Sir Fazl-i-Hussain had a long standing professional relationship with the Ahmadiyya Movement. He was great friends with Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who was also from Sialkot, these two would form a lasting political friendship. Both of these people met MGA in 1904, as MGA was on his tour of North India. He met MGA again in 1908 when he was 41 years old (see Khan,”From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia”” By Adil Hussain Khan, online version, see page 122). This meeting seems to have been recorded in Malfuzat, Vol.5, pages 283–285, 635–636, see also pagham-i-Sulh, vol. 23, page 488. He seems to have kept cordial relations with the Ahmadiyya movement. Most likely since he had no other choice, in British-India, all Muslims had to be friendly with the Ahmadiyya Movement, or suffer extreme hardships. Sir Muhammad Iqbal had the same position towards Ahmadi’s in this era. By 1931, he was supporting the Ahmadiyya push in Kashmir. Most likely at the instigation of the British. He then died in 1936 abruptly.
Sir Fazl-e Hussain belonged to a known and influential family of Gurdaspur that had enjoyed a privileged position since the reign of the Sikh rulers. His father, Khan Bahadur Mian Hussain Bakhsh, was a retired district judge. Mian Fazle Hussain was also a classmate of Dr Muhammad Iqbal, at the Government College, Lahore, while in BA. After failing twice in the ICS examinations, he went to England and earned his BA from Cambridge and then returned as a barrister at law to start law practice at Sialkot. In 1905, he had moved to Lahore and from then onwards played an important role in Muslim politics, first from the Muslim League platform and then as a powerful and successful leader of the Unionist Party, which he had founded in January 1924. Husain was born in Peshawar to a Muslim family of Rajput origins in 1877. His father Mian Husain Bakhsh was at the time serving as Extra Assistant Commissioner in Peshawar. At the age of sixteen he entered Government College, Lahore and graduated with a BA in 1897. In 1896, he married Muhammad Nisa, great-granddaughter of Ilahi Bakhsh, the renowned general of the Sikh Khalsa Army.
Fazl-i-Husain travelled to Britain in 1898 to further his education. He was admitted to Christ’s College, Cambridge in 1899 and graduated with a BA in 1901. He had intended to enter the Indian Civil Service but was unsuccessful in the exams. He studied Oriental languages and law at Cambridge and was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1901. Husain was elected President of the Cambridge Majlis in January 1901 and assisted in writing a telegram of condolence to Edward VII upon the death of Queen Victoria  Husain returned to the Punjab in 1901 and set up a law practice in Sialkot. In 1905 he began practising at the Punjab High Court in Lahore until 1920.
He meets MGA in Sialkot. He is fast friends with a famous Ahmadi, Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal (who wasn’t famous at the time). They are both from Sialkot.
His son dies in London and is buried close to the Woking Mosque (See Khan).
He met MGA in 1908
He seems to have met MGA in 1908 when he was 41 years old (see Khan,”From Sufism to Ahmadiyya: A Muslim Minority Movement in South Asia”” By Adil Hussain Khan, online version, see page 122). This meeting seems to have been recorded in Malfuzat, Vol.5, pages 283–285, 635–636, see also pagham-i-Sulh, vol. 23, page 488. On 15th May at 10.00 a.m. two Barristers-at-Law came to see Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, one of them being Mian Fazl-i Husain (d. 1936).
Mian Fazl-i Husain, Bar-at-Law, submitted:
“If all nonAhmadis are called as kafir (unbelievers), then nothing will remain of Islam.”
The Founder replied:
“We do not expel anyone from Islam who accepts the Kalima unless he calls us kafir,
thereby making himself a kafir. Perhaps you don’t know that when I claimed to have been sent by God, then Maulana Muhammad Husain of Batala took great pains in obtaining a religious edict stating that I am a kafir, Dajjal (anti-Christ) and misguided; that no funeral prayer should be held for me, and that whoever accosts me with the Islamic greetings Assalamu Alaikum, or shakes hands with me, or considers me a Muslim, shall also become a kafir. Now it is an agreed principle that anyone who calls a believer as a kafir becomes a kafir himself. How can we deny this principle? You should tell us what way is left for us in these circumstances? We did not issue any edict against them first. Now that they are called kafir, it is only the result of their declaring us as kafir. Once a man challenged me to enter into a mubahila (to invoke curse of Allah on one who is the liar). I replied that a mubahila between two Muslims was not permitted. He replied: We consider you as a full-fledged kafir.”
