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Remembering Muhammad Hamidullah.

It was a damp fall morning in Paris. The year was 1983. I had wandered through the streets for almost an hour and had finally found "Finally Found" was the debut single from the Honeyz. This was their most successful single in the UK and worldwide, securing a number 4 position in the UK singles chart and achieved platinum status in Australia [1] Tracklisting

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 the apartment where Professor Muhammad Hamidullah Prof. Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah or Muhammad Hameedullah Ph.D., D. Litt., Hilal-e-Imtiaz, (February 09, 1908 to December 17, 2002) belonged to a family of scholars, jurists, writers and sufis.  lived a solitary life. I knocked at the door but there was no answer. I waited for a while and knocked again. When no answer came, I left a note and returned to my hotel. Later that day, when I came back to my hotel after a long stroll, I found a small note on the door of my room: "I am sorry to have missed you. I was in my apartment, but my hearing is not good anymore. Please accept my apologies. Hamidullah."

I was touched by the humility of tone and by the fact that the old Professor had taken the trouble to come to my hotel and leave the message; we had never met before and he did not even know me. I went back to his apartment and had a memorable meeting. He was as lucid in his thoughts as in his books and his grasp of contemporary realities of the Muslim world The term Muslim world (or Islamic world) has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Muslims, adherents of Islam. This community numbers about 1.5-2 billion people, about one-fourth of the world.  was amazing a·maze  
v. a·mazed, a·maz·ing, a·maz·es
1. To affect with great wonder; astonish. See Synonyms at surprise.

2. Obsolete To bewilder; perplex.


On Tuesday, Shawwal 13, 1423/December 17, 2002, the 94-year-old Professor Hamidullah awoke in Jacksonville, Florida “Jacksonville” redirects here. For other uses, see Jacksonville (disambiguation).
Jacksonville is the largest city in the state of Florida and the county seat of Duval County.
, USA, in the house of his brother's grand-daughter, Sadida, said his Fajr prayer, had breakfast, and after a while went back to sleep, never to awaken again in this life. He was laid to rest in the Muslim cemetery in Jacksonville on December 19, 2002 at about 1:30 pm. Funeral prayer was led by his long-time friend Dr. Yusuf Ziya Kavakci, an eminent Turkish scholar and Imam of Islamic Association of North Texas; about 75 people attended his burial.

His distinguished academic career, numerous books and articles testify to a life devoted to scholarship in the grand tradition of his ancestors. He discovered a very old hadith hadith (hädēth`), a tradition or the collection of the traditions of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, including his sayings and deeds, and his tacit approval of what was said or done in his presence.  manuscript in a Damascus library and published it in a bi-lingual Arabic-Urdu edition. This discovery of Sahifah Hammam bin Munabah was to have a great impact on the course of Islamic studies  
''This is a sub-article to religious education, academic discipline, and Islam.
Islamic studies is an ambiguous term; in a non-Muslim context, it generally refers to the historical study of Muslim religion and

In the early 1950s, Professor Hamidullah helped draft the first Islamic constitution of Pakistan There have been several documents known as the Constitution of Pakistan (Urdu: آئین پاکستان ). These will be dealt with here in chronological order.  but resigned from the commission over differences with vested interests vested interest
1. Law A right or title, as to present or future possession of an estate, that can be conveyed to another.

2. A fixed right granted to an employee under a pension plan.

. He was awarded the highest civil award of Pakistan in 1985, but turned over the cash award to the Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, Pakistan, saying "If I take it here, what would I get there?" (1)

The following memorabilia by Mahmud Rifat Kademoglu, one of Professor Hamidullah's Turkish students, highlights numerous aspects of the life of an extraordinary scholar.


Professor Muhammad Hamidullah was surely one of the most remarkable personalities of our age. In person, a strong and upright model, in scholarship, a brilliant source of inspiration, he lived his life as a testimony to God and his outstanding personality will be remembered as one committed to scholarship and research in the service of Islam. By Allah's grace, the great success he achieved with his determination is very exceptional and extraordinary.

Muhammad Hamidullah was born in Hyderabad, the capital of the Princely State A princely state is any state under the reign of a prince and is thus a principality taken in the broad sense. The term refers not only to sovereign nations ruled by monarchs but also to lower polities ruled by various high nobles (often vassals in a feudal system).  of Hyderabad Dakkan, India, on the 16th of Muharram 1326 (January 19, 1908). His father was Abu Muhammad Khalilullah and he was the youngest of eight children. He was first educated at home in the traditional Islamic sciences and then studied at the Dar al-'Ulum.

