The early life of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is still shrouded in mystery. There is no record available regarding his primary education anywhere.
These observations were made by the vice chancellor of the Sindh Madressatul Islam University (SMIU), Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh, on Monday.
He was delivering a lecture on “Quaid-e-Azam’s Education and his Educational Records” at the Sir Shahnawaz Bhutto Auditorium of the SMIU.
Shaikh said there was no enrollment record of primary education of the Quaid-e-Azam even in all old schools of Karachi. He said some people believed that Jinnah received his primary education at a primary school established in 1870 by the British in Jhirk, a beautiful small town about 80 miles north of Karachi, but there was no documentary proof of that.
“Some people say there was his record in the school in Jhirk, but it has been missing since 1970s. The other school of thought believes that he studied at home, but its record is also not available.”
The SMIU vice chancellor noted that they had the record of his secondary education only, which was the first record of his academic career. According to him, the Quaid-e-Azam got admission to the first standard in the SMI on July 4, 1887. At that time he showed he had passed four classes in Gujrati, and then left it for Bombay, where he received education from Anjman-e-Islam School for almost six months, he said, adding that Jinnah came back to the SMI and got admission on December 23, 1887 with a certificate of having passed the first standard and remained at the SMI till 1891.
Shaikh said that though the SMI was primarily meant for the Muslims of Sindh, it was multicultural in its outlook with its doors open to the followers of all the religions, who were on rolls as well as on the faculty. Teaching and learning of the English language was one of the top priorities under the supervision of the then education inspector in Sindh, he said.
He maintained that during Jinnah’s years of studies at the SMI, H.P. Jacob served as education inspector in Sindh. He was known for his love for pure literary English language and encouraged students and teachers to use literary language.
“H.P. Jacob was a frequent visitor to SMI and usually spent an entire day evaluating the progress made by students in English literature and speaking skills as well as in other subjects. The result of these efforts is visible in case of Jinnah, who had entered SMI after passing his class IV (primary) in Gujrati, but was able to pass the entrance examination of Lincoln’s Inn in London soon after the completion of his studies at SMI.”
Shaikh was of the view that the most important legacy of the SMI was the Quaid-e-Azam’s command over the English language, which helped him immensely in his profession as a top-notch lawyer in India and the “sole spokesman” of Indian Muslims in the unending parleys with the British and the Congress leaders.
Another important dimension of the studies at the SMI was students’ frequent exposure and interaction with top-ranking persons, he further said.
“During Jinnah’s studies at SMI for about four-and-a-half years, at least four grand programmes were held which were attended by the then viceroy and the governor general of British India, the governor of Bombay and the commissioner in Sindh.”
The vice chancellor maintained that one among them was the first prize distribution ceremony held in 1887, in which the governor of Bombay, Lord Reay, participated as chief guest.
He pointed out that another important event of the year 1887 was the foundation-stone laying ceremony of the main building of the SMI, which was attended by Lord Dufferin, the viceroy and the governor general of India, at a grand ceremony on November 14, 1887.
The Quaid-e-Azam’s initial exposure with the Western culture was during his studies at the SMI, the influence of which remained visible on his attire, manners and lifestyle throughout the rest of his life, he said.
“The Quaid studied in the SMI when Hassanally Effendi himself was managing the institution and his son Khan Bahadur Wali Muhammad Effendi was serving as principal. That is why the Quaid-e-Azam remembered Hassanally Effendi and his services for the institution even half a century later.”
On June 21, 1943, during the inauguration of college classes at the SMI, the Quaid-e-Azam delivered a speech and said, “After the death of the founder of the Madressah [Hassanally Effendi], there was nobody to look after his creation with the care it deserved.”
Later on, the Quaid-e-Azam received his education from Church Mission School in 1893 and then had moved to Lincoln’s Inn, from where he received a Bar at Law degree, the SMIU vice chancellor said.
On the occasion, the SMI University also organised an exhibition on Quaid’s educational records at the Jinnah Museum of the university.