Hasan – An Introduction to His Life and Contributions
By Dr. Syed Ziaur Rahman
(Senior Resident, Dept. of Pharmacology, J. N. Medical
College, AMU, Aligarh)
Professor Syed Hadi Hasan was born on September 3, 1896 in Hyderabad. He
belonged to a very distinguished family of Saadat-i Barha (1). Among his
forefathers, Ata Hussain Tahsin, was a prominent scholar of Etawah,
Uttar Pradesh and father Syed Ameer Hasan was the Commissioner in the
Hyderabad State of erstwhile Nizams Rule.
Hadi Hasan received his early education in Hyderabad and then took the
B.Sc. degree from the Ferguson College, Poona. Thereafter, he proceeded
to England for higher studies on a scholarship of the Hyderabad State.
He joined the Cambridge University from where he took Tripos in Botany.
Hadi Hasan wanted to stay in England for some more time but at the same
time the freedom movement in India was gaining momentum under its able
leadership of Mahatma Gandhi and Ali Brothers. The movement exerted a
powerful influence on Hadi Hasan and he, therefore, rushed back to his
own country. On his return to India he plunged himself into the freedom
struggle and worked ceaselessly for the emancipation of the country from
colonial domination. His sincere and dedicated services for the cause of
India's freedom earned for him the admiration of Mahatma Gandhi and
several other senior leaders (2).
Hadi Hasan joined the Muslim University as Reader and Head, Department
of Botany. He was the nephew of Nawab Mohsinul Mulk Syed Mahdi Ali Khan,
a close companion of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Unconcerned with his interest
in Botany, he soon distinguished himself as well-grounded scholar and
admirer of Persian literature and, therefore, he went to England once
again after taking a loan from the University. He passed very hard days
in England during his stay but with determination and courage he faced
the adverse circumstances and overcame all the difficulties. He obtained
the Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Persian from the London School of Oriental
Studies and on return from England he was appointed as Professor and
Head of the Persian Department (3). He served the Aligarh Muslim
University for a very long period with devotion and sincerity till
September 3, 1958
Hadi Hasan probably inherited his profound love for the Persian language
and literature from his Iranian mother. Besides his work at Aligarh, he
also took extraordinary interest in establishing separate departments of
Persian at the Universities of Hyderabad, Patna and Lucknow. He
dedicated his whole life to the cause of Persian language--enriching its
literature with his mighty pen, securing it a place of honour in the
curricula of Indian universities and endeavoring for the status of
Persian teachers in the country. He played an important role in
establishing a link between the academic and intellectual circles of
Iran and India. He represented India at the millennium celebrations of
Firdausi in Iran and his outstanding performance not only raised the
image of this Aligarh Muslim University but also strengthened the
cultural and friendly relations between the two countries (5).
Hadi Hasan was a prolific writer and published a large number of
original works in Persian, which were internationally acclaimed. Chief
among his several publications is; Studies in Persian Literature (1923),
A History of Persian Navigation (1928), Falakî-i-Shirwânî: His Life,
Times and Works (1929), Dîwân-i-Falakî-i-Shirwânî (1930),
Radîu’d-Din-i-Nîshapûrî: His Life and Times (1940), Mughul Poetry: Its
Historical and Cultural Value (1952), Qâsim-i-Kâhî (868-988 AH): His
Life, Times and Works (1954), The Unique Dîwân-i-Qâsim-i-Kâhî (1956),
Majmû‘ah-i-Maqâlât (1956), Shakuntala, translated into Persian (1956),
Researches in Persian Literature (1958), etc, (6). He led the life of a
dedicated scholar till his last hour. At the time of his death his two
works entitled, Golden
Treasury of Persian Poetry and Qâsim-i-Kâhî", Vol. II, were in the
press. He was preoccupied in the correction of proof of these works when
his appointed hour came. After the death of the author, Masood A. Mirza
Qaiser had the privilege of printing Qâsim-i-Kâhî in 1963, while, Golden
Treasury of Persian Poetry was revised and edited in 1966 by his
illustrious student, Dr. M. Shamoon Israili.
