of our malaise,’ he argues in one of the editorials of FutureIslam.com.
Dr. Shaz has widely travelled across the globe, more than a million miles, and has won friends and enemies from among various faith communities. He has been upfront in the formation some international bodies and is associated with a number of leading international forums.
He lives in New Delhi with his two sons and a wife.