from The Indian Historical Review,
VOL. XXVI, Jly 1999, p. [251-252]
Dr Qeyamuddin Ahmad, former Professor of History, Patna University, rose to distinction on account of his doctoral thesis on the Wahabi Movement in India (1962), first published in 1966. Subsequently, in 1994, its revised and enlarged edition was published. Its Urdu translation came out in 1976. Dr Ahmed did a good service to the cause of early British Indian history by bringing out this book which is a pioneer study of "one of the earliest, most consistent anti-British movement of the last century". The term "Wahhabism" is not the name of a new religion but refers to the puritan Islam as taught by Abdul Wahhab of the Arabian peninsula (the Indian Wahhabis, followers of Sayyad Ahmed of Rae Bareli; preferred to call themselves Aht-e-Hadees). An interesting figure of the movement was Inayat Ali of the famous Sadiqpur family of Patna, who had also migrated to the North-West. He preached "a civic and corporate spirit among the villagers, adoption of a policy of civil disobedience to Government and the boycott of its administrative organs particularly of the Courts". These ideas were similar to those that Mahatma Gandhi preached a century later.
The other major work of Dr Ahmad was the Corpus of Arabic and Persian Inscriptions of Bihar (1973). It contains 51 pre-Mughal, 16 Pathan and 129 Mughal, that is, a total of 196 Arabic and Persian inscriptions (with their plates) of Bihar, ranging from A.D. 1242 to A.D. 1786. These enable us to determine the shifting frontiers of pre-Mughal Bihar and supply additional information about the careers and works of officers, saints, poets, writers and builders of Bihar. His association with Professor S.H. Askari in editing the Comprehensive History of Bihar, Volume II (Part I in 1983 and Part II in 1987) and his summarized edition of Al-Biruni's India (National Book Trust, 1985), which has gone into several editions with Hindi and Urdu translations also, further testify to his eminence as a top-ranking historian, who had specialized in studying sources, particularly archaeological and archival, as well as regional and local history, mints, historical geography of Bihar, and last, but not the least, administrative aspects.
Born on 9 September 1930, Dr Ahmad came from a family of scholars of Patna city, one of the centres of Wahhabis. He did his post-graduation in 1950 from the Patna University. He started his career as a Research Fellow (Bihar Educational Service, Class II) in the K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute on 22 August 1952. Here he utilized the opportunities of research in source-materials and made tours which enabled him to study the inscriptions in every nook and corner of Bihar. During the course of his research work he also got the opportunity of working under the guidance of eminent scholars like Professor S.H. Askari. In January 1960 he joined the Patna University. Apart from his interest in the Indo Muslim history of the nineteenth century, he also took interest in local history as is evident from his edited work entitled Patna Through the Ages: Glimpses of History, Society and Economy ( 1987). His other note worthy contributions are his translations into Urdu of Habib and Nizami, ed, Comprehensive History of India, Vol. V: Delhi Sultanate and Nurul Hasan's Some Thoughts on Agrarian Relations in Mughal India. Added to this are his numerous contributions in the form of research articles and book reviews published in various research journals and books. He also had a penchant for biographical writings, a notable example being his biography of Mazharul Haque written in collaboration with Dr J.S. Jha.
His active involvement with the academic world can be gauged from his association with a number of academic institutions like the ICHR, NCERT, Bureau for Promotion of Urdu, etc., and also from the fact that even at the time of his death -- on 27 August 1998 -- he was busy working on a seminar paper. His only son, Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, too, teaches history at the Patna University and he thus carries on the legacy of his illustrious father.
Qeyam Saheb (as he was populary called) was held in high esteem by both students and scholars. Though not in our midst at the physical level, he shall always be remembered through his significant contributions to the academic world.