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Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk and His Role in Aligarh Movement

Mohd Salman Habibi

Research Scholar

CAS, Department of History

Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh


ORCID: 0000-0002-0572-6316



Mohsin-ul-Mulk was a luminary personality and a true successor of Sir Syed.  He made valuable contributions to the early Muslim politics and the Aligarh movement. He successfully steered the Aligarh movement towards its goal when it became sluggish after the demise of its founder Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Through this paper, the author has tried to highlight the various traits of Mohsin-ul-Mulk’s personality and his contribution to the Aligarh Movement.

Key Words: Aligarh Movement, Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Sir Syed, Muhammadan Educational Conference, Viqar-ul-Mulk, etc.


            After the demise of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Aligarh Movement began to waver. In this situation, a popular leader and a true successor of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Syed Mehdi Ali, popularly known as Mohsin-ul-Mulk, came forward to lead and guide the movement. He was born in Etawah, a city in U. P., India, on December 9, 1837.[1] Soon after receiving his early education, he had started a job as a clerk under the East India Company on only Rs. 10 per month.[2]

Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk did not allow the circumstances to become a hindrance in achieving the heights of success. Therefore, his continuous efforts and hard work bore fruitful results and successfully competed for the Provincial Civil Services. He was appointed in the United Provinces. He discharged his duty diligently and skillfully. As a civil servant, his performance attracted the attention of Sir Salar Jang, the Prime Minister of Hyderabad. So, he was picked up by the Prime Minister for a high appointment in Hyderabad. He served Hyderabad for nearly twenty-two years. While serving Hyderabad, he tried his best to modernize the administrative machinery of the state as well as took a keen interest in the affairs of the Muslims of India. His journey in Hyderabad ended in 1893. Moreover, he settled at Aligarh, where he actively participated in Aligarh Movement.[3]

When he was leaving for Aligarh, the people of Hyderabad gave him a warm farewell as they were sad to know about the departure of such a genius and talented person from Hyderabad. Maulvi Abdul Haq[4] wrote, “When Mohsin-ul-Mulk left Hyderabad, thousands of people came to say him farewell. They were virtually weeping over his departure.”[5]

It must be clear that from the beginning of his maturity, Mohsin-ul-Mulk had a vision about the welfare of the Muslim society of India. After his retirement from the services, he paid full attention to the Indian Muslims. He was ready most of the time to provide his help to Sir Syed even before coming to Aligarh. We have to go back to 1863 to know about the connection between these two prominent personalities of Indian history. Sir Syed had written a commentary on Bible, and it was published in 1863. A section of the orthodox Muslims criticized Sir Syed for this publication. Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk also wrote a letter to Sir Syed in which he angrily called him a renegade. After some time, he got a chance to visit Sir Syed. The meeting was so transforming that Mohsin-ul-Mulk became the admirer of Sir Syed. He was much impressed with the personality of Sir Syed and his ideas. After this meeting, he visited Sir Syed many times, which made this relationship stronger.[6]

Although there were some differences of opinion between Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on the affairs of politics, religion, society and education, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk reshaped his ideas because of the pitiable condition of Muslims in contemporary India. In the beginning, he thought that the ideas of Sir Syed were irrelevant and could not be applied. Nonetheless, Mohsin-ul-Mulk soon realized that the platform of Aligarh could be utilized to strengthen the socio-political condition of Indian Muslims. For this purpose, he determined to give his full support to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan to elevate Muslim society. When the Muslims of India were facing their financial decline and marginalization in politics, Mohsin-ul-Mulk displayed his talent to save it from the speedy decline.[7]

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan established the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental school in 1875 at Aligarh, and within two years, the school was promoted to a rank of a College in 1877.[8] For the time being, the College played a significant role in shaping the political, cultural, and literary thoughts of Indian Muslims.[9] It became the epicentre of Muslim political and educational activities in India.