Starting from his childhood and continuing with a deepening focus during all his life, centered on the Qur'an, Hamidullah became a scholar of the first rank in the Islamic tradition. We have a document that tells us that he obtained an 'Ijaza for Qur'an recitation rec·i·ta·tion  
a. The act of reciting memorized materials in a public performance.

b. The material so presented.

a. Oral delivery of prepared lessons by a pupil.

 at the Masjid al-Nabawwi, and it also lists all the masters, starting from his own teacher and going back to the Prophet himself. In this way, he was a living testimony to the tradition in which the student is directly taught and guided by a master who gained his authority in a traditional manner, the chain reaching back to the Messenger of Allah--may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him. A reference to this can be found in the "Introduction" of Professor Hamidullah's French translation of the Qur'an, Le Saint Le Saint (Breton: Ar Sent) is a French commune located in the Morbihan département, in the Bretagne région. Demographics
As of the census of 1999, the village has a population of 696.

Our Professor, who had his license to practice law from Osmania University's Faculty of Law, also obtained a Master's degree master's degree
An academic degree conferred by a college or university upon those who complete at least one year of prescribed study beyond the bachelor's degree.

Noun 1.
 from the same university; his work drew attention to the uniqueness of rules of Muslim conduct as related to the field of international law. He was then sent by the Osmania University Osmania University (also known as OU in short) is a public university situated in the city of Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is one of the oldest modern universities in India.  to the University of Bonn The University of Bonn (German: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in 1818 the University of Bonn is nowadays one of the largest universities in Germany. , Germany. During the early years of 1930s, he could be found hard at work in the libraries of Makkah, Madinah, Sanab, Damascus, Cairo and Istanbul. As a result of these studies, he obtained a doctorate from the Bonn University (1933); his thesis was entitled "Neutrality in the Islamic Law Noun 1. Islamic law - the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed; "sharia is only applicable to Muslims"; "under Islamic law there is no separation of church and state"
sharia, sharia law, shariah, shariah law
 of Nations". Our Professor also had an opportunity to use the rich primary sources available in European and North American North American

named after North America.

North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.

North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus.
 libraries. He earned a second Ph.D. from Paris University in 1934, this time with a thesis entitled, "Early Islamic Diplomacy". He returned home in 1936 and taught at the Osmania and Nizamiyah Universities.

In 1947, he was back in Paris, doing research. During this sojourn, he also represented the Princely State of Hyderabad at the United Nations. While he was still abroad, his State was occupied by India in 1948. Hamidullah didn't accept this injustice and initiated a sustained campaign to draw international attention to the plight of his people. Because of his attitude, the Indian government cancelled his passport, making him a scholar without a state. When the dust settled, he was accepted by the French government as a stateless person Noun 1. stateless person - a person forced to flee from home or country
displaced person, DP

refugee - an exile who flees for safety

Civilian who has been denationalized or whose country of origin cannot be determined or who cannot establish a

Devoting his life to scholarship at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique The Centre national de la recherche scientifique ("National Scientific Research Centre", CNRS) is the largest governmental research organization in France. It involves 26,000 permanent staff (researchers, engineers, and administrative staff) and a further 4,000 temporary , (CNRS CNRS Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (National Center for Scientific Research, France)
CNRS Centro Nacional de Referencia Para El Sida (Argentinean National Reference Center for Aids) 
), Hamidullah published many important books and articles during a long and distinguished career. Professor Hamidullah was invited a few times by the government of Pakistan Government of Pakistan (Urdu: حکومتِ پاکستان), The Constitution of Pakistan provides for a Federal Parliamentary System of government, with a President as the Head of State and an indirectly-elected Prime  to guide its efforts to establish an Islamic government. For years, he gave lectures at various universities in France, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan and many other countries; he was also a popular speaker at conferences.

