By Zakaria Virk
Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman has been making significant contributions to Unani medicine for more than sixty years. He has authored more than 54 books, 15 addresses, more than 150 research papers in national and international journals, hundreds of articles, wrote prefaces and edited scores of books. He also owns the largest collection of books on Unani medicine. He has devoted his life to medieval medicine and medicine in medieval Islam.
Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Padma Shri
He is recipient of 23 awards and honors. In recognition of his selfless services Government of India conferred on him with Padma Shri award in 2006. Recently he was awarded First Sheikh Zayed International Award for TCAM 2020 in the category of Unani Medicine. Currently he is honorary treasurer of AMU.
Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman was born in 1940 in Bhopal. His ancestral home is Tijara (Elore). He inherited practice of Greek medicine from his forefathers. His grandfather Hakim Sayed Karam Husain, his elder brother Hakim Sayed Atiq al-Qadir, & father Hakim Sayed Fazlu ar-Rahman operated a clinic and composed books all their life. After graduating from Nadwatu al-Ulema Lucknow, in 1955 he enrolled himself in a medical course at Tibbiya College, Aligarh Muslim University.
After his graduation in 1960 until 31st July 1961 he worked as a house physician & then August 1961 to 31st April 1963 he worked as a demonstrator at Tibbiya College. From September 1963 to June 1970 he was a lecturer at Jamia Tibbiya Dehli. In November 1962 he established a medical academy in Bhopal which was subsequently transferred to Dehli. Under the auspices of this academy two books Tarikh Elm Tashreeh and Elm al-Amraz were published.
He started the publication of a monthly journal al-Hikmat which was published regularly from June 1965 to September 1970. In the presidential elections of Tibbi Conference in the state of Dehli he won three times. As its president he organized a Tibbi conference in Dehli.
On 13th June 1970 he was appointed Research Officer in the literary research unit of Central Council for Research in Indian Medicine & Homeopathy, Aligarh Muslim University. On January 1st, 1972 he was appointed Reader in the department of pharmacology Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College, Aligarh; subsequently he became professor in the same department on 1st January 1983. On 19th December 1978 he became head of the department of pharmacology. On 5th March 1981 he completed his 5th term as president. From 1988 -1990 he served as dean in the Faculty of Greek Medicine, Aligarh. In June 2002 he retired from AMU. He became member of the AMU Court first time in 1984, later member of the Academic Council as well as the Court several times.
He had developed a passion for medicine & in the study of intellectual history of Muslims from his student days. Those Muslim scholars who made significant contributions in the history of Islamic arts and sciences, Ibn Sena was a towering figure among them whose intellectual pursuits left an indelible mark on him. He corrected & translated Elm al-ahwal wal-Asbab wal-Alamat – part of Kitab al-Qanoon fil Tibb called Elm al-Amraz. This book was published by Tibbi Academy Dehli in 1969. Later it was published twice by Tibbi Academy, Aligarh in 1990 & 1994.
Long before his retirement from Aligarh Muslim University, he planned the expansion of Tibbi Academy in 2000, naming it after Ibn Sena. On 20th April 2001 the new building of Ibn Sena Academy was inaugurated by vice-chancellor of AMU Muhammad Hamid Ansari (former Vice President of India 2007-2017). Author of this article had the opportunity to visit this academy in November 2013 and delivered a lecture.
This academy is not only dedicated to Ibn Sena, rather there is a section allocated to Ibn Sena. Besides huge selection of books on science and medicine, there are books of literature, biographies of Ghalib, Iqbal and other literary giants. It is estimated that there are close to 1000 rare manuscripts, 17,000 magazines and journals, and 25,000 books in Urdu, English, Persian, Arabic & Sanskrit.
Attached to the academy are two museums – one on science & medicine and the other on Muslim culture and civilization. Artifacts about these have been preserved in these museums. The academy has been regularly holding every year Ibn Sena Memorial lectures since 2006.
