Islam-o-sharia by Hasan Mahmud is arguably the most important book on Islam in our time. The book examines and reinforces the core values of Islam with supporting texts from Quran and hadiths and comments from various Islamic scholars. In Hasan’s own words, “The book is a result of painstaking efforts that came from digesting hundreds of Islamic books spanning nearly two decades.”
Islam-o-sharia is by far the best book on Islamic sharia laws ever written in Bangla and the book deserves to be translated in every language in every part of the world wherever there are Muslims.
Having said that, suggesting the book only to the Muslims would be a great disservice, for the book is equally good for any non-Muslim who desires to understand true, and I emphasize the word true, Islam.
Before writing about the book though, I want to write about Hasan Mahmud the man.
I met Hasan in Abu Dhabi in the late 70s, when both of us were starting our careers in Abu Dhabi. I had respect for his sharp wit and intellect but never knew that he graduated in the top four in his school final exam conducted by the erstwhile East Pakistan Education Board.
The fact was disclosed to me by a common friend only a few months back. When I asked Hasan during a recent telephone conversation with him, how is it that he never mentioned this to me! Hasan brushed it off with his characteristic laugh and said, every year people are graduating with such distinctions so what is the great deal in that!
With a brilliant academic background, Hasan could excel in any field of his choosing, yet he chose to be a molla, fotemolla to be exact. Albeit, he is a molla as no molla has ever been, truly a molla of the mollas.
To be honest, I could never fathom Hasan’s transformation into a religious scholar from his ultra progressive views on life. With a little contemplation however, I could easily relate to this phenomenon.
In his youth, Hasan gave freely; he gave his time, his service, and money, not only to his friends but also to strangers who were at the low strata of the society. He gave without ever expecting anything in return. His love for people, especially for the downtrodden was without parallel.
When the news broke out that Hasan was leaving Abu Dhabi, and he did not have enough money to start a new life in a new country, many people who had earlier received help from him came forward and voluntarily returned money. Hasan refused to accept money from them, but they forced his hands, saying they were returning only what was his.
The other day, I called on Hasan after decades, and was discussing Islam with him, when he started freely quoting from Quran with full references. He was supporting his arguments with hadiths, again with exact references. It was an incredible feat as there are over 39,000 authentic (regarded to be authentic by Muslim ummah) hadiths. However, he completely floored me when he quoted from Genesis (Old Testament), again with proper reference.
There are many people in the world who can recite Quran from page one to the last from memory, nonetheless, I had not met anyone who could quote from hadiths with volume numbers and their placing in the volumes, extempore. It takes superhuman intellect and memory, but on top, a lifetime of dedication.
When I expressed my surprise about how he remembers all these verses, he simply stated, I have no option. I knew instantly what he meant; his life has always been for service to people, especially to those who are oppressed and hapless. It is from that intense love for humanity that Hasan’s superhuman ability emanates.
Next week: Hasan’s book- Islam-o-sharia