However, the death of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan proved fatal to the progress of the Aligarh Movement. The financial condition of the College began to deteriorate rapidly. Its income was not enough to run the expenditure of the College, and debt was increasing continuously. New students were not taking admission, and gradually the number of students began to decrease from the College. Within three years, from 1895 to 1898, the number of students decreased from 595 to 343. Syed Mahmood, the son of Sir Syed, became the Secretary of the College after his father. However, his economic and physical condition was not good; therefore, he could not maintain the affairs of the College properly. The College was declining gradually, and Syed Mahmood was unable to stop this process. In this situation, the trustees took a bold decision, and they appointed Mohsin-ul-Mulk in place of Syed Mahmood as a Secretary of the College. To accept the Secretaryship in these conditions was a bold decision of Mohsin-ul-Mulk.[10]

However, it was a big responsibility, and Mohsin-ul-Mulk had to face many challenges in this way. He started the preparations to tackle this challenge, and he had toured as many places in the country as he could visit and spread the message of Aligarh College to collect the funds for its financial needs. However, Mohsin-ul-Mulk had to face difficulties due to the fraud done by a Hindu accountant. People were suspicious about the Aligarh College and its aim; therefore, they hesitated while donating. However, Mohsin-ul-Mulk convinced them first then collect funds from them.[11]

With his hard work and continuous efforts, Mohsin-ul-Mulk succeeded in dealing with the problems of Aligarh College. When Sir Syed died, the number of students was 343, and it rose to 800 due to the unending efforts of Mohsin-ul-Mulk. Mohsin-ul-Mulk completed the construction of many buildings, which were incomplete before his Secretaryship, and some new constructions were also started by him. The annual income of the College was doubled due to his efforts, and nearly sixty lakh rupees were also collected to upgrade this college into a University. During the lifetime of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the Ulema remained detached from the College, but Mohsin-ul-Mulk succeeded in winning their confidence. Several great and influential personalities visited the College, such as Prince of Wales (later King George V) (1865-1936), and Amir of Afghanistan, Amir Habibullah (1872-1919). While visiting the College, Amir Habibullah observed the level of religious knowledge of the Quran and Islam among the students of the College. He ultimately rejected the critics’ claims who were denying the presence of religious knowledge among the Aligarh students. Therefore, Mohsin-ul-Mulk transformed the College into a great centre of learning of overall development, whether it would be religious, political or social.[12]

With the objective of bringing Muslims of India on a single platform and discuss their problems, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Educational Conference in 1886.[13] Prominent Muslim intelligentsia such as Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Altaf Husain Hali[14], Allama Shibli[15], Deputy Nazir Ahmad[16] and others became the part of this organization. They delivered their enlightened speeches from the platform of this institution on its annual sessions. In their speeches, they focused primarily on modern education and the general economic and intellectual progress of Indian Muslims. Before the foundation of the All India Muslim League, it was also working as a political platform on all India level.[17]

After the death of Sir Syed, Mohsin-ul-Mulk became the Secretary of the Muhammadan Educational Conference. With his dedication and continuous efforts, he succeeded in transforming this institution into a dynamic force while spreading its area in distant areas of India. Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk’s efforts bore fruitful results, and people appreciated the recognized importance of this institution as a platform of educational upliftment in most of the areas in India. Consequently, the sessions of the Muhammadan Educational Conference were organized in various provinces of India such as Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, in which some important decisions were taken related to education and other affairs of the society.[18] The religious views of Sir Syed made a group of orthodox Ulema against this body, and Sir Syed ignored them. He never tried to win over the confidence of these orthodox Ulema and did what he thought was good for society. When Mohsin-ul-Mulk came to this responsibility, he adopted a changing attitude and persuaded the people to win their confidence.[19] Speaking on the role and significance of Ulema in the welfare of Muslim society, he revealed his thoughts in these words:

