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Nawab Salimullah: Founder of All India Muslim League

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Muslim League after working year after year has been able to unite the Muslim of the subcontinent and with 41 years gave birth to a separate Muslim homeland Pakistan.
Nawab focused on the Muslims’ education knowing full well that it was the education, knowledge and science that could ameliorate a nation’s lot in the present and safeguard and secure its future.
Khwaja Salimullah, Nawab of Dhaka, Muslim nationalist, an architect of the All Indian Muslim League, was born at the Ahsan Manzil on 7th June, 1871.He was the son of Nawab Khwaja Ahsanullah and grandson of Nawab Khwaja Abdul Ghani. He was a patron of education and learnt Urdu, Arabic, Persian and English at home. He entered government service as a Deputy Magistrate in 1893, but left the job of Magistrate in 1895. Then he started business. After his father’s death in 1901, Salimullah, as the eldest surviving son, become the head of the Dhaka Nawab estate and inherited the hereditary title “Nawab”. His name is still a house hold word in Bangladesh.
Nawab Salimullah got involved in politics in 1903-1904 by the way of giving opinion on the government’s plan for the partition of Bengal. His contribution to Muslim politics in India was most noteworthy. It was he who was called upon to move the first Resolution at the inaugural Session of the All India Muslim League held in Dhaka on 30 December 1906.
Nawab Salimullah was a philanthropic person. He used to contribute generously to socio-economic Development activities. He donated in 1902 one lakh twelve thousand rupees that had been promised by his father for the establishment of Dhaka Engineering School, now Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET).
He patronized projects in the agricultural and industrial sectors; and also for the construction of mosques, madrasas, hospital, and student dormitories as well as other works of social upliftment. He used to arrange exhibitions to promote development of Dhaka handicrafts. His efforts gave this industry a new life. He was a member of the committee formed by the East Bengal Government in 1909 in order to promote development of handicrafts.
On October 16, 1905, it is purely only for administrative reason the vast Bengal presidency was bifurcated and set up a new province of East Bengal and Assam to benefit the poor people of East Bengal. It is in the interest of the staggering poor people of East Bengal Nawab Salimullah come out to welcome the decision of setting up a new province.
Dhaka after long time became the capital of the new province and took a new look. After this decision, number of students in schools and colleges increased by 35%. Unfortunately this was not tolerated by the Hindu elite people who collected taxes from the downtrodden poor people of East Bengal residing in Calcutta led life in lavish luxury. They started a movement against this decision of the new province. This movement ultimately turned into terrorism. The decision was annulled on 12 December, 1911.The people of East Bengal especially Muslims became frustrated. Nawab Salimullah became dissatisfied.
The frustrated Nawab convened a meeting of the then Muslim leaders of East Bengal and wrote two letters on 17th and 20th December 1911. Post annulment agonies of the Muslims of East Bengal were ventilated and he suggested setting up a university in Dhaka. The two letters are still preserved in the library of Cambridge University.
On the basis of two letters and after long discussion consultation commissioning British Government set up the Dhaka University. It is definitely out of pressure, request, counseling and exchange of letters that the British government yielded to the demand and the dream of the Nawab. Dhaka University was established in 1921.
As a token of respect and gratitude the first residential Hall of Dhaka University was named after the Nawab as Salimullah Muslim Hall. He donated land for the university and High Court in Dhaka. The greatest achievement of Nawab was the foundation of All India Muslim Leagues. It was one the first phase of the execution of new province he convened an All India Muslim Educational conference on 27th December 1906.
Not less than 800 representatives attended the conference from all over the sub-continent. It is with high exuberance and ecstasy the delegates gathered from all parts if India. Nawab Salimullah was the chair of the reception committee. Justice Sharif Uddin of Calcutta High Court presided over the conference. The political session was held on 30th December, 1906. Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk presided over the political session.
The proposition of Nawab Salimullah and supported by Hakim Afzal Khan was elected president. Nawab Salimullah was elected vice president while Mohsin-ul-Mulk and Nawab Waqar-ul-Mulk were elected joint secretaries respectively.
