JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA Dec18,2002-- Greatest living Islamic scholar and prolific writer
Dr Muhammad Hamidullah passed away on Dec.17,2002 at the Jacksonville home of his brother's great granddaughter Sadida Ataullah.
Dr Hamidullah woke up for Fajr prayer, ate his breakfast and went to sleep. He did not wake up. He was laid to rest in the Muslim cemetrey in Jacksonville on Dec.18, 2002. The Janaza prayers were led by his student and close associate Imam
Dr Yusuf Zia Kavakci.
Born on Feb. 9,1908 in the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad (Deccan), Dr. Hamidullah was the youngest in a family of 3 brothers and 5 sisters. In Hyderbad he was educated at Dar ul Uloom secondary school, Nizam College and Osmania University from where he obtained his MA and LLB degree in International law. From 1933-35 he studied at several universities in Europe and obtained a doctrate from Bonn University in Germany. In 1936 he obtained a D.Litt from the Sorbonne University, France. From 1936-46 he served on the faculty of Osmania University teaching International Law.
In 1946 he was appointed as member of the delegation sent by the Nizam of Hyderabad at the League of the Nations. After the 1948 invasion of Hyderabad by the Indian army, Dr. Hamidullah chose to live as an exile in France. In 1948 he founded the Hyderabad Liberation Society to get Hyderabad recognized as an independent state. He decided to stay as a stateless person as long as the question of Hyderabad is still open in the United Nations.
In France Dr. Hamidullah translated the Holy Qur'an into French and wrote several scholarly works. He was the author of over 250 books and articles. His Introduction to Islam continues to be a best seller. Another of his important contibutions was his discovery of the earliest extant work Hadith, the Sahifah Hammam ibn Munabbih, comprising as-Sahihah of Abu Hurairah (RA) prepared for his pupil Hammam ibn Munabbih (d.101Hijri).
A polyglot he was fluent in 22 languages. He mastered Thai at the age of 84.
In the early 1950s he worked on the First Islamic Constitution for Pakistan but resigns over differences of opinion with vested interests and returned to Paris. In 1985 he was awarded the Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the highest cicilian award of Pakistan that includes a substantial monteray amount. He refused to accept the award and donated the money to Islamic Research Academy, Islamabad.
In 1996 he moved to Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania for medical treatment and stayed with his brother's great grand-daughter Sadida Ataullah. For some years they have been living in Jacksonville, Florida.
Despite his spectacular scholarly achievements Dr. Hamidullah was always kind to one and all. In 1993 when I wrote him a letter he honored me replying eventhough he had just returned from hospital. He even corrected a spelling mistake in that letter. I will always cherish this letter from the great scholar. May Allah fill his grave with Noor and grant him the highest honors.
(Dec. 20, 2002)