The Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy was established on November21, 1914, three days after the death of its founder Maulana Shibli Nomani. He was an erudite scholar and a versatile writer, the Maulana was quick to grasp the need for a modern institution for the study of and research in the various branches of Islamic learning and oriental languages. Both logic and history seemed to confirm his belief that in the absence of well-directed and concentrated research, culture and education tend to get stagnated. To re-orientate the basic concepts of medieval Islamic education and to interpret Islamic history and philosophy in modern terms could introduce an element of dynamism in the entire field of learning. With this end in view he made a two pronged attack on intellectual decadence.In the sphere of education, Shibli helped to found the NadwatuI Ulama, at Lucknow, a model institution for teaching of Arabic and Islamic studies, while in the field of research, he conceived of the plan of Darul Musannefin.An outline of the organisation was first published by Maulana Shibli in the Al-Hilal, the well-known weekly of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was so impressed by the plan that when Maulana Syed Suleman Nadvi later after his mentors death offered the fellowship of Darul Mussanefin to Maulana Azad, he wrote back to him that he would deem it an honour to serve the Academy even in the capacity of a coolie. Maulana Shibli had formulated an ambitious plan but all that he could achieve before his death, on November 18, 1914, was to create an endowment of his spacious garden, two kutchcha bungalows and about 300 books to form the nucleus of a library. He had, however, created a small group of co-workers and pupils who could carry the work further and had also compiled a few standard works to serve as pilot project.
A characteristic feature of the nineteenth and twentieth century India is the religio- intellectual awakening of the Indian Muslims. The seeds of renaissance had been sown in the preceding decades by Shah Waliullah (1703-1762) whose thought and actions profoundly influenced Muslim scholars and religious leaders of subsequent times. Faced by new challenges there emerged the need to study the causes of the political and religious decadence of the Muslims in the light of reason and contemporary socio-political order. This demanded a reexamination of the religious doctrines and practices professed by the Muslims, and a fresh introspection of their behaviour and attitude towards the existing situation. In consequence, a resilient and considerate approach was advocated by many Ulama in order to develop a homogenous and integrated Muslim society, which could dismantle the ill-motivated Western notion that the precepts of Islam were at fault.
Insignificant it may appear, yet it is to be seen that a few individuals during the early nineteenth century had started realizing the importance of understanding Western science and polity. The foremost name in this regard is that of Mirza Abu Talib Isfahani Landani (1752-1863). Having travelled to England and other European countries, he was impressed by the British Parliament and the liberal character of the English Constitution. He was of the opinion that Muslims must embrace those Western values, which are healthy and morally sound. Another significant name is of Shamsul Umarah (1783-1863). He founded Madarsa Fakhria in Hyderabad where attention was paid not only to the learning of theology but also to natural sciences. In order to promote Western Learning and Science he set-up a printing press and a translation bureau. About this time some British sponsored institutions such as Fort St George College (Madras), Fort William College (Calcutta), and Dehli College (Delhi) also exercised considerable influence in fostering an atmosphere of new learning and provided a platform for cultural and ideological exchange of Oriental and Occidental thought. Some of the pioneers of Muslim renaissance received intellectual nourishment from these colleges.
Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) and Abdul Latif Khan (1828-1893) further carried the mission forward. The new aspiration manifested itself in the opening of scientific societies and educational institutions in various parts of the country. In the succeeding years the companions and associates of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan such as Altaf Husain Hali, Abdul Halim Sharar, Munshi Zakaullah and Muhammad Shibli Nomani became the torch -bearers of a new era. The last of these was, perhaps, the most outstanding. At Aligarh his youthful imagination was fired by the educational zeal of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Teeming with new ideas and treading on the footsteps of his intellectual mentor, he laid the foundation of a school in his home city, Azamgarh, in 1883. This school has now grown up into a magnificent college. Writing, lecturing and travelling was his passion. But nothing satisfied his unsatiated soul. Being dissatisfied with certain developments at Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College, Aligarh, during the later part of his life, he started paying more attention to the establishment and progress of Nadwatul Ulama(literally meaning association of scholars), Lucknow, where he thought he could give expression to the religious and cultural needs of the Muslims. Unlike other madarsas, this institution aimed at reforming and training the Muslim scholars and teachers for bringing about transformation of their educational and religious thought. But at Lucknow he was soon considered too radical. Possessing a highly sensitive and passionate soul, he had his own way of giving vent to his thought, which earned him both friend and foe. As a result, he had to quit both Aligarh and Lucknow.
