Maulana Mazharul Haque: A forgotten leader of Bihar

By M. Zajam,

Maulana Mazharul Haque, the man who was a firm believer in complete Independence being “the birthright of every Nation”, has his birth place in office of a government run school that doubles as food storage.

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Maulana Mazharul Haque was born to a rich landlord, Sheikh Ahmedullah, in Bahpura, Thana Bihta of Patna district on December 22nd, 1866. His primary education was at home by Maulvi Sajjad Hussain, but he passed his matriculation from the Patna Collegiate in 1886. He joined Canning College in Lucknow for higher studies but same year left for England to pursue a course in Law. He started legal practice in Patna after his return from England in 1891.

He made a significant contribution to relief efforts launched during the famine in Saran district of Bihar in 1897. Maulana Mazharul Haque’s public life actually commenced with the creation of the Bihar Provincial Conference, a move he supported as he believed in the need for the constitution of Bihar as a separate province.

In 1906 Maulana was elected Vice Chairman of Bihar Congress Committee. Mazharul Haque helped organize the Home Rule Movement in Bihar and was its President in 1916. He actively participated in the Champaran Satyagraha for which he was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment.

Subsequently, when the Non Cooperation and Khilafat Movements were launched, Mazharul Haque gave up his lucrative legal practice and his elected post as member of the Imperial Legislative Council and turned all his efforts to the freedom struggle. By now, he was a firm believer in complete Independence being “the birthright of every Nation”.

Mazharul Haque was also a fervent believer in democratic decentralization and he organized the Panchayats in Saran district towards meeting this vision. He also made many requests for better educational facilities in Bihar, especially for free and compulsory primary education.

Maulana Mazharul Haque actively participated in anti-purdah movement launched in Bihar in response to the Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920. Mahatma Gandhi sought to bring women also into mainstream politics, to strengthen the resistance against British rule as well as empower them to play a more active role in society. The purdah system espoused by Muslim and many Hindu families, especially in Bihar, meant that women remained behind men in all spheres of life.

In 1919, he gave up and burnt his western attire to adopt traditional Muslim attire. He was given title of “Desh Bhushan Faqir Mazharul Haque”.

1920, he donated his 16 bigha land on Patna- Danapur road for Sadaqat Ashram and Vidya Peeth which served as college for students who left government colleges in response to Non-Cooperation Movement. Sadaqat Ashram played important role in Independence movement in Bihar.

Maulana also launched his weekly magazine “The Motherland” from Sadaqat Ashram. He also jailed for his articles in this magazine. Sadaqat Ashram continues to serve as headquarters of Bihar Congress. But it is a tragedy that even Congress do not remember the person who has given so much to the party. Till few years back, even Maulana picture was now where to be seen in the ashram.

Maulana was firm believer of Hindu-Muslim unity. His famous quote sums up his conviction, “Wheather we are Hindu or Musalmaan we are in the same boat, we must sail or sink together”.

When in London, Maulana established Anjuman Islamia. This brought Indians of various religion, region and sects under one umbrella. This was also place to discuss about India’s problem. Mahatma Gandhi first met Maulana Mazharul Haque in Anjuman Islamia, London.

Person who gave everything for the country has not got due recognition. Maulana donated the house where he was born, to start Madrasa and middle school within same compound in 1926. Idea behind establishing both in one campus was to promote communal harmony.

Now the very place where he was born is a principal office of government middle school. On the entrance door of principal office, a line is written in Hindi “Janam Kachh Maulana Mazharul ”(Birth place of Maulana Mazharul Haque). If you enter in the office apart from a picture of Maulana Mazharul Haque along side Dr. Rajender Prasad picture will not give any indication of place being birthplace of a person of such stature. Principal office house the ration for mid day meal scheme for the school apart from general school office stuff.

But this is an improvement from before. Before this school structure was build in 2004, place he was born was used as a toiler for villagers after original structure fell down. Because of the effort for few locals, this place was cleaned up and school building was build and place was marked as birth place.

On December 22nd politicians do come to shower words of praise on Maualana’s contributions but the pity condition of place has not moved anyone. Their promise has remained promise till date.

While talking to, Md. Yusuf Khushidi, former HOD Urdu department, Patna University said, “Locals have been demanding to build Library or Technical Institute in that place to commemorate but so far nothing has materialised.”

Yusuf Khhurshidi who belongs to Bahpura added, it is unfortunate that for a person, who sacrificed every thing for the country has been forgotten so fast. Maulana foresightedness can be judged by the fact that Maulana had emphasized on the communal harmony, democratic decentralization and education right from early stage of his life. Maulana was also in the forefront in establishing Bihar state which was carved out of Bengal.

Echoing Yusuf Khurshidi sentiments, Dananjay Yadav also demanded a memorial should be built for the one of the tallest visionary leader of Bihar.

Maulana’s family is living a struggling life in obscurity. It is disheartening to see family of a person who sacrificed everything from career to wealth for the sake of county is left high and dry.

Next birthday of Maulana Mazharul Haque is a month away. I am sure VIPs will be lining up to pay respect especially in election year. Few fascinating speeches will be delivered and few promises will be made. Politicians are known to have short term memory. So those promises will be forgotten sooner than later.

People in India too have selective memory, only very few are remembered for their part in freedom struggle and rests are still struggling to get freedom from obscurity.