Mian Fazl-i Husain submitted:
“If they call you kafir, let them do it. What is the harm if you do not call them kafir? The holy Founder said: “He who does not brand us as kafir we never call him kafir.”
— Badr, 24th May 1908; Malfuzat, vol. 10, pp. 376, 377.
The announcement from Pagham i Sulh
A GRAND JALSA (GATHERING)
ON SUNDAY DATE 21 JUNE 1908
7 AM AT PUNJAB UNIVERSITY HALL, NEXT TO THE ZOO
Paigham e sulah will be read
The one Janab Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote 2-3 days before his death. He wrote it to finish hatered and divisions in this country. The audiences of this blessed message particularly are Hindu high class (moazazeen) people. People who desire peace and friendship (sulah) must come.
list of names:
Khan bahadur Muhammad Shafee barrister at law
Choudhry Nabi buksh B A Vakeel Chief court punjab
Mian Fazal Hussain BA Camberidge University Barrister at law
Sheikh Gulab Din Vakeel Chief Court Punjab
Mian Muhammad Shah Nawaz BA Camberidge university Barrister at law
Moulvi Ahmad Din BA
Vakeel Sheikg Fazal Ilahi Barrister at law
Mirza Jalal Din Barrister at law
Sheikh Muhammad abdul Aziz BA Editor Observer Lahore
Mian Abdul Aziz Barrister at law
Muslim politics of British India
THE Muslim League in Punjab was founded in 1907 in Lahore by a landed aristocrat Mian Shahdin. He himself was the president of the organisation with the same aims and objectives as those declared a year earlier by the All India Muslim League when it was established at Dhaka in 1906. Earlier, an organisation with the same name and objectives was also established in Gurdaspur by Mian Fazle Hussain. Soon a rivalry began between the two parallel organisations in Punjab. When Mian Shahdin was appointed a judge of the Punjab Chief Court, he had to resign the presidentship of the League, leaving behind a clash between Mian (Sir) Fazle Hussain and Mian Muhammad Shafi for the top leadership of the newly established Muslim League.
He was on the front page of the ROR, as he visited the newly built Fazl Mosque in London, which was only the second mosque in the UK by 1927. He seems to have kept a professional relationship with the Ahmadiyya Movement.
His interactions with Ahmadi’s in the 1930’s
Sir Fazl-i-Hussain was a member of the All-India-Kashmir-Committee of 1931. Mian Fazl-i Husain claimed to have a ‘great regard’ for Maulana Muhammad Ali of the Lahori branch. Furthermore, he had been mentoring a young Chauhdry Muhammad Zafrulla Khan for some time, another devoted member of the Jama’at who had entered the movement at the hand of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.
His political career
Husain joined the Indian National Congress in 1905 and in 1916 he was elected election to the Punjab Legislative Council in the seat reserved for the University of the Punjab. He immediately regarded the Punjab as being in a state of political apathy and sought to engage Punjabis with the affairs of the government and align the interests of the Punjabi electorate with that of wider Congress agenda. He left the Congress party in 1920 over their support for the Non-cooperation movement. He felt that non-cooperation threatened schools and colleges, and noting the backwardness of educational progress in the Punjab, he initially sought to have them excluded from the movement before becoming convinced that Mahatma Gandhi‘s scheme of setting up national schools and colleges was impracticable and recklesss.
