Two-day IOS conference on Prof. Fuat Sezgin in New Delhi
[Day 1] December 21, 2019
A two-day international conference on “The Life and Contributions of Prof. Fuat Sezgin” was organised by the Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) on December 21-22, 2019 at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi.
The inaugural session began with a recitation from the holy Quran by Shah Ajmal Farooq Nadwi. Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish, finance secretary, Institute of Objective Studies, conducted the session. The session was presided over by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of Institute of Objective Studies.
IOS Secretary General Prof. Z. M. Khan, introduced the IOS and welcomed the foreign guests and participants. He said since 33 years the institution had been working as a research organisation.
He added, “We conduct surveys; we provide data to government and many other organisations. The Sachar Committee used our data extensively”. IOS has five chapters around India, to connect to the regional population. He added that IOS data bank was catering to different research organisations. He briefly mentioned journals published by the IOS namely, Journal of Objective Studies and Religion and Law Review, besides IOS Newsletter, IOS Khabarnama, IOS Current Affairs, IOS Minaret, Nuqta-e-Nazar etc.
Dr. Selim Argun, vice president, Presidency of Religious Affairs, Turkey, in his inaugural address, shared his experience in Johannesburg as a student of MA under the supervision of an Indian teacher.
He said that Prof. Sezgin did not have superhuman capabilities. He was rather an ordinary man who produced extraordinary work because of his unremitting perseverance. He studied about 17 hours a day and with self-sacrifice he attained extraordinary achievements. What he did is a model for today’s dedicated youth.
Born in eastern Turkey, he had a father who was a mufti and the mother an Arabic-speaking woman, Dr. Argun said.
Dr. Selim Argun observed that Prof. Sezgin was not an orientalist, but an aalim and Islamic scholar who decided to focus on the history of sciences.
He said Prof. Fuat Sezgin wanted to become an engineer before he met Prof. Helmut Ritter, an Islamic scientist and a German professor of Islamic arts, sciences and history. He said that Prof. Sezgin was influenced by Prof. Ritter, who had come to the conclusion that Muslims scholars had played an outstanding role in the development of sciences. This assertion led Prof. Sezgin to change his subject. In 1960 following a military coup he became jobless and moved to Frankfurt (Germany) and lived there for 27 years. He never wasted his time and continued to quench his thirst of knowledge. He wrote extensively on the history of sciences, geography and civilisations. He got the King Faisal Award for his scholarship.
Dr. Zahide Ozkan Rashed, a cardiologist from Frankfurt, who read a profile of Prof. Sezgin, conveyed greeting from the wife of Prof Sezgin. She gave a brief biographical account of Prof. Sezgin and explained how he collected 45,000 manuscripts from all over the world. She also showed her notes from the lecture of Prof. Sezgin.
H.E. Dr. Ali Ibrahim H. Namlah, former minister of labour, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, delivered his speech in Arabic. After greetings, he thanked Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam and the organisers. He lauded several Muslim scientists and their glorious achievements. He praised Indian scientists as well. He emphasised building a bright future, keeping in mind achievements of the past. He wished the conference good luck.
Prof. Ibrahim Mohammed H. al-Mozaini, professor, deptt. of history and civilisation, Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University, Riyadh, KSA, said that he was happy to participate in the conference. He disclosed that Prof. Sezgin was his mentor. He described his observations as a note of thank to the organizers. He also informed that a few days ago he was in Diyar Bakar, where Prof. Sezgin was born.
He made the point that Prof. Sezgin was not an orientalist, but a Muslim scholar. “Some say that he was an orientalist, because he was not an Arab. I say Islam was never meant only for the Arabs”, he asserted.
Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sahin, rector, Selcuk University, Turkey, focused on ideas of Prof. Faut Sezgin and described how he established several institutions. He briefly talked about the Ottoman Empire and its contribution to establishing madrasas and universities. He also talked about Abu Ali Sina and other Islamic medical scientists and compared the European/Western and Islamic world.
Prof. Dr. Mazhar Bagli, rector, Navsehir Haci Bektas Veli University, Turkey, said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared 2019 as the year of Prof. Sezgin, which was a great honour. He emphasised that Islamic culture required a knowledge-based society. The Quran focuses on ilm and ma’rifa. He explained the concept of science in Islam. His presentation was made in the light of the Quran.
He cited some references from different surahs and verses from the Quran, on the perspective of science. The Quran says, "Ignorant people can't be equal to those who know", he said.
H.E. Dr Sakir Ozkan Torunlar, ambassador of Republic of Turkey to India, expressed gratitude and wished success to the conference.
