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January 8, 2015

Jamal Mian of Firangi Mahal remembered


January 8, 2015

The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) was the venue of an enlightening lecture on the life and times of noted Muslim figure of the subcontinent, Maulana Jamal Mian of Firangi Mahal.
Prof Francis Robinson, professor of History of South Asia at the Royal Holloway University in London, delivered an erudite, well-researched lecture on the Muslim luminary.
Prof Robinson traced Jamal Mian’s life and its ups and downs from his birth on December 5, 1919, in Firangi Mahal, Lucknow, to his demise on November 14, 2012, in Karachi.
The professor said that even though Jamal Mian was a typical aristocrat, paradoxically enough, he was deeply interested in the welfare of the Muslim masses and worked for their uplift. “His primary concern was to protect the Muslims’ interests.”
Jamal Mian studied philosophy and the theology of Islamic thought. His works, according to Prof Robinson, moved to the Middle East and formed the basis of rational thought in the higher seats of learning there.
Robinson spoke at length about Jamal Mian’s engagement with the All-India Muslim League that brought him to Karachi.
In 1936 at the Palestine Conference in Calcutta, Jamal Mian met and interacted with Jawaharlal Nehru. In his memoirs he says, “I remember having offered my prayers alongside Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.”
Robinson also talked of Jamal Mian’s association with Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and 1938 onwards, he was involved in all Muslim League campaigns pertaining to the elections.
Jamal Mian’s first visit to Karachi was at the time of the convening of the first All-Sindh Muslim Conference when he was only 18, and he made a speech at the conference.
In 1947 Jamal Mian also served as Ahmed Isfahani’s secretary. After a series of happenings, things began to fall into difficulties for the family.
Come 1964, Ayub Khan asked him to joint his 1965 election campaign. Later, Khan gave him a licence to set up

a sugar mill that culminated in the Shakarganj Sugar Mills.
The professor traced Jamal Mian’s journey from a scholar to a politician to a business person. His earthly tenure came to an end in 2011 in Karachi where he was buried.
Robinson’s lecture became all the more engrossing with a slide presentation comprising historic photographs: group photographs showing him alongside important political personalities of various eras from the Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad to Iskander Mirza, Ghulam Farooque and others.
The lecture was followed by a question-answer session keenly participated in by the PIIA members and the media.
Rumana Hussain and noted architect and town planner Arif Hassan jointly moderated the session. The lecture was held under the aegis of the Karachi Conference.

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