The first anniversary of the passing away of eminent educationist and leader of Indian Muslims, Saiyed Hamid sahib will occur four days from now on December 29, 2015. In our times he was one of the tallest Muslim leaders. After he retired from active government service as a secretary to the government of India, he dedicated himself to the worthy cause of improving education in the backward Indian Muslim community. His life is an example that when God sees someone as genuinely serving humanity God does help him. Thus God gave Hamid sahib a long life of 94 years.
Saiyed Hamid was born in March 1920 and grew up in Moradabad (UP). He completed MA in English and then MA in Persian in 1943 when he joined the UP Provincial Civil Service (PCS). In 1949 he was elevated to IAS reaching the position of secretary of government of India. After his retirement in 1980 instead of taking it easy Hamid sahib became vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University where he served a full term of five years. AMU was experiencing much student indiscipline in those days. Hamid sahib brought discipline to AMU that helped the university students improve their educational achievements. AMU and its alumni remember fondly his devotion to AMU and his efforts to improve it.
Hamid sahib continued his tireless efforts to improve education in the Muslim community. In 1999 he became the chancellor of Hamdard University, New Delhi. In that capacity for more than ten long years he continued to support anyone and everyone who was working in the field of education.
At the ripe old age of 79, he began travelling throughout India and abroad to support educational institutions. I first met Hamid sahib when he visited US in 2000. He stayed with me in Washington DC and we held a public meeting for him. I recall that at that time Dr Ishaq Jamkhanwala, education minister of Maharashtra state was also visiting Washington. We invited both leaders to address the meeting. He also visited several cities in US and cities in Arab countries. His objective was to motivate Indian Muslims and AMU alumnus to promote education in the Muslim community in India.
Back in India Hamid sahib established many schools, colleges and educational organizations. Some of them are: UP Rabta Education Committee Aligarh, Students Islamic Trust, New Delhi, Sir Syed Institute of Management and Technology, New Delhi, He traveled extensively in UP motivating Muslims to establish schools and colleges.
Everytime I visited India I met Hamid sahib in Delhi and found him as active and motivated as before. In 2003, after the horrendous Gujarat anti-Muslim violence, Hamid sahib led a Hindu-Muslim communal harmony caravan throughout India by train. I was fortunate to be in India on a visit and joined him in his caravan traveling from New Delhi to Ahmedabad, Bombay, Hyderabad, Calcutta, Patna and back to New Delhi.
Even as he grew to be 90 years old and in frail health he continued with his quest. In 2007 he joined the renowned Sachar Committee and helped prepare its report on the backwardness of the Indian Muslim community. Indeed his life is a real example for many of us on how to use our life to make a contribution that leaves a lasting legacy for all. In December 2014 I was travelling to New Delhi and hoped to meet him therew. But during my stop in Rome I heard the sad news that our beloved Saiyed Hamid sahib passed away on December 2014 in New Delhi.
I will always remember his telling me during one of my meetings with him a couplet from the Persian poet Saadi. The couplet says that when you travel through a scorching desert you find that many humans, animals, reptiles, birds etc are travelling in the direction where the oasis is located. They all stop at the oasis to refresh themselves. Indeed Saiyed Hamid sahib was that Oasis that everyone sought out. Today we pay tribute to this Sir Syed of our times as the immortal inspiration of our times.