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Author, scholar Prof Muhammad Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui passes away

Prof Siddiqui was considered an authority on seerah (biography) studies of Prophet Muhammad in the Indian subcontinent

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:20 AM, Manzar Imam Qasmi, ummid.com

Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui

While most of us were struggling to come to terms with the heart-shattering news of demise of a number of prominent ulama, scholars and intellectuals within a fortnight, news came of passing away of Prof Muhammad Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui, a researcher and seerah-writer of Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). He died on Tuesday 15 September, 2020 at the age of 76. Prof Siddiqui’s demise came as another big shock, which for a young scholar Mohammad Fozail was simply “not digestible”. Dr Waris Mazhari of Jamia Hamdard termed his death “a huge loss for the entire Islamic world” in whom the Indian academic circle took great pride.

Prof Siddiqui was considered an authority on Seerah (biography) studies of Prophet Muhammad in the Indian subcontinent. It is therefore that his death sent shock waves even in neighboring countries. What distinguished Prof Siddiqui from other writers and scholars was not just his deep knowledge and scholarship of Islamic history and Prophet Muhammad’s seerah but his approach to them. I had the opportunity to interact with him during an academic tour to Aligarh three years ago. He dealt with each question in a passionate way highlighting the social, historical, cultural and psychological aspects that was the hallmark of the Prophet of Islam. For example his view about interfaith dialogue is that the purpose of interfaith dialogue is not change of religion, although most pro-religious people think so. It has a social aspect, that is, “dialogue is a tool for understanding the values on which religions are founded.” In fact “dialogues and discussions are for co-existence”, rather a step further; that is they are for “mutual cooperation” which calls for “tolerance and freedom on the part of all religious groups”.

Answering a question Prof Siddiqui had during our interaction stated that “the outer incidents of the life of the Prophet are not history.” The most important things are their “undercurrents.” He then highlighted the difference of social traits of the Makkans and Madinites and the significance of geography in understanding them. Not only this, he said that one needed to understand the difference of the mental bent of people. For him the Makkans were bent on fighting while people of Madina were “soft-hearted” and dealt with women delicately. While Madinites slept on floor, the Makkans were used to sleeping on raised beds. It was something which even the Prophet found intriguing when he migrated to Madina so much so that the Prophet even asked, “Don’t you sleep on plank?” The Prophet was then provided with a plank which was made of teak wood. However, the Prophet, when he used to go to the masjid’s upper room, he would sleep on its floor.

Dr Siddiqui opined that cultural development and cultural change lead to change in people’s habits and values. He referred to a book named Ahd-e-Nabawi Mein Tamaddun stating that around 300 pages of the book relates to how people ate during the time of the Prophet.

A prolific writer, Prof Siddiqui authored around 40 books and wrote about 300 research articles in Urdu, Arabic and Persian some of which have also been translated in English. His books include Tarikh-e-Tahzib-e-Islami, Ghazwat Ki Iqtesadi Ahmiyat, Hazrat Shah Waliullah Dehlawi: Shakhsiyat wa Hikmat ka Ek Ta’aruf, Wahi-e-Hadith, Ahd-e-Nabawi Mein Tamaddun, Ahd-e-Nabawi ka Nizam-e-Hukoomat, Masaadir-e-Seerat-e-Nabawi, Shah Waliullah Ka Falsafa-e-Seerat, Rasul-e-Akram Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam ki Rada’i Maaein, The Prophet Muhammad: A Role Model for Muslim Minorities. He compiled a Catalogue of Arabic Manuscripts at the Aligarh Muslim University which was published in 2002 from London.

Born on 26 December 1944 at Lakhimpur Kheri district of the United Provinces of British India, Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui graduated from Darul Uloom Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, after which he studied at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) from where he was awarded his PhD.

Dr Siddiqui Nadwi was associated with AMU’s Department of History before joining the Department of Islamic Studies where he rose to become its Chairman. He was given the international “Nuqoosh Award” and other awards. In appreciation of his profound academic work, Delhi-based Institute of Objective Studies (IOS) had conferred on him the fifth Shah Waliullah Award in 2005 for his “erudition and scholarship” especially in the area of “philosophy of historiography.”

Vice-Chancellor, AMU, Prof Tariq Mansoor, expressed deep sorrow over the demise of Prof Siddiqui describing his death as an irreparable loss for the academic world. Prof Muhammad Ismail, Chairman, Department of Islamic Studies, AMU, Syed Sadatullah Husaini, President of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Dr Manzoor Alam, Chairman of IOS, Prof Akhtarul Wasey, President of Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur and other eminent persons expressed sorrow over his demise.

(Manzar Imam is a journalist based in Delhi)

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