Inayat Ullah Khan Mashriqi(1888-1964)

The founder of Khaksar Movement Inayatullah Khan Mashriqi was born at Amristar in 1888 and was educated at F.C. College, Lahore. He got 1st position in Mathematics at Cambridge University in 1909. He was the first Vice Principal of Islamia College, Lahore, in 1913. Besides, he worked on different posts and founded Khaksar Movement in 1931. It was a semi-social and some what a military type organization which was banned in 1940 by the Punjab Government. He was a good writer, philosopher and historian. He wrote Tadzkara Khairet; Isharat; Qaul-i-Faisal and Maulvi Ka Ghalat Mazhab. He died in 1964 and was laid to rest in Idara Alvia, Ichhra, Lahore.

Khawaja Shahabuddin (1898-1977)

He was born on May 31,1898 at Dacca. He hailed from a distinguished family of Bengal. He was the younger brother of Khawaja Nazimuddin. He had a distinguished career to his credit. He started his political life as Municipal Commissioner, Dacca in 1918 and was elected Vice-Chairman, subsequently Chairman of Dacca Municipal Committee in the late twenties. He served as Honorary Treasurer of the Dacca University for seven years and acted as Vice-Chancellor of the University for a short period. He acted as a member of the Bengal Governor’s Executive Council in 1936 and was Chief Whip of the first Muslim Ministry in Bengal 1937 to 1940. He was Minister of Commerce, Labour and Industries between 1943-1945, in the undivided Bengal. On the establishment of Pakistan, his first assignment was Chief Government Whip of the Pakistan Parliament. Later, in May 1948, he was appointed Minister of Interior, Information and Broadcasting in the Government of Pakistan. He was appointed Governor of N.W.F.P. in November 1951. He worked as Ambassador in Saudi Arabia and Egypt between 1959-1961. Thereafter, he performed in the same capacity in different Muslim countries. Between 1965-1969 he was again appointed Minister of Information. He died on February 9, 1977 at Karachi.

Zahir-ul-Hasan Lari (Z. H. Lari)

He was born at Lar, District Gorakhpur in U.P. He graduated from Aligarh University with First Class First position and stood First in M.A. History also. He did his LL.B from Aligarh University in1930 and was enrolled as an Advocate High Court in 1948. He was elected Member of U.P. Legislative Assembly in 1936. He became Deputy Leader of the Muslim League Party in the Assembly in 1937. He was re-elected to U.P. Assembly in 1948 and became Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 1946-48. He remained leader of the Opposition until July 1948. He migrated to Pakistan in May 1950, and was appointed additional judge of Sind Chief Court till December 1952. However, he resigned from this post and joined Karachi Bar.

Sir Abdullah Haroon

AMONG the All India Muslim League’s second cadre leadership, Abdullah Haroon, though actively associated with the AIML for only five years (1937-42), stands high in its echelons. What sets him apart is his pioneering role in conceptualising Pakistan as it came to be embodied in the Lahore Resolution (1940).

To quote Reginald Coupland who did a three-part “Report on the Constitutional Problem in India”, Abdullah Haroon was “the only Muslim politician of any standing who had so far (until early 1939) taken a public part in the constitutional discussion” on the Pakistan proposal. Thus, though Haroon did not live long enough to see his dream materialise, he is reckoned among the founding fathers of Pakistan.

By late 1938, when he launched a campaign to popularise the Pakistan idea, Abdullah Haroon had been in politics and public life for some 25 years. He had entered public life in 1913, if only because of his penchant to awaken the downtrodden and work for their emancipation.

Politics to Haroon, as to Jinnah, was a means of serving the community and country, and not one for amassing wealth. Like Jinnah, he had built for himself and his family a solid financial base before he took up politics. Like Jinnah, he financed his political activities out of his own funds and contributed generously to meet in part the running of the party he was involved with.