Anglo-Mohammedan Oriental College, Aligarh, and Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow had sprung up as centers of Muslim learning with common objectives but with different leanings. Moreover, these institutions were still in a formative stage where an atmosphere for exclusive research work was in essence wanting. The British conquest of India and the vandalism displayed by them during the uprising of 1857, resulted into loss of numerous repositories of Muslim learning. Thousands of Indian books of knowledge were carried away to Europe. Many Indian families out of sheer poverty and aggrieved condition were unable to protect and preserve their collections. The paucity of relevant books on Islamic sciences motivated Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Shibli Nomani to visit foreign lands. Literary academies such as those of Europe during contemporary times were unheard of in India. Although the task of writing and translation work were being done with avidity, yet Urdu language lacked standard and authentic books of various branches of Islamic and modern sciences, so much so, that there was not a single connected comprehensive book in Urdu on Islamic history. In the madarsas History was not taught as a separate subject. The vast rich Arabic literature in India lay unattended and was on the verge of extinction. There was hardly any effort to record and preserve the deeds of Muslim rulers, saints and scholars. Muslim students were unaware of the contributions of Islam to the benefit of mankind, how it delivered the different communities and nations from oppression and tyranny, and how much Europe owes its modern development to Muslim scientists. For the dissemination of Muslim renaissance, and to dislodge Western criticism with regard to Islam and Muslims, in the Indian Sub-continent, it was necessary to promote and strengthen Urdu. Hitherto, a separate department, Sigha-i- Aghlat-i- Tarikh Ki Tashih had been established by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan at Aligarh in 1892 with Shibli Nomani as its Secretary, in order to give befitting reply to the falsified and insinuative remarks of European writers with respect to Islam and Muslims. However, it could not take strong roots because of various reasons. In fact, during contemporary times the confidence of the Muslims all over the world was at such low ebb that in the All World Religious Conference held in America not a single Muslim scholar participated.
Perhaps, all these concern agitated Shibli’s mind during the later part of his life and he ardently endeavoured to give expression to his thought. On the occasion of Delhi conference of Nadwatul Ulama in March 1910 he placed his views before the people. Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi seconded the proposal. Later, Nawwab Muzammilullah Khan offered financial help. The infrastructure of Darul Musannefin (Abode of writers) was to include a well-equipped library, well-furnished apartments for writers and scholars to live in, a printing press, and a department of publication, so that all the related works of writing and printing could function harmoniously within a campus .
However, before the scheme could materialize, Shibli had to face intrigues, which finally forced him to leave Lucknow. Thus, Shibli’s dream of establishing Darul Musannefin at Nadwa came to a naught. But nothing could dampen his spirit. He placed the scheme before the common people through his writing in Al-Hilal (11 February 1914) and personally wrote to many of his friends and dignitaries . Encouraged by favourable response he finally decided to establish the Academy in Azamgarh amidst his mango orchard and two kachcha bungalows. Family members and relatives were persuaded to donate their adjacent lands . It was decided that so long as the institution was unable to generate its own income, the grant of Rs 300 that Shibli was getting from the State of Hyderabad be utilized for its functioning. However, before the endowment deed could be prepared Shibli breathed his last on 18 November 1914.
Three days after Shibli’s death,6 at the behest of Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi, Shibli’s cherished pupils and admirers, namely, Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Mawlana Abdus Salam Nadwi, Mawlana Masud Ali Nadwi and Mawlana Shibli Mutakallim Nadwi assembled at Azamgarh and laid the foundation of a society called Akhwan-al-,Safa(brethren of purity / the name of a society of Abbasid intellectuals), which may be called as the nucleus of Darul Musannefin. Hamiduddin Farahi7 was elected President, and Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi(1884-1953) was made its Secretary8. The latter exhibited selfless devotion by resigning his service as Professor in Deccan College, Pune, whereas Mawlana Abdus Salam Nadwi resigned from the editorial staff of Al-Hilal, Calcutta, to fulfill the cherished dreams of Shibli. On 24 November 1914, the elite of the town gathered and the endowment deed was prepared by the gracious effort of Sheikh Rashiduddin, brother of Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi. All India Muslim Educational Conference in its meeting held in December 1914 at Rawalpindi praised the mission of Darul Musannefin and promised to extend all possible help.