“Gentlemen! Remember and remember well that we can never secure any appreciable amount of success in our endeavours without the help of that revered and respected body of Ulema (the learned of the old type). Our feeble efforts alone cannot be of any great avail to our community. Whatever we are doing in our present state and have been doing for a fairly long time, have affected only a limited number of people. Only a few persons have begun to share our views and our efforts. A large majority of our community does not listen to our voice, and we have no means of introducing enlightened ideas to the masses. But the voice of that body of men who hold sway over the hearts of the entire community will be from Kashmir to Madras. Gentlemen! There can be no doubt that Mussalmans, however ignorant and imprudent they might be, have a heart that is full of love for Islam and a temper that is inflamed with religious fervour. They will never do anything which will appear to them contrary to Islam and will never walk on the path which, in their opinion, leads to the direction opposite to their faith. And to them, Islam is nothing but what is expounded by the Ulema. Therefore, if we really wish for the communal progress, our first concern must be to make them share our views and to keep them in the forefront.”[20]

Mohsin-ul-Mulk was fully aware of the fact that the progress and development of Aligarh College and its transformation into a central University could be possible only with the co-operation and active support of all Indian Muslims. He realized that some leading Muslim political leaders were against the Aligarh College due to the behaviour of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Mohsin-ul-Mulk changed the policy of Sir Syed, and he met with Tayyabji at Bombay. He tried to persuade him, and finally, Tayyabji presided over the annual session of the Muhammadan Educational Conference in 1903. Mohsin-ul-Mulk got complete success in his efforts, and Tayyabji became a warm supporter of the Aligarh movement.[21] Shortly before his death, Tayyabji was invited by the Aligarh College Association to have dinner. After dinner, he showed his deep concern for the movement. He wished that Aligarh College should become a University, and for this, he appealed to the Muslims and said:

“I hope, Aligarh develops into a university, it will become the centre of attraction educationally for all Mahomedan, not from the various Mahomedan schools and colleges of India, but also, it may be, from other parts of the Mahomedan world. And it certainly is a very pleasant symptom that we have so recently seen, in connexion with the Royal visit, such large contributions made for the endowment of chairs at Aligarh, the donations including a lakh of rupees from a private Mahomedan gentleman in Bombay, and a large contribution from that very enlightened, most intellectual, and public-spirited nobleman, Aga Khan III, who, I may point out, is much more directly connected with Bombay than with Upper India. I need only add a hope the college will develop into a real centre of Moslem education and enlightenment not merely for the North-West but for all India. there is not a Mussalman in India, certainly not in Bombay, who does not wish all prosperity and success to Aligarh.”[22]

So, Mohsin-ul-Mulk succeeded in winning over the confidence of such an influential personality, Tayyabji. In his book, S.M. Ikram said that “the real secret of his success lay in his disarming temperament, and sweet winning personality.”[23]

During the leadership of Sir Syed, the activities of the Muhammadan Educational Conference had been restrained in U.P. Only one session of the Conference was held outside U.P. After becoming the Secretary, Mohsin-ul-Mulk spread the message of Conference far-flung areas of India and people became aware of the purpose of this institution. Moreover, under his leadership, from the platform of the Conference, Mohsin-ul-Mulk also popularized the idea of establishing Islamia Schools on a self-help basis. For this purpose, they started to collect funds and later established Islamia Schools in different parts of India.[24]

Hindi-Urdu Controversy

In the beginning of the 20th century, Muslim leaders of India once again faced a new problem of Hindi-Urdu controversy. For the first time, it erupted in the lifetime of Sir Syed. Urdu was the court language in the North-Western Provinces and Bihar since 1835. The Hindu population did their best to remove it, and they wanted to adopt Hindi in place of Urdu.[25] The Hindi movement for the first originated among the educated Hindus in the 1860s, and the first significant event of this movement was the demand presented by Babu Shiv Prasad. He presented a memorandum in1868 in which he argued that the official encouragement given to Urdu and Persian language in North-Western Provinces and Awadh hampered the growth of Hindi and primary education.[26]

Further, the Hindu leaders demanded that the Urdu language should be replaced with Hindi, written in Devanagari as an official language. The move of Hindus made suspicious to the Muslims about the objectives of Hindus, and they were unhappy by this act of Hindu leaders. Altaf Hussain Hali, a well-known biographer of Sir Syed, wrote that “This was the first time I realized that it was impossible for Muslims to progress as a nation and to go side by side with Hindus as a community.”[27]