He actively took part in the establishment of Beenapara College Azamgarh. Not only the foundation stone was laid by him, but due to his passionate interest in the life of Prince of Physicians he had this college named after Ibn Sena.
He had an abiding interest in the study of history of medicine. This is evident from his momentous books: Tadhkira Khandan Azizi, Tarikh Elm Tashreeh, Safavi ahad mein elm Tashreeh ka mutale’a, Hayat Karam Husain, Azizi family of physicians, Dehli and tibbey Unani, Aa’eena Tarikh Tibb, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Tadhkira A’ttiba Asr.
Finding old manuscripts is in fact tracing one’s heritage. Our artistic, intellectual and cultural needs are connected to them. To conserve our intellectual heritage, this is a vital task. Manuscripts of AMU, Risala Nabeez, Tibbe-e-feroz Shahi, Risala Atriyal, Asma al-adwiyya, Jawamy Kitab al-Nabz sagheer, Risala fee auj’a al-Qars, Aynal al-Hayat, Risala fee Farq al-Tibb, Kitab fee al-Anasir, and Kitab fee al-Mazaj were all corrected, & edited by him.
By virtue of this many monumental treatises of Hindi, Arabic and Greek have been preserved which are not only important for reference but as a subject as well.
He composed a biography of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s grandson entitled in 2011 ‘Ross Masood’. The personality of Sir Ross Masood (1889-1937), his contributions with regards to AMU is a bright chapter of national history of Indian Muslims. This book is a token of his unbounded love for Sir Syed, Muslim interest in education, & especially author’s roots in Aligarh.
In order to participate in medical & history of medicine conferences the world over he has travelled to many countries of Asia and Europe. These countries include Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE, Brunei, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Germany, Spain, England, Scotland, Greece, and Holland & Australia. As advisor of WHO he stayed for three months in Bangladesh. During his 10 travels to Iran he visited many cities and historical places. He has documented his observations in two travlogues Safarnama Bangladesh and Iran-nama.
To protect the rights of Unani physicians, it was necessary to organize them. From student days he was involved in the activities of medical movement. As district president, president of states of Dehli and Uttar Pradesh he was actively involved in All India Unani Tibbi Conference. For his meritorious services to Persian language and medical literature he was awarded a certificate of honors by President of India on Independence Day 15 Aug. 1995.
Five books have been written on his life and monumental achievements. (1) Prof Syed Hasan Abbas and Prof Abd al-Latif Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman hayat –wa-khidmat (2) Hakim Fakhar Alam Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman ek mutal’eya (3) Dr Ayesha Kafil Syed Zillur Rahman in light of articles (4) Alam Naqvi – Nuqoosh Zillur Rahman (5) This year 2020 his new biography has been published from Aligarh composed by Aziz Bilgrami – Syed Zillur Rahman – ek Naqshe-e-Javedan.
Professor Zillur Rahman is actively involved in the promotion of Unani medicine even now at an advance age. He has been travelling all over, for instance in February 2020 he attended 4th International conference on Prophetic medicine in Abu Dhabi, where he was conferred First Sheikh Zayed International Award for TCAM 2020 in the category of Unani Medicine. He Chaired, Plenary Hakim Abdul Hameed Memorial Session on Unani Medicine, held at Jamia Hamdard March 2020. He presided First Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui Memorial Oration, Department of Urdu, AMU. He Presided over Celebration Ceremony on Haj House, Festivity Farm House, Ghaziabad. He Attended, Executive Committee Meeting, Anjuman Tarraqi Urdu (Hind), Urdu Ghar, New Delhi, on 13.3.2020.He Guest of Honour, the International Conference on Recent Advances in Engineering & Science (ICRAES) AMU.
A welcome reception was arranged by Majlis Iqbal at Nasim Ansari Hall of Munshi Hussain Khan Technical Institute ITC, Bhopal, in honour of Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman on his visit to Bhopal 15 -21 March 2020.
(Newsletter of Ibn Sena Academy, Issue # 77)