THIS refers to the article ‘Enlightenment quest’ (Sept 3). Indeed, human survival has always struggled between superstition and reason where latter outweighs the former due to science and rationale. The said article rightly appreciated Sir Syed Ahmed Khan for initiating what it called the “age of enlightenment” for the Muslims of the subcontinent.

However, Sir Syed was not alone. There were other luminaries who shared the vision and spread the light of knowledge. One of them was Khan Bahadur Hassanally Effendi, the founder of the Sindh Madressatul Islam (SMI) in Karachi, who believed that the Muslims needed to be part of the social, political and business mainstream.

During those days, the Muslims were so far away from formal education that not a single Muslim student in Sindh passed the matriculation examination conducted by the University of Bombay in 1870.

Hassanally Effendi met Sir Syed in Calcutta (since renamed Kolkata) and during the meeting the latter advised him to avoid thinking of establishing only a school; plan it as a college and then expand it into a university, he was told. It was this advice that made Hassanally Effendi establish the Sindh Madressatul Islam.

The name of the school was chosen after much deliberation, as the target was to attract people from lower strata of Muslims who were not willing to send their children to schools that were being run by the Hindus and the Christians. However, the school itself was not limited to Muslims only, and had faculty and students regardless of religious backgrounds.

Principals from abroad were hired to make sure that top class education was imparted to the students.

These measures bore fruits and SMI students won distinction in mathematics and science in the annual board examinations.

The institution, described by Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah as the “child of Sindh and mother of Pakistan”, had on its rolls stalwarts like Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and other towering personalities, such as Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto, Sir Abdullah Haroon, Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah, Khan Bahadur Mohammad Ayub Khuhro, Allama I.I. Kazi, Dr Allama Umer Bin Mohammad Doudpota and Hanif Muhammad, to name but a few.

The advice of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to Hassanally Effendi in the 1880s turned into reality in phases; SMI became a college in 1943, and a university in 2012.

Prof Mujeeb Sahrai
Vice Chancellor, SMIU,
Karachi

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2021

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