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Hakim Muhammad Saeed- A visionary

By Wajid Hassan

Hakim Muhammad Saeed once said “It has been my endeavor to prepare Pakistani youth for the challenges of tomorrow. I would like to see the youth studying at our campuses to develop the qualities of devotion, love, determination and services to mankind.”

With this in mind, he established Madinat-al-Hikmah, the “city of wisdom”, which includes the establishment of Hamdard Laboratories in 1948 and Hamdard University that was founded in 1985. Hakim Saeed was one of the driving forces in Pakistan that engaged research in medical biology and medicines. In 1953, after his doctorate, Saeed joined the Sindh University as the associate professor of Pharmacy and taught courses in organic chemistry. He left Sindh as there were differences between him and the current Minister of Health who did not understand the importance of eastern medicine.

This year it will be 20 years when Muhammad Saeed reluctantly departed this world. Born January 9, 1920 up to his untimely and horrific death in October 17th of 1998, Mohammad Saeed lived through all the turmoil that Pakistan has gone through since Partition. He didn’t want to miss any event but used these events to his advantage.

He moved from India to Pakistan in 1948 with his wife and daughter. He left the comfort of his own home and a thriving medical practice. Some would say that this was an unwise move. Others would applaud his efforts at supporting the new government of Pakistan.

In Pakistan he continued to practice Tibb, set up Hamdard Dawakhana and began manufacturing eastern medicines. It took just a few years before the eastern medicine products of Hamdard and the name “Hamdard” to become household name.

Hamdard is well known for its Hamdard College of Medicine and Dentistry, Hamdard Al-Majeed College of Eastern Medicine, Hafiz Mohammad Ilyas Institute of Herbal Sciences, Hamdard Institute of Education & Social Sciences, Hamdard Institute of Management Sciences, Hamdard Institute of Information Technology, Hamdard School of Law, Faculty of Engineering Science & Technology, Hamdard Public School and Hamdard Village School. Bait-al-Hikmah, the library, is one of the biggest and well-stocked libraries of Pakistan.

He understood the need for people to exchange ideas in a safe setting so he created two forums called Naunehal Assembly for children and the Hamdard Shura for people to exchange ideas. The Naunehal Assembly is a forum where teenagers can gather to learn about leadership skills and how to express themselves with clarity. It is the most popular and highly rated intellectual forum in Pakistan. Here people can discuss about the problems confronting Pakistan and find ways to solve these problems.

Saeed also established a number of medical laboratories where the famous products Sualeen and Rooh Afza were researched and created.  Sualeen is the cure for all colds as it helps alleviate symptoms of colds, coughs and bronchitis.  Rooh Afza is the drink that not only refreshes the body but revives the body with vigor and vitality.

Hakim Saeed was acting governor of Sindh from July 1993 to January 1994. He served between the first and second terms of Mahmood A. Haroon. At this time he served under President Farooq Leghari and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He was President of the Hamdard Foundation from 1969 to 1998. He held two offices from 1948 to 1998. These were Director of Hamdard Laboratories and Vice-Chancellor of Hamdard University. It is important to note that despite having multiple responsibilities and acclamations of Hamdard and his medicine, he was always modest and continued to live quietly above the first pharmacy he created.

He traveled to at least 35 countries where he participated in various international conferences on medicine, science, education and culture. He visited hundreds of cities including USA, UK, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India.

His friends and partners were scientists, educationalists and politicians. His influence was extensive but he never used this influence for his personal gain. He raised his children to be modest and taught them to give to Hamdard University before all else.

Saeed knew many different languages including Arabic, Persian, Urdu and English. He studied the Holy Quran and would get up in the middle of the night to offer his prayers. He was a man of intense purpose. He used to see about 100 patients from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Hakim Saeed received many national awards. He was awarded Nishan-e-Imtiaz(highest civilian award of Pakistan) in 2000, Sitara-e-Imtiaz in 1966, Islamic Medicine Award, Kuwait Foundation Award for the advancement of Science in 1982, Sadiq Dost Award from people of Bahawalpur (Pakistan) and Certificate of Merit from Institute of History of Science and Technology.