Although Nawab Salimullah was the host and sponsor of the conference he did not take the leadership of the newly formed Muslim League. It means he had no ambition of greed for leadership. His purpose was to unite the Muslim of the sub-continent and change their lot. This Muslim League after working year after year has been able to unite the Muslim of the subcontinent and with 41 years gave birth to a separate Muslim homeland Pakistan. Later on eastern wing got independence from western wing named Bangladesh. His dream was fulfilled but he could not see the reality.
Nawab Salimullah was a member of East Bengal and Assam Legislative Assembly (1906-12) and of the Imperial Council and also of the United Bengal Legislative Assembly (1913-15). The British government conferred on him the titles of CIS (1902), Nawab Bahadur (1903), KCSI (1909), and GCSI (1911). Personally he was honest, courageous and pious. He established a night school at Dhaka, development the panchayet system of the city, and popularized the observance of Miladunnabi and Fateha-i-Doaz Daham.
After the annulment of the partition of Bengal, Salimullah was struck with a deep sense of disappointment and fell seriously ill. He died on 16 January 1915 in his house at Chaurangi, Calcutta. His body was brought to Dhaka in state honor and was buried in the family graveyard at Bengal weeping forever.
Nawab Salimullah Bahadur as one of the prime founder members of the Muslim League Lighted a candle that burnt undimmed till the dream of Muslim renascence found its fullest and most concrete expression in the birth of Pakistan. After the creation of the Indian national Congress and its time as a ‘representative’ party for the people of the Indian sub-continent, there was felt a need to reassess its claims at unbiased representation. From the very start of its existence the Congress had shown clear its interest to safeguard the rights of Hindus, alone.
Some of the Congress leaders adopted a revolutionary policy to establish Hindu Raj in the sub-continent under the guise of a national movement. The prediction of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan Soon proved to be fact that, “Hindus and Muslims are two different nations who have different ideologies.”
The Muslims of India were greatly disappointed by the anti-Muslim stance that the Congress seemed to have adopted. The events following the partition of Bengal and Urdu-Hindu controversy strengthened the desire of the Muslims to organize themselves politically as separate community. The birth of All India Muslim Leagues at Dhaka on 30th December 1906 came as an expression of that desire.
Following are the reasons for the establishment of Muslim league.
1. Indifferent Attitude of the Congress towards Muslims: All India National Congress was a pre-dominantly Hindu body. Its interests were always at odds ends to those of the Muslims. By 1906, Muslim leaders were convinced that they must have their own party which may speak for the community on all important occasions.
2. Educational and Economic Backwardness: Muslims had lagged far behind from the Hindus in education and economic progress. Educational and economic conditions could only be up graded by establishing a separate Muslims organization that could represent the wishes of the Muslims.
3. Urdu-Hindi Controversy: The Urdu-Hindu controversy began with the demand of Hindus to replace Urdu by Hindi as official language in Deva Nagari Script. Sir Anthony Macdonal, the then Governor of UP ousted Urdu from public offices. Congress clearly sided with Hindi and supported the movement against Urdu and there was no other political party to support Urdu. Thus, the need of formation of a Muslim political party was felt severely.
4. The Evolution of Minto Marley Reforms: the turning point came in the summer of 1906 during John Morley’s budget speech, in which he hinted of constitutional reforms. At that time Muslims did not have a political platform to demand their share. It was reasserted that they wanted a separate political platform.
5. The Success of Simla Deputation: Minto offered fullest sympathy to the Muslim demands. The success of Deputation compelled the Muslims to have a separate political association of their own.
6. To Save Muslim Entity: The belief uttered by sir Syed Ahmed Khan that the Muslims were somehow a separate entity. The Muslims did not believe that Hindus and Muslims formed one nation. They were different by religion, history, languages and civilization. It became essential for Muslims to establish a political party of their own.
A resolution to form the All India Muslim League was passed by Nawab Salimullah Khan and was seconded by Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Moulana Zafar Ali. The resolution was passed by All India Educational Conference on 30th December 1906. A committee was formed to prepare its draft constitution. Sir Agha Khan was appointed as President and Syed Hassan Balgrami was appointed as secretary, while Nawab Mohsim-ul-Mulk and Nawab Viqar-ul-Mulk were made joint secretaries with six Vice- Presidents, a Central Committee with forty Members was also constituted. In this way Muslim league was established and become the sole representative of Muslims.