In its first annual meeting on 25 May 1915, Akhwan-al-Safa enlisted a number of new members: Hamid Hasan Nomani son of Muhammad Shibli Nomani, Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani, Nawwab Sayyid Ali Hasan Khan, Professor Sheikh Abdul Qadir, Dr. Sheikh Muhmmad Iqbal, Nawwab Emadul Mulk Mawlwi Sayyid Husain Bilgrami, Mawlana Abdullah Emadi, Mawlana Sayyid Karamat Husain9 and Mawlana Abdul Majid Daryabadi. With these distinguished men, the caravan moved ahead. On 21st July 1915 the Akhwan-al-Safa society was registered with the new name of Darul Mussannefin Shibli Academy, and a Managing Committee was constituted with Nawwab Emadul Mulk Mawlwi Sayyid Husain Bilgrami as the President and Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi as the Secretary. Fourteen other members were Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi, Mawlana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani, Nawwab Sajid Ali Khan, (Sir)Dr.Muhammad Iqbal(M.A.,Ph.D,),the famous poet, Professor Nawwab Ali(M.A.,Baroda College), Professor Abdul Qadir(M.A.,Deccan College,Pune), Mawlana Masud Ali Qidwai, Mir Akbar Husain (Retired Judge, Allahabad High Court), Khwaja Rashiduddin Sahib(Ra’is,Lucknow), Abdul Majid (B.A.,Lucknow), Hamid Hasan Numani(Dy.Collector,Deoria), Mawlwi Abdul Bari Nadwi(Barabanki), Mawlwi Ziaul Hasan Nadwi(B.A.,Aligarh College) and Mawlwi Khwaja Abdul Wajid Nadwi. The centre of the Society was to be at Azamgarh or Lucknow and it was open to persons of all countries and creeds. Scholars and persons wishing to become its member had to pay certain amount of money10. It was stipulated that the society shall be a purely literary society and it will have no connection with politics and the political differences of the country. In 1916, the Managing Committee was reconstituted11.
The objectives of the Academy were primarily to display the grandeur of Islam and of the Muslims to the whole world, to educate and train a band of Muslim scholars, who could accomplish the desired task, to meet the challenges of European criticism, and to enlighten the Muslims with the progressive knowledge of the West. It also aimed at better presentation of Islam, understanding of Holy Qur’an in the light of modern reasoning and arguments, study of modern sciences, and promotion of social and political harmony between the Hindus and Muslims of India.
The two earliest fellows appointed were Mawlwi Moinuddin Nadwi (1891-1941) and Mawlvi Muhammad Saeed Ansari (1894-1962). Later Mawlwi Abul Hasnat Nadwi, Professor Mawlana Abdul Bari Nadwi, Mawlana Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadwi and Malwi Sayyid Riyasat Ali Nadwi joined the Academy. In the years to follow, many other eminent scholars served as bedecked jewels. The Managing Committee also gained enormous prestige with the inclusion of renowned persons such as Dr. Zakir Husain, Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Justice Khwaja Muhammad Yusuf, Professor Khaleeq Ahmad Nizami, Ziaul Hasan Faruqi, Hakim Abdul Hameed, etc.
The two bungalows were insufficient to the growing requirements of press, library, staff, and incoming guests. Hence, the task of constructing additional building was undertaken. Mawlana Masud Ali Nadvi painstakingly devoted his time in supervising the construction of a series of rooms for the workers of the press. A decent central building and few residential quarters for the staff were also constructed. Later a small beautiful mosque was built with the help of a generous grant given by Nawwab Sir Muzammilullah Khan of Aligarh.
A rich library is the life throb of any institution. Hitherto in his zeal to make Nadwa a model institution, Shibli had gifted his personal collection and gift of books to this institution. As a result, the foundation of a library was laid with barely a dozen books. Soon Shibli’s friends, relatives, family members, admirers, as well as foreign scholars made their contribution to enrich the library. Rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts were collected. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi’s visit to United Kingdom greatly helped in the expansion of the library. During his stay in foreign lands, he purchased a large number of books and established contacts with prominent booksellers of the World. The reputation of the Academy prompted scholars and publishers to send complimentary copies of the books on Islamic learning from foreign countries. Nawwab Salar Yar Jung and Mawlana Habibur Rahman Khan sent a number of books as gift. A learned family of Shahjahanpur also sent some rare books. Sheikh Abdul Ali Ansari of Barabanki sent two manuscripts, Sirr-i-Akbar and Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri. Some of the rare manuscripts collected during this early phase were Moonis-ul-Arwah, Anis-ul-Arwah, Akbar-Namah, Farhang-i-Jahangiri, Sirr-i-Akbar, Qasas-al-Aja’ib, Rauzah Tajmahal, Sharah Nahj-ul-Balaghat, Tafseer-i-Ahmadiya, Kitabul Mizan and Nizamul Gharib.
The first significant publication of the Academy was Shibli’s magnum opus Sirat-al-Nabi14 or Biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBH). It is acknowledged as the most comprehensive and authentic biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBH). It was received with great enthusiasm all over the Indian Sub-continent. Two thousand five hundred copies of it were sold within two or three months. This excellent work encouraged scholars to undertake its translation15 in other languages. Another publication, which brought laurels to the country, was the book entitled Umar Khayyam of Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi. It was highly praised by Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the famous poet. The government of Afghanistan presented this book to the Iranian government16 on the occasion of the celebration of one thousand years death anniversary of poet Firdausi. Some other important books that were published or were near completion were Sirat-i-Ayesha, Sirat Umar-bin- Abdul Aziz, Arzul Qur’an, Siyar-us-Sahabah, Sher-ul-Ajam, Sher-ul-Hind, Ruqqat-i-Alamgiri, Tarikh-i-Islam, Safarnamah Rum-o-Misr-o-Sha’am, Inqalab-al-Umam, Al-Kalam, Payam-i-Aman, Ibn Rushd, Tarikh-i-Hind, etc. A number of translation works were also undertaken. George Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge was translated into Urdu with the title of Mubadi Ilm Insani. David Hume’s two books An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals were translated with the titles of Usul-i-Faham and Usul-i-Ikhlaque respectively. Abul Jalal Nadwi compiled an Urdu-Arabic dictionary. Mawlwi Sayyid Najeeb Ashraf Nadwi, a fellow of the Academy was sent to Calcutta for English education. He passed M.A. with a first class and returned back to serve the institution. Later the prolific writings of Sayyid Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman(1911-1987) vastly increased the importance of the Academy. Untill now, more than two hundred books have been published by the Academy.