Meanwhile, Sir Anthony MacDonnell had been appointed as the Governor of the United Provinces. He was infamous for his anti-Urdu tendencies. So in these circumstances, he was a ray of hope for the Hindu leaders. They were expecting that Hindi would replace Urdu soon. On April 18, 1900, his government issued an order that ended Urdu’s position as an official language. While Hindus were delighted with this news, Muslims were shocked. In these circumstances, Mohsin-ul-Mulk came to the forefront in the defence of Urdu, and he established the ‘Urdu Defence Association’ for the same. Under the guidance of Mohsin-ul-Mulk and the Association, Muslims gathered many times to protest against the decision of the government. The first meeting in this series was held at Aligarh on May 13, 1900, and it was presided by the Nawab of Chhatari. Anthony MacDonnell took this personally, and he threatened the Muslim leaders and directed them to resign from Urdu Defence Association. While some leaders were pressurized due to which they withdrew themselves from the movement. However, Mohsin-ul-Mulk did not budge an inch from his position. He continuously protested against the orders of the government. The Governor was not ready to accept the defeat, and he called a meeting of the Trustees of the College at Aligarh. In this meeting, he threatened the Trustees of all possible problems for College, including the government’s complete financial stoppage. Moreover, Governor refused to talk with Mohsin-ul-Mulk and was directed to communicate by letter whatever Mohsin-ul-Mulk wanted to tell him.[28]

However, Mohsin-ul-Mulk’s opposition to the government’s order over Urdu created problems for the College. Therefore, he decided generously that his personal status should not come in the way to the development and future of the College. So he resigned from the Secretaryship of the College so that he could continue his campaign against the government’s order. Nonetheless, his friends and colleagues knew his importance. If Mohsin-ul-Mulk had resigned from the post, the future of the College would have been in the darkness. So they persuaded Mohsin-ul-Mulk to withdraw his resignation, and finally, they succeeded in their efforts. Mohsin-ul-Mulk changed his mind and withdrew his resignation. Then he waited for the end of MacDonnell’s tenure of Governorship. After the end of MacDonnell’s tenure, Mohsin-ul-Mulk set up Anjuman-i-Taraqui-e-Urdu, an addition to the Muhammadan Educational Conference. In order to protect it from any possible future problem, Mohsin-ul-Mulk appointed Sir Thomas Arnold as its first Chairman.[29]

Sir James La Touches was the new Governor of U.P (1902-1907). The new Governor was more liberal than the previous one. He made it clear that the government would not restrict anyone’s liberty. Urdu gained its previous position in the courts and government offices. Jamil-ud-Din Ahmad enumerated the efforts in his book:

“Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, by tact and firmness, thus scored a significant victory from the point of view of the political interest of the Muslim nation, thus paving the way for its organization as a political force which could not be ignored in any future dispensation.”[30]


Towards Separatism

The controversy of the Hindi- Urdu language had a wide-ranging impact on future political developments in India. It widened the gulf between the Hindus and the Muslims, and the latter woke up from its slumber. It uncovered the Hindu calls for unity. Al-Bashir presented the story in a way that the Muslims were ready to yield to the demands of Hindus, such as Hindu call to give up cow-slaughter and use of Urdu language.[31] Syed Tufail Ahmad Manglori presented the story in another way, and he said that the Britishers intentionally raised the language problem to divide the Hindus and Muslims. They wanted to widen the gulf between the two communities.[32] But it seems unrealistic as Bengali Hindu elites had already started the movement.

