Dr El Erian will be remembered as an eminent Islamic Scholar and former President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils Inc. (1984-88).

Dr El-Erian was born in Cairo on 28 December 1917 into a family of scholars and diplomats. He showed early signs of his brilliance when he memorised the holy Quran by the age of nine. He completed a B.A. degree in English literature from Cairo University in 1939 and continued postgraduate studies at Oxford University in U.K. (M.A. in English literature) and Colombia University in USA where he received his PhD degree in Education in 1952.

He worked at the UN headquarters in New York for a while before returning to Cairo to take up an academic position. He held the position of Professor of Education and Head of Department at Ein Shams University in Cairo until 1963 when his overseas assignments with UNESCO as an expert in education took him to various universities of Miami. He migrated to Australia in 1970 and accepted a challenging position to be the Head of Department of Cultural Studies and Civilisation at the then Goulburn College of Advanced Education. He held this position until 1980.

It was during his tenure at the Goulburn CAE that Dr El-Erian organised a number of international conferences which introduced Islam to the Australian public at a high intellectual level. In 1984, Dr El-Erian became the President of AFIC and held this position for four years during a very difficult period in the history of AFIC. Despite his advancing years and health problems he did his best to establish AFIC as an effective voice of the Australian Muslims. He also represented the Muslims on the Aboriginal Reconciliation Council. The Federal Government in 1989 awarded him the “Order of Australia” in recognition of his services to the Muslim community and multicultural Australia.

Dr El-Erian’s genius had many facets. He was an internationally renowned academic scholar and excellent teacher whose wonderful personality influenced the lives of many with his ideas and teaching. He was a gifted speaker with equal command over both Arabic and English. It was an experience to listen to his lectures and speeches that kept the audience spellbound. He had a great sense of humour and there was never a dull moment in his company.

Dr El-Erian was a pioneering member of a modern movement, which sought to advance the mutual understanding and cooperation between Islam and the Western world. His scholarship and vision enabled him to combine the Islamic and the best of western traditions in his work, which was instrumental in helping to bring the two seemingly opposing traditions closer together in academic circles and beyond. We believe this to be the greatest contribution of Dr El-Erian.

Of all the facets of Dr El-Erian’s genius, it was in his human and personal relationship that one felt the strongest impact. The force of his personality was such that whether you met him once, or you were his close friend or colleague, you were deeply touched by his mystical wisdom, intelligence, witty language, warmth and caring nature. He lived a decent life guided by the Islamic principles of compassion, tolerance, and justice and peace for all. He exemplified these principles in his daily life and in his work and relationship.

Dr El-Erian was regarded by many as their spiritual father and those who were privileged to be associated with this great man will always cherish his memory. May Allah grant him a place in paradise in the company of His chosen ones! Ameen