War of Independence, which the British call “Mutiny”, started under the leadership of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal ruler.
September 19-20, 1857
British forces captured the Red Fort by entering through the Lahore Gate which was seized by Brig Jones. Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar escaped to tomb of Humayun along with his family.
September 22, 1857
Bahadur Shah Zafar was arrested by Captain William Hodson along with two queens, three sons, Jawan Bakht, Mirza Mughal, Khizr Sultan and grandson Abu Bakr. Two princes were shot dead by Captain William Hodson and their severed heads were brought before the King.
Bahadur Shah Zafar was tried by the Military Court. Finally, it was decided that the King along with his two wives Zeenat Mahal and Taj Mahal and his young son, Jawan Bakht be exiled to Rangoon (now Yangon).
November 7, 1862
Bahadur Shah Zafar died in Rangoon (Myanmar) and was buried there.
Prominent Hindus campaigned to replace the existing court language Urdu (Persian script) with Hindi (Devanagari script). Reacting to this Sir Syed Ahmed Khan met Mr. Shakespeare, Commissioner of Banaras, and said to him: “Now I am convinced that these two nations will not work united in any cause. At present, there is no open hostility between them. But, on account of the so-called educated people, it will increase a hundredfold in the future. He, who is alive at that time, will see it come to pass.”
April 29, 1870
Sir Syed wrote to Nawab Mohsinul Mulk: “This is a proposal which will make Hindu-Muslim unity impossible to achieve. Muslims will never agree to Hindi and if Hindus, also following the new move, insist on Hindi, they will also not agree to Urdu. The result will be that the Hindus and Muslims will be completely separated”.
December 26, 1870
On his return from England, Sir Syed started a Society for the Educational Progress of Indian Muslims at Banaras. This Society later became the basis on which the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh was founded.
May 25, 1875
Opening ceremony of Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was arranged by Sir Syed at Aligarh, but the classes started on June 1, 1875. This M.A.O. College was later raised to the status of a Muslim University in 1921.
January 12, 1883
As Member of the Imperial Legislative Council, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, speaking on the Local Self-Government Bill, said: “The system of representation by election means the representation of the views and interests of the majority of the population, and, in countries where the population is composed of one race and one creed, it is no doubt the best system that can be adopted. But, my Lord, in a country like India, where caste distinctions still flourish, where there is no fusion of the various races, where religious distinctions are still violent, where education in its modern sense has not made an equal or proportionate progress among all the sections of the population, I am convinced that the introduction of the principle of election, pure and simple, for representation of various interests on the local boards and the district councils, would be attended with evils of greater significance than purely economic considerations. So long as differences of race and creed, and the distinctions of caste form an important element in the sociopolitical life of India, and influence her inhabitants in matters connected with the administration and welfare of the country at large, the system of election, pure and simple, cannot be safely adopted. The larger community would totally override the interests of the smaller community, and the ignorant public would hold Government responsible for introducing measures which might make the differences of race and creed more violent than ever”.1
December 28, 1885
Indian National Congress (INC) was founded in December 1885. Sir Syed called upon the Muslims not to join this party because it was the representative body of Hindus, not of Muslims. As the Muslims form a separate nation, they will be required to form their own separate body. At that time there was not a sizeable educated class all over British India which could form a separate body of the Muslims. Therefore, in a number of speeches he called upon them to devote their efforts towards education.2 It was after his death in 1898 that his associates established a Muslim party.
In a forceful speech, Sir Syed said: “When our Hindu brethren or Bengali friends wish to make a move which involves a loss to us and humiliation to our nation we cannot remain friendly, and undoubtedly it is our duty to protect our nation from those attacks of the Hindus and Bengalis, which, we are sure, are going to harm our nation.”
October 27, 1888
Badruddin Tyabji, a Muslim leader from Bombay who had joined the INC, wrote a letter to A. O. Hume, Secretary-General of the Congress, in which he informed him: “An overwhelming majority of Mohammedans is against the movement (Indian National Congress). Against this array it is useless saying that the intelligent and educated Mohammedans are in favour of the Congress… I observe increasing bitterness between Hindus and Mussalmans”. He also explained that well known Muslims such as Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Syed Amir Ali and Abdul Latif were against the Congress.
In a speech at Meerut, Sir Syed said: “The proposals of the Congress are extremely inexpedient for the country which is inhabited by two different nations…. Now, suppose that all the English were to leave India…. then who would be the rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations – the Mohammedans and the Hindus – could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable.”