Thus, in one of his last letters, sent posthumously, he told Shaikh Abdul Majid, “...you know very well that I have no more funds left and the Working Committee of the (Muslim League) Assembly Party, except for a very few, none have yet sent in their help, though they had promised to do so...I have been financing all the expenses of the Muslim League Branch here.”

Abdullah Haroon also helped build institutions in education, health and social welfare in terms of their requirements. He gave huge sums to finance many social causes throughout his public life. His philanthropy knew no bounds when it came to alleviating the suffering of the poor, the orphans and the needy. Thus, he set up and organised the Karachi Club (1907) Jamia Islamia Yatim Khana (1923), Karachi Muslim Gymkhana (1927), Hajiani Hanifabai Memon Girls School, Sind Muslim League Employees Bureau (1939), Wakf alal-Aulad Trust (1940), Sukkur Relief Fund (circa 1930s), the Bhuj famine fund, and scores of other charities and organisations.

Cosmopolitan in his outlook, he reached out beyond the parameters of Sindh to help sustain worthy causes. His philanthropy knew no geographical boundaries and extended to the entire subcontinent and the Middle East. He contributed Rs 19,000 to the Muslim University, Aligarh; Rs 5,000 each to Lady Dufferin Hospital Children’s Ward and the Muslim Ladies Hall in Delhi; Rs 10,000 to Maulana Mohammad Ali’s Hamdard; Rs 50,000 to the Angora Fund; and Rs 15,000 to the Smyrna Fund. (The last two donations were meant to help rehabilitate the sufferers of the Turkish liberation war).

His philanthropy continued until his last breath. From July 1941 to late April 1942 — that is, during the last 10 months of his life — he had given away a princely sum of Rs 88,961 to charities, which would be equivalent to about Rs 10 million today.

Simultaneously, he also built several institutions — for the welfare of the poor and the needy. These include the Jamia Islamia Yateem Khana (1923), the Cutchi Memon Madressa-i-Binat for Girls (the present Hajiyani Hanifabai Girls High School, Karachi), and the Muslim Gymkhana and playground. Additionally, he also built and contributed towards the maintenance of numerous mosques at various places in Karachi and in the rest of Sindh.

Thus, he was a role model in advancing social causes materially and helping the indigent, the orphan and the disadvantaged to become educated and acquire skills.

Haroon’s politics were ancillary to his campaign for human resource development. Once he had established himself in business by the late 1890s, he became increasingly involved with civic activities in Karachi. He was subsequently elected to the Karachi Municipal Committee in 1913. Later, he also became chairman of the Karachi Port Haj Committee twice (1933, 1939), and of the Karachi Club (1928), while also, being the founder-president of the Karachi Muslim Gymkhana.

By 1917, when both the pan-Islamic movement and the demand for home rule had gathered momentum, he decided to participate in national politics. Except for Ghulam Mohammad Bhurgri, he was among the foremost Muslim leaders of Sindh whose activities had a significant impact on mainstream Indian politics. He was active, at one time or another in major political organisations — the Indian National Congress (1917.), the All India Khilafat Committee (1919-29), Sindh Provincial Political Conference (1920-30s), the All Parties Conference (1928), the All Parties Muslim Conference (1930-34), the Azad Sindh Conference (1930), and the Muslim League (1937).

A strenuous advocate and campaigner for the separation of Sindh from the Bombay Presidency, he continuously lobbied for it, proposing resolutions at all-India moots, from 1925 onwards. He repeatedly urged the Aga Khan who led the Muslim delegation to the Round Table Conference (1930-32) and Jinnah to get the Sindh separation issue settled favourably during the London confabulations. Along with Muhammad Ayub Khuhro and Miran Muhammad Shah, Haroon also played a leading role in getting Sindh to acquire an autonomous provincial status in the Act of 1935.

