He studied at the Nederlandsch-Indische Artsen School (NIAS – Netherlands Indies Medicine School) in Surabaya, East Java, and continued his study under the Japanese occupation, in 1943, at the Ika Dai Gakku (Medicine College), Jakarta.
He dedicated most of his life to the public interest. As a physician, he was assigned to Painan (1945-1947), and Mecca, Saudi Arabia (1950-1954). He was also nominated rector of the Muhammadiyah University of Jakarta (1957) and the Ibnu Chaldun University of Jakarta (1960) as well as being a lecturer in the School of Medicine of Universitas Indonesia (UI).
In 1967, with Prof. Dr. Asri Rasad and Dr. Jurnalis Uddin, he realized his dream to create an institute for the training of Muslim paramedics and physicians: they established the Islamic Medical College, which was later transformed into the Yarsi University. In order to form paramedical and medical professionals imbued with Islamic values, he included a larger portion of Islamic studies in the study programme than was the case at other medicine schools and obliged all prospective physicians to write a thesis on a particular medical problem studied from the point of view of Islamic law.
Ali Akbar was also the chairman of the Executive Body of the Yarsi, and chairman of the Expert and Fatwa Commission of the Council for Health Development of the Muhammadiyah Central Board.
Among his other functions were the chairmanship of the Kongres Buruh Islam Merdeka (Free Muslim Labourers Congress), and the Majelis Pertimbangan Kesehatan dan Syara (Consultative Council of Hygiene and Islamic Law). The latter body produced a number of fatwas relating to medical problems such as artificial insemination, transplantation of body organs, mother’s milk banks, etc.
Ali Akbar was active in politics, too. In 1955, he was elected a member of the DPR for the Masyumi party. In 1980, he was dismissed from the Ministry of Health for his action in signing the “Petisi 50”, a public petition of fifty prominent citizens criticizing government policy.
He also wrote several books about hygiene and Islam. One of his books, entitled Merawat Cinta Kasih (Caring Love), has been reprinted 19 times since 1974. (RE, 8 July 1994)
Source: INIS Newsletter Vol. XII 1996, p. 148