Following the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms he was re-elected to the Punjab Legislative Council in 1920 representing a Muslim landowner seat. At the outset of the first Council in 1921, having risen to become one of the pre-eminent politicians in the province, he was one of two ministers appointed by the Governor of the Punjab, the other being Lala Harikishan Lal, and served as the minister for education, health and local government. During this time he spearheaded a rural bloc of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, which in 1923 formally organised itself into the Unionist Party and intended to be a mass organisation of the Punjab’s peasant proprietors. Whilst the party succeeded in gaining support from only the rural Hindu and Sikhs, it also successfully attracted the support of the bulk of urban Muslims. In 1923, Husain extended separate electorates to local bodies and educational institutions seeking to raise Muslim representation to the level of the Muslim proportion of the population, which in turn created tensions between Muslim and Hindu. In his role as education minister he is credited with having been the main engineer of the scheme to establish employment quotas for Muslims in the Indian civil service. In January 1924, he was re-elected to the Council and remained as a minister until January 1926 when he left the Punjab Assembly upon being appointed Revenue Member. Chhotu Ram, a Hindu Jat, was named as his successor as president of the Unionst party He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1926
In 1930 he was promoted to the Viceroy’s Executive Council in Delhi where he remained until 1935. He became the most important councillor of the Viceroy, and used his position to challenge Muhammad Ali Jinnah‘s claims that he alone represented the interests of the Muslims. He played an important part in organising the Round Table Conferences and influencing the views of the present Muslim delegates.
In December 1931, Zafrulla Khan was elected president of the All-India Muslim League. Despite the overt animosity expressed by Ahrari protesters, Zafrulla Khan continued as president of the Muslim League until June 1932 when he resigned from the position to fulfil his next task. Mian Fazl-i Husain had been a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council from 1930 to 1935 but his
declining health had forced him to take a four-month leave of absence during the summer of 1932. Upon his recommendation, Zafrulla Khan took Fazl-i Husain’s place on the Viceroy’s Executive Council throughout the summer of 1932, which was a bold move considering Zafrulla’s age, inexperience, and lack of seniority. In his diary, Mian Fazl-i Husain admitted: “If it comes off, it will be a startling appointment.” However, Zafrulla Khan’s political aptitude and reputation were developing quickly. His closeness to such eminent personalities afforded him the opportunity to discuss the Kashmir matter personally with the Viceroy in the early 1930’s. Zafrulla Khan was an invaluable asset to Mirza Mahmud Ahmad and the AIKC during the Kashmir crisis, and perhaps even more so following the partition, as we will see below.
The Punjabi view of the “Muslim interest” formulated by Husain was a success. The implementation of the Communal Award and Government of India Act, 1935, allowed the majority Muslims in Punjab and Bengal to retain their separate electorates yet also granted them more seats than any other community in their respective assemblies. Whilst this allowed Muslim politicians in the Punjab to increase their autonomy it brought them into conflict with Muslims in Hindu majority provinces, who would now look to Jinnah and the Muslim League for support. In 1932 he led the Indian delegation to the Indo-South African conference and was appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India in 1932. On returning to Lahore from Delhi in 1935, Husain sought to prepare the Unionist Party for the forthcoming provincial elections. He made strides in reorganising, financing and allotting tickets for his party, and warned Jinnah against meddling with the inter-communal politics of the Punjab. In January 1936, Jinnah offered him the annual presidency of the Muslim League, however before waiting for his response accepted the position himself and became its President in 1936.
He fell ill on 1 July 1936, and died at Lahore nine days later. He was buried at the family graveyard in Batala.
One of his daughters, Asghari, married Manzur Qadir. His paternal half-brother Mian Muhammad Afzal Husain served as the Vice Chancellor of the University of the Punjab, Lahore for two terms, one term before (1938–44) and one term after (1954–65) the partition of British India into Pakistan and India.
Links and Related Essays
Copland, Ian, “Islam and Political Mobilization in Kashmir, 1931-34”, which was published in an academic journal entitled: “PACIFIC AFFAIRS”, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Summer, 1981), pp. 228-259 (32 pages), Published by: Pacific Affairs, University of British Columbia
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