Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Founders of Jamia Millia Islamia

Hakim Ajmal Khan: Founder and First Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia

Hakim Ajmal Khan treated Jamia Millia like his child and was always concerned about it

Monday October 26, 2020 12:01 PM, Manzar Imam, ummid.com

Jamia Founders

[Founders of Jamia hoarding by AAJMI (Photo: Manzar Imam)]

Eight months following a conference of the Non-Cooperation Movement held in Calcutta in February 1920, in a conference of the Congress Committee Mahatma Gandhi declared his support for the Khilafat Movement under whose leadership the Non-Cooperation Movement took off. Among the salient points of the Movement were:

Return of the titles

Resignation from membership of education councils

Resignation from the British government jobs

Rejection of financial support from the government

Boycott of foreign goods and government’s products, and

Promotion of Hindu-Muslim unity

During those days, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmud Hasan issued religious rulings substantiated with the Qur’an and Hadith in support of the Movement whose echoes were heard even in Aligarh where the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College functioned with the financial support of the British government. Some of the College alumni, notably Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, appealed the College administration to stop taking government assistance keeping in view the larger interest of the nation. It was not accepted, as a result of which it was decided to establish an educational institution whose objective would be to fulfill the community’s academic needs. An 18-member Foundation Committee was formed which met on 29 October, 1920 and announced the establishment of Jamia Millia Islamia. On 22 November, 1920, Hakim Mohammad Ajmal Khan was elected its first Chancellor.

Also Read

The youngest son of Hakim Mahmood Khan, Ajmal Khan was born on Tuesday, 11 February 1868 corresponding to 17 Shawwal, 1284 Hijri. At a young age he memorized the Qur’an from Maulvi Dayim Ali. Then he studied philosophy, Arabic grammar and syntax and other subject books.

Khan studied Tibb (medicine) from senior members of the family like Hakim Mahmood Khan, Hakim Abdul Majeed Khan and Hakim Ghulam Raza Khan. At the age of 24 he was appointed to the post of Tabib (medical officer) in Rampur Province in 1892 where he stayed about 9 years till 1902. In Rampur, he gained expertise in Arabic from Tayyib Makki, a well-know Arab scholar and litterateur, who then lived there, as a result of which he spoke fluent Arabic and also wrote in it. The other advantage was access to the State’s library of which he was appointed a senior officer. Yet another advantage was forging of close contacts with a number of British officers, James Meston, Harcourt Butler, to name a few. Hakim Ajmal Khan represented the Nawab of Rampur during the coronation of George V in London. He used these contacts to the advantage of the nation and for its educational benefit. He was given the title of ‘Haziq-ul-Mulk’ (‘the skilled one of the kingdom’) on 1 January 1908 and was given Golden Medal of ‘Qaisar-e-Hind’ on 1 January 1915.

In 1983, when he was quite young he took increasing interest in the establishment of Madrasa Tibbia. On 15 April 1912, during the annual meeting of Anjuman Tibbia Delhi, Hakim Ajmal Khan proposed to upgrade the Tibbia madrasa to a Tibbia college and emphasised its need and significance. An outstanding physician that he was, Ajmal Khan wanted to bring the Tibb at par with modern trends.

Khaban e Ajmal

[The Administrative Block named after Hakim Ajmal Khan. (Photo: Manzar Imam)]

In 1921, he invited Mahatma Gandhi to inaugurate the college. Gandhi along with Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali attended a big conference and inaugurated the college on 13 February 1921. Hakim Ajmal Khan then took active part in national politics and commanded huge respect. Barbara Metcalf writes, “[H]e was the nearest the Muslims had to Gandhi in terms of breadth of political appeal.”

Tibb was his forte. He even developed and promoted the indigenous medicine system which is one of his rich legacies. But his personality was multidimensional. Hakim Ajmal Khan’s tireless services both in the field of education and in Tibb had earned him respect and reputation across religious, academic, institutional and political circles. It was his honesty and personal integrity that he was asked to preside over the proceedings of complete oppositional camps like the Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha. He also served as president of the Indian National Congress more than once.

A philanthropist, nationalist leader, freedom fighter, he was among the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia, at the same time, he was deeply attached to the Educational Movement of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. In 1982, when the seventh Mohammad Educational Conference was held in Delhi, he was appointed its secretary. Despite huge protest against Sir Syed and the Conference in Delhi, Hakim Abdul Majeed Khan and Hakim Ajmal Khan fully supported Sir Syed and the conference was successfully held. Later in 1900, he was appointed trustee of Aligarh College which brought him in direct contact with then all three secretaries of the MAO College. Other things happened whose details are skipped here. On 1 December 1920, the Muslim University Act came into effect which established the Aligarh Muslim University.

As mentioned earlier, one of the declarations of the call of Non-Cooperation was to boycott the British-supported education which would directly impact the education especially of Muslim students for which establishment of an educational institution was needed. It was this thought of free and independent education which made Hakim Ajmal Khan propose the idea of giving Jamia the shape and status of a regular educational institution. This idea became a central concern of his life. Besides his focus on Tibbia College, Jamia became another, rather the most memorable contribution of his life to the nation. And he remains a major inspiration behind the foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia. Metcalf writes that Hakim Ajmal Khan left behind him “two institutions of considerable promise: the Tibbia College and Jami’a Millia–one the child of his youth, the other of his old age.”