Hadi Hasan was capable of casting the spell of his unique personality on
whomsoever he came across even at the first encounter. He was
sophisticated and refined to the very depths of his being because of
early care and training by his Iranian mother. So long as he was alive,
he attracted people of all shades of opinion around him with a magnetic
charm. He bore upon himself all the graces of his aristocratic origin
and the imprint of a vigorous, incisive and discriminating mind. He
inspired confidence and affection among his associates and admirers and
was always moved by a sense of charity and benevolence whenever he saw
anyone in distress (7). Close among his friends were – Sir Sultan Ahmad
of Patna, Nawwab Zayn Yar Jang, Khan Bahadur C. B. Taraporevala, Mr.
Nawshir Chenoy of Hyderabad-Deccan, Hon’ble Humayun Kabir, Mr. K. G.
Sayyidayn and Mr.
Inamur Rahman of New Delhi, Prince Rashiduz Zafar Khan of Bhopal,
Princes Burhanud Din and Najmud Din of Bombay, Mr. Nazir Husayn of
Madras, Mr. A. A. Faydi of Kashmir, Dr. Ali Asghar Hikmat of Iran, Dr.
Zakir Hussain, Col. B. H. Zaidi, Mr. Zia Ahmad (Badaunwi), Mr. S.
Bashirud Din (8).
Dr. Zakir Hussain, who was vice-president of India and a close friend of
Hadi Hasan, remarked “Dr. Hadi Hasan was one of the most talented
persons I have met. Starting his academic career as teacher of science –
a Professor of Botany – he allowed his passionate love of Persian
literature, which he may have inherited from his Iranian mother, to
pervade and possess his mind, so that, he had to go back to the
University of London for higher research in the History of Persian
Poetry and become qualified for the post of Professor of Persian which
he secured on his return to the Aligarh Muslim University and held
almost to the end of his life. His valuable work as a scholar and
teacher, his brilliant achievement as an orator, but above all, the
paternal love and care which he bestowed on his students won for him
universal regard and affection. Though his corporal life has come to an
yet he continues to live in the minds of his many pupils and friends”
Hadi Hasan loved his wife very much. He dedicated one of his book,
Researches in Persian
Literature, to his wife, Begum Kishwer Hadi and remembered her death as
19.5.7 which depicts the complete chronogram of her demise, for 19 gives
the century and also the hour; 5 gives the month and 7 the day, i.e.,
1957 AD, 7 p.m., May the 7th(10).
Besides being a Professor of Persian, he was also deeply interested in
Mathematics, History, Astronomy and Sanskrit Drama. He translated
Kalidas’ Shakuntlam into English and, while staging it, used to play the
roles of different characters all by himself (11).
Hadi Hasan had many milestones of distinguished services for the Aligarh
Muslim University. He traveled throughout India in the instance of Dr.
Sir Ziauddin Ahmad, the then vice-chancellor, to raise subscription for
the establishment of the Medical College in Aligarh and single-handedly
collected a sum of rupees 30 lakhs. The establishment of a medical
college in the University was a long-cherished dream of his life. He saw
his dream fulfilled when he himself performed the inaugural ceremony of
the medical college after the name of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Apart, he also got the opportunity of demonstrating his remarkable
administrative abilities when he worked as Provost, V.M. Hall; Dean,
Faculty of Arts, Incharge, Competitive Examinations; Incharge,
Employment Exchange etc. Whatever office he held, he brought dignity to
it and left behind his distinct mark of devotion, sincerity and selfless
service when he laid it down.
