By M M Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Glowing tributes were paid to the world renowned Turkish historian, scientist and Islamic scholar Dr Fuat Sezgin at a symposium organized by the Islamic Fiqh Academy India at its headquarters here. Sezgin, who made unparalleled contribution in bringing Islamic world’s scientific inventions and contributions to the fore and made West to recognize this fact, died on June 30 at the age of 95 in Istanbul, Turkey. Unfortunately, he was not a very popular figure in the Indian Sub-continent.
The symposium’s topic was “Turkey’s World-Famed Scholar, Intellectual, Dr Fuat Sezgin and his Academic Contribution” was presided over by Dr Razi-ul-Islam Nadawi, secretary Tasnifee Academy ( Jamaat Islami Hind).
Sezgin was not only a par excellence, distinguished, and great scholar of Turkey but also of the Islamic world who was born in 1924 in Bitlis province in eastern Turkey. He intensively and extensively researched the scientific works of Muslims and spent his whole life writing about the history of science in the Islamic world. He led the awakening of our civilization and history with the works he has done in the field of Islamic science history. He also set up a museum in Istanbul to showcase Muslim world’s inventions. Inspired by his German teacher and orientalist Helmut Ritter, Sezgin did also work for 17 hours daily and produced his masterpiece “Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums” (History of Arabic Sciences) or in Arabic “Tarikh Alturas-i- Alarabi”. This great work, which has been a detailed history of the Arabic-Islamic scientific works between the 7th and the 14th centuries, rewarded him the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies in 1978. Dr Sezgin wrote all his books in German language which were translated into Arabic. In the Indian subcontinent, Dr Sezgin was not a very popular and familiar figure in the academic circle because of his work was in German language.
In this context, the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India organized a symposium on Dr Sezgin. It is to mention here that introducing scholars from the Muslim and non-Muslim world to the young Indian scholars and the graduates of Islamic seminaries is part of Fiqh Academy’s objectives.
In his presidential speech, Dr Razi-ul-Islam Nadawi said we must take many lessons from the life of Dr Sezgin.
1-Working under adverse atmosphere: After the May 27, 1960 coup, several professors were sacked from the university and Sezgin was one of them who had nothing to do other than moving to Germany where he became a professor at the Frankfurt University and carried his research work.
2- Hard Working: His German teacher Helmut Ritter asked him how much time he did work? Dr Sezgin said 12 hours. Ritter told he worked 17 hours daily. Afterwards, Dr Sezgin also had made a schedule of working 17 hours daily. He had continued this overwhelming tempo of studying until his last days. He single-handedly had done so much work that an organization could not do it.
3-Set high standard for research: He followed the standards set by orientalists for research work and even added some more principles to it. In his research work, he also presented minute details of the published books or manuscripts and also mentioned the number of edition of the book published from which places. If he has referred any manuscript, he has also given the information about the libraries which house the manuscript with all details.
4-Correction of the mistake: Dr Sezgin’s book “Tarikh Alturas-i- Alarabi” is basically the Correction of the mistakes crept in the book “the History of Arabic Literature” written by Carl Brockelmanns” who was also a famous German orientalist. Writers such as Hikmat Basheer Yaseen, Akram Ziaul amri, and Najam Adbul Rahman Khalaf have made corrections in the Dr Sezgin’s book and these are not disliked by the academic fraternity.
5 -Deep Involvement: Dr Sezgin used to involve so deeply in his studies that he did not know what is happening around him and he only used to meet his family on the dining table.
Speaking on the occasion, Prof (Dr)Waris Mazhari, Department of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard Delhi, highlighted the distinguished features of Dr Sezgin’s academic works. He said his German teacher Ritter had played a major role in shaping the personality of Dr Sezgin. His personal traits reflect that he was influenced by the orientalist movement. His master, Ritter told Sezgin to learn Arabic who learned by reading very difficult old Arabic texts by himself. He devoted a considerable amount of time to studying and listing scientific contributions made by Muslim/Arabic scholars throughout history as Dr Sezgin knew that without highlighting this, the West won’t recognize what Muslims have contributed to the world; Prof Mazhari said and added that even Muslims were also not aware of their brilliant scientific achievements and legacy.
In his paper, Prof (Dr) Mohammad Mushtaq Tijawari, Jamia Millia Islamia’s Islamic Studies Department, threw light on Dr Sezgin’s book “Tarikh Alturas-i- Alarabi”. Recounting its distinguished features, Prof Tijawari also echoed the views of Dr Razi ul Islam Nadawi on Dr Sezgin’s this book saying it is basically the corrections of the mistakes crept in the book “the History of Arabic Literature” written by Carl Brockelmann. He further said that Brockelmann had given an account of all Islamic sources (whether in the form of published book or manuscript) and their authors right from the beginning of Islam to the 19the century. In 1902, Brockelmann published two volumes of his book and after that he also added more content in the book and published three volumes as annexure.
When Dr Sezgin began studying the book, he found that Brockelmann had missed many Arabic sources. In 1947, Dr Sezgin had planned more addition in the book. However, considering the huge task of this project, he confined the work upto 430 H. He published the first volume of this great work in 1967. Until his death, Sezgin could have published 16 other volumes. When he was writing the 18th volume, he died.
Delivering his lecture, Dr Mohammad Uzair Shams, who is a research scholar in Dare-ilam, Makkah, said by his intensive research work Dr Sezgin had made orientalists to acknowledge that Muslims have invented, discovered and developed a host of sciences like medicine, astrology, geography, chemistry, physics and other sciences. He proved that Muslims were inventors of many a thing. Recalling his several meetings with Dr Sezgin, Dr Shams said he learned so many things from him who was a very knowledgeable person and followed those principles in research which were disregarded by other scholars. He said the critical examination done on his work has no academic value which needs to be thoroughly reviewed.
The participants of the symposium said that Dr Sezgin was a world-renowned scholar who had contributed immensely to the Muslim world. For paying a befitting tribute to his contributions, and academic achievements, the organizers should hold a big seminar. Considering the demand of the participants, Islamic Fiqh Academy has decided that it will hold a two day international seminar on Dr Sezgin in 2019 in New Delhi.