After 1954, he came to Turkey almost every year during the summer term to give scheduled lectures and seminars, mainly at Istanbul University Istanbul University (Turkish: İstanbul Üniversitesi) was founded as an institution of higher education named the Darülfünun (House of Multiple Sciences) on July 23, 1846; but the Medrese (Theological School , but also at the universities of Ankara and Erzurum. Many generations of Turks were enlightened by him during the course of these lectures and he trained many students. This lasted until 1978. These years were also the time when religious education in terms of Islamic education was reestablished and reshaped in a modern way in Turkey. With his lectures, conferences and works, our Professor played an important role in this period; and we can almost say that with his method and attitude, he was the harbinger har·bin·ger  
One that indicates or foreshadows what is to come; a forerunner.

tr.v. har·bin·gered, har·bin·ger·ing, har·bin·gers
To signal the approach of; presage.
 of a new movement. This makes his impact on modern Turkish thought one of lasting nature; he has deeply influenced people in contemporary Turkey. The love and respect he enjoys in Turkey became evident when the news of his death reached Turkey. Many funeral prayers were held in absentia in absentia (in ab-sensh-ee-ah) adj. or adv. phrase. Latin for "in absence," or more fully, in one's absence. Occasionally a criminal trial is conducted without the defendant being present when he/she walks out or escapes after the trial has begun, since the accused , remembrance meetings drew large crowds and many articles were published. Many famous writers and many people who were enlightened by his knowledge wrote and recalled their thoughts and feelings about him. This still continues.

Hamidullah, who is thought to have written around 40 books and 700 articles, published his works in English, French and German as well as Arabic and Urdu. He also knew Sanskrit, Persian, Turkish, Italian and Russian. His works were published in original and in translation in at least twelve languages. Some of his best known works are Introduction to Islam and The Muslim Conduct of State in English, Le Saint Coran, his French translation of the Qur'an and Le Prophete de l'Islam in French.

In 1996, our Professor went to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.  from Paris where he lived with his near relatives until his death, Surely we are from Allah and to Him we return.

For years, I attended his lectures at the Faculty of Letters at the University of Istanbul. His memories and impressions are ingrained in my mind. However among all the memories, the memory of our wedding ceremony bears a very special significance for me.

Soon after my engagement, I requested him to contract our marriage ceremony, and considering his age and health as well not to keep him from his work, I had told him that I would bring my fiancee to his office on the arranged day. He accepted my wish without hesitation. Since marriage is a religious obligation, our professor was always pleased to hear news about marriage ceremonies and played an active role in the establishment of this blessed bond. That is why, I felt, he was especially pleased with my request. However, he said it would be much more appropriate to perform the ceremony at the bride's house instead of his office. This was more pleasant for all of us, especially for the family of my fiancee. I felt a great surge of happiness for being honored by such kindness. He himself noted the necessary information about the families and the witnesses.

On the appointed day, we met with our Professor and his faithful friend and translator Dr. Salih Tug, and went to my future wife's house at Uskudar-Baglarbasi; it was Thursday, the fifth day of the first month of 1394 AH/May 23, 1974 A.D. After a brief introduction of guests, Professor Hamidullah said, "I have received a wonderful news today!". Then he took out an Arabic newspaper from his bag. It included an article which was about the discovery of the original letter which our Prophet had sent to--if I'm not mistaken--the Byzantium Emperor Heracles, in order to invite him to Islam. This newspaper was the May 5, 1974 edition of al-Itihad which used to be published at Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi (ä`b thä`bē, zä–, dä–), Arab. Abu Zabi, sheikhdom (1995 pop. 928,360), c. .

The discovery of this historic document was of utmost significance because it would establish many fundamental aspects of early Islamic history beyond doubt. Our Professor understood the importance of this discovery and was extremely happy on that day. He especially wanted to share the pleasure of the publication of this discovery with the wedding guests. Thus his merriment became ours as well. This was, indeed, a very lovely and happy beginning for us.

This event is also significant in other ways; it shows what kind of events our beloved Professor used to follow ardently and what kind of things pleased him. I never thought our Professor would prepare a written text for the ceremony. Although it was not so feasible in those days, he had found a typewriter with an Arabic font and with it he had prepared a very touching and simple text, including passages from the Qur'an, some ahadith and supplications besides the marriage contract that he himself had composed. Perhaps he had typed the whole document himself. He had left a blank where the amount of bridal money was to be written and during the ceremony, he filled it in with his fountain pen in Arabic.

