A tribute to Professor Muhammad Hamidullah

At the age of 95, Professor Muhammad Hamidullah breathed last on December 17, 2002, in Jacksonville, Fl. He woke up for Fajr (Dawn) prayer and then after breakfast went to sleep never to wake up again.

Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, was born in 1908, and obtained a degree in Theology and Law from Osmania University in the state of Hyderabad Deccan (India). He also studied in Germany and France where he received his PhD in International Law. He was a law professor in his native city. Later he settled in France and a few years ago he came to the United States. The professor never married. He was being taken care by his the grand daughter of his brother, sister Sadida who left her job to devote herself for him.

Professor Hamdiullah’s scholarship is unparalleled in the last century. He translated the Quran in French and many other languages. He also translated a number of other important Islamic books in many European languages. He authored more than 250 books and research papers. He lived a life of anonymity in France and the United States without seeking any help from anyone or recognition for his work. He was a silent scholar.

Opportunists pirated his books and made hundreds and thousands of dollars, yet he never thought of settling the accounts in a court of law. His books have been printed illegally in different languages all over the world. I had the opportunity to visit him a few years ago in Wilkes Berre. At his feet I learned the lesson of humility and anonymity. I learned the art of patience and total service and dedication to Islam. He had no grudge against those who harmed him. He even prayed for those who often tried to humiliate him for his opinions.

It is He (God) who hath power over all things.

As a great researcher of this century, Professor Hamidullah went to those original Islamic sources that were often buried in the dusty shelves of libraries in the Muslim world. He was the one who discovered the earliest hadith manuscript in a Damascus library that he published in the Urdu language known as Sahifa Hamam. He wrote several researched treatise on the early life of Muslims.

He remained a neglected scholar because he retained his individual freedom and identity. He didn’t join any group or organization.

His was a life of dedication to Islamic research and he left behind him a legacy of intellect that many generations will benefit from. Soon, people will discover him as perhaps the greatest Islamic scholar of the previous century. Soon the people will regret that they could not benefit from him when he was alive.

Thank you Professor Muhammad Hamidullah for giving us the research on crucial Islamic issues. Thank you for your remarkable contribution to the body of Islamic literature. You lived a full live. You remained in poverty but enriched the life of others with your knowledge. You stayed away from the usual temptation of life, yet you inspired many to dedicate their lives for Islam.

Good-bye Professor. We will meet again. We pray that you will be among the categories of those selected scholars who will have the blessings of God upon them. You will be the one blessed because you were the real inheritor of Prophets.