Hakim Ajmal Khan took the high responsibility to look after the financial needs of Jamia. He used his personal contacts to collect money for the institution and support it. He also took it up on himself to shift Jamia from Aligarh to Delhi. It was in April 1925 when Hakim Ajmal was on a tour to Europe that Dr Zakir Husain met him in Germany and showed his willingness to dedicate his life to the cause of Jamia; something about which Hakim Ajmal Khan wrote to Abdul Majeed Khwaja.

Both Gandhi and his close associate Hakim Ajmal Khan were great votaries of Hindu-Muslim unity. Hakim Sahab’s approach to the issue strengthened Gandhiji’s cause. A letter from Mahatma Gandhi dated March 12, 1922 commends him for his role towards Hindu-Muslim unity and the need for a united India to fight the British. Mentioning about his lifelong quest for plural nationalism, Hindu-Muslim unity and cooperation in general whose value he had learnt from his medical profession, Metcalf remarks that “At the height of the non-cooperation movement with all the hopes and anxieties that the attempt at Hindu–Muslim cooperation entailed, Hakim Ajmal Khan and his college represented a symbol of genuine open-mindedness and cooperation that Gandhi felt had to be recognized.”

After the shifting of Jamia to Delhi, Gandhi ji came to Jamia for the first time in November 1927 where he was warmly welcomed. Following the welcome address of Hakim Ajmal Khan and a citation of students, Gandhi ji delivered a very encouraging speech.

Centre for Physiotherapy  and Rehabilitation Sciences JMI

[Centre for Physiotherapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, Jamia Millia Islamia. (Photo: Manzar Imam)]

Ajmal Khan treated Jamia like his child and was always concerned about it. During those days Dr Zakir Husain was hard pressed for money whereas Hakim Ajmal Khan was like a crown prince of Delhi and was among the city’s major donors. But it was quite a task to meet him as he would be surrounded by his admirers and patients. However, he would call the Jamia members who would go to him with high hopes. On the other hand due to Non-Cooperation Movement and Hakim Sahab’s open support to it, many State stake-holders had started avoiding him. Nevertheless, Hakim Sahab continued to assist Jamia, part of whose expenses then would be met from his own pocket.

Hakim Sahab was so concerned about Jamia that “he cut part of the cost of his daughter’s marriage and also made the family of his son-in-law cut part of the expenses and gave the amount to Jamia.” There are other stories that show his deep love, sincerity and dedication for Jamia.

In the initial days, as also later, Jamia faced acute financial crisis. Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari and A.M. Khwaja, the other two important members of Jamia’s Founding Committee, toured India and abroad to collect funds to protect it from collapse. On the year of his demise, despite illness, Hakim Ajmal Khan toured Bihar and reached Patna on 10 February 1927. He delivered speeches in Patna, Bara, Bihar Sharif and Muzaffarpur and collected a modest amount for Jamia.

On 2 November, 1927 Hakim Ajmal Khan participated in the meeting of Jamia Millia for the last time. Gandhi ji was present there whom Ajmal Khan welcomed. In that memorable address Hakim Sahab said, “Although Jamia is a reminder of the Non-Cooperation Movement whose foundation was laid in Aligarh... While its purpose was to create educational facilities for those students who had left government institutions at the call of Gandhi ji, Jamia did not participate in politics. Rather, it provided education to children of the nation.”

Despite being a modernist, Hakim Ajmal Khan was inclined to Sufism especially after his first heart attack in 1905. He avoided making ritual practice the central part of life, but he was a pious man and ‘religious in a different way.’ Following a massive heart attack, he died on the night of 27-28 December 1927 in Rampur. His body was taken to Delhi where after ‘namaz-e-janazah’ he was buried at Dargah Hasan Rasool Numa compound in Panchkuian Road.

Expressing his deep sense of loss at his demise, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari stated, “Tibbia College and Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi will always be a reminder of his creative aspect…His last desire was that the financial foundations of Jamia Millia become stable.” Ghulam Haider writes that as a Chancellor Hakim Sahab did not act cosmetically but discharged his duties as a responsible worker till last.

As Jamia completes hundred years of its establishment, it is exciting to see how from a meager beginning, today, it stands among the most prestigious and pioneering academic institutions in the country. Its reach and global impact is the outcome of the honesty and sincerity of its founders like Hakim Ajmal Khan to whom it owes its debt of success and in whom it takes great pride.

[Sources used in preparation of this article: Hakim Ajmal Khan, a biography in Urdu by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman (2004, National Book Trust), Metcalf, Barbara D., “Nationalist Muslims in British India: The Case of Hakim Ajmal Khan”, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 19, No. 1, (1985), pp.1-28 (Cambridge University Press), Nuqoosh-e-Jamia (Jamia ki Kahani Jamia Walon ki Zabani) by Ghulam Haider (2012, Maktaba Jamia Limited in collaboration with NCPUL, New Delhi), JMI official press releases, twocirlces.net. The writer, Manzar Imam, is a Ph.D. Research Scholar at Jamia Millia Islamia’s MMAJ Academy of International Studies. The above article is ummid.com special series titled Founders of Jamia Millia Islami. Read the first part here.]


For all the latest News, Opinions and Views, download ummid.com App.

Select Language To Read in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi or Arabic.

Share this page

 Post Comments
Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com

Top Stories