He read out the text, directed the contract and made graceful supplications. Then he supervised the signing of the contract--which he had already prepared in three copies--by both sides and the witnesses. Besides the witnesses he also had the signature of the bride's father, under the name of "Parent of the bride" and finally he himself signed it as well. He left one copy for each side and took the third one for himself.

After accepting our humble offerings, he presented to my wife two of his books, Introduction to Islam and The Prophet Muhammad, both autographed, dated and inscribed in·scribe  
tr.v. in·scribed, in·scrib·ing, in·scribes
a. To write, print, carve, or engrave (words or letters) on or in a surface.

b. To mark or engrave (a surface) with words or letters.
 with wonderful words. He then, once again, facilitated our marriage in graceful prayers, and leaving us with feelings of gratitude, he departed.

The Professor held a deep love for truth which he cherished a great deal and which motivated him to spend his life in search of knowledge. His scholarship, clear insight into nature of things and erudition er·u·di·tion  
Deep, extensive learning. See Synonyms at knowledge.

Erudition of editors—Hare.

Noun 1.
 was only possible because of his love for truth and honesty. His magnificent intelligence, rationality of approach, analytic capabilities and, above all, his honesty and soundness formed the basis of his vigor and integrity.

All his efforts were directed toward one goal: to learn and understand, and he always did his best to communicate and share his learning and understanding. The noble excitement he felt in attaining the truth, always motivated him to work harder in a scientific way and to accumulate merits in the sight of God which is the prerogative of a few mortals.

Above all, Professor Hamidullah's knowledge was built upon a very solid foundation of Arabic and the Noble Qur'an Noble Qur'an may refer to:
  • Qur'an, the original Arabic version
  • Noble Qur'an, a translation of the Qur'an by Muhammad Muhsin Khan
. Starting from that point, his deep cognizance The power, authority, and ability of a judge to determine a particular legal matter. A judge's decision to take note of or deal with a cause.

That which is cognizable to a judge is within the scope of his or her jurisdiction.
 and his deeply rooted intellectual experience in the Islamic tradition of learning made him a great scholar. He was fully aware of the ancient sources of Islam. To say that he was the master of history would not be an overstatement o·ver·state  
tr.v. o·ver·stat·ed, o·ver·stat·ing, o·ver·states
To state in exaggerated terms. See Synonyms at exaggerate.

. Moreover, he examined all texts of the "People of the Scriptures" with great attention and inquired closely into Jewish and Christian societies, and he never avoided acquaintance with their elite. In addition, he also had substantial scholarship in the Indian religions
See Religion in India for the religious demographics of the Republic of India.

Indian religions as the name suggests, are a category of religions that originated in India or the Indian subcontinent. They are Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.
, especially Buddhism. In general he attributed great importance to the history of religions and worked as an influential and distinguished specialist in this branch.

The research methods of the West which developed and gained validity in the modern times were not alien to Our Professor; he evaluated them thoroughly and used them in his work. Both in the West and in the East, he was regarded as a highly prolific and respected writer. It is well-known that our Professor never wasted his time; still, how he managed to publish such a vast number of works in a single lifespan is amazing.

As far as I know and understand, he also acknowledged the importance of current matters, political and cultural; keenly followed the developments and was never indifferent to his own times. He was aware of everything therefore his knowledge was never merely accumulated theoretical information. He never refrained from opposing malice he witnessed in society; he struggled against it as much as possible, at least with his words. The examples of these are well known.

Like each and every mortal, quite naturally our Professor could have been mistaken in some matters as well. But I am sure of one thing, the degree he reached in knowledge and action, his intelligence, assiduity as·si·du·i·ty  
n. pl. as·si·du·i·ties
1. Persistent application or diligence; unflagging effort.

2. Constant personal attention and often obsequious solicitude. Often used in the plural.

Noun 1.
, and especially his ikhlas (sincerity), all represent a very high stage.

I believe I am speaking for all his students who have followed him in action and thought, and therefore I can wholeheartedly whole·heart·ed  
Marked by unconditional commitment, unstinting devotion, or unreserved enthusiasm: wholehearted approval.

 say that Professor Hamidullah never failed to handle any opportunity in the best way and to achieve this he always tried hard to use all his capacities. Undoubtedly, first of all, his students and readers, then everyone to whom he and his work has been a great source of enlightenment and inspiration and the whole world of knowledge feels a deep gratitude to him. May Allah be pleased with him for the work he presented for the enlightenment of mankind, and for the great service he rendered to learning and education.