After his address, there was a formal release of some books from the IOS, which included The Legacy of Dr. Mohammad Hamidullah. edited by Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish; The Role of Women in Making a Humane Society, edited by Prof. P. Koya; Alam-e-Islam ka Bemisal Mohaqqiq: Dr. Fuat Sezgin, edited by Shah Ajmal Farooq Nadwi; Mashahire Fateheen-e-Islam, by Prof. Mohsin Usmani; Duniya mein Muslim Biradariyon ka Mukhtasar Encylopeadia (Vol. I, II & III) by Dr. M. K. A. Siddiqui and IOS Calendar – 2020.
Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam, chairman of IOS, in his presidential remarks said he merely wanted to draw everyone’s attention to two things. One is human dignity and the other is Indian Constitution. He emphasised upholding the sanctity of both. He also introduced the IOS briefly and said that the Institute was contributing to society in several ways. He thanked the Turkish government.
After a vote of thanks by Prof. M. Afzal Wani, vice chairman, Institute of Objective Studies, the session ended and the audience proceeded towards an exhibition, mounted for this occasion.
BUSINESS SESSION - I
The first business session on the theme “Prof. Sezgin: His times and space” was chaired by Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish, finance secretary, Institute of Objective Studies.
Prof. Akhtarul Wasey, president, Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur, presented his paper on “Fuat Sezgin: Eik Muta'ala”. He expressed his immense respect for Prof. Sezgin, comparing his contribution to Dr Hamidullah’s. Both lived well into their 90s. His biggest contribution was that he exposed the West for calling everything their invention. Dr. Sezgin told them the truth. He said America was not discovered by Columbus, but Muslim seafarers discovered it much before Columbus.
Prof. Sezgin had a remarkable knack for manuscripts. He learned 27 languages. He had a profound grasp of history and science. The Greek preferred the inductive method of logic, but Muslims preferred the deductive method. Prof. Sezgin’s contribution is equal to that of several institutions and groups.
Prof. Mohsin Usmani, former professor of Arabic, the EFL University, Hyderabad, spoke on “Dr. Fuat Sezgin: Aisi chingari bhi ya rab apne khakastar mein thi”. He mentioned Prof. Sezgin’s many manuscripts.
Dr Parveen Qamar, asstt. professor, deptt. of women’s Education, MANUU, Hyderabad, spoke on “Dr Fuat Sezgin: A professor that unearthed the Golden Age”. She asserted that the main goal of Prof. Sezgin was to make Muslims aware of their own history in the field of science. She also talked about Ibn sina’s al Qanun fi al tibb and Umar Khayyam.
Prof. Sezgin wrote about over 200 Muslim scientists, which is a great achievement by itself.
Dr. Najmus Sahar, asstt. professor, deptt. of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard, Delhi, talked on “Scientific Inventions: An Analytical Study of the Writings of Fuat Sezgin and Orientalists”.
She briefly introduced the findings of Prof. Sezgin in different fields like algebra, in the light of his books.
Dr. Tazeem Haider, research scholar, deptt. of Islamic Studies, Jamia Hamdard, said that Prof. Sezgin was an inspiration for world Muslims.
Mr. Jabir TM from Kerala elaborated on Prof. Sezgin’s contribution to the study of Sahih Bukhari and other writings. His major focus was on writings about Sahih Bukhari and his book تاريخ التراث العربي (History of Arabic heritage).
The Chairman of the session did not allow four scholars to present their papers because of paucity of time, but assured their papers would be published in a book later. The session ended after a brief comment by Dr. Alam and presentation of memento to paper presenters.
BUSINESS SESSION - II
The second business session on “Prof. Sezgin’s role in regard to highlighting contribution of Muslims to Islamic and world civilisation” was chaired by Prof. Dr. Mustafa Sahin from Turkey and co-chaired by Prof. M. Afzal Wani.
The first presenter, Abdul Majid Khan of AMU, said Prof. Sezgin’s focus was on building the future of human civilisation. He talked about philosophy and reason in Islam according to Prof. Sezgin.
Dr. Syed Abdur Rasheed of Aliah University, Kolkata, said the debate was who used zero for the first time. Prof. Sezgin said Jabir bin Hayyan although a German orientalist insisted it was Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī.
Dr. Nadeem Ashraf of AMU Aligarh, said that Prof. Sezgin’s work was straight and crystal clear. He explained that Christopher Columbus was not the first man who discovered America. Prof. Sezgin proved his point with drawings and maps and said that Christopher Columbus was geographically wrong.
Dr. Sumaiya Ahmad of Kolkata majorly talked about Prof. Fuat Sezgin’s contribution to Islamic Studies.
Mr. Umair Azmi of Jamia Millia Islamia talked about Prof. Sezgin’s engagement with pseudo history with reference to his "The Pre-Columbian Discovery of the American Continent by Muslims Seafarers”. He compared Prof. Sezgin with other writers and said his arguments and assertions were supported by references and evidence against the unsubstantiated claiming of some Western authors.
