City Landmarks – Sindh Madressatul Islam

The Aligarh of Sindh. Sindh Madressatul Islam played a critical role in development of Muslim youth in times when Muslims of Sindh in general lagged behind socially and economically. It was made possible due to generosity and genuine interest in human capital building which visionaries in yesteryear exhibited on regular basis and built institutions which served indiscriminately for centuries to come. The visionary in case is Hassan Ali Effendi, an unlikely law practitioner from Hyderabad.

Hassan Ali Effendi, a member of Akhund family started his career in the office of Deputy Commissioner in Sindh. He would later join Indus Flotilla – a company setup by british in 1859 to transport crops from Punjab to the port in Karachi. Indus flotilla provided British with not just a safe and reliable transportation system but it also provided means to establish communication between Punjab and Sindh. Jhirk – a small town near Dadu – was the point at which journey ended for the steamers coming all the way from North Punjab. Goods were transferred to the trains which took them to the port in Kemari. This complex system required a large workforce and Hassan Ali Effendi joined Indus Flotilla in Jhirk. As the legend goes, one night Hassan Ali Effendi was reading an English book in the dim light of lamp when a curious Englishman saw him and engaged in a conversation. That Englishman in point was Mr. Middleton, Chief Judge of Saddar Court and he was moved deeply by Effendi’s intellect. He offered him a job in Karachi and later a special permission to practice law even without a formal degree in law. He would not just stop there but ensure that he returns to society at large and muslims in particular who despite being in majority were lagging behind in education and commerce. He worked through ‘Sindh Sabha’ under the guidance of Mr. Dayaram Jethamal to promote education in Sindhis and independently to setup a school himself.

In 1885 he would go on to establish Sindh Madrassatul Islam with the help of some friends which could be called first Modern Muslim school in Sindh. Although the primary objective of the institute remained to benefit Muslims but teachers and students from different ethnic and religious formed a multicultural and liberal environment. Hassan Ali Effendi passed away in 1895 but not before seeing Muslim youth reaping benefits of his generosity. The notable alumni includes Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Abdullah Haroon, Shahnawaz Bhutto, Allama I.I. Kazi and many others.

Sindh Madrassatul Islam became a college in 1943 and Jinnah personally inaugurated it. He would later bequeath one third of his belongings to his Alma mater. The college was given status of university in 2012.The building of particular interest are the main academic block and the library. Boarding schools namely Hassanally House, Khairpur House, Talpur house and Sardar House were built at later stage for boarding students from all over the country.

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