|Abdul Sattar Kheiri’s Recommendation for Ahsan Hyder
Transcription of Recommendation Letter for Ahsan Hyder
|Pakistan Resolution 1940
Rashidul Khairi, Safia Khairi and Ismat
Abdul Jabbar Khairi and Abdul Sattar Khairi:
Khairis demanded Muslim homeland in 1917
By Saad R. Khairi
KHAIRI brothers` contribution to the freedom movement largely remains unknown. They were the first to plead at an international organization for India`s partition as far back as 1917 when World War I was still raging.
Their subsequent struggle for freedom took them to many lands, where they worked for the ideals in which they believed. They faced hardships abroad, were arrested at home, and persecuted in many ways but never wavered.
It was at a conference of the Socialist International at Stockholm in 1917 that Abdul Jabbar Khairi and Abdul Sattar Khairi submitted a written proposal to the forum and called for independent status for Muslim states `destroyed by the British`. They named these `states` as Oudh (called United Province during the colonial period and now Uttra Pradesh in India), Sindh, Karnatak, Mysore and Delhi.
It would, of course, be unrealistic to expect the Khairi brothers to have jumped in time and demanded India`s partition something that would be on the agenda of the Muslim League `under Jinnah`s leadership in 1940. But a study of pages 407-08 of the record of the conference should leave us in no doubt that the two brothers had presented to an international conference the idea in embryonic form of the subcontinent`s partition.
More than three decades later, in 1941 to be specific, when the Congress press was attacking the Pakistan idea and ridiculing it, Abdul Sattar Khairi, the younger brother then in prison in India, wrote a letter to Camille Haysmans, secretary general of the Socialist International, seeking his support. Since Khairi didn`t know Haysmans`s address, he sent the letter to Clement Attlee, then in Winston Churchill`s war cabinet, who forwarded it to Haysmans. In his reply via Attlee, the Socialist leader said he remembered `vividly` that the Khairis had demanded India`s partition in 1917.
Belonging to the Bani Makhzoom tribe of Mecca, the Khairis had come to India during Emperor Shah Jahan`s reign with the avowed aim of giving religious education to Mughal royalty a job they performed till 1857 when the British exiled the last Mughal emperor to Rangoon.
Educated in Delhi and Aligarh, the Khairi brothers later left for Baghdad on the way to Beirut and took admission in the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut) where the junior Khairi did his M.A. while the elder brother did a PhD. The elder Khairi later acquired a dozen degrees of doctorates from various European universities.
Lebanon and Palestine, even though still part of the Ottoman Empire, had their educational scene dominated by Western, mostly British and French, missionary activity. In 1908 there were 30,000 students in French and British schools, though there were some American and German institutions also.
The Khairi brothers opened Lebanon`s first madrassah, called Madressa-i-Hindia, which later became a college and one of its students, Saeb Salam, became one of independent Lebanon`s major political figures.
In 1915, with the Ottoman empire at war, the Khairi brothers went to Constantinople and launched the city`s first Urdu weekly, Akhovat, using metal-type technology. With Turkey`s defeat in sight, the Khairi brothers left for Sweden via Russia and met Lenin, who gave them a fur-lined coat each and volunteered the statement that Communist Russia would soon come to India`s help and liberate it. The end of the Great War found them in Germany, where they earned a living by writing, lecturing, and translations because they were fluent in German, English, French, Turkish, and Arabic. Even though Germany was in chaos and the Nazis were a rising force, the average German welcomed them because of their anti-British sentiments. The brothers also converted some Germans to Islam. They included Dr. Joseph Goebbels`s sister, whose Muslim name was Nayyar.
Another German woman became Muslim, given the name Fatima, and married Khairi junior.
After refusing to let the Khairi brothers return to India, the British government finally allowed Khairi junior to come home but made clear there was no guarantee action would not be taken against him for wartime propaganda for the enemy. Abdul Sattar Khairi finally returned to India and started teaching German and French at Aligarh. Jabbar Khairi, however, was still a persona non grata with the British and was not allowed to return. Living in London, he asked Attlee to raise a question in the Commons as to why if he were such a dangerous person he was free in England but was not allowed to return to India. The government finally agreed to let him return.
Meanwhile, Sattar Khairi plunged into politics, joined the Muslim League, became the chief of Aligarh ML, started a magazine called Spirit of the Times, whose editor was Fatima, and declared at the League`s Patna session in 1938 that the Muslims of India were not a community but a nation. He rose to become a member of the All-India Muslim League Council. However, the Second World War broke out, and Sattar Khairi was arrested and sent to prison in Jhansi and later Dehradun. Fatima, being a European, was sent to one of the camps in Nainital. At Dehradun, he discussed politics and, in the evening, played badminton with fellow prisoners, among them Jawaharlal Nehru.
Released in the winter of 1944, Sattar Khairi died a few months later. Deeply religious, he hated mullahs and willed that his last rites should be performed by someone else. So Dr. Ziauddin led his funeral prayer and he was buried in Aligarh.
Senior Jabbar took no part in politics after returning to India and spent most of his time in his library which contained thousands of books in many languages.
He didn`t marry. Among his frequent visitors was Maulana Maudoodi. Despite his wish to come to Pakistan, Jabbar Khairi couldn`t make it, since he was not willing to part with his books. He died in Delhi in 1955.
This is an unpublished article written by the late Saad R. Khairi, a scion of the Khairi family. He belonged to Pakistan`s diplomatic service.
Published in Dawn, Supplement Independence Day, August 14th, 2014