The life of one of the greatest research scholars of the Indian sub-continent in the twentieth century, who had moved to France after the fall of Hyderabad, is fascinatingly retold by my friend Biju Abdul Qadir in a long article which was printed in the Educational Encyclopedia of Islam, published from Bangalore. I am reproducing, with his kind permission, relevant portions dealing with Professor Hamidullah’s contribution to the nascent Republic of Turkey, and how these contributions have served to put Islamic scholarship in Turkey on a footing that it had lost after the take over by Mustafa Kemal Pasha. In Mr. Biju’s words, “Hamidullah’s teaching stints here paved the way for a new movement and vibrancy within Turkish religious circles which, in time, would lead to overall mass support for the Islamic movement governing the life of the nation by the mid-1990s and thereafter.”
It was during the subsequent period of intense activity at the CNRS, in Paris, that he also frequented a number of universities in Turkey delivering lectures at each and influencing the thought and lives of innumerable members of the youth and intelligentsia throughout that country. The Director-General of the Istanbul-based Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture, Dr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and the former Dean of Faculty of Theology, Marama University, Professor Salih Tug, who are both among Hamidullah’s earlier students are, today, placed in crucial roles in research institutes and universities not only in Turkey but also within other Muslim countries.
In the years after 1954, Hamidullah visited Turkey almost every year during the summer terms to deliver scheduled lectures and seminars. While these assignments were mostly with Istanbul University, he also lectured occasionally at the Universities of Ankara and Erzurum. These official assignments of Hamidullah lasted till 1978, and critically coincided with a period in Turkey when Islamic education was again being strategically re-established following on after half a century of state-controlled Kemalist repression. Fortuitously posited against this historical backdrop in modern Turkey’s development, it is no exaggeration to state that Hamidullah’s teaching stints here paved the way for a new movement and vibrancy within Turkish religious circles which, in time, would lead to overall mass support for the Islamic movement governing the life of the nation by the mid-1990s and thereafter.