The Academy was established at a time when the freedom movement was gaining momentum. Scholars of Shibli Academy through their writings contributed to inspire spirit of liberty and freedom, but refrained from direct politics. They fostered communal harmony, Hindu-Muslim understanding, and advocated the need to build up a common political forum. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi called upon the people to forget the past, and make a fresh beginning by writing anew Indian history after 1857. He was of the opinion that by remembering the past bitter deeds, the future should not be spoiled. He denounced the use of history for narrow political and religious ends. In later times, Sayyid Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman, in particular, through his writings such as Hindustan Amir Khusru Ki Nazr Mein, Hindustan Ke Aehad Mazi Mein Musalman Hukmarano Ki Mazhabi Rawadari, Salatin Dehli Ke Aehad Mein Hindustan Se Muhabbat Wa Shaiftegi Ke Jazbat, etc., demonstrated the religious tolerance of Islam and of the Muslim rulers to the growth of common Hindu-Muslim culture and their love and sacrifice for the motherland. Scholars of the Academy discourage writings, which can generate animosity and friction between the two major communities of India. No wonder many leading freedom fighters visited the Academy. The first eminent political activist to visit was Muhammad Ali Jauhar on l March 1921. Hundreds of people went to Shahganj to receive him. Thereafter, Pandit Madan Mohan Malwiya visited the Academy in June 1922 and among other important matters, he discussed the Urdu-Hindi language issue. In subsequent times, some of the most distinguished Indians to visit were Mahatma Gandhi, Moti Lal Nehru, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur shastri, Indra Gandhi, Ram Manohar Lohia, Mohammad Ali, Bi Amma, Zafar Ali Khan, Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, Humayun Kabeer, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, Sarojni Naidu, Dr. Zakir Husain, V.V.Giri and Vinoba Bhave. As a good gesture, Jawahar Lal Nehru became its life-member.Some other persons who became its life member were Mawalana Abul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmad Qidwai, Nawwab Hamidullah Khan (Ex-ruler of Bhopal State), Syedna Saifuddin Tahir and Dr.B.Gopalareddy (Governor, U..P.) In fact, during the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movement the Academy often served as a meeting point of political leaders.
In short, under the able leadership of Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Shibli Academy, within a short time succeeded in carving a niche for itself. The institution commanded such reverence that when Abul Kalam Azad was asked if he would like to serve the institution as an Honorary Fellow, Azad replied, “ he would willingly serve even as a porter”17. Scholars of Britain and Egypt18 initiated quite early academic correspondence with the Academy. When Maharaja Gaekward contemplated of opening a Department of Comparative study of Religions, he sought guidance of Shibli Academy19. A Syrian Academy Al-Majma-al-Ilm-al-Arbi showed keen interest in establishing academic relations20. A French Orientlist, Moseu Louis Masenan wrote an Arabic letter from Morocco seeking information for the preparation of a lecture on Islam21.
Complimenting the Academy on its early performance, Nawwab Emadul Mulk Mawlvi Sayyid Husain Bilgrami wrote in one of his letters to Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi: ‘Darul Musannefin requires no certificate. It is accomplishing a task, which was hitherto never undertaken in India.’22 Eminent scholars such as Professor Edward Brown, Professor Nicholson and Jurji Zidan were among those who highly praised the Academy.
Ma’arif the monthly literary-cum-historical journal, which is being regularly published since July 1916, may be described as the jugular vein of the Academy. Since its inception, it aimed at refreshing the minds of the Muslims with a blend of Islamic knowledge of Arts and Science with that of modern knowledge of the West. It soon earned international reputation for its well-documented research papers on various aspects of Indian and Islamic history and culture, Qur’anic sciences, doxological poems, obituaries, educational information, reviews of books, etc. It had a column Fatawa-i-Ilmi, which gave answers to academic and religious queries. Its editorial writings provide a glimpse into various issues and challenges faced by country and the world.
For example, through its columns we come to know of the various Muslim Societies, or Anjumans and Madarsas, that were being established in different parts of the country during the early twentieth century. Very few people know that Madrasatul Banat23 in the city of Mau (Uttar Pradesh) can be proud of being the first Madarsa of girls.