However, situations forced Mohsin-ul-Mulk to think about a political party that would safeguard the Muslims’ interests. He knew well about the consciousness arising among the educated Muslims. But he did not want to take an unnecessary risk by forming a new political party, so he focused on reviving the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association. This party provided a platform to put their demands and launch their activities in an organized way.[33] Viqar-ul-Mulk wrote a letter to Mohsin-ul-Mulk in which he directed that the revival of Defence Association was not a good idea. Viqar-ul-Mulk further reminded that this institution did not succeed even under the command of its founders, and this was not the time when Muslims should depend totally on education, but they had to safeguard their political interests.[34]

Morrison tried his best to stop the increasing demands among the Indian Muslims to form a political party. In this regard, he wrote two articles in ‘The Pioneer’ entitled ‘Political Action by the Mohammedans‘.[35] However, the Muslims did not consider the suggestions given by Morrison. Viqar-ul-Mulk also totally ignored the suggestions of Morrison, and he strongly advocated the foundation of a political association for Muslims. He worked hard and organized a meeting of the Muslims of the United Provinces, Bihar and Punjab. The meeting was held at Lucknow on 21-22 October 1901, in which they discussed what they should do to unite the Muslims and a joint plan to safeguard their political affairs. It was decided that the decision would be taken to form a political party in the next meeting, which would be held at Lucknow at an appropriate time. So, Viqar-ul-Mulk prepared the ground to form a political party, and he visited the district headquarters of the United Provinces and spread awareness about the party.[36]

Mohsin-ul-Mulk, who was earlier proposed the idea of reviving the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental Defence Association, appreciated the preliminary political meeting and hoped that this would finally succeed in forming a separate political party for the Muslims.[37] For this purpose, Viqar-ul-Mulk visited many district headquarters and pleaded there to select some members who would represent their area in the proposed meeting to be held at Lucknow. A meeting was held at Aligarh on July 26, 1903, but it was not a national character. Mohsin-ul-Mulk participated in this meeting, and formally he also became a member of the association. He also encouraged Viqar-ul-Mulk and promised to give his full support in this direction. However, Viqar-ul-Mulk could not achieve considerable success.[38]

The new development in Indian politics came with the partition of Bengal in 1905. It exposed the Hindu designs. The new province of Bengal comprised of Assam and North-Eastern districts of Bengal started working on October 16. The new province consisted of a two-thirds Muslim population. Muslims welcomed the creation of a new province, and on the other hand, Hindus were not happy with it. Hindus protested against the partition as it was not in favour of them. Due to the clash of interest and contrast between the two communities, several communal riots took place in many places, which created disturbance and chaos everywhere. Agitation created lots of problems, especially for Muslims. They were shocked. These events made Muslims realize that they should set up a political party of a national recognition under which they could gather uniformly.[39]

Meanwhile, the Liberal government came into power in England, and it became clear that the system of representation was going to be introduced in the Legislative Council of India.[40] While discussing the Indian budget in the House of Commons, John Morley (1838-1923) mentioned the expansion of the representative element in the Legislative Council. Viceroy Lord Minto also, in his speech, indicated the future development. As soon as possible, Mohsin-ul-Mulk decided to work in this direction, and he was also requested by the number of other prominent Muslims to do the same. He wrote an Urdu letter to Viqar-ul-Mulk to inform him about the whole matter. He also wrote a letter to Archbold to ask the Viceroy whether he would receive a deputation for submission of a Muslim memorial. Archbold, the Principle of M.A.O. College, contacted the Private Secretary to the Viceroy to get a reply to Mohsin-ul-Mulk’s question and assured that the deputation would be allowed only if the proposed deputation would not go disloyal to the British government.[41]

With his full concentration on drafting the Simla deputation, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk organized Muslim leadership like Syed Ali Imam[42] (1869-1932) from Patna, Mian Shah Din[43] (1868-1918) of Lahore, and Nawab Imad-ul-Mulk for drafting the memorial. Mohsin-ul-Mulk called Nawab Imad-ul-Mulk to Bombay, where the previous one was already staying. A meeting of prominent Muslim leaders was held at Lucknow on September 16 and presided over by Sir Abdul Rahim[44] (1867-1952). The draft prepared by Mohsin-Mulk was presented in this meeting and approved by the leaders. After preparing the draft, one more responsibility was to select the prominent Muslim leaders from the various provinces. Mohsin-ul-Mulk also completed this task and selected the Muslim representatives to present before the Viceroy. Mohsin-ul-Mulk directed Aga Khan III to lead the Simla deputation.[45]