Hadi Hasan was a great humanist, patriot and a linguist of international
fame. In recognition of his services, President of India conferred him a
'Certificate of Honour' and Robe of Honour with an annuity of Rs. 1,500
in 1959. It is to be noted here that this scheme for award was
introduced in 1958 by Ministry of Home Affairs to honour the scholars of
eminence in Sanskrit, Arabic and Persian Languages. During the British
Rule, the title of "Mahamahopadhyaya" and "Shams-ul-Ulama" was being
given to such scholars of eminence. Thus Professor Hadi Hasan might had
been the second person who received this prestigious award after
independence (12). He was appointed as Professor for two years after his
retirement under the UGC's scheme. About a year before his death the UGC
selected him for continuing researches in Persian Literature and
sanctioned a grant of Rs. 4,000/- per annum. In 1960, the Imperial
Government of Iran bestowed on him its highest educational award, the
Nishân-i-Dânish of the First Grade Scientific Order, the highest
academic award of the country (13).
Hadi Hasan was an orator par excellence. His art of public speaking was
not only admirable but also enviable. He could move his audience to
tears or laughter whenever he so desired. He could speak English,
Persian and Urdu, especially the first two languages, with remarkable
fluency, ease and effectiveness. He was God-gifted with a prodigiously
tenacious memory and could quote anecdotes and fragments of poetry
extensively and without interruption or a sense of embarrassment. When
the Shah of Iran Mohd. Raza Shah Pahalvi and Queen Surrayya Shah Pahalvi
visited the AMU, he welcomed the Shah in Persian on behalf of the
Student's Union on February 2, 1956 (14). The Shah and the Queen sat
spell bound while Prof. Hadi Hasan was speaking. So impressed was the
Shah that when he rose to address the students he paid his tribute to
the great scholar-orator saying that should his college days return he
would deem it a privilege to become a student of Prof. Hadi (15).
Prof. Hadi lived in name and fame throughout his life due to his
sterling qualities of head and heart and brought great honours to the
university and nobility to the teaching community. He left this Universe
for his heavenly abode at 6.30 PM on May 23, 1963 and was laid to rest
in the University Graveyard the next morning.
1. Mohd. Ameen Zubairi, Hayat-i Mohsin, Muslim University Press,
Aligarh, 1934, p. 2.
2. Anonymous, Aligarh Muslim University – Contributions and
Achievements, Duty Society,
Centenary Volume, Aligarh, 1989, p. 75.
4. Kabir Ahmad Jaisi, Hadi Hasan Sahib, Hadi Hasan Hall Magazine (Urdu),
1985, p. 16.
5. Anonymous, Aligarh Muslim University – Contributions and
Achievements, Duty Society,
Centenary Volume, Aligarh, 1989, p. 75.
6. Hadi Hasan, Researhes in Persian Literature - Qâsim-i-Kâhî, Vol. II,
Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 1963, p. 172.
7. Anonymous, Aligarh Muslim University – Contributions and
Achievements, Duty Society,
Centenary Volume, Aligarh, 1989, p. 76.
8. Hadi Hasan, Preface, Researhes in Persian Literature, Government
Press, Hyderabad, 1958.
9. Zakir Hussain, Foreword, Golden Treasury of Persian Literature, Ed.
Dr. M. Shamoon Israili, 2nd Edition, Indian Council for Cultural
Relations, New Delhi, 1972.
10. Hadi Hasan, Dedication, Researhes in Persian Literature, Government
Press, Hyderabad, 1958.
11. Asloob Ahmad Ansari, So was Professor Hadi Hasan, Hadi Hasan Hall
(English),1985, p. 1.
12. Personal Communication, Professor Syed Zillur Rahman. He received
the same award in 1995.
13. Hadi Hasan, Preface, Researhes in Persian Literature - Qâsim-i-Kâhî,
Vol. II, Baptist Mission Press, Calcutta, 1963.
14. Syed Ziaur Rahman, Our Distinguished Visitors, The Aligarian, AMUSU,
Aligarh, October 17, 1998, p. 43.
15. Anonymous, Aligarh Muslim University – Contributions and
Achievements, Duty Society, Centenary Volume, Aligarh, 1989, p. 76.