March 27, 1898
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan passed away.
October 16, 1905
Partition of Bengal. The British decided to redraw boundaries, the provinces of Bengal and Assam were re-constituted to form two provinces – Western Bengal, and Eastern Bengal and Assam – because of administrative problems as Bengal was too big a province for one governor to administer. Incidentally Western Bengal became the Hindu majority province, and the Eastern Bengal and Assam became a Muslim majority province. The Hindus started the Swadeshi Movement against this partition, especially against the new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam because it became another Muslim majority province. This factor aroused the Muslims all over British India and made them conscious enough to start their own separate political party which was established in the next year. Ultimately, the British Government bowed down before the Swadeshi Movement and reunited both provinces by ending the partition in 1911.
October 1, 1906
Simla Deputation. A delegation of 35 prominent Muslim leaders from all over the subcontinent headed by Sir Aga Khan III met the Viceroy Lord Minto at Simla and presented the Muslim demands that the Muslims were a distinct community with additional interests of their own, which were not shared by other communities. They had hitherto suffered from the fact they had not been adequately represented. In reply, Lord Minto assured the Muslims that their political rights and interests as a community would be safeguarded in the coming electoral representation.
December 27, 1906
Jinnah, who was already a member of the INC since 1906, attended the 22nd Congress session at Calcutta as a delegate from Bombay Province. But the fact remains that despite being member of the Congress he advocated the Muslim cause at the Congress sessions. At this session, Jinnah pleaded that: i) Muslims should be given equal status along with the Hindus in the National Congress; ii) The Muslim community should be treated in the same way as the Hindu community; and, iii) The Congress should work for the restoration of Muslim wakf-alal-aulad (Muslim wakf rights) issue for which a resolution was passed.
December 30, 1906
All India Muslim League (AIML) was founded at Dacca (now Dhaka) to protect and advance the political rights and interests of the Mussalmans of India, and to respectfully represent their needs and aspirations to the Government. This was done by a resolution moved by Nawab Salimullah Khan Bahadur of Dacca. By another resolution moved by Nabiullah, various provincial committees were formed to have this body established in all provinces of the Indian Subcontinent. Another resolution moved by Nabiullah, various provincial committees to have this body established in all the provinces of the Indian Subcontinent. Nawab Salimullah Khan Bahadur of Dacca in his address after moving the resolution said that the AIML is going to be the representative voice of all the Muslims of British India. Therefore, “formation of a separate organization of the Mussalmans is necessary” as it will represent “the views of the Mussalmans of India”.
February 20, 1909
In a letter to the Times of India (Bombay), Jinnah supported the Muslim cause that in the new reforms the Muslims should be given the right of separate representation based on separate electorates at the central and provincial legislative assemblies.
August 2, 1909
Jinnah moved a resolution at a meeting of the Anjuman-i-Islam, Bombay by which he demanded from the Government to form separate Mussalman electorates in consultation with Mussalman leaders.
January 4, 1910
Muslim members of the Bombay Legislative Council elected Jinnah by a majority vote as member of the Imperial Legislative Council for a term of three years.
Though not member of the Muslim League, Jinnah attended a meeting of the Council of AIML on invitation.
December 31, 1912
On a special invitation, Jinnah attended the meeting of AIML Council at Bankipur which was presided over by Sir Aga Khan. On Jinnah’s motion, a resolution was passed by this Council by which it was demanded that the goal of AIML should be to get system of self-government suitable to India, and not on the colonial model as demanded by the INC.
March 5, 1913
On a motion by Jinnah, the Imperial Legislative Council passed the Mussalaman Wakf Validating Bill after discussion for two years. This was the first bill moved by a private member of the Imperial Council. This was accomplishment of a great demand of the Muslims since the time of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who had advocated this issue before the British Government many times.
october 10, 1913
Jinnah formally joined the AIML by signing the proforma of party membership on which Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Syed Wazir Hasan also testified.
December 20, 1913
Jinnah presided over the meeting of Anjuman-i-Islam, Bombay to welcome Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Syed Wazir Hasan on their return from England where they had gone to plead the cause the Cawnpore Mosque issue.
December 26-28, 1913
At the INC’s session in Karachi, Jinnah got the Congress to agree to the Muslim League’s demand for the grant of self-government as suitable to India.
