Dr. Hamidullah Birth Centenary
By Sadida Athaullah
Muhammad Hamidullah, the last citizen of the erstwhile state of Hyderabad , needs no introduction. He was born on 16 Muharrum 1322H/ 19 February 1908 in Hyderabad. He started writing at an early age; his first publication appeared in 1924 in Naunihal, an Urdu magazine, about travel from the Nizam’s Hyderabad to Madras, a British colonial outpost.
He was educated in Hyderabad. Unlike the popular trend of his day of going to Aligarh or Madras for undergraduate study, he was among the first to graduate from the brand newOsmania University. After his education in Hyderabad, with the intention to study in Al Azhar in Egypt or another Muslim University in Syria, or Iraq, he went to Cairo. There he met a professor from Bonn University who invited him to Bonn , which was then a center of Biblical and Quranic research. He went to Germany to study at the University of Bonn and received a doctorate from that university in 1935. After Bonn, he went to Sorbonne University in Paris, France and received a second doctorate, a D. Litt., in International Law.
When he returned to Hyderabad in 1936, he started teaching at Osmania University . He was a well known writer by this time and did a great deal to promote literacy. His work appeared on a regular basis in the Islamic Culture where two famous translators of the Holy Quran, Mohammad Asad and Muhammad Pickthal, were editors at different times. After 1948, when India imposed an embargo on Hyderabad, he was sent with Moin Nawaz Jung and others to represent Hyderabad State (mamlikat-e Hyderabad) at the United Nations. Breaking the embargo, he left in the stealth of the night and flew to Karachi with Sidney Cotton with only 12 Kaldars (Hyderabadi currency) in his pocket. After India annexed Hyderabad , he was declared a Stateless Person, and chose to maintain his status as the last citizen of Hyderabad until this issue was resolved by the U.N.
He spent almost 50 years in Paris, eventually moving to USA and died in 2002, leaving a vast amount of work behind, a citizen of a state that does not exist anymore.
Muhammad Hamidullah Center for Islamic Scholarship and Dialogue is dedicated to preserving his immense work and is opening his archives for those interested in his works, during the Centennial year (2008) celebrations. The Center hopes to reprint all of Dr. Hamidullah’s works, a catalogue of his publications and digitalize and preserve his papers for the benefit of the future generations.
MH Center cordially invites all those interested in Dr. Hamidullah’s works. Unfortunately, due to lack of resources, the center is open on weekends and by appointment only. You can contact the center via email at M.Hamidullah.
Sadida Athaullah is Dr. Hamidullah’s Literary Executrix and grandniece.
A partial list of some of the most widely read and influential publications of Dr. Hamidullah. As one of the foremost scholars of Islam in the Twentieth Century, Dr. Hamidullah was the author of over one hundred and thirty books in English, French, German, Arabic and Urdu, and hundreds of scholarly essays and articles on the various aspects of Islam.