Home Digital Magazine Hakim Saeed: Pakistan’s own “Scientist of the East”

Hakim Saeed: Pakistan’s own “Scientist of the East”

Pakistan’s
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GVS News Desk |

Hamdard University Karachi, in October, organized a series of events including a commemorative book fair, poetry recital and other literary events to remember the martyrdom of Hakim Muhammad Saeed, one of Pakistan’s most influential scholars, thinkers, and philanthropists. Former Governor of Sindh, the creator of Hamdard Foundation, was fatally shot by unknown assailants on 17th October 1998. To this day, 21 years later, their motives have not been understood.

Arundhati Roy, Booker Prize Winner, (God of Small Things) in her literary masterpiece, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness” traces the journey of Rooh Afza and Hamdard enterprise from historic Delhi to the port town of Karachi. Hamdard – meaning “sympathizer” in Urdu – owes its spirit to Hakim Hafiz Abdul Majeed, a renowned pharmacist and physician of Tibbi-i-Unani, who launched this idea from a small shop in old Delhi in 1906. Like millions of Muslims, this pharmaceutical idea of Eastern medicine also migrated, at the eve of the partition of British India, into its new home, Karachi – the then capital of Pakistan.

Bait-al-Hikmah is also a constituent part of Madinat-al-Hikmah. This is one of the biggest and best-stocked libraries in Pakistan.

Hafiz Majeed’s able son, Hakim Saeed, continued his father’s journey, his love of humanity, from a two-room rented clinic. Soon, in the bristling new city of Karachi, he laid the foundations of the Hamdard group of industries that have since then dealt with Eastern Medicinal research and products for the better part of a century. Call it fate or irony, that his politically motivated killers shot him outside the same clinic in 1998 from where he began his journey for the betterment of the city, the country and the humanity.

Hakim Saeed converted Hamdard Laboratories into a Waqf – an Islamic trust where all the profits go to a charity. The industrial group today boosts of Hamdard Industrial Complex (HIC) at the newly named Hakim Mohammad Saeed Road in Karachi. But besides that two more industrial units are working in Lahore and Peshawar and apart from the headquarters in Karachi, zonal offices are working in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Read more: The Immortal Hakim Saeed: Whose legacy is ‘knowledge’

Hamdard today, under its enterprising CEO, Usama Qureshi, employing state of the art technology, makes over 500 herbal products, is a household name in herbal medicines, and one of its star products Rooh Afza (known as the ‘Lord of the Red’s) is a staple drink throughout the summer, but in particular, no Ramadan worldwide is complete without Rooh Afza juice as a complement to dates. Rooh Afza has won a number of products, including FPCCI Award, Brands Icon of Pakistan Award, Brands of the Year Award, and Consumer’s Choice Award.

The US food magazine ‘Saveur’ in 2007, placed Rooh Afza at the tenth position in world’s 100 most popular brands’ list.  Hakim Saeed’s work in promoting Greco-Arab or what is known as Tibb-i-Unani medicine not only earned him domestic accolades but was instrumental in the global recognition of Eastern medicine. Hakim Saeed was the pioneer of Eastern medicinal research in Pakistan; in Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s era, as allopathic medicine- what we commonly know as western medicine- started taking precedence, Hakim Saeed fervently lobbied for alternative medicines – such as eastern medicine, derived from herbs, not to be sidelined.

Call it fate or irony, that his politically motivated killers shot him outside the same clinic in 1998 from where he began his journey for the betterment of the city, the country and the humanity.

Due to such rigorous efforts in his 50 year spanned career, Hakim Saeed was able to get Alternative medicine recognized from the World Health Organization (WHO). Today herbal medicines are back on the shelves of pharmacies across the world. Hafiz Abdul Majid’s entrepreneurial son – now legendary Hakim Saeed – was born in 1920 into an educated but devout Muslim family.

They had been Hakims – doctors of Muslim era – for generations in Delhi. Muhammad Saeed grew up to devote his life to the Pakistan movement and subsequently development of medicinal studies in Pakistan. Hakim was a remarkable social figure that interacted with Pakistani and international leadership across generations but the man of East was known for donning the Jinnah cap and the traditional Sherwani long after it was no longer fashionable.

Read more: Remembering Hakim Saeed: A Pakistani Messiah

Hakim Muhammad Saeed’s personal works number around 200 books, journals, broadcasts and series on everything from religion, history, natural medicine, philosophy, human development, ethics, Islam and Pakistan. He was also the editor of many journals including Hamdard Islamicus, Hamdard Medicus, Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society “Historicus” and Hamdard Sehat. For several years he was also the editor of Payami, the Urdu edition of UNESCO’S journal Courier. Hakim Saeed was also the editor of Hamdard Naunehal, a monthly magazine for children that remained one of the most popular Children’s publications in Pakistan.

Hafiz Abdul Majid’s entrepreneurial son – now legendary Hakim Saeed – was born in 1920 into an educated but devout Muslim family.

The Crown Jewel in his collection of national contributions is the establishment of Madinat-al-Hikmah complex in Karachi. The complex, apart from research centers, has Hamdard University with institutes as Hamdard College of Medicine and Dentistry, Hamdard Al-Majeed College of Eastern Medicine, Hafiz Muhammad 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.

Read more: Hamdard CEO wins ‘Chief Executive of the year’ award

Bait-al-Hikmah (the Library) is also a constituent part of Madinat-al-Hikmah. This is one of the biggest and best-stocked libraries in Pakistan. Hakim established a comprehensive network of free Hamdard Clinics (matabs) across the country, initiated Hamdard Free Mobile Dispensaries, to provide the poor with health facilities at their doorsteps, and set up hospitals of both Eastern and Western Systems of Medicine. He personally attended, during his career, over 5 million patients (never charged a penny).

His work for Pakistan was recognized when he was Governor of Sindh from 1993 to 1996. His emphasis on garnering knowledge and supporting the younger generation’s intellectual capacity earned him various awards inside and outside Pakistan. He was awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz in 1966, later the Kuwait Prize for Tibb-i-Islami in 1983, and the Nishan-i-Imtiaz posthumously in 2002. Hamdard, the quintessential Eastern Pharmacy, continues its journey of “Sympathizer” under the leadership of Hakim’s daughter, Sadia Rashid.


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