The members of the delegation met the Viceroy on October 1, 1906, and presented their demands before the Viceroy.[46] The deputation put several demands as follows:

  • The election of Muslims through the separate electoral college.
  • Increase the employment proportion of Muslims in the Government services.
  • Appointment of Muslims in High Courts and Chief Court.[47]

Hence, it was the collective effort of Muslim leaders to organize, draft the Simla deputation and present it before the Viceroy. The acceptance of these demands encouraged the Muslims to unite under a common platform. Further, Mohsin-ul-Mulk felt the need for a political party of a national character that could safeguard their political, social and constitutional interests. He talked with several prominent Muslim leaders about the same. On December 30 1906, at Dhaka, the annual meeting of the Muhammadan Educational Conference was held in which the foundation of the All India Muslim League took place. However, Mohsin-ul-Mulk could not avail the leadership of the party. He died in 1907 before the first session of the Muslim League.[48]


The death of Mohsin-ul-Mulk created a vacuum that could not be fulfilled by anyone in Muslim leadership. He tirelessly worked for the Muslims particularly and for the welfare of his nation generally. His dedication achieved great heights in the field of education, politics and society. He guided the Muslims when a great leader and guide, Sir Syed passed away to leave the Muslims in a dilemma. Mohsin-ul-Mulk took charge of the Secretaryship of the College when it was declining rapidly due to financial problems and good governance. Due to his efforts, the number of students was increased. He toured from place to place to collect the fund, and nearly seven lakh rupees were collected for the proposed Aligarh University. He also spread the awareness of politics among the Muslims, and the collective efforts of Muslims with Mohsin-ul-Mulk secured the demand of a separate electorate. Hence, Mohsin-ul-Mulk, till the end of his life, worked selflessly for the Muslim community.

Notes and References:

[1]     Allana, G., Eminent Muslim Freedom Fighters (1526-1947), Neeraj Publishing House, Delhi, 1983, p. 125.

[2]     Eminent Mussalmans (Biographical & Critical Sketches of Statesmen, poets, reformers, jurists and politicians.), G. A. Natesan & Co. Publishers, Madras, 1926. p. 72.

[3]     Ikram, S. M., Modern Muslim India and the Birth of Pakistan (1858-1951), Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore, 1970, p. 73.

[4]     Maulvi Abdul Haq (1872-1961) popularly known as Baba-i-Urdu (Father of Urdu) was a renowned scholar and linguist. He was a champion of Urdu language. He demanded Urdu to be made national language of Pakistan.  For more details about Maulvi Abdul Haq see, Mukhtar-ud-Din Ahmad, Makers of Indian Language: Abdul Haq, Sahitya Academy, Delhi, 1991.

[5]     Mahmood Safdar and Javed Zafar, Founders of Pakistan, Progressive Publisher, Lahore, 1968, p. 77.

[6]     Eminent Musalmans, (1926). op. cit., p. 77.

[7]     Azeem, Muhammad, et al, “The Man Who Did Not Let to Dim the Candle of Aligarh Movement: Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk”, JPUHS, Vol.30, No.1, January – June, 2017, p. 130.

[8]     Muhammad, Shan, Successors of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: Their Role in the Growth of Muslim Political Consciousness, Accurate Printers, Lahore, 1986, p. 9. Also see, G.F.I. Graham, The Life and Work of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Blackwood Publication, London, 1885.

[9]     Azeem, Muhammad, et al., op. cit., p. 133.

[10]   Khan, Abdul Sattar, “A Great Stalwart of Aligarh Movement Nawab Mohsin-Ul-Mulk”, Pakistan Annual Research Journal, vol. 49, 2013. p. 48. For a detailed account of Mohsin-ul-Mulk services to Aligarh College see, Nawab Mohsin-ul Mulk (ed.) Addresses and Speeches relating to the Mohammaden Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh from its Foundation in 1875 upto1898, The Institute Press, Aligarh, 1898.