Hakim Saeed’s writings include 200 books and journals in Urdu and English on Islam, Education, Pakistan, Science, Medicine and Health. He hired only qualified academicians and literary figures like Ahmed Chugtai, Ahmed Hamdani, Qamar Hashmi, Nazeer Siddiqui and Qayum Rahi.  All of these esteemed writers worked for Hamdard publications at one time or another.

Hakeem Saeed’s books for children include, Love and Peace (1990), Let us Talk Health (1989) and Peace Primer (1991).Books on health care include Pharmacy and Medicine Thru The Ages (1969), Pakistan Encylclopedia, Planta Medica with Dr. Atta-ur-Rehman (1986) and Medicinal Herbal (1996). Books on spirituality include Voice of Morality (1985), Man, The World Peace and Main Currents of Contemporary Thought in Pakistan (1973). He also co-authored books on History including Road to Pakistan with Dr. Anzar Zahid and Dr. Moin-ul-Haq and Professor Sharif-ul-Majuhid (1990) and Letters to Quaid-e-Azam with Rizwan Ahmed and Dr. Ansar Zahid Khan (1998).

He edited a large number of journals such as the Hamdard Islamicus, Hamdard Medicus, Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society “Historicus”, Hamdard Sehat and Hamdard Naunehal. For several years he was also editor of “PAYAMI”- Urdu edition of UNESCO’S journal “Courier”.

He wrote Al-Biruni Commemorative Volume about Polymath. Al-Biruni (973-1048) was a Muslim expert in history, physics, mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, comparative religion, and earth sciences. Saeed wasn’t drawing a direct correlation between himself and Biruni but it does show how closely aligned they were in seeking knowledge in all forms. He spent number of years searching in the old libraries of Egypt and other middle eastern countries about the Muslim scientist whose work had long disappeared.

I read his travelogues in my childhood and the impressions are still very vivid. He took me to places that I had never visited before. His expression of travelling and descriptions of different places around the world encouraged me to experience this for myself. He instigated my motivation and helped me form all the goals I have for my life. I want to add that while not everybody can travel as extensively as he did, Allah will provide when you step out of your immediate needs. When God gives you a vision for what he wants you to accomplish in life, He will make all things possible.

The generations of today can learn a great deal from the works of Hakim Saeed. I have recently re-read some of his work and the advice he gave to the young generation is still valid. It can greatly improve one’s outlook on life and their purpose. We need to truly understand how to manage time while obtaining technical skills and develop interest in the socio-political domain. Saeed knew the balance of actively pursuing athletic activities while being involved in politics, innovation and gathering forums of communities to exchange ideas and solve problems. The advisement that he gave in his books was not mere words but true and he, the perfect and practical example. He practiced everything he talked about and wrote about. He was a man of true strength of character with a strong mind. Oh, if all of Pakistan could be like him, what a wonderful country we would have.

Despite the changes of government and conflicts he still contributed greatly to his vision of Pakistan and lived according to what he viewed was the potential of everyone, especially Pakistanis. We each have great potential and he was an example for all of us in that he was an innovator, educator, writer, politician, administrator, physician, sportsman, spokesman, and a philanthropist. He was a natural polymath. He was extremely gifted and smart but what stood him out above all others was that he did not waste a single talent. He used the talents and capabilities that God gave him.

Pakistan was blessed to have such a visionary citizen who not only did his best with the gifts that Allah bestowed on him but also lived everyday as an example for us to follow. He knew that he had to be himself even with all else that was going on in his country. He didn’t allow current events in Pakistan to prevent him from achieving his goals. He loved his country and wanted to use everything possible to move it forward in a positive way. This illustrates not only a man of great wisdom and capability but also the strength of his character.

Author is PhD Fellow in Technology Management and advisor to the Chancellor, East West University, Chicago. He can be reached at wh516x@gmail.com

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