Senator S. M. Zafar
Chancellor, Hamdard University
Change is inevitable and more so in a progressive society. Therefore, we must learn to view change as a natural phenomena and to anticipate and plan for it. The future belongs to those who can prudently and in good time ask for themselves and for and
on behalf of the community in whose welfare they have a stake, the question “Is this not the time to change and to try to do something different?”
Such an ability to discern is what I call hikmah i.e. wisdom based on knowledge. The word hikmah with its various derivatives occurs more often in the Quran than other words. Abbasid Caliph established Dar-ul-Hikmah in Baghdad and that one centre of learning produced scientists, philosophers, and men of literature which adorned Muslim civilizations and intellectual giants like Razi, Ibn-e-Rushd, Ibn-e-Arbi and Ibn-e-Hazam who understood the inevitability of change including the change in ideas and thereby helped the society to meet the new challenges. Muslim civilization became the beacon light which led to enlightenment in Europe.
Now, Hamdard University, is as a part of Madinat al-Hikmah in the suburbs of commercial city of Karachi. Its founder Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said must be inspiring Karachi to replace Baghdad in the contemporary times. I am sure the Vice Chancellor and Faculty Members of this seat of learning have and would continue to remain faithful to the vision of its founder and equip the young boys and girls who come from all over the country, not only with adequate knowledge which would ensure them a place in the profession or vocation that they may choose to adopt but also that during their career they will strive to keep abreast of the changes that are occurring in each subject, may it be medicine, law, dentistry, philosophy, science or literature.
Another important role that Hamdard University can perform better than other seats of learning is to be able to inculcate in their students a lasting desire to serve their country and their fellow beings in such a way as to create a culture in which sharing is a part of living. This is so because the founder of Madinat al-Hikmah and Hamdard University, Shaheed Hakim Mohammed Said, who earned millions by sheer hard work and by adopting innovative ideas in Eastern Medicine. But diverted both his wealth and energy to bring a change in the society of which he was a part. He created a Waqf of all his wealth and assets and gave the entire income to establish numerous institutions including a university which has the potential of becoming a class residential university of the country. He kept only meager sum of himself as Honorarium in his capacity as a Mutawalli.
In the environment created after post-9/11, Pakistan is facing challenges of various nature and some daunting problems. One of the serious and earnest issue that has to be met is the rising extremism and intolerance which has permeated every walk of life, political, religious or social. Let Hamdard University take the lead and promote through knowledge, understanding and hikmah culture of pluralism, multiculturalism and tolerance for difference of opinion. Our universities must encourage students to be able to question one’s own traditions and customs and also have the capacity to listen and understand the views of others with due respect.
Last but not the least in this hour of challenge and turmoil we must each identify ourselves with our motherland and give our best to the job and station or any other capacity in which we happened to be. This way we can serve our nation and ensure a positive change.