Knowing the circumstances which led to the formation of Muslim league was not difficult to make out what it aimed to. However, the Muslim league laid the following points as its objectives.
1. To create among Muslims the feelings of loyalty towards British Government and to remove misconception and suspicious.
2. To Safeguard the political rights of the Muslims and to bring them into the notice of the Government.
3. To prevent among the Muslims, the rise of prejudicial feelings against the other communities of India.
The first session of all India Muslim leagues was held at Karachi on 29th December, 1907 and was presided over by Adamji Peer Bhai.
It was being felt from the beginning that the All India Muslim League would not achieve considerable success without winning the British Public opinion to its side. Therefore, Syed Ameer Ali organized the branch of Muslim league at London. The inaugural meeting was held on 6th May 1908, at London Caxton Hall. It was participated by the Muslim and those British people who favoured their view point.
There come into being a political body which was to play a decisive role in the destiny of the Muslim peoples of the Indian sub-continent. The day the Muslim delegation won recognition of the demand of separate electorate, the course of the Muslim freedom struggle was charted.
It was the beginning of the growth of Muslim national consciousness. It farmed visible institutional expression in the form of Muslim League which after a forty (40) years struggle was to achieve for the Muslims the culmination of their national aspiration, Muslim League became a mass movement of the Muslims and succeeded in achieving Pakistan in 1974. Actually the new breed of leadership like Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was instrumental in its metamorphosis.
After the acceptance of the demand of separate representation in the Minto Morely reforms, it was common sense to have political party to fight elections for Muslim representation. Whatever may have been the effects of Muslim league, but it made clear that the interests of Muslims must be regarded completely separate from those of the Hindus. Any fusion of both the communities in future was not possible. It steered the ship of Muslim destiny safely through of Political chaos and turmoil to the safer harbour of Pakistan.
NPT Chairman Rafique Tarar observed on Friday that Nawab Sir Saleemullah Khan was deeply concerned with the miserable plight of the Indian Muslims being persecuted by the Hindus and the British.
Delivering his presidential address at the Aiwan-i-Karkunan-i-Tehreek-i-Pakistan, Tarar said following its glorious tradition of keeping the services of our national heroes alive in the minds of the youth. The Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust in collaboration with the Pakistan-Bangladesh Brotherhood Society organized a special sitting on the death centenary of Nawab Sir Saleemullah Khan. The speakers included Dr Rafique Ahmad, CPNE president Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, Trust chief coordinator Mian Farooque Altaf and Trust secretary Shahid Rasheed who also conducted the proceedings of the event.
The NPT chairman said that the Nawab was anxious to restore them their lawful rights and interests. He toured across the East Bengal to bring about awakening among the common masses for their social, political and economic uplift, he added. He established the educational system on the modern lines and played a key role in founding the Dhaka University which was termed the Oxford University of the East, he maintained.
Along with some other committed young men, he founded the Muslim League in 1906. Maulvi AK Fazal-ul-Haque was his successor who had the honour of presenting the Lahore Resolution at the epoch-making Muslim League session at the Minto Park on March 23, 1940.
A similar ceremony, Muhammad Rafique Tarar remarked, was being held at Dhaka as well as Karachi. The Pakistan-Bangladesh Brotherhood Society, Bangladesh chapter, would be instrumental in bringing the two fraternal countries together, he hoped.
Professor Dr Rafique Ahmad observed that Nawab Khan rendered brilliant services for the Indian Muslims in his brief life. His speeches reflect his anxiety and deep concern about the Muslims. He had a role in the partition of Bengal which brought the Muslim prosperity and relief.
Mujeebur Rehman Shami observed that, in order to bring the people of the two countries together, we must equip some of our personages with the knowledge of the Bengali language, so that they could communicate with our Bengali brethren easily and comfortably.
Mian Farooq Altaf observed that Nawab’s glorious services in his brief life, in fact, encompass centuries. The sacrifices offered by our national heroes have lightened our unbearable burden of subjugation and enabled us to enjoy the blessings of freedom, he added.
Nawab focused on the Muslims’ education knowing full well that it was the education, knowledge and science that could ameliorate a nation’s lot in the present and safeguard and secure its future.
The Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust, he said, observes the days of all our heroes most solemnly and enthusiastically from the Eastern as well as Western wings.