"My father was a poor man; it was avague time then, it was a great poverty. He was going to the mountains, to cut some trees there, and then he would go to the villages and sell them for our living. Here were widely used the wild pears and other fruits - for dried fruit compote,to be sold in the villages. This is how we lived... And if he brought from the mountain some wood spills or other materials... This was how our father brought us up, but hardly-hardly. And the school I completed hardly. My father was not able to buy me pencils and notebooks, he was in destitute..."
This is what says one of the people who despite of all hardships which they faced along the way become some of the best guardians of the science and literacy in those "hard times".
He is Mehmed Hamid Hodhza effendi or known also as Kuniv the hodzha. He is born on December 13, 1925 in the village of Ribnovo, Gotse Delchev region. His family was very poor; he completed his primary education in the school in the village which at that time was operating in the mosque. At the age of 15 he was working together with his father who was a woodcutter in the forest. He gathered cones, then boiled them and sold the oil which was delivered from them, in this way he made his living.
But science was in his soul. From early age he began studying the Islamic sciences. He visited a number of hodzhas (masters) from the village from whom he learned ilmihal (basic religious knowledge). He wished a lot to go somewhere and stay for a longer time with any scholar, but anyway this was not possible for him because of the poverty in his family. Despite of this he did not give up. When he found an opportunity, he started and passed tens of kilometers on order to go to some of the scholars during that time (Belishkiya effendi, Halim effendi, Matanya, etc.). He would spent with them several days and sometimes only few hours and tuned back to his village.
"Sometimes I went to ask only for one mesele (question), and then I returned. We should not speak about Islam if we do not know", he says. In this way, despite he considers himself self-taught, Mehmed hodzha received a serious basic training from a number of scholars during that time.
During the 40s of the 20th century the authorities began to harass him for dealing with Islamic science. Despite of everything he experienced, like many of his contemporaries, he did not stop educating himself and defending the science in which he believed.
Whenever he heard that the authorities are going to destroy a mosque in a certain village he would woke up in the night and went to that village. He would took the books which were in the mosque and loaded them onto the horse... In this way he managed to save dozens of manuscripts and old Turkish printed books which after that he gave to his students to read from them.
He learned to read and understand Ottoman and Turkish language which helped him to develop himself in the Islamic sciences. During the Communism before the Democracy he was the most reputable scholar in the entire region. He translated religious texts and handwrote ilmihals of a prime necessity and gave them to his students.
Mehmed hodzha effendi has never been an official acting imam or hodzha but during his entire life he was helping people who performed this activity and has always been next to them.
During the worst and terrible times he managed to educate and prepare a number of masters who after the fall of the regime undertook his deed and became imams in the villages in the region. Among his students there are muftis, young educated religious figures.
For the future Mehmed hodzha has a hope. "Let's hope that the future will be built on with teaching and good ideas in favor of Islam and mankind" - he said.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOwMM-c-tUI&t=1s