Hamdard’ is a compound word derived from Persian, which combines the words ‘ham’ (used in the sense of ‘companion’) and ‘dard’ (meaning ‘pain’). ‘Hamdard’ thus means ‘a companion in pain’ and ‘sympathizer in suffering’. In 1906, in undivided India’s capital, Delhi, a devoted, determined, yet unworldly man, Hakeem Hafiz Abdul Majeed, laid the foundation of Hamdard Dawakhana. This began as an herb shop and soon gained the reputation of the finest supplier of herbs.
Even in these humble beginnings, the goals of Hamdard were lofty; Easing the suffering of the sick with healing herbs. Perhaps the strain of long hours and hard work cut off Hakeem Abdul Majeed’s life in its prime; but his wife, Rabia Begum, with the support of her son, Hakeem Abdul Hameed, not only kept the institution in existence but also expanded it. As he grew up, Hakeem Abdul Hameed assumed all responsibilities. After helping in his younger brother’s upbringing and education, he included him in running the institution. Now both brothers Hakeem Abdul Hameed and Hakim Mohammed Said, with their extraordinary drive, raised Hamdard from the status of a Unani pharmaceutical company to that of a welfare organization as well, and transformed it into a waqf or trust dedicated to the nation’s health and education.
On independence from British rule, the newly created country of Pakistan beckoned to Hakim Mohmmed Said, and he migrated to it. A fledgling country and lack of means both posed challenges to him, but his dedication stiffened his resolve to overcome all difficulties. Using the talents with which he had been gifted, Hakim Said raised Hamdard in Pakistan from two small rented rooms and some rented furniture to the level of an Eastern Medicine industry. In 1953, he converted Hamdard into a waqf (Islamic irrevocable trust) in which almost all – and in 1985 the entire – profits of Hamdard Pakistan were made over to the trust, for use in the development of health, education, and similar nation building and philanthropic fields. Hamdard Foundation Pakistan was created to manage these funds.