Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dr. Muhammad Hameedullah (1908-2002): "Introduction to Islam"

Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah, (born 1908), was educated at Osmania University in the state of Hyderabad Deccan (India). Since India invaded the state of Hyderabad Deccan in 1948 he lived in self imposed exile. 

He was the youngest among the three brothers and five sisters, who were all well versed in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, as well as in Islamic learning. He received his early education at home, first from his sisters and then from his father. Later he was admitted in the Madrasah Nizamiyyah or Jamia Nizamia where he passed the examination for the degree for Mawlvi Kamil with distinction in 1924. Aware of his father’s antipathy towards English education, the young Hamidullah secretively sat for the matriculation examination and, when the results were declared, topped the list of successful candidates.

He was awarded D. Phil by Bonn University, Germany in 1932. He was appointed a lecturer in Arabic and Urdu at Bonn University. After spending some time in Germany, he came to Paris where he registered at the Sorbonne University for another doctoral degree. In a short period of eleven months, Sorbonne University conferred on him the degree of D. Litt.

Professor Hamidullah is well known for his translation of the Qur'an into French, and more than 170 works on Islamic Sciences, history, and culture. He has also taught various subjects related to Islamic Studies and Muslim International Law etc. in many countries. He is well known for his research in Islamic Law and all related subjects. He has been recognized as the most (or at least one of the most) authoritative scholars in the research of Islamic International Law and Islamic Constitutional Law. At its initial stages, he was invited by the government of Pakistan to help draft the constitution of Pakistan. Two of his most popular works are Muslim Conduct of State and Introduction to Islam (Online: 

Hamidullah divided his time between the neighborhood Islamic Center (grand mosque) he had helped establish in Paris, and visits to libraries and educational institutions of higher learning. What time was left he devoted to his writing and answering numerous letters he received daily. Over the years, thousands of people have converted to Islam because of his influence, and Hamidullah always had a stream of visitors, mostly students, who came to seek his advice. Being very mindful of time management, he never wasted a minute more than required for each task.

In 1985, he was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award of Pakistan that includes a substantial monetary amount. He donated the award money to Islamic Research Academy, Islamabad.

His last act of defiance against fame and fortune was in l999, when he declined a “lifetime achievement award” being conferred upon him by the Islamic Society of North America. He shunned being photographed, this tribute to a noble soul is therefore unaccompanied by any photograph. .


Dr. Muhammad Hameedullah on Osmania University, Hyderabad

"[In the] centre of India [was Hyderabad Deccan which was] as big as Italy, with over 20 million inhabitants. It was well known for the attention it gave particularly to the reform of Islamic education.

In its university founded along Western lines with about a dozen faculties, there was also a faculty of Islamic Theology. The university imparted teaching, at every level and in every faculty, through the medium of Urdu, the local language.

Specialization began in the school stage, when Arabic language, Fiqh, (Muslim law), and Hadith (documents on the life and sayings of the Prophet), were obligatory beside other subjects such as English language, mathematics and other courses of modern education.

In the university stage, the students of the Faculty of Theology learned not only English of a high standard, but also Arabic and subjects concerned purely with Islamic studies were prescribed. Moreover comparative studies became the vogue.

With the Fiqh was modern jurisprudence; with Kalam, the history of Western philosophy; with Arabic, also Hebrew or some modern European language, French or German in particular. When the students prepared their theses, they were attached to two guides - one a professor of the Faculty of Theology, and the other a professor from the Faculty of Arts and Letters or Law as the case may be. This provided the means of mastering simultaneously both the Islamic facts and modern Western trends on the same subject.  (Introduction to Islam, Ch. 14, cf 505)


imran said...

May i have Dr Hameedullahs islamic research centre Paris address and Phone Number

Anonymous said...

He was really a great muslim may Allah bless his soul ameen