The heritage Anjuman-I-Islam building in south Mumbai is currently getting a fresh coat of paint. Its thick walls, high ceiling and antique wooden gate are being scrubbed clean too. The iconic structure will soon be bathed in delightful lights as it does on special occasions such as Independence Day and Republic Day. Anjuman has turned 145 and will celebrate its founders’ day later this month.
Even as an impressive list of guests is being finalized to mark the founders’ day, an appraisal of Anjuman, located in the heart of the city, seems in order.
Anjuman opened its doors in February 1874 with three teachers and 120 students simultaneously at two places—Babula Tank in Dhobitalao and Dongri. Today, it is a conglomerate of 97 institutions that caters to more than one lakh students. Anjuman’s story is not just about statistics though; it is also about the nationalistic and secular values it has imparted over the years.
“Since it was founded by people of stellar nationalistic and secular fervour, Anjuman has imbibed those values and is committed to imparting quality education, discipline and service to the nation,” says Dr Zahir Kazi, Anjuman’s president and radiologist, seated at his ground-floor office in the building whose walls adorn old photos of the city’s many landmarks.
Kazi has evidently crammed important milestones in Anjuman’s journey and rattles them off enthusiastically. In 1874, Badruddin Tayabji, the first Indian judge of the Bombay high court and third president of Indian National Congress, solicitor Qamruddin Tayabji, his elder brother, philanthropist Nakhuda Mohammed Ali Roghe, social worker Munshi Ghulam Mohammed, and a few others met at the Tayabji house and decided to establish a school. “Munshi Ghulam Mohammed had travelled to several north Indian cities such as Lahore and Delhi where Muslims had established schools named Anjumans. The group decided to have such a school in Mumbai as well and called it Anjuman-I-Islