“I appeal to you, Your Majesty, to continue your sublime patronage of this important issue until there are more people working on it sincerely and honestly.” That sentence was concluded by the late Professor Fouad Muhammad Sezkin, during his honoring as the first winner of the King Faisal International Prize for Islamic Studies in the presence of King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz.
Sezgin, who passed away at the age of 94 years, spent his life documenting, collecting and preserving Islamic heritage from loss and attempts to distort them or being forgotten.
Sezgin was born in the state of “Bitlis” in southeastern Turkey in 1924, and progressed in the scientific life until he obtained a master’s degree in 1947 in the departments of Orientalism, mathematics and Roman studies at Istanbul University, and then obtained a doctorate in Islamic sciences, Iranian studies and philosophy in 1950.
Because of the military coups, Sezkin, along with dozens of academics at Istanbul University, were forced to emigrate outside the country.
He resided in Germany in 1960, and he became a professor of history of natural sciences at Frankfurt University in 1990. He founded the Institute for the History of Arab and Islamic Sciences at the University of Frankfurt in 1981, and has been its Honorary Director since that time.
Sezgen began to learn Arabic, and he obtained his doctorate in 1954 with the thesis “The sources of Bukhari.” One of the most prominent books and studies that Sezgin published was a doctoral study entitled “Studies on the sources of al-Bukhari” in 1956.
In 1965, Sezgin submitted a second doctoral thesis on the Arab chemist Jaber Ibn Hayyan, and he received the title of professor a year later, and shortly afterwards married the Orientalist Ursula Sezgin.
Before his death, Sezgin was continuing to write the 18th volume of “History of the Arab Heritage,” the first of which was published in 1967, and is considered the most extensive book on human history.
The enormous linguistic outcome, was translated into 27 languages, which Sezgin mastered, including Arabic, Hebrew, German and Latin, enabled him to continue his scientific and research record until he established in 2010 the Research Endowment for the History of Islamic Sciences.
Sezgin was strongly present with many Islamic and Arab institutions, and he received many awards and medals in appreciation of his scientific efforts.
He was honored in the Arabic Language Academy in Cairo, the Arabic Language Academy in Damascus, the Arabic Language Academy in Baghdad, and the Academy of Sciences in Turkey.
He was crowned with honorary doctorates by many universities, such as “Ataturk” in the Turkish state of Erzurum, “Suleiman Demiral” in the state of Sparta, and the University of Istanbul, as well as the honorary shield of “Frankfurt am Main Goethe”, the Federal Service Medal for the first degree in Germany, and the Grand Presidential Prize for culture and arts in Turkey.
Professor Sezkin received the Medal of Honor of the First Class, the Order of Honor of Great Appreciation from the Federal Republic of Germany and the Goethe Medal from Frankfurt, in addition to being the first winner of the King Faisal International Prize in Islamic Studies.
He received many medals in appreciation of his scientific efforts in writing his huge encyclopedic book “History of Arab Heritage.” In it he highlighted the efforts of Muslim scholars in the various fields of Islamic civilization, especially in the third, fourth and fifth parts.
He devoted to researching the heritage of Muslim scholars in medicine, pharmacy, veterinary, zoology, chemistry, agriculture, plants, and mathematics.
On Saturday 30/6/2018, the Turkish authorities announced the death of Fouad Sezgin in Istanbul Hospital, and in response to his death, the Chairman of the Board of Directors said that Sezgin is one of the most prominent historians and scholars in Turkey and the world. He left for Turkey an invaluable library and museum.