H.H. Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad, Raja Mahmudabad
By Afzal Usmani
Father’s Name: Amirud-Daulah Raja Amir Hasan Khan
Grandfather: Raja Nawab Ali Khan (Fought in the first war of independence in 1857).
Date of birth: June 4th, 1878, Mahmudabad, Sitapur (UP)-India
Died: March 23, 1931
Children: 2 daughters, 2 sons. Elder son Raja Amir Ahmad Khan became Raja Mahmudabad after the death of his father Sir Muhammad Ali Mohammad Khan.
Raja Mahmudabad – 28th June 1903 to December, 1931.
Trustee MAO College: 1906-1920
Member: UP legislative Council 1904-1909
Member: Council of Governor General of India 1907-1920
Founder: Lucknow University (UP): 1920
Home Minister: 1920-26 First Indian Member of The Administrative Council of
Sir Spencer Harcourt Butler, Governor of United Province.
President: Sessions of the All India Muslim League in 1917, 1918 and 1928.
Member Council of State: 1927, Elected unopposed as Member of Council of States.
Host: Muslim Educational Conference: 1904 Lucknow
President: Muslim Educational Conference: 1909 Rangoon
Founding Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University:17th December 1920 to 28th February, 1923.
His Highness, Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan of Mahmudabad, popularly known as Raja Mahmudabad was born on 4th June, 1878 in the royal estate of Mahmudabad, in Sitapur (United Province) India. After completing his primary education of Arabic, Persian and Urdu in Mahmudabad, he joined English School for modern education. His father, Amirud-Daulah Raja Amir Hasan Khan died on 28th June, 1903 and the young Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan became the Raja of Mahmudabad. The official coronation was held on 1st January 1905 in the presence of Governor of United Provence. The estate of Mahmudabad had its rule over a large part of Barabanki, Sitapur, Balrampur and Nanparah. Raja Mahmudabad was very humble, kind, generous and nationalist person. His hospitality was known in the nation. He was a poet and extensively wrote “Marsia” with pen name of “Mohib”. He spent his life and wealth for community and nation building. On 1st January, 1920, Montego-Chelmsford Report recommendations were implemented and a friend of Raja Mahmudabad, Sir Spencer Harcourt Butler was appointed as Governor of UP. Sir Harcourt Butler appointed Raja Mahmudabad as Home Minister in his Administrative Council. Raja sahib was first Indian to be a member of Sir Butler’s administrative council. He served in the council till 1926. He played a key role in Indian freedom struggle. When Indian national Congress leaders, including Motilal Nehru was jailed in Lucknow, Raja sahib helped in their release. He played a key role to make Lucknow as the capital of UP and foundation of Lucknow University. He became Trustee of MAO College in 1906. He was also actively involved in the campaign for a Muslim University. On 17th December, when M.A.O. College became Aligarh Muslim University, Raja Mahmudabad was appointed as its founding Vice-Chancellor. For his passion for the community services, he was honored with K.C.S.I. and became Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan Bahadur.
Raja Mahmudabad died on March 23rd, 1931. His eldest son, Raja Amir Ahmed Khan, who was born on November 5, 1914, took over the rein of Mahmudabad at a very young age. Raja Amir Ahmed Khan also became popular as 'Raja Sahib of Mahmudabad', was a gifted disciple and trusted associate of Quaid- e-Azam at a very early age.
Founder of Lucknow University
The idea of starting a University at Lucknow was first mooted by Raja Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan, Khan Bahadur, K.C.I.E. of Mahmudabad, who contributed an article to the columns of "The Pioneer'' urging the foundation of a University at Lucknow. A little later Sir Harcourt Butler, K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E, was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces, and his well-known interest in all matters under his jurisdiction, specially in matters educational, gave fresh life and vigour to the proposal. The first step to bring the University into being was taken when a General Committee of educationists and persons interested in university education appointed for the purpose, met in conference at Government House, Lucknow, on November, 10, 1919. At this meeting Sir Harcourt Butler, who was in the chair, outlined the proposed scheme for the new university. A discussion followed, and it was resolved that Lucknow University should be a Unitary, Teaching, and Residential University of the kind recommended by the Calcutta University Mission, 1919, and should consist of Faculties of Arts, including Oriental Studies, Science, Medicine, Law, etc. A number of other resolutions was also passed and six sub-committees were formed, five of them to consider questions connected with the University and one to consider the arrangements for providing Intermediate Education. These sub-committees met during the months of November and December, 1919, and January, 1920; and the reports of their meetings were laid before a second Conference of the General Committee at Lucknow on January 26, 1920; their proceedings were considered and discussed, and the reports of five of the sub-committees were, subject to certain amendments, confirmed. The question of incorporation of the Medical College in the University, however, was for the time being left open for expression of opinion. At the close of the Conference donations of one lakh each from the Raja of Mahmudabad and Jahangirabad were announced.
The resolutions of the first Conference together with the recommendations of the sub-committees as confirmed at the second Conference were laid before a meeting of the Allahabad University on March 12, 1920, and it was decided to appoint a sub-committee to consider them and report to the Senate. The report of the sub-committee was considered at an extraordinary meeting of the Senate on August 7, 1920, at which the Chancellor presided, and the scheme was generally approved. In the meantime the difficulty of The Court of the University was constituted in March, 1921, and the first meeting of the Court was held on March 21, 1921, at which the Chancellor presided. The other University authorities such as the Executive Council, the Academic Council, and Faculties came into existence in August and September, 1921. Other Committees and Boards, both statutory and otherwise, were constituted in course of time. On July 17, 1921, the University undertook teaching -- both formal and informal. Teaching in the Faculties of Arts, Science, Commerce, and Law were being done in the Canning College and teaching in the Faculty of Medicine in the King George's Medical College and Hospital. The Canning College was handed over to the University on July 1, 1922, although previous to this date the buildings, equipment, staff, etc., belonging to the Canning College had been ungrudgingly placed at the disposal of the University for the purposes of teaching and residence. The King George's Medical College and the King George's Hospital were transferred by the Government to the University on the March 1, 1921. The following three Colleges provided the nucleus for the establishment of the University:
The King George's Medical College. (Now Known as King George's Medical University)
The Canning College.