Dr. Mohd Usama of Jamia Millia Islamia spoke on plagiarism. He focused on seven lectures Prof. Sezgin delivered in a university. He asserted that it was not true that science belonged only to Greeks and other Europeans. Muslims went far ahead of these civilisations in their time. Prof Sezgin looked deep into the plagiarism of European writers.
Mr. Mohammad Naushad of Calicut discussed Prof. Sezgin and Columbus.
Mr. Mohammad Shafi of Calicut talked about Renaissance and the revival of Islam’s learning in the scholarship of Prof. Fuat Sezgin.
Maulana Atiq Bastawi read out a message from Maulana Rabe Hasani Nadwi, rector, Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow. He added that whatever Prof. Sezgin earned in his entire life he donated and spent on building institutions. He also talked about Prof. Sezgin’s Masadir Imam al-Bukhari.
[Day 2] December 22, 2019
BUSINESS SESSION - III
The third session on “Prof. Sezgin’s role in establishing relevant institutions – libraries, museums, models of scientific instruments etc.” was chaired by Dr Selim Argun, and co-chaired by Prof Mohsin Usmani.
In the first paper Mr. Sajjad Ahmad Padday said that after winning King Faisal Award Dr. Sezgin donated the money to establish an institute of advanced research in Islamic learning.
Prof. Ibrahim Mohammad al-Mozaini largely focused on Prof Sezgin’s museums and their content. He mostly referred to Prof. Sezgin as “Allama”, and encouraged youth to study Islamic history.
Prof. Hamidullah Marazi from University of Kashmir first thanked Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam and said that Prof. Sezgin not just wrote books but built institutions because the Muslim world mostly produced scholars and thinkers, not institutions. He mentioned some of Prof. Sezgin’s books and talked about mysticism in his writings. He talked about clock watch, which was first made by a Muslim scientist, a replica of which is on display in Dr. Sezgin’s museums. He also talked about the most needed Renaissance in the Muslim world.
Prof. Syed Jamaluddin formerly of JMI, talked about Prof. Sezgin’s interest in Sufism. He talked about Prof. Sezgin as a science scholar. His biggest contribution was that he was translating Islamic knowledge into German. It was a tough task because in translation one has to have a deep knowledge of lots of different terms and phrases which only a multi-lingual can do. He suggested the establishment of a Prof. Fuat Sezgin chair in some university.
Mr. Mohammad Rashid T.K., a research scholar from Kerala, said Prof. Sezgin’s contribution was priceless. He said he had written in Malayalam and would publish more about Prof. Sezgin.
Mr. Nazar Mohammed Rather from the University of Kashmir presented his paper along with a powerpoint presentation, comparing a Western scholar to Prof. Sezgin. He said Prof. Sezgin believed in the institutionalisation of scientific tradition. He also talked about privileged historiography.
The session ended with a brief remark by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam.
BUSINESS SESSION IV
The fourth session on “Muslim contribution to Qura’nic sciences, Hadith, history” was chaired by Prof. Ibrahim Mohammad al-Mozaini and co-chaired by Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish.
The first paper presenter Dr. Ehsanullah Fahad of AMU said the early Hadith scholar Abdullah ibn Abbas was quoted by Prof. Fuat Sezgin. He said Prof. Sezgin should have included other mufassirin also.
Dr. Ibrahim Namlah said “Prof. Sezgin’s library contained the most authentic books. He concentrated on manuscripts. Ibn Saud University in KSA published some of his findings.” He recalled that he had seen Prof. Sezgin going directly to a university from airport.
Dr. Nazeer Ahmad Abdul Majeed of AMU argued mostly about Islamic jurisprudence and contribution of Dr Sezgin. He mentioned the list of fuqhaa from different schools of Islamic jurisprudence that Prof. Sezgin enlisted in his book.
Prof. Fahim Akhtar Nadwi, head, deptt. of Islamic Studies, MANUU, Hyderabad, spoke on “Awwaleen Ahad mein Fiqh-e-Islami ki Tadween Aur Tasneef-e-Kutub: Dr. Fuat Sezgin ki Tehqeeqat ki Roshni Mein”.
Dr. Aijaz Ahmad of AMU presented a paper on “Prof Sezgin: a prolific Islamic science historian” in which he mentioned Majazul Qur’an.
Dr Anzar Nadwi of EFLU, Hyderabad talked about Prof. Sezgin’s 17-volume book, which refuted the notion that the Muslim community is not knowledge loving.
The session ended with concluding remarks by Dr. al-Mozaini.
BUSINESS SESSION - V
The fifth session on “Contribution of Islam to develop and spread Islamic knowledge” was chaired by Prof Z. M. Khan and co-chaired by Prof Syed. Jamaluddin.
Dr. Zahide Ozkan Rashed talked about her teacher Prof. Sezgin and described him as an inspiring personality. He had self-confidence, firmly believed in God and honoured commitments. His mission in life was to acquire knowledge and wisdom.