[11]   Ibid., Khan, Abdul Sattar.

[12]   Ikram, S.M., op. cit., pp. 73-74.

[13]   Hali, Altaf Hussain, Hayat-e-Jawed, vol. I, Arsalan Books, Azad Kashmir, 2000, p. 296.

[14]   Altaf Husain Hali (1837-1914), popularly known as Moulana Khawaja Hali, was born at Panipat in 1837 in a respectable but poor family. He was an Urdu poet and excellent writer. He left his home to receive education in Delhi where he received a limited and unsystematic education. But he attracted the attention of Mirza Ghalib, a great Urdu poet, who became his guide. After this, Hali wandered from one place to another for job for many years. Eventually he arrived at Lahore where he became the personal servant of Chayanne Mehdi in the mid-1870s. later on, he came into the contact of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and on his recommendation, Hali composed an epic poem, the Musaddas-i-Madd-o-Jazar-i-Islam (An elegiac poem on the Ebb and Tide of Islam). Hali also wrote one of the earliest works of literary criticism in Urdu, Muqaddamah-i-Shayr-o-Shayri. Hali had also written biographies of Ghalib, Saadi, Shirazi and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan which were entitled chronologically as Yaadgar-i-Ghalib, Hayat-i-Saadi, and Hayat-i-Jawed. He died in 1914 at Panipat. For more details, see, S. M. Ikram, op. cit., pp. 59-71; Malik Ram, Hali, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 1982.

[15]   Allama Shibli (1857-1914) was born at a village near Azamgarh in U.P. Unlike Hali, he was born in a prosperous family and his father was an industrialist. He became famous as he founded the Shibli National College at Azamgarh in 1883 and Darul Mussanafin (House of Writers) at the same place. Shibli Was a versatile scholar of Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu. Like Hali, he was also a poet. Shibli was much inspired with the progress of science and modern education in the West. He wanted to inspire the Muslims to make similar progress by having recourse to their lost heritage and culture, and warned them against getting lost in Western culture. He collected sufficient material on the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but could write only first two volumes of the planned work entitled as Sirat-un-Nabi. His disciple, Syed Suleiman Nadvi, made use of this material and added to it and also wrote remaining five volumes of the work, the Sirat-un-Nabi after the death of Shibli Nomani. Shibli’s own writings set the pattern for the latter. He died on 18 November 1914. See for details, S.M. Ikram’s Modern Muslim India and the Birth of Pakistan (1858-1951), pp. 119-133, and “A Biographical Sketch of Shibli Nomani” (accessed on 13, 05, 2020).

[16]   Maulvi Nazir Ahmad (1831-1912), popularly known as Deputy Nazir Ahmad at district Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh in 1831. He was an Urdu writer, social and religious reformer and an orator. He started his practical life from Kunjah District Gujarat. He was the first Urdu novel writer. He wrote some impressive works such as Miratul Aroos and Muntakahibul Hakayat and Chand Pand. He was much concerned with Muslim women’s education. Most of his novels revolve around the idea of the perfect woman, who is both practical and learned, and are seen as guidance for young girls. For details see, Qamar Abbas et al “Life and Work of Deputy Nazir Ahmed: The First Novelist of Urdu”, Journal of Applied Environmental and Biological Sciences, 2017.

[17]   Ikram, S.M., op. cit., p. 38.

[18]   Eminent Mussalmans, op. cit., p. 83.

[19]   Ibid.

[20]   Ashraf, K.M., Historical Background to the Muslim Question in India (1764-1945), vol. I (1764-1925), Asha Jyoti Book Sellers & Publishers, Delhi, 2008, pp. 273-274.

[21]   Ikram, S.M., op. cit., p. 75.

[22]   Eminent Mussalmans, op. cit., pp. 109-110.

[23]   Ikram, S. M., op. cit., p. 74.

[24]   Mahmood, Safdar, op. cit., p. 66.

