Abdul Rashid Agwan
JAMIA Millia Islamia is one of the few educational institutions which came into being in response to the nationalist call of freedom struggle to boycott educational institutions supported or run by the British colonial rule. It became a dream project of such stalwart national leaders as
The British interference in the Muslim world in the first decade of the twentieth century, particularly in Turkey the seat of Ottoman Empire, triggered agitations the world over including India and brought the concept of caliphate into
Ali Jauhar became Indian National Congress President
In the wake of the Turkish War of Independence, a large number of Muslim religious leaders in India began working together around 1919 to campaign for Caliphate. Khilafat Movement was launched in 1919 by an alumnus of Muhammadan
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who returned to his homeland from South Africa in 1915, became active with both the Congress and Khilafat Movement around that time. He participated in discussions on the importance of ‘non-cooperation’ with the British government in the meetings of Khilafat Committee which thought to be essential in the wake of Jallianwala Bagh massacre and imposition of Rowlatt Act. Gandhi supported it while persuading its leaders to keep it non-violent.
The Committee’s June 1920 meeting, also attended by several non-Muslim leaders including Gandhi, finally approved the launch of non-cooperation movement
The two leading national political platforms of the country, Khilafat Movement and the Congress, jointly spearheaded the non-cooperation movement, which was called ‘Tark-e-Mawalat’ in Urdu and Asahyog Andolan in Hindi and gave a decisive twist to the struggle for independence.
Historian S.N. Sen mentioned in his book, ‘History of the Freedom Movement in India’ (1857-1947), about the August 1, 1920 letter of Gandhi to the Viceroy, “Gandhi pointed out that the scheme of non-cooperation inaugurated today was essentially in connection with the Khilafat movement and that the Punjab question had merely given
Born in 1929, Dr. S. N. Sen was educated at Vidyasagar College and University of Calcutta. He took his Ph.D. in 1958 and D. Litt in 1970 from the University of Calcutta. He held a Lectureship in
Jamia Millia was the first national institution
As a consequence of the call, many Indians left the British supported educational institutions and established nationalist institutions to provide education
When the British government conferred Muhammadan
Jamia Millia Islamia was founded by 18 members of a dedicated group of Muslim intellectuals and religious elite called the Founding Committee. All eminent leaders of the non-cooperation movement were in the committee or they supported it even otherwise. Its proposal was agreed upon on 29 October and it was formally inaugurated on 22 November 1920 by Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmud Hasan who had just returned on release from Malta. Hakim Ajmal Khan was elected as the first chancellor of the Jamia and Mohammad Ali Jauhar the first vice-chancellor. Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari and A.M. Khwaja were other important national leaders in the Founding Committee who tirelessly worked for its progress.
Hakim Ajmal Khan
With the decline of Khilafat Movement after 1924 due to
After some time, many founders of the Jamia got imprisoned by the British government in the wake of Simon Commission’s boycott by the Congress in 1927, which again affected its function to some extent. The death of Hakim Ajmal Khan in 1928 gave another major jolt to its survival and
One major event of the time was the peasants’ revolt in Surat district of Gujarat in 1928. In the entire region, farmers were facing a lot of hardships due to flood and unbearable increase of revenue tax. Gandhiji used his South African contacts with the people of Bardoli Taluk of the area and encouraged farmers to protest. His veteran friends Abbas Tayebji and Imam Abdul Qadir Bavazir of the
In spite of the fact that several leaders associated with Jamia Millia Islamia were in jail at that time, many students of the institution volunteered themselves for the Bardoli
The campus of Jamia Millia Islamia
Universal human civilization
When the Jamia Millia Society was registered in 1939, its Memorandum of Association, summarized the aims and objects of the Jamia as fellows; “To promote and provide for the religious and secular education of Indians, particularly Muslims, in conformity with sound principles of education and in consonance with the needs of national life and to that end, to establish and maintain suitable educational institutions within the Jamia campus and to set up and organize educational extension centers in Delhi from time to time.”
Quit India movement: Aruna Asaf Ali
Jamia’s financial woes again became acute when the Quit India movement was launched by the Congress in 1942. It was the time when Britain jumped into
A lot of students of Jamia Millia and many nationwide
The founder of Progressive Writers Association and relentless fighter against the imperialist rule in India, Sajjad Zaheer, was also associated with Jamia Millia Islamia formally for a brief period during the non-cooperation movement and informally for a long time till his death in 1973. He influenced many young minds of the time at the Jamia during the critical phase of freedom struggle.
The Silver Jubilee year of the Jamia came in 1946 amid the pre-Partition disturbances. Its celebration gave an opportunity to bring together many leaders of the Congress and the Muslim League on the same
When India finally got freedom on 15 August 1947, Delhi’s atmosphere was highly charged with communal sentiments which resulted in unthought-of bloodshed in the national capital all through September and after. Jamia Millia Islamia remained an icon of
Anis Kidwai narrated in her book, ‘In Freedom’s Shade’, how
Not only the Jamia School, the Tibbia College in Karol Bagh, established by another freedom fighter Hakim Ajmal Khan in 1916, was also severely devastated by miscreants; and, disgusted with the situation, his survivors left India in December the same year to the country against the idea of which their elder had relentlessly fought all through his life.
Millia Islamia in
In his 2014 lecture, “Partners in Freedom: The Story of Jamia Millia Islamia”, the former vice-chancellor of the Jamia, Professor Mushirul Hasan, said, “The founders of Jamia were simultaneously engaged in the freedom movement and in shaping up of Jamia with the same nationalist spirit to serve the cause of the nation.” He further said that the idea of ‘composite culture’ was the core of the non-cooperation movement and the Jamia became the laboratory to experiment it.
There is no doubt that Jamia Millia Islamia was the product and vehicle of freedom struggle and suffered a lot due to its unique philosophy. It was established in response to popular sentiments against the British oppression and it itself suffered many atrocities due to this. Its idea of ‘composite culture’ did not appeal to many Muslim leaders and the community failed to appreciate its struggle for a long time. Its ‘Islamic’
Its associates joined Vallabhbhai Patel’s Bardoli
There were some affirmative moments too.
Nevertheless, Jamia’s vision, efforts of its founders and teachers to stand against all adversities and the due government patronage for quite some time made the university to proudly emerge on the firmament of higher education of the country. Now, it is the 7th best university in India.
The series of sacrifices and sufferings of Jamia Millia Islamia through the freedom struggle can be concluded in these historic words of the national leader of freedom movement and poetess Sarojini Naidu, who said about it, “Jamia Millia Islamia was built stone by stone and sacrifice by sacrifice.” However, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of the country and the national leader, said that Jamia is a “lusty child of the non-cooperation days.”
“Jamia had a glorious past. As a national heritage, it deserves a glorious future. It must become a unique university like the unique school it began. Jamia has to reinvent itself in order to achieve its manifest destiny, as a vital contribution of the Muslim community to the making of future India” an eminent Muslim leader Sayed Shahabuddin concluded in his article: “How to revive the spirit of Jamia Millia?”
[The contributor is a social activist, political analyst and author of many books including his recent one: ‘Islam in 21st Century: The Dynamics of Change and Future-making’ – Countercurrents.org, 19 August, 2015.]
Jamia Millia’s role in India’s freedom struggle
Abdul Rashid Agwan