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Published in the 1-15 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Book Review
‘Religion and politics are two different things’

By Jamilur-Rahman

Special Issue: Dr. Mohammad Hamidullah
Journal: Fikr-wo-Nazar
Vol. No: 40-41
Date/Year: April- September 2003
PP.: 613
Publisher: Islamic Research Institute Int. University, Islamabad

Prof Khursheed Ahmed rightly says that Dr Hamidullah was the first and last Muslim orientalist who was an authority on the methodology of West like Imam Al-Ghazali who mastered himself in Greek philosophy, but never deviated from the straight way. Dr Hamidullah lived like a bridge between the students and researchers of Islamic knowledge and modern education.

The special issue on Dr Mohammad Hamidullah contains five parts which include his personality, works, letters, his three essays on state in view of the Qur’an, competition and protection of Hadith, and Islamic approach and list of some of his published books and articles.

It can be said that Islamic principles dealing with affairs of life are ideal, and what is ideal in Islam is real. And so Islam is real and practical. To Dr Hamidullah, religion and politics are two different things. Religion deals with relationship between God and man, and politics between man and man. These two are like hands and feet in a body that moves on intention or by mind. Likely Quran, the words of God maintain due balance between religion and politics, to put morality in politics, and reality in morality or ethics.

Dr. Hamidullah was awarded the degree of D. Phil. In 1933 by Bonn University, Germany for a thesis on International Law in Islam ‘Die Neutratitatim Islamischen Volkerech "(principles of Neutrality in Islamic Int. Law). Later, with some further elaboration in the thesis, he wrote a famous book on Islamic Int. Law ‘Muslim conduct of Sate". Mahmood Ahmad calls Hamidullah, ‘Al-shaibani of 20th century ‘due to his memorable research work in the field of Islamic internal law. Dr. Hamidullah succeeded to prove that not the thinkers of 17th century but Muslim jurists and scholars are pioneers of ascribing international law. And none else than Al-Shaibani (d.805) formulated the principles of international law.

[Al- Shaibani is one of the pupils of Abu Hanifa, founder of Hanfi school of Jurisprudence.] Dr. Hamidullah was awarded further the degree of D. Litt. on another topic of internal law titled "La Diplomatic Musulmane ‘a l’ epoch du proph‘et de l’ Islam et ses caliphs Orthodoxes" [Islamic Diplomacy in the period of Prophet and His Orthodox caliphs].

His were a multidimensional academic activities. His writings range upto 167 books and articles on different topics in a thousand number in various languages. He is supposed to be the expert in many occidental and oriental languages. His few of book mentioned here are ‘Ahde Nabvi mein Nazam-e-Hukmarani ‘(Urdu) [Administrative system of Prophet SAW period], ‘Rasul Akram Ki seyasi zindagi’ (Urdu) [Political life of the Prophet SAW], and ‘Ahde Nabvi ke Maidan-e-Jung’ (Urdu) [‘Battle Fields of Prophet]. The last book was translated into English and French by Dr. Hamidullah himself. In 1980, Dr. Hamidullah delivered lectures on twelve different topics of Islam at Islamiyah University Bahawalpur. These famous lectures were published under the little ‘Khutbat-e-Bahawalpur’ (urdu) that later translated into English ‘The emergence of Islam’ by a noted journalist of Pakistan Dr. Afzal Iqbal. The English version was first published in 1993.

Lectures at Bahawalpur contain two important lectures on the History of Quran and Hadith. Dr. Hamidullah has tried to prove that Hadiths were compiled in the period of Prophet SAW and orthodox caliphs. Dr. Hamidullah discovered fourteen compiled works of the companions of Prophet. He also disclosed that one of the companions named Abdullah bin Abi Auf used to spread the knowledge of Hadith through exchanges of letters. So, it many be said, companions of the Prophet SAW pioneered distance education. Hamidullah discovered that a number of Prophet’s companions compiled Hadith personally. A number of documents that deal with various affairs were compiled by the companions under Prophet’s own directives. One of such documents is the ‘Mishaqe Madian’ (Madina charter) that contains more than 52 sections. Dr. Hamidullah says the written documents of the Prophet include census report letters of the Prophet written to chieftains and heads of states, missionary letters to the contemporary rulers, and documents related to assessment, distribution and collections of Zakat and other revenues, etc.

French translation of Quran by Dr. Hamidullah appeared on 20th October 1959 and is as much popular among the French speaking people as of Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s translation of Quran among English speaking people. Dr. Hamidullah deserves credit for compiling and publishing a copy of Quran that was in Samarqand and is among those which were prepared and sent to different places by Caliph Othman. It was published by Ayesha Begum and is available in Masjid Geelani at Karachi.

He has also written a most readable book on the life and character of Prophet Mohammed SAW ‘le Prophet de I ‘islam’ into two volumes. And in addition to the life and mission of the Prophet SAW, the book also discusses socio, economic and diplomatic affairs at length. Further, his work on Islamic jurisprudence and methodology of Abu Hanifa is praiseworthy. He succeeded in proving that Islamic Law is not derived from Roman Law.

The man who was born in Hyderabad on 19th Feb. 1908 passed his whole life in America and West, especially in Paris, died on 17th December 2002, leaving behind him a huge Sadqa-e-Jariah.

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