This was one of Haroon’s great political accomplishments. Yet it would be overshadowed by his pioneering role in canalising the course of mainstream Muslim politics late in the 1930s. His electoral defeat early in 1937 led him to wind up the Sind United Party which he had set up along with Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto in 1936 to fight the provincial elections. While Bhutto opted for a government job and a safe sanctuary in Bombay, Haroon chose to face the music. One again, he decided to enter all-India politics — a decision at once momentous and fateful.

He felt that the future of Muslim Sindh could not possibly be ensured without an organic linkage with mainstream subcontinental Muslim politics which was then encompassed by the All India Muslim League. Hence, for now, he joined the Muslim League, and organised it laboriously, step-by-step, at various levels in the province to a point that he, in concert with Shaikh Abdul Majid and Pir Ali Muhammad Rashidi, was able to organise the first Sind Provincial Muslim League Conference in Karachi, on October 8-10, 1938, a conference, which would acquire a landmark status in the annals of the AIML.

In terms of the themes discussed and the standing of the participants, it was an all-India moot, except for its nomenclature. Presided over by Jinnah, a galaxy of Muslim leaders from Punjab to Hyderabad (Deccan), from Bombay to Bengal participated. Here, Haroon who was chairman of the reception committee, called the shots. His welcome address, which set the tone for the conference, was uncharacteristically radical: it commended an ideological goal. Unless adequate safeguards and protection for the minorities were duly provided, declared Haroon, the Muslims would have no alternative but “to seek their salvation in their own way in an independent federation of Muslim states.”

He drew a parallel with Czechoslovakia which had been partitioned to provide safeguards to the Sudeten Germans, and warned, almost prophetically, that the same might happen in India should the majority community persist in its “present course”. He said, “We have nearly arrived at the parting of ways and until and unless this problem is solved to the satisfaction of all, it will be impossible to save India from being divided into Hindu India and Muslim India, both placed under a separate federation.” No one had spoken from the League’s platform in such a strain before.

Interestingly, the parallel between Indian Muslims and the Sudeten Germans was picked up by Jinnah in his presidential address, indicating that Haroon’s originality and analytical approach had obliged him to think on the same wave length and that he too was, willy nilly, edging towards partition.

The main resolution at the conference was cast in Haroon’s mould in a more pronounced way. Though diluted in the subjects committee deliberations at the insistence of Jinnah himself who was characteristically not too keen to show his hand prematurely before the Muslims were fully organised and public opinion galvanised behind the ideological goal, the resolution retained enough of its clout to become a trendsetter to warrant attention.

Briefly stated, the resolution argued the case of separate Muslim nationhood in India not merely in terms of transient factors such as “the caste-ridden mentality and anti-Muslim policy of the majority community” but, more importantly, in terms of durable factors such as “the acute differences of religion, language, script, culture, social laws and outlook on life of the two major communities and even of race in certain parts.” Thus, the concept of separate Muslim nationhood was spelt out not merely in political and immediate terms, but on an intellectual plane, laying down in categorical terms the ideological basics and basis of that nationhood.

Equally significant, this was also the first time that Hindus and Muslims were not officially pronounced by the Muslim League as two distinct nations. As a corollary to this pronouncement, the resolution, in its operative part, said inter alia, “This Conference considers it absolutely essential in the interests of an abiding peace of the vast Indian continent and in the interests of unhampered cultural development, the economic and social betterment, and the political self-determination of the two nations known as Hindus and Muslims, to recommend to the All-India Muslim League to review and revise the entire question of what should be the suitable constitution for India which will secure honourable and legitimate status due to them, and that this Conference recommends to the All-India Muslim League to devise a scheme of Constitution under which Muslims may attain full independence.”

In perspective, the resolution sought to break new ground. Indeed, it represented the penultimate step to, and prepared the ground for, the adoption of the Lahore Resolution at the Muslim League session in March 1940. And herein lies the significance of Haji Abdullah Haroon as a trendsetter in modern Muslim India’s politics, and as a “shaper” of history in a larger sense.

The writer is founder-director of the Quaid-i-Azam Academy