July 28, 1914
First World War started in Europe in which the whole world was engulfed. The British, as leader of the Allied Forces, fully participated in the War against opposing Central Powers led by Germany. The problem for the Indian Muslims was that Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers. In this way British Government saw it as their enemy. As a fear from the Indian Muslims, the Indian British Government secretly contacted some Muslim leaders so that the annual session of AIML could not be held in December 1914. This was on the plea that the holding of AIML session would tantamount to as being against the interests of the British Government. Jinnah thought that the Indian Muslims were being led on the wrong path through some “wire-pullers”. But the problem was that at that time Jinnah had not become a member of the AIML Council. It was in February 1915 that Jinnah was elected as member of the AIML Council.
April 12, 1915
Jinnah, on becoming member of the AIML Council, contacted a number of Muslim leaders. By April 12, 1915 he was able to get signatures of twenty-eight Muslim leaders on a requisition for holding the AIML session in Bombay.
April 26, 1915
Jinnah sent requisition to Syed Wazir Hasan, Secretary of the AIML, requesting for the session of the AIML to be held in Bombay. This requisition was signed by thirty-three Muslim leaders.
June 6, 1915
Meeting of the AIML Council was held in Bombay for the purpose of making a decision for holding AIML session in Bombay. A decision could not be taken because of opposition of Suleman Cassim Haji Mitha and Moulvi Rafiuddin Ahmad, President and Vice-President of the Bombay Muslim League. As a result of this, a controversy started in the columns of Bombay newspapers in which Jinnah group and the Mitha group wrote against each other.
November 10, 1915
Meeting of the AIML Council held in Lucknow decided to hold the next session of the AIML in Bombay on invitation from the Jinnah group of Muslim leaders. Mitha group was defeated and the decision of the Council was taken by 49 to 13 votes. Thus, Jinnah prevailed over the deliberations of the Muslim League.
November 11, 1915
Jinnah published an appeal to the Muslim leaders in the newspapers of Bombay in which he called upon all of them to sink their differences and close their ranks so that it could be proved that “we are fit for the real political franchise, freedom and self-government”. Concluding his appeal, he said: “In conclusion, I urge all the Mohammedans to rally round the flag of the All India Muslim League and, as true patriots, stand by its constitution and thus make the community feel proud of the only political organization it possesses at present”.
December 9, 1915
On the desire of the Mitha group, a delegation of the Bombay Muslim League leaders – led by Jinnah – met Lord Willingdon, Governor of Bombay at the Governor House in which Sir Ali Imam, the Law Member of Viceroy’s Executive Council, Jinnah, Faiz Tyabji, Fazalbhoy Currimbhoy, Muhammad Hakim Abdullah Shah, Sharif Devji Kanji, Sulleman Abdul Wahid, Suleman Cassim Mitha and Rafiuddin participated. All concerns of the Government with respect to the holding of AIML session in Bombay were removed. The Government also agreed that it will not oppose the holding of the session.
December 30-31, 1915 to January 1, 1916
Three-day session of the AIML was held in Bombay presided over by Mazharul Haq, a friend of Jinnah. When there was some disturbance on December 31, Jinnah was asked to control the session. Jinnah did so and the third day’s proceedings were held at Taj Mahal Hotel, Bombay. The successful holding of the session proved Jinnah’s dominance over the League’s proceedings. Towards the end of session, the President thus thanked Jinnah: “Mr. Jinnah, we the Mussalmans of India thank you” – a remark acclaimed by “loud” and “continued” cheers by the audience. At this session, Jinnah succeeded in appointing a committee of the Muslim League members to negotiate with the Congress committee members for finalization of a joint scheme of reforms. This committee was to negotiate with the committee appointed by the Congress – formed as a result of a motion by Banerjea, also a friend of Jinnah – for developing joint scheme of reforms on December 27, 1915. It was Jinnah’s personality which made the Muslims, Hindus, and Parsis work together and successfully hold the League and the Congress sessions at the same time in Bombay. This showed Jinnah’s popularity and people’s faith in his ideals.3
(To be continued)
The writer is Ex-Director, National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, and Professor at Quaid-i-Azam Chair (NIPS), Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected]
1 Kareem, Fazale. (2003). Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: Reformer and First Protagonist of Muslim Nationalism. Islamabad: National Book Council of Pakistan. P. 235-236.
2 Ibid., P. 240-256.
3 Ahmad, Riaz. (1988). Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: The Formative Years 1892-1920. Islamabad: Quaid-i-Azam University. P. 130-131.
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