Jamia Millia Islamia is Heritage of Nationalist Movement and Lusty Child of the Non-Cooperation Days

Almost 98 years ago Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) was founded by some “parwaana-e-Azaadi” to boycott all educational institutions supported or run by the colonial regime on the call of Baba-i-Hind Gandhi. Their idea was to establish a ‘swadeshi’ university. So, a group of nationalist teachers and students quit Aligarh Muslim University, protesting against its Pro-British inclinations.

The Foundation of JMI was laid down on Friday 29 October 1920 by one of the most eminent fighters of that time, Sheikh-ul-Hind Maulana Mehmud Hasan. Hakim Ajmal Khan and Mohamed Ali ‘Jauhar’ were elected as its first chancellor and Vice Chancellor respectively.

Founders of Jamia Millia Islamia

Foundation committee of JMI was comprised of Maulana Mohamed Ali ‘Jauhar’, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, Abdul Majid Khwaja, Mufti Kafayattullah, Maulana Abdul Bari Farang Mahali, Maulana Sulaiman Nadvi, Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Maulana Husain Ahmad Madni, Chaudhury Khaleeq-uz-zaman, Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan,Tasadduq Husain Khan, Dr. Mohammad Iqbal, Maulana Sanaullah Khan Amritsari, Dr. Saifuddin Kitchlew, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Syed Mehmood, Saith Abdullah Haroon Karachiwale, Abbas Tyabiji, Sait Miyan Mohammad Haji Jaam Chhotani and Maulavi Abdul Haq.

Objectives of JMI

Dr. Zakir Husain defined the objectives of the Jamia Millia Islamia in 1938, “The main objective of JMI is to develop such a roadmap for the future of Indian Muslims that would revolve around Islam and would painted with such colors of Indian culture which could match with the universal human civilization.”

When the Jamia Millia Islamia 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.”

Jamia Millia Islamia is Heritage of the Nationalist Movement

Procession at the first convocation of the Jamia in 1921. It includes Dr M.A. Ansari, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Syed Suleman Nadvi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Shaukat Ali, A.M. Khwaja. Dr Zakir Hussain, Dr K.A. Hamied and Rauf Pasha. Image Courtesy: FrontLine

Talking about the revolution or movement which we see today happening in every corner of the world, the very foundation of JMI also revolves around the two movements. One was the Khilafat andolan led by Ali Brothers(Mohamed Ali and Shaukat Ali) and the other was the Non-Cooperation Movement under the leaership of Gandhiji. It is the only university whose teachers as well as students participated in the freedom movement.

Founders of JMI got imprisoned by the British government several times during freedom struggle. When several leaders associated with Jamia Millia Islamia were in jail during Bardoli Satyagrah, many students of the institution volunteered themselves and assured support of farmers of the area towards its success because farmers were facing a lot of hardships due to fl ood and unbearable increase in revenue tax. At that time, public meetings and protests generally began with the recitation of the Quran and Hindu mantras and some of these students played their part in the former act.

During the Quit India Movement in 1942, a lot of students of Jamia Millia Islamia worked openly or covertly for the movement and suffered persecutions of the British vendetta including its vice-chancellor Dr Zakir Husain.

Silver Jubilee of JMI

The Silver Jubilee celebrations of Jamia happened in 1946 a midst the pre-partition disturbances. On October 29, 1945, Jamia completed its Silver Jubilee, and the celebrations were held on November 17, 1946.

In 1946, the country was going through the rough phase of partition, but Dr. Zakir Husain successfully accomplished the task of bringing the Congress and Muslim League leaders on a common platform for Silver Jubilee Celebrations. It was said that All India Muslim League leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Congress leaders were last seen together during the Jamia’s Silver Jubilee Celebrations before partition of India.

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 wards. Jamia Millia Islamia remained an icon of nationalist struggle for freedom but its school in Karol Bagh was attacked and ransacked soon after India got freedom. The damage amounted to nearly Rs 5 lakhs.

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”. Rabindranath Tagore called it “one of the most progressive educational institutions of India”. 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.”


(Written by Sahil Ahmed, He is a Final year law student in Jamia and he has been working on communal harmony)

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