The faculty, staff, and students at IIS are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and long-time governor, Professor Afzal Ahmed. 

Afzal Ahmed, the former Emeritus Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Chichester, had directed numerous research and development projects for government and non-government organisations in the UK and internationally. In addition to 25 years as a member of IIS’ Board of Governors, Professor Ahmed also led many lifelong learning initiatives within European Ismaili communities through the Aga Khan Education Services and the Institute of Educational Development and presented at UNESCO. 

IIS’ Board of Governors (c 2000). From left to right: Professor Afzal Ahmed, Dr Mohamed Keshavjee, Dr Shafik Sachedina, Professor Mohammed Arkoun, Dr Aziz Esmail, Mr Zauhar Meghji, Mr Naguib Kheraj (CBE)

A personal journey

Dr Laila Kadiwal worked closely with Professor Ahmed for her PhD dissertation in 2010. She took some time to share her story with us: 

"Throughout my PhD journey, Professor Ahmed exceeded the expectations of a mentor. He became a wise beacon, a compassionate friend, and a dependable source of support. Whenever doubt or disappointment clouded my path, he gently guided me, revealing a way forward beyond immediate setbacks. One moment particularly resonates: I felt disheartened after missing a job opportunity at IIS. Professor Ahmed didn't merely console me; he encouraged me to take proactive steps and widen my horizons beyond a single institution:

Acknowledge your potential to effect change on a global scale. Your purpose will propel you forward."

"His steadfast belief in my purpose became fuel in continuously inspiring me to strive to continue to make a meaningful impact. Today, as a lecturer at UCL, specialising in education and international development, I honour Professor Ahmed's legacy by using education to address racism, Islamophobia, and global injustices. Guided by his wisdom, I strive for peacebuilding and reconciliation. Even beyond my PhD, Professor Ahmed offered encouragement whenever our paths crossed. His spirit lives on in the hearts and minds of those he inspired. 

"As I bid farewell to a mentor, a visionary, and a treasured guide, I find comfort in knowing that his teachings will continue to illuminate my path. May his soul rest in eternal peace, and may his legacy continue to inspire future generations."

Legacy at IIS

Professor Ahmed was part of unprecedented developments at IIS, being central to the development and implementation of STEP. During his long professional career, he published several books on mathematics and pedagogy, and developed ways of incorporating the arts, such as dance, music, and visual arts, into maths education. 

Reflecting on his experiences with the late Professor Ahmed, Dr Mohamed Keshavjee, who served with him on IIS’ Board of Governors, wrote: “Through Afzal, I came to realise the intrinsic forensic power of mathematics as a major tool of development. Afzal followed his field with passion and studied some of the great contributions made in this field by Muslim mathematicians and scientists.” 

Professor Afzal Ahmed’s passion for education and its development lives on through the Institute as we continue to expand our understanding of education and its implementation in the classroom and in our communities. 

“A very focused mind, Afzal had a deep understanding of how educational institutions operate in the Western world and was able to guide the Institute’s direction with great thoughtfulness and sincerity,” continues Dr Keshavjee. “He was a joy to work with.”