[25]   Zaman, Waheed-uz, Towards Pakistan, Publishers United Ltd., Lahore, 1978, p. 5.

[26]   Brass, Paul R. Language, Religion and Politics in North India, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1974, pp. 129-130. See more on Hindi-Urdu Controversy, Francesca Orsini, The Hindi Public Sphere 1920-1940: Language and literature in the Age of Nationalism, OUP, New Delhi, 2002; Christopher R. King, One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India, OUP, New Delhi, 1999.

[27]   Hali, Altaf Hussain, op. cit., pp. 161-162.

[28]   Allana, G., op. cit., pp. 133-134.

[29]   Ibid., pp. 134-135.

[30]   Ahmad, Jamil-ud-Din, Early Phase of Muslim Political Movement, Publishers United Limited, Lahore, 1967, p. 68.

[31]   Al-Bashir, 28 May 1900, UPNNR (1900).

[32]   Manglori, Syed Tufail Ahmad, Musalmano Ka Roshan Mustaqbil, Maktab-ul-Haq Modern Dairy Jogeshwari, Mumbai, 2001, p. 342.

[33]   Aligarh Institute Gazette, Bi- Weekly, Multi-Lingual (Urdu-English), Aligarh 22 August 1901.

[34]   The Azad, 17 September 1901, UPNNR, 1901.

[35]   See, Morrison, “Political Actions by Mohammedans”, The Pioneer, 14 September and 21 September, 1901.

[36]   Aligarh Institute Gazette, Aligarh, 1 August 1903.

[37]   Ibid., 14 November 1901. p. 310.

[38]   Ibid.

[39]   Khan, Abdul Sattar, “A Great Stalwart of Aligarh Movement Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk”, Pakistan Annual Research Journal, vol. 49, 2013. p. 53.

[40]   Allana, G., op. cit., p. 135.

[41]   Ikram, S.M., op. cit., pp. 78-79.

[42]   Syed Ali Imam was born on 11 February, 1869 in Neora village, Bihar. He was elder son of Syed Imdad Imam. Syed Ali Imam’s younger brother was a famous freedom fighter whose name was Syed Hasan Imam. Ali Imam’s got his Law education in London in 1887 and he returned to India in 1890. He became a famous advocate within a short span of time. Despite having been involved in his practices, he had given his precious time in public welfare activities, which made him popular among the masses. He was appointed an official member in the Bengal Legislative Council in 1909. He played a significant role in the formation of All India Muslim League and also became its president at Amritsar in 1908. See for details, and (accessed on 14/05/2020) and Eminent Mussalmans, pp. 248-262.

[43]   Mian Shah Din was born at Lahore on April 2 in 1868. He was a Punjabi lawyer and a sound politician in British India. He got his early education at Government College at Lahore and in 1887 left for London to acquire his higher studies. While he was in London, he met with Justice, Abdur Rahim and joined Anjuman-i-Islamiya, which was founded in 1889. Mian Shah Din was one of the members of the Simla deputation in 1906. He also became the president of Punjab Provincial Muslim League in 1907. See for details; Eminent Mussalmans, pp. 371-384.

[44]   Justice Abdur Rahim was a luminary personality who started his career as an advocate in the Calcutta High Court in 1890. After this, he joined the Madras High Court as a judge, and for a time officiated as its Chief Justice. He was also a member of the Royal Commission on Public Services in India.  In spite of all this, he also contributed his services for the betterment of Indians in educational, social, political and cultural sphere of life. He became a member of the Central Legislative Assembly in 1930 and in 1933, he was the leader in opposition. For details, See, Eminent Mussalmans, pp. 465-490.

[45]   Ikram, S. M., op. cit., p. 81.

[46]   Mujahid, Sharif al (ed.) Muslims League Documents 1900-1947, vol. I. (1900-1908), Quaid-I-Azam Academy, Karachi, Pakistan, 1990, pp. 181-190.

[47]   Ahmad, Jamil-ud-Din, op. cit., p. 76.

[48]   Ikram, S. M., op. cit., p. 83.

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