The Isabella Thoburn College.
This was a rich inheritance for the new-born University in 1920, both materially and intellectually, and it brought with it also the richest of all heritages "a fine tradition of some fifty-five years in the case of the Canning College and some nine years in the case of the King George's Medical College." To this the generous taluqdars of Oudh added an endowment of nearly thirty lakhs. The support from Sir Harcourt Butler's Government was strong and hearty. Since then the Government of the United Provinces has annually contributed a substantial share towards the maintenance of the University.
Association with Aligarh Movement
Raja Mahmudabad, H.H. Mohammad Ali Mohammad, Khan Bahadur, was always keen in helping the community and specially Muslims of India. He was a strong believer of Sir Syed’s vision and follower of Aligarh Movement. He was convinced that educational development of Muslims of India will lead to a strong community and nation. Due to his passion for educational upliftment of Indian Muslims, he fully financed the 1904 session of Muslim Educational conference held in Lucknow under the chairmanship of Nawab Mohsinul Mulk. He also donated fifty thousand rupees (Rs.50,000/-) for scientific educational development at Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College of Aligarh. In 1906, he was appointed as one of the trustee of MAO College Management Committee. In 1906, he joined a deputation which waited on Lord Minto, Governor General of India, under the leadership of H.H. Sir Agha Khan to demand for the religious and constitutional rights for Muslims of India. His strong commitment for the educational development of Indian Muslims led him to preside the 1909 session of Muslim Educational Conference in Rangoon at a very young age of 31 years. Raja sahib always supported the campaign for the Muslim University.
On December 17th, the Aligarh Muslim University came into being. According to the act (Section III) the first Chancellor, the first Pro-Chancellor and the first Vice-Chancellor were to be appointed by the Governor General of India. In an Annexure the act gave a list of 124 Foundation members of the First AMU Court. The Governor General of India, Lord Chelmsford appointed H.H. Mohammad Ali Mohammad, Raja Mahmudabad as its first Vice- Chancellor. Her Highness Sultan Jahan Begum of Bhopal and H.H. Sir Agha Khan were respectively appointed as Chancellor and Pro-Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University. The inaugural ceremony of University took place on the 17th December, 1920.
On 17th December, 1920 Raja Mahmudabad joined as Founding Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University and immediately gave a generous donation of One Lakh rupees to College fund. The first meeting of University Court was held on 21st march, 1921 under the leadership of Raja sahib and Nawab Syed Mohammad Ali, the Honorary Secretary of M.A.O. College, was elected Honorary Treasurer, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad, Principal of M.A.O. College, was made Pro-Vice Chancellor. Syed Sajjad Hyder, a member of the Court, was appointed Registrar and Mr. Abul Hasan, who had been Assistant Secretary of the College, was appointed Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor. As the University ordinances had not yet been framed, the Government of India invested the Vice-Chancellor with extraordinary powers to deal with all matters of detail. Vice-Chancellor, Raja Mahmudabad put extra efforts to give a shape to the newly established University. To avoid delay and dislocation, he appointed Nawab Syed Mohammad Ali as his delegate to finish the works which he was not able to complete as Honorary Secretary. In Raja sahib’s leadership during 1922-23 the Executive regulations were framed. On the recommendation of Calcutta University Commission, a separate Intermediate College was started comprising of class IX, X, XI and XII and Major E. W. Dann was appointed its Principal. Later Prof. Abdul Majeed Quraishi was appointed as its Principal and Major Dann was requested to establish department of Geography.
The period of Raja Mahmudabad as Vice-Chancellor was a tough time. Due to the Non-Cooperation Movement, the student strength fell to 512 from 838. Vigorous efforts had therefore to be made to retrieve the position of institution. Administrative reorganization, need for coordination and financial difficulties were major issues to be addressed immediately. Notwithstanding the financial and other limitations, Raja sahib thus visualized its development programme. “A Training College for teachers is a crying necessity. A Technological institution is no less urgently needed. Provision for the study of the sciences of medicine and surgery will have sooner or later to be made.” Raja sahib did some significant addition to the staff of the University. Dr. D.N. Mallick, professor of Presidency College Calcutta joined AMU as Professor of Physics and Chemistry. Mr. Mohammad Habib, who obtained Honors from the University of Oxford was appointed as professor of history. Mr. N.K. Mukerji was appointed principal of the Training College. Raja sahib’s generous contribution of one lakh rupees made possible to purchase 193 bighas of land for the expansion of University. During his tenure as VC, a lot of constructions were done e.g. Completion of Clock tower, Osmania Hostel, School Staff Quarters, Enclosure Wall round Minto Circle, Completion of the half western wing of Osmania Hostel and Intermediate College lecture Rooms.
The Vice-Chancellor, Raja Mahmudabad resigned with effect from March 1, 1923 due to pressure of his official duties as Home Minister in U.P. Government. Even after resigning from AMU as its Vice-Chancellor, his association with the University was never diminished. Aligarh Muslim University honored one of his great mentors by naming a hostel after him. Mahmudabad Hostel is part of Sir Shah Sulaiman Hall
* Picture is provided by the family of Raja Mahmudabad