Turkish historian Fuat Sezgin honored in Istanbul event

Fuat Sezgin should be 'role model' for youth, says foundation official

Nilay Kar Onum   | 13.06.2019
Turkish historian Fuat Sezgin honored in Istanbul event


Turkey’s world-renowned late historian Fuat Sezgin and the massive legacy that he left behind was remembered in an Istanbul symposium on Thursday.

Under the auspices of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, Istanbul University hosted the 1st International Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Symposium for the History of Science in Islam, which will run for three days through Saturday, as part of the year of Fuat Sezgin.

2019 was declared as the year of Fuat Sezgin, under a circular published in the Official Gazette last year, after his demise on June 30, 2018.

During the event, Bilal Erdogan, member of the Board of Trustees of Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam, said that Sezgin’s works and his life should be a “role model” for the young generation.

“He spent 17 hours a day for the sake of ideas, knowledge, and science. We need to show that example as a role model of our youth,” Erdogan said.

“Someone like Fuat Sezgin lived in our days, whose goal was not to advertise what he was doing but to finish his work, whose main work was in 17 volumes,” he stated.

Sezgin was writing the 18th volume of Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums (GAS), his well-known work on the history of Arab-Islamic science when he died at the age of 94.

The 21st century, Erdogan said, is a “time of consumerism”. “People want to consume more. People want to have more. People want to spend more.”

“People like Fuat Sezgin is a key to the future of the world. Because we again are in need of new ideas and are in need of great minds, who dedicate their life to science,” he stressed.

For his part, Coskun Yilmaz, the provincial director of culture and tourism in Istanbul, said that the museum in the Gulhane Park of the city featuring Sezgin’s works will be enriched with new additions.

A photo exhibition consisting of 3,000 photos featuring Fuat Sezgin’s days in Istanbul as well as his struggle is also planned to be opened in the city, he added.

In his speech, Yilmaz also called on Germany to return Sezgin’s works in the country to Turkey as soon as possible.

Who was Fuat Sezgin?

Sezgin was born in the eastern Bitlis province in 1924. He studied at Istanbul University’s Faculty of Letters, where he also earned his Ph.D. on Arabic language and literature.

He continued his studies at Germany’s Frankfurt University in 1960 following a military coup in Turkey.

He devoted a considerable amount of time to studying and listing scientific contributions made by Muslim/Arabic scholars throughout history. He wrote numerous books and articles.

Granted with numerous international academic awards, Sezgin was also deemed worthy of Germany’s order of merit.

He founded the Research Foundation for the History of Science in Islam in 2010 to support activities of the Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam.

In 2013, he also founded the History of Science in Islam Institute at Fatih Sultan Mehmet Vakif University in Istanbul.

Sezgin knew over 20 languages including Syriac, Hebrew, and German.

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