Maulana Mazharul Haque
by Charu Bahri
Maulana Mazharul Haque was born to a rich landlord, Sheikh Amedullah, in Bihar in December 1866. An only son, he had two sisters Gafrunisha and Kaneej Fatma.
His primary education was delivered at home by a Maulvi, but he passed his matriculation from the Patna Collegiate in 1886. He then traveled to Lucknow for higher studies, where he was admitted to Cannig College. However, it is said that he found it difficult to adjust to circumstances and instead, chose to leave for England the same year to pursue a course in law. He returned to India qualified in law in 1891 and set up a legal practice in Patna. He even joined the judicial service as a Munsif, on the advice of a foreign friend. It is perhaps not surprising though, that he soon developed differences with the District & Sessions Judge and had to resign. Subsequently, he started a practice at Chapra.
He is said to have made a significant contribution to relief efforts launched during the famine in Saran district of Bihar in 1897. But 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, he moved to Patna to continue to practice law. It was also in 1906 that Maulana Mazharul Haque 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 is known to have stayed with his maternal uncle Dr. Saiyyad Mahmood in Siwan during the 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. Literally, purdah means ‘veil’ and the system involves women being confined indoors or wearing a protective veil whenever they venture outdoors. The purdah system espoused by Muslim and many Hindu families, especially in Bihar, meant that women remained behind men in all spheres of life. Around this time, he was approached by students of the Patna University desiring to support Gandhi’s call to boycott Government run institutions. The Bihar Vidyapeeth, then headquartered at an ashram he constructed on the Patna-Danapur road thus came into being. The ashram became well known as the Sadaquat Ashram, it now serves as the headquarters of the Congress party in Patna, the capital of the state of Bihar.
Sadaqt Ashram in 2006.
An avid writer and poet, in 1921, he started ‘The Motherland’ an English weekly journal (later bi-weekly) which was used to propagate thoughts and ideals of the Non Cooperation Movement.
While Maulana Mazharul Haque’s birthplace was village Brahmpur, Thana Maner of Patna district, by 1900 his affinity to village Faridpur of district Siwan (then Saran district) where his family held a lot of land was well established. Here he constructed a home and named it ‘Ashiana.’ ‘Ashiana’ was visited by a number of India’s leaders of the times, such as Pandit Motilal Nehru in 1927, Sarojini Devi in 1928 and afterwards over the years Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, K.F. Nariman and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad.
Mazharul Haque retired from politics during the last years of his life. He died in his home, ‘Ashiana’ in January 1930.
In remembrance of this worthy freedom fighter and educationalist, in April 1988, the Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University was founded at Patna.
Book on Maulana Mazharul Haque : By Publication division of Govt. of India.