Professor Hamidullah had a deep commitment to his ummah and he attached great importance to this relationship with the wider body of Muslims. That is why he was always keen on taking responsibilities that would help in solving the problems of the Muslim world. For the same reason, defending the rights of Muslims was an honorable responsibility he carried all his life. He was a person who reflected the glory of a Muslim in his character. He was dignified but at the same time very modest, amiable and cheerful. He always had a warm relationship with his students and with everybody who came in contact with him; his sincerity and honesty were always the most obvious and noticeable things about him. He had an elegant, noble, sensitive, and attentive nature but he liked to make witty remarks as well. He had devoted himself to worship and knowledge so much that he always preferred abstinence abstinence: see fasting; temperance movements.  and never favored the world. He was always far from egoism egoism (ē`gōĭzəm), in ethics, the doctrine that the ends and motives of human conduct are, or should be, the good of the individual agent. It is opposed to altruism, which holds the criterion of morality to be the welfare of others.  and had a simple lifestyle. He was selfless self·less  
Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish: "Volunteers need both selfish and selfless motives to sustain their interest" Natalie de Combray.
 in his efforts. It was his principle not to accept copyright payments for his books.

The tranquility and serenity was apparent in his behavior. He had an outstanding intelligence. His penetrating earnestness, simplicity and spiritual purity was remarkable. He was a person of medium height with a slim physique physique /phy·sique/ (fi-zek´) the body organization, development, and structure.

The body considered with reference to its proportions, muscular development, and appearance.
, he was recognized by his dignified beard which adorned a·dorn  
tr.v. a·dorned, a·dorn·ing, a·dorns
1. To lend beauty to: "the pale mimosas that adorned the favorite promenade" Ronald Firbank.

 his face and by his fur cap and neat double-breasted suit.

Our beloved Professor, who lived as a mu'min, a pious servant of Allah, passed away as a devout, loyal and sincere savant sa·vant  
1. A learned person; a scholar.

2. An idiot savant.

[French, learned, savant, from Old French, present participle of savoir, to know
. With his scholarship, teaching and work, he initiated a brand new movement of learning in the Muslim world and worked as if he was an institution. His whole life was a kind of alms-giving, an expression of philanthropy. His path will always illuminate ours and we will remember him as an admirable and exceptional model.
Translation of Professor Hamidullah's letter

      In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

   Faculty of Islamic Sciences,
   Erzurum                                                   20.5.1978

   My dearest brother Mahmud Bey,
   Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullah!

   With my profound thanks. First the April issue and then, a
   week ago, many copies of April and May issues arrived. [I
   hope, the future issues] will continue to come. Even if
   [many copies] were not available, I could make copies
   here. There is no need for several copies in Paris. I will
   leave the copies available here, with Dr. Ihsan Sureyya
   Sirma, Faculty of Islamic Sciences, Erzurrum.

   If you are going to send future issues, please send the
   same number of copies to him; he will distribute them.
   Only two copies will be enough for me in Paris: "4 Rue de
   Tournon 75006--Paris, France."

   Many thanks again and may Allah be pleased with you.

   M. Hamidullah

                        Translated from the original Turkish by
                                                Osman Kademoglu

(1.) Meaning thereby that he sought the reward in the Hereafter In the future.

The term hereafter is always used to indicate a future time—to the exclusion of both the past and present—in legal documents, statutes, and other similar papers.
. This remark opens a window to understand his piety and spiritual orientation. See Ansari, Zafar Ishaq (2003), "Dr. Hamidullah: Great Encounters--Karachi, Paris and Dahran" in Impact, No. 1-3 (January-March) 33, pp. 24-7.

Translated from the original Turkish by Gulnur Utku and Fakih Kademoglu

Mahmud Rifat Kademoglu, Bahcelievler Mah. Pelin Sok., Merve Apartment Number 16/5 81221, Cengelkoy/Uskudar, Istanbul, Turkey; Email:
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Falida Nikuze
Falida Nikuze (Member):  2/28/2011 4:40 AM


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Title Annotation:Obituary
Author:Kademoglu, Mahmud Rifat
Publication:Islam & Science
Article Type:Obituary
Date:Jun 1, 2003
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