Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi

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Mian Muhammad Shafi was born on March 10, 1869 in the town of Baghbanpura at Lahore in a well-off family. His father Mian Mohammad Din who was famous for his generosity all over the area took a personal interest in the education of his son. Muhammad Shafi got his education at Government College and Forman Christian College Lahore and later went to England for higher studies and obtained his degree in Law. On his return he started practice as a lawyer in Hushiarpur. In 1895 he migrated to Lahore and continued the same profession. Following the footsteps of his family, Muhammad Shafi also showed a good deal of interest in public affairs and social and educational activities. While he was studying at England he deeply observed the political traditions of an independent nation. He was the member of Anjumun-e-Islamian-e-Hind at England while he was a student.

In 1906 Mian Muhammad Shafi organized a Muslim Association but when the All-India Muslim League came into being, he became General Secretary of the Punjab Provincial Muslim League in November 1907. It is noteworthy that Mian Fazl-i-Hussain had also started an organization, which he named “Muslim League”. Mian Fazl-i-Hussain and Mian Muhammad Shafi both attended the first session of the All-India Muslim League but their differences started in the second meeting when Mian Fazl-i-Hussain presented the names of eighteen members and Mian Muhammad Shafi enlisted twenty-four to constitute body of the Punjab Muslim League. Both of them were urged to decide unanimously in submitting a list of twenty-four members. Both of them agreed to compromise with the result that Mian Muhammad Shafi continued, as General Secretary while Mian Fazl-i-Hussain was its Joint Secretary. Most of the work in connection with the Muslim demands in the forthcoming Minto-Morley reforms was due to the sole efforts of Mian Muhammad Shafi and Mian Shah Din. Mian Muhammad Shafi retained his control of the Provincial League and dominated the political field of the Punjab till 1916. Due to his differences with Mian Fazl-i-Hussain and then with the All-India body of the Muslim League because of his opposition to the Lucknow Pact which sacrificed the Muslim interests in the Punjab and Bengal, he resigned from the Punjab Muslim League in 1916. From 1911 to 1914 he remained member of Imperial Legislative Council where he promoted the Indian Muslims. His services are significant in making important developments in the field of education and for setting up Muslim University of Aligarh. Mian Sahib had differences with Jinnah on the arrival of Simon Commission in India as Mian Shafi wanted to cooperate with the Commission while did not want to collaborate. However, both the leaders came to an agreement in 1929.

Mian Muhammad Shafi was always eager to give the Muslim women their due status in the society. He presided over the educational conferences of Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College of Women wing. His daughter Begum Shahnawaz actively participated in Pakistan Movement. Mian Muhammad Shafi was given the title of “Sir” by the British government in 1919. He participated in the Round Table Conferences and sincerely advocated the cause of Indian Muslims.

He expired on 7 January 1932 shortly after he was appointed as Education Member by the Government of India during Sir Fazl-i-Husain’s deputation in South Africa.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 01, 2007