Prof. Haseena Hashia from Jamia Millia Islamia discussed the contribution of Prof. Sezgin to the history of sciences, with special reference to geography. She also mentioned human geography. Prof. Hashia explained longitude and latitude to explain the map used by Prof. Sezgin. She also mentioned al-Mamun, son of Harun al-Rashid, and the establishment of Bayt-al-Hikmah.
Mr. Mohammad Teisir bin Shah Goolfee of AMU elaborated on Muslim contribution to medicine, chemistry and mineralogy. He examined different writings of Prof. Sezgin, especially regarding mineralogy.
BUSINESS SESSION VI
The sixth and last business session on “Prof. Sezgin’s works on Muslim contribution to science and technology” was chaired by Dr. Zahide Ozkan Rashed, and co-chaired by Prof. Haseena Hashia.
Prof. Obaidullah Fahad of AMU talked about Prof. Sezgin’s refutation of Greek philosophy. He believed that Muslims had never been in a state of stagnation, and with his research Prof. Sezgin proved it.
Dr. Bilal Ahmad Kutty from AMU said that in India and Pakistan there was rarely anything written on Prof. Sezgin. However, because of this seminar substantial material would be available to the coming generation. He said AMU, JMI, Kashmir University and Jamia Hamdard don’t have Prof. Sezgin in their syllabus. This has to be rectified.
Dr. Lubna Naaz from AMU critically examined Prof. Sezgin’s Science and Technology in Islam, Vol. lll. She also mentioned different Muslim engineers and compasses invented by Muslims. In the third chapter, Prof. Sezgin also wrote about clocks.
Ms. Roohnuma Parween from AMU focused on the second volume of Prof. Sezgin’s Science and Technology in Islam. The session was over after remarks of Prof. Ibrahim al-Mozaini. He said Prof. Sezgin wasn’t an orientalist as an orientalist is a non- Muslim studying Islam. Hence a Muslim cannot be an orientalist.
The session was presided by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam and was conducted by Prof M. Afzal Wani.
Dr. Zahide Ozkan Rashed expressed her experiences with Prof. Sezgin and acknowledged everyone for conducting such a historic conference.
Prof. Ibrahim al-Mozaini said that he enjoyed and benefited from the English papers, and wished everyone the best. “I envy IOS for conducting such a successful conference. I’m really happy to be here”. He appreciated every young scholar and wished them luck.
Dr. Ali Namlah expressed gratitude to the organisers and said he was a great admirer of Prof. Sezgin.
Dr. Selim Argun thanked Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam for the conference. He thanked the IOS for its generosity and hospitality.
In his presidential remarks, Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam said the IOS was 33 years old. Muslims need to store knowledge for the coming generation. He applauded the talent of Prof. Sezgin. He emphasised the sanctity and dignity of human life. He praised the Indian Constitution and said that the IOS work was in harmony with the Constitution.
At the end, Prof. Z.M. Khan, secretary general of the IOS, read out the following resolution which was adopted by the house.
Prof. Ishtiyaque Danish proposed a vote of thanks.
It is a matter of immense satisfaction that the Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, has successfully organised a two-day international conference on “The Life and Contribution of Prof. Fuat Sezgin” at Constitution Club of India, New Delhi on December 21-22, December 2019. The conference could draw delegates, representatives, researchers, policy planners, community leaders at a good scale. As the conference could concentrate on specific themes as already notified, the deliberations were conducted in an orderly manner. However, the house deliberates and decides to adopt following resolutions so that future course of action may be decided. It is also expected that sympathisers and supporters of the causes and concerns of the conference would cooperate and coordinate in a meaningful and practical fashion.
1. The IOS may undertake to conduct research in highlighting contributions of Islam in the civilisational march of human-kind. Supportive data and inputs can be obtained from international institutions, particularly from Islamic countries to conduct research to make it relevant to the needs of modern mind and times.
2. Efforts should be made to create a paradigm for research, analysis and prepare models of development suiting the needs of Muslim Ummah in contemporary world. Proper balance of revelation, reason and sentiment must be worked out in finding ways and methods for welfare of humanity at large.
3. Educational programmes and specific course contents may be prepared and implemented in collaboration with like-minded institutions and organisations in India and abroad.
4. The IOS should contact and facilitate Saudi Arabian, Turkish, Malaysian centres for exchange of men and material.
5. It is recommended that a chair in the name of Prof. Fuat Sezgin may be established by Institute of Objective Studies, in collaboration with Embassy of Turkey in India.
6. The Institute of Objective Studies may take up translation of prominent works of Prof. Fuat Sezgin in Urdu, English and other languages.
7. The Institute of Objective Studies may also take up research activities on themes undertaken by Prof. Fuat Sezgin for furtherance of Islamic contribution to humanity.