Reviewed by DR. WAQUAR ANWAR
Educational Publishing House, Delhi, has come out with four books on the life and deeds of Hakeem Abdul Hameed.
The first book has been edited by A Habeeb Khan and Dr. Abid Raza Bedar. Rest books have been compiled and edited by Dr. Bedar. Besides his competence as an editor and research scholar and the perseverance to do the hard work required for such monumental works and making the whole exercise meaningful and useful for further research in the life and work of a versatile person like Hakeem Abdul Hameed, Dr. Bedar has the added distinction of working in close association with Hakeem sahib for a considerable period during the latter’s final days, sharing his work, vision, and concern.
The first and fourth above mentioned books are compilations of the writings of contemporary persons about Hakeem sahib, in Urdu and English languages respectively.
The second mentioned book is biographical in nature covering autobiography, writings of his illustrious younger brother, Hakeem Saeed, description of institutions developed by Hakeem sahib, and highlighting his concerns and issues on which he worked and made others work. Further, this book provides history, functions, and achievements of institutions developed by Hakeem Sahib. A useful collection of documents related to such institutions has also been provided.
The third book comprises letters written to close associates and replies received. It also includes notes addressed by Hakeem sahib to Arshad Ali Kidwai relating to specific daily assignments and engagements.
Many writings of contemporary persons are repetitive and full with accolades which make no sense. This mostly happens in obituaries. For example, persons who have placed Hakeem Abdul Hameed above Sir Syed have missed the point that these two personalities are not comparable. They lived in different times addressing different situations. They were both great persons in their own rights. Comparison notwithstanding, Hakeem Abdul Hameed performed wonderful tasks and his deeds speak volumes. Some writings make interesting readings. These are both moving and informative. Such writings include those by Hakeem Saeed, Saiyid Hamid, Syed Ausaf Ali, Dr. Abid Raza Bedar, Akhlaq Husain Qasmi and Hakeem Ghulam Mehdi Raz. There are other contemporary persons too who have shared interesting information and anecdotes.
However, one misses any writing about Hakeem sahib by Arshad Ali Kidwai, a very close associate of Hakeem Abdul Hameed. Although Arshad Ali Kidwai was designated as Advisor (Finance) of Hamdard, he served in varied positions: personal secretary, associate in social engagements, parley-service between Hakeem sahib and his illustrious sons Abdul Mueed and Hammad Ahmad, besides a friend, guide and well-wisher of Hakeem sahib’s family, both in India and Pakistan. He knew Hakeem sahib from very close quarters; closer than most others. He may be persuaded to write about Hakeem Abdul Hameed, and his writing may become the fifth worthy book in this series!
One further wishes that the compilations would have included an article of Qazi Irshad, another close associate of Hakeem sahib, and Hakeem Iqbal Ahmad, his cousin. The wish list is long and it is obvious that everything cannot be included. One has to contend with whatever made available. The personality of Hakeem Abdul Hameed was so much towering that scope of further work on his life and deeds will remain open. These four books provide good research materials for further and future researchers.
A majority of writings in these books are full of praise describing all good aspects of the life of the eminent person. It is all justifiable. However, this is short of critical appraisal of a person and his times. With the exception of the writings of Saiyid Hamid and some other subtle remarks by others, the aspect of genuine criticism is missing. Future researchers will have to look at other places for a factual analysis. However great a person the other aspects of character should not be missed.
Hakeem Abdul Hameed was an unusual person, a real genius. At a time after partition of India when Muslims in Delhi were unsettled and were disposing of their properties, Hakeem Abdul Hameed was acquiring properties and planning future business and social activities. Although he was forced to dispose of his properties in Daryaganj, he maintained his poise and kept planning his future role. There was the unusual situation of strained relationship with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, his one-time tenant, but these two great men did not let the situation mar. Hakeem Abdul Hameed had to develop relations with Jawahar Lal Nehru and he exploited another route; that of Dr. Syed Mahmood. Hakeem sahib arranged to keep live relations with Prime Ministers of India; Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Narasimha Rao, and Dev Gowda. Suffice is to mention that Jamia Hamdard got minority status during the premiership of Vajpayee without any hue and cry. Further it may be remembered that Narasimha Rao was invited to address the convocation in Jamia Hamdard, when his graph was lowest among Muslims, after the demolition of Babri Masjid.
No one has mentioned the relationship between Hakeem Abdul Hameed and Manmohan Singh from the days the latter was a Finance Minister. It was very personal and emotional so much so that this reviewer has seen Manmohan Singh standing silent in deep mourn for hours beside the dead body of Hakeem sahib in Jamia Hamdard, where the body was kept for public-view before the burial.
Keeping relations, maintaining these for good, and utilising these for better purposes was one of the hallmarks of Hakeem sahib. Every employee of Hamdard Dawakhana talks about the personal rapport. It is not an easy task for a busy person like Hakeem sahib to visit at least once the house of each employee on the occasions like marriage or death of the employee’s near and dear. He knew employees by name and their respective abilities which could be utilised for better use.
Hakeem Abdul Hameed kept an eye on all able Muslims in the country and also tried to utilise their services for the tasks dear to him. Tapping young talents like Syed Ausaf Ali and maintaining the relationship till the last is one such example. Examples like this galore. Similarly, Hakeem sahib tapped, if not trapped, talents that were retiring from other places like Saiyid Hamid and Dr. Abid Raza Bedar. This reviewer can give one example from personal experience. He enquired, when he was working as Finance Manager of Hamdard Dawakhana, through Kidwai sahib about the usefulness or otherwise of Prof. Abdul Moghni for Hamdard. The reply was in the negative in view of the fact that those were the days when Hakeem sahib’s sons were at the helm of affairs. The assessment was that Prof. Abdul Moghni would fully respect and work under Hakeem sahib but may clash with his sons.
Such talent hunt was a continuous affair. Hakeem Abdul Hameed knew his own abilities and utilised his resources and abilities, and the human resources available around, to the hilt.
One purpose of the compilations of the four books by Dr. Abid Raza Bedar appears to inform the world about the concerns of Hakeem Abdul Hameed including his last project of Hamdard Archive. The world needs to be informed and his heirs need to be convinced. There appears to be a dilemma. It is understood that Abdul Mueed, the elder son of Hakeem sahib, a very talented person imbibing many positive traits of his father, is convinced about the educational and social projects and so his commitment to keeping their funding continues. But he may not be convinced about the Archive project. One may hope that this effort of Dr. Abid Raza Bedar will bear fruit.
These books are worth reading. Professionally compiled and beautifully printed, it is hoped that the efforts and resources put in their publications will serve the next generation to know about a person who was really a role model in his own exclusive class.