Ma’arif is a treasure for those studying the development and popularity of Urdu, and of the futile but grand effort made by Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi to promote Urdu as a principal national language. It bears information that Urdu was spoken and understood as far as in the coastal ports of Egypt and Aden, in the regions of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, East Africa, Mauritius, Burma (Myanmar) and Afghanistan24. Even in England Urdu was receiving attention and two Urdu journals were released: Nawa-i-Hind and Nawa-i-Cambridge.
We also get such information as problems of health and hygiene, outbreak of epidemics, famine, shortage of paper in 1918, growing immorality and licentious life in European countries, ill-treatment of the Negroes at the hands of white Christians, etc. The journal ridicules the European Christians for not having selected any Asian pope. It also informs that during World War I, the British government had ordered closure of German missionary centres in India25 and many German priests were arrested and exiled.
The political alliance of the Indian National Congress and Muslim League (December 1916) has been hailed as the meeting of two oceans: Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean. It refers to the growing popularity of Mahatma Gandhi in the continents of Africa, Australia and America. In America, general knowledge questions such as if an America Association /Party launches a Non-cooperation Movement on the lines of Gandhi then what would be the emerging situation? J. H. Homes in one of his lectures described Mahatma Gandhi as the noblest soul on earth26.
A unique piece of information is that in the year 1922 Agra district jail had virtually turned into a colony of freedom fighters, for the prisoners were not criminals but scholars and graduates of universities. On 20 January 1922, an Urdu / Hindustani poetical symposium was held in the jail, displaying the principal Indian lingua franca and cultural affinity. On the one side of the dining table was Khwaja Abdul Majeed, Barrister and Chairperson of Jamia Millia, Delhi, who had no knowledge of Hindi, and on the other side sat the son of Madan Mohan Malwiya who was a staunch antagonist of Urdu27. But every one enjoyed the symposium.
A criticism made by Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi is worth mentioning and will be of interest to the students of history. He comments that for the proposed writing of Cambridge Modern History not a single Indian was found worthy by the British. Inter alia he informs that Calcutta Review and Modern Review were critical of each other’s view. The latter took delight in finding fault in the writings of J. N. Sarkar, the eminent historian28.
Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi condemns Lalah Lajpat Rai for his provocative speech at Muzzafarpur in 1925 on the occasion of Bihar Provincial Hindu Sabha meeting in which he expressed astonishment as to why Hindu community over the years failed to absorb a handful of Muslims in India, and called upon the Hindus to organize and strengthen Hindu societies for this purpose. To this Sayyid Sulaiman suggested that it would be better for Lalah Lajpat Rai to work hand in hand with the Muslims for the foundation of a new India than to think of wiping them out. At another place, he refers to the growing discontentment among the Parsis of Bombay who wished to return to Iran.
Ma’arif informs us of a Telugu translation of the Holy Qur’an with a brief biographical sketch of Prophet Muhammad(PBH).The translation was done by a Hindu, Chelukari Narain Rao(M.A., L.T., Lecturer, Rajmundary College), and the purpose of translation was to draw the attention of the Hindus and Muslims to the common teachings of the Qur’an and Geeta. Mr. Rao suggested that it is futile on the part of the Hindus and Muslims to quarrel among themselves. The journal also informs us of the rapid conversion of the Hindus to Christianity in South India. About two thousand Hindus were converting to Christianity every week. To counter the growing threat, among the Muslims, Mawlwi Mohiuddin (B.A.), Secretary of Dawat-wa-Tabligh, did commendable work in this area for the defence and propagation of Islam. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi highly praises the effort of Seth Hameed (B.A.,LL.B) whom he described as the hero of Muslim education in the region of Madras. Another person of importance was Dr. Muhammad Ali who opened Madarsa Muhammadiya on his own land in the city of Alfi, a strong hold of pristine Muslims, where Christian missionaries were trying to erode the Muslim faith.
In 1925 during the annual session of the Indian National Congress, for the first time notices and signboards were not written in Urdu, which caused inconvenience to the non-Hindi knowing people and was a great disappointment to the Muslims and Urdu lovers. However, the welcome address was delivered in Urdu. Mrs. Sarojni Naidu, the Congress President, gave her speech half in Urdu and half in English. Its print was distributed in Urdu, Hindi, and English. Pandit Moti Lal Nehru and others gave their speeches in Urdu.
Ma’arif praises the magnanimity of Maharaja of Alwar who visited Aligarh Muslim University in January 1926 and gave a brilliant speech. He called for Hindu-Muslim unity, and to the delight of every body donated Rs 25,000 as gift. He even consented to give Rs 8000 annually for five years for the study of Muslim theology, a rare gesture.
Ma’arif was the earliest to draw the attention towards the compilation of a Marathi Encyclopedia in 1926, in which Prophet Muhammad (PBH) was described in a most derogative and disparaging manner. On objection, the editor of the Encyclopedia said that he borrowed the information from European writers and Christian missionaries. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi addresses his Hindu brethrens and questions them that have the Muslims ever- vilified Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, and other Hindu sages? Newspapers of Bombay challenged the insinuative remarks. Khilafat and Bombay Chronicle wrote an article on it. The Bohra Chief, Imam Mulla Tahir Saifuddin carried out a signature campaign to serve as a memorandum to the Governor. Ultimately, Dr. Ketakar, the chief editor of the Marathi Encyclopedia, withdrew the objectionable portion. Later on he thanked Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi for pointing out the error of information and even sought his help for the proposed translation of the Marathi Encyclopedia in Urdu.
The journal gives information about a number of English newspapers and magazines which were owned and published by the Muslims such as Muslim Advocate(Sindh), Muslim Outlook(Punjab), Mohammadan(Madras), Muslim Chronicle(Bengal), Aligarh Mail(Uttar Pradesh), and Muslim Review(Calcutta).
From the very beginning, the Academy suffered from meagre financial resources. Before the independence of the country, its major funding came from two Indian states: Hyderabad and Bhopal29. Hence, its scholars and Secretary were poorly paid but they preferred the mission of the Academy to the lure of status, which they could have achieved had they desired so. For example, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi served for thirty-two years and was paid a maximum salary of Rs 250. Mawlana Abdus Salam Nadwi served for forty-three years and drew a maximum salary of Rs 170.
Shibli Academy is the pride of Azamgarh and a standing memory of a person whom Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi described as Imam-al-Hind Hazrat Allama Shibli Nomani. It marks a milestone of Muslim quest of knowledge and renaissance and a fulfillment of a long cherished need of Muslim intelligentsia in modern times. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi considered it as a replica of Darul Hikma of the Abbasids implanted in the Indian soil. It is a shinning example of scholars with a mission who prefer an austere life to the riches of the world. More significantly, it demonstrates that it were a group of Mawlwis with traditional knowledge of Islamic sciences but with enlightened vision owing to the impact of Shibli Nomani and others who drew the Indian Muslims out of obscurantism and led them on the path of modernism. In its early phase the contributions of scholars from Bihar to its growth and development is immense. In a short span of time, it earned international recognition and fame, so much so that its secretary, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, was twice invited to accompany as a member of Islamic delegation from India.
1. Javed Ali Khan, Early Urdu Historiography, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 2005, pp.54-72.
2. Muhammad Ilyas-al-Azmi, Darul Musannefin Ki Tarikhi Khidmaat, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 2002, p.2.
4. Ibid., pp.2-3.
5. Mirza Muhammad Salim son of Qurban Ali Beg of village Muslimpatti, Azamgarh, donated 4 bigha 2 biswa and 5 dhur of land. Mirza Muhammad Nayeem of the same village also donated his land. Hamid Nomani son of Shibli Nomani and his cousins gave 6 bigha 9 biswa 5 dhur of land. Sheikh Muhammad son of Muhammad Saleem, of village Phariha, Azamgarh, gave 6 bigha 9 biswa 5 dhur. Hamiduddin Farahi and Rashiduddin Farahi of the same village gave a portion of their land. In all Shibli Academy possessed 17 bigha 15 dhur of land. Rashiduddin Farahi paid the whole cost of the registration of the endowment deed. 1 bigha=2500 sq ft
See Khursheed Nomani, Darul Musannefin Ki Tarikhi Awr Ilmi Khidmat, Ma’arif Press, Shibli Academy, Azamgarh, p. 36. Al- Baseer (Shibli Number), Islamia College, Chiniot, Vol: 2 June- December, 1957, No. 1- 2.
6. That is on 21 November 1914. Later it was registered in the office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, Uttar Pradesh, under the Societies Registration Act XXl of of 1860, on 21 July 1915.
7. Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi, the eminent Islamic scholar, was a relative of Shibli Nomani from the maternal side. Apart from the land that he gave, he also donated his collection of books to the Academy.
8. Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi was born in village Desna, Bihar, on 12 December 1884. After receiving his early education at home, he proceeded to study at Phulwarisharif, Patna, and then at Darbhanga. Thereafter he joined Nadwatul Ulama, Lucknow, where after the completion of his studies, he was appointed in his Alma Mater in 1908. It was here that he studied under the guidance of Shibli Nomani. When Shibli resigned from Nadwa, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi also resigned and joined Al-Hilal, Calcutta. Later, he was appointed Professor of Arabic and Persian at Deccan College, Pune. He has to his credit a large number of writings. After the independence of the country, he migrated to Pakistan.
9. He was made the Vice-President of Akhwan-al-Safa.
10. Any scholar, on payment of an annual amount of Rs 25 could become a Fellow of the Academy. Any person, on payment of a lump sum of Rs 200, could become a life - member of the Academy. Any person, on payment of an annual amount of Rs 15 could become a first class member of the Academy. Any person, on payment of annual amount of Rs 2 could become an ordinary member of the Academy.
11. Members of the Managing Committee
1. Nawwab Emadul Mulk Mawlwi Sayyid Husain Bilgrami, Chairperson(Ra’is Majlis, Hyderabad, Deccan.)
2. Hon’ble Mawlwi Sayyid Karamat Husain, Former Judge, Allahabad High Court (Na’ib Ra’is, Lucknow)
3. Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Secretary/Nazim, Azamgarh
4. Hafiz Mawlwi Hamiduddin Farahi, President/Sadar Majlis
Members of the Advisory Committee
1. Mawlana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani, Ra’is of Bhikanpur
2. Professor Sheikh Abdul Qadir(M.A.), Eliphinstone College, Bombay
3. Hisamul Mulk Nawwab Sayyid Ali Hasan, Bhopal House, Lucknow
4. Mr.Abdul Majid(B.A.), Golaganj, Lucknow
5. Khwaja Rashiuddin, Ra’is, Banks Road, Lucknow
6. Munshi Muhammad Ameen , Shahjahanabad, Bhopal
7. Mawlwi Masood Ali Nadwi, Shibli Manzil, Azamgarh
8. Mr.Hamid Nomani, Dy.Collector, Devaria, Gorakhpur
9. Mawlwi Abdul Bari Nadwi, Assistant Professor, Pune
10. Mawlwi Khwaja Abdul Wajid Nadwi, Imperial Library, Calcutta
11. Mirza Sultan Ahmad Beg(M.A.,LL.B), Advocate, Azamgarh
12. Mr.Mukhtar Ahmad(B.A., LL.B), Advocate, Allahabad High Court
13. Mawlwi Ziaul Hasan(M.A.), Inspector of Arabic Schools
Academic Staff Salary
1. Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Secretary/Nazim Rs 100
2. Mawlwi Masood Ali Nadwi, Administrator, Office Rs 30
3. Mawlwi Abdus Salam Nadwi, Scholar Rs 50
4. Haji Mawlwi Moinuddin Nadwi, Fellow/Associate Scholar Rs 20
5. Mawlwi Sayeed Ansari, Fellow/Associate Scholar Rs 20
Working Staff Salary
1. Munshi Muhammad Owais -copyist/scribe Rs15
2. Munshi Ishtiaque Hasan -scribe solely for Seeratun Nabi Rs 40
3. Abdul Hafeez - Rs 25
4. Abdul Hakeem Azmi - Rs 22
5. Sayyid Muhammad Reza - Press Staff Rs 15
6. Reza Ali - Rs 16
7. Sultan - Rs 7
8. Mawla Khan - Rs 8
9. Nawaz - Rs 8
10. Mahadeo - Rs 8
11. Dost Muhammad - Peon Rs 6
In 1919, the constitution of the Academy was reconstituted. Those who participated in drafting it were Mawlana Hamiduddi Farahi, Mawlana Masood Ali Nadwi, Abdul Majid and Professor Abdul Bari. Another development that took place was that following the death of Sayyid Karamat Husain, his place was taken by Mawlana Habibur Rahman Khan Sherwani. In addition, two new members, Mawlwi Mahdi Hasan Afadi-al-Iqtasadi and Professor Sayyid Nawwab Ali, were admitted. In 1920, the provision of Provident Fund was introduced for the benefit of the employees. In 1922, after the death of Mahdi Hasan, Dr. Mahmood took his place In 1925, Haji Moinuddin Nadwi left the Academy to join Khuda Bahksh Oriental Library, Patna. In 1926, three new members in the academic staff were included. They were Mawlwi Sayyid Najeeb Ashraf, Mawlwi Abul Jalal Nadwi and Mawlwi Sayyid Riyasat Nadwi. The administration was entrusted to Mawlana Masood Ali Nadwi. He was assisted by Munshi Muhammad Owais Warsi and Muhammad Yahya. Munshi. Abdul Hafeez looked after the Press and the two scribes under him. A sum of Rs 500 was deposited as security money for the installation of the Press. The financial dealings and deposits were made with the Imperial Bank of India, which later came to be known as the State bank of India.
12. They were or are: Mawlana Abul Jalal Nadwi, Sayyid Najib Ashraf Nadwi, Mawlana Sayyid Abu Zafar Nadwi, Dr. Muhammad Yusuf Kokan, Dr. Muhammad Ozair, Mawlana Muhammad Owais Nadwi, Dr. Muhammad Naeem, Mawlana Abdur Rahman Parvaz Islahi, Mawlvi Mansoor Nomani Nadwi, Sayyid Sabhauddin Abdur Rahman, Mawlana Hafiz Mujeebullah Nadwi, Mawlana Ziauddin Islahi, Hafiz Umair-us-Siddiq Daryabadi Nadwi, Mawlwi Kaleem Sefat Islahi, and Dr. Tauqeer Ahmad. Mawlvi Dr. Muhammad Arif Umri and Dr. Javed Ali Khan are serving the institution as honorary fellows.
13. After the death of Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi the post of President was held in succession by Nawwab Salar Yar Jung, Mawlana Habibur Raman Khan Sherwani, Mawlana Majid Daryabadi and Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi. The first Secretary was Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi. He was succeeded in succession by Mawlana Shah Moinuddin Ahmad Nadwi and Sayyid Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman. After the death of the latter for a short period, Sayyid Shahabuddin Desnavi was made the Administrative Secretary whereas Mawlana Ziauddin Islahi was made the Literary Secretary.
Presently the Shibli Academy Managing Committee consists of the following members:
President – Prince Mufakhkham Jah Bahadur
Secretary – Mawlana Ziauddin Islahi
Honorary Joint Secretary - Abdul Mannan Hilali
Members – Mawlana Muhammad Rabey Hasni Nadwi, Mawlana A.M.Kareem Masoomi, Sayyid Hamid(IAS,Retd.), Dr. Salman Sultan, Mirza Imtiaz Beg, Mawlana Muhammad Sayeed Mujaddidi, Professor Reyazur Rahman Khan Sherwani, Mawlana Taqiuddin Nadwi, Dr.A..Abdullah, Dr.Zafrul Islam Khan, Professor Zafrul Islam Islahi, and Professor Ishtiaque Ahmad Zilli.
14. Shibli’s last wish was the completion of Siratun Nabi. Ma’arif abounds in repeated appeals for monetary help for this project. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi frequently laments at the poor response. Except for the state of Bhopal and Hyderabad, none other Indian State came forward. Of the individuals, Nawwab Emadul Bilgrami donated Rs.100 yearly. Mawlana Hamiduddin Farahi donated Rs15 monthly. See Ma’arif, December 1917, p.44. A few Muslim philanthropists also helped the Academy. For example, Ehsanul Haque sent donation from Dera Ghazi Khan. Sheikh Qaiser Ali sent money from Rangoon (Yangon).
On 16 August 1918 Volume 1 of Siratun Nabi was personally handed over to the Begum of Bhopal, who on receiving it, gifted Rs 3000 to Shibli Academy. See Ma’arif, September 1918, p.16. His Exalted Highness, Shahrayar, of Hyderabad, Deccan, sanctioned a grant of Rs 200 for two years for the publication of remaining volumes of Siratun Nabi. See Rudad Shibli Academy, 1919.
In Bengali the effort was made by Mawlana Ikram. In English the task was undertaken by Mawlvi Musheer Husain Qidwai (Barrister). Muhammad Ali Jauhar had also expressed the desire to undertake the translation work in English. In Marathi a women was ambitious to undertake the project. Proposals were also made to publish it in Burmese language. See Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi (Ed), ,Ma’arif, Ma’arif, press, Shibli Academy, Azamgarh, March 1919, p.69; March 1921, p.91.
16. Sayyid Sabahuddin Abdur Rahman, Darul Musannefin Awr Uski Khidmat, Al- Baseer (Shibli Number), Islamia College, Chiniot, Vol 2: June-December, 1957.No.1- 2, pp.5-7.
17. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi (Ed), Mashahir Ke Khutut Banam Mawlana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Shibli Academy, Azamgarh, 1922 p.177.
18. Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi (Ed), Ma’arif, January 1923, p242.
19. Ibid., June 1917, p.29.
20. Ibid., January 1923, p.230.
21. Ibid., June 1923, p.253.
22. Ibid., May 1922, p.173.
23. Ibid., February 1919, p.67.
24. Ibid., November 1920, p.74
25. Ibid., October 1922, p.207.
26. Ibid., September 1921, pp.125-126.
27. Ibid., February 1922, p.151.
28. Ibid., August 1922, p.199.
29. The former gave Rs 500, and the latter Rs 100 as monthly donation. Almost a similar amount was earned from sale of books and Ma’arif. Of the procured amount, Rs 300 was spent on appointed Fellows or Scholars of the Academy, Rs 25 on library development, and about Rs 50 on administrative needs.
After the partition of the country, the financial situation worsened. In 1953 a grant of Rs 60,000 by the government of India, largely owing to the efforts of Jawahar Lal Nehru and Mawlana Abul Kalam Azad, helped it to come out of serious financial crisis. When the Saudi monarch first visited India, he of his own, presented Rs 10000 to the Academy. Politicians and Muslim philanthropists sometimes offer financial aid but it hardly meets the needs of the growing institution. Shibli Academy runs on its own limited resources. It encourages Muslim scholars and philanthropists to become its life-member. Initially a person who donated Rs 200 was made its life-member. Now the amount has been raised to Rs 10000.