10 December: Remembering Mohammad Ali Jauhar on his Birth Anniversary

OV Digital Desk
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Mohammad Ali Jauhar

Mohammad Ali Jauhar (10 December 1878 – 4 January 1931), was an Indian freedom fighter, journalist, educationist, and one of the founders of Jamia Millia Islamia.

Early Life and Career

Mohammad Ali Jauhar was born on 10 December 1878, in Rampur, British India. Jauhar attended Aligarh Muslim University and Allahabad University, then Lincoln College, Oxford, where he studied modern history.

He became the education director for the Rampur state after he got back to India, and he worked for almost a decade in the Baroda civil service. His writing and oratorical skills were remarkable. He wrote for major English and Indian newspapers, including The Times, The Observer, and The Manchester Guardian.

In 1911, he started the English weekly Comrade. It got a lot of circulation and influence. He moved to Delhi in 1912 and started the Urdu-language daily newspaper Hamdard in 1913. In 1902, he married Amjadi Bano Begum. During the Khilafat and national movements, Amjadi Begum was very active.

He helped expand Aligarh Muslim University, then known as Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, and co-founded Jamia Millia Islamia, which was later moved to Delhi.

In 1906, Jauhar attended the first meeting of the All-India Muslim League in Dhaka. He served as its president in 1918 and stayed in the League until 1928. He played an active role in the Khilafat movement.

Khilafat Movement

When he went to England in 1919, he represented the Muslim delegation trying to persuade the British government. Muslims in India protested and boycotted the government after the British rejected their demands.

In 1921, Ali formed a broad coalition with Muslim nationalists like Shaukat Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, and Indian nationalist leader Mahatma Gandhi, which enlisted the support of the Indian National Congress and a lot of Hindus in a demonstration of unity. A lot of protests and strikes took place all over India after he enthusiastically supported Gandhi’s call for a national civil resistance movement.

Due to the Chauri Chaura incident in 1922, Jauhar was disillusioned by the Khilafat movement’s failure and Gandhi suspending the non-cooperation movement. Three protesters were killed when police opened fire on a large crowd participating in Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement on 4 February 1922. Demonstrators attacked and burned a police station in retaliation, killing 22 cops. Due to this incident, the INC suspended the non-cooperation movement at the national level.

In 1923, he became the sixth Muslim president of the Indian National Congress. After Mohammed Ali was elected president of Congress, he legitimized his position in nationalist circles, but he left within months.

Nehru Report

He quit the Congress Party and started his own newspaper, Hamdard. He opposed the Nehru Report, a document by a panel of Hindu and Muslim members of the Congress Party headed by President Motilal Nehru. The report proposed constitutional reforms and independent nation status within the British Empire.

In the Nehru Report, Muhammad Ali opposed the ‘rejection’ of separate electorates for Muslims. He supported the Muslim League’s Fourteen Points. As a result, he became a critic of Gandhi, breaking with fellow Muslims like Abul Kalam Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan, and Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari.


He died of a stroke in London on 4 January 1931 and was buried in Jerusalem by the choice of his relatives, friends and admirers.

Read More: 4 January: Remembering R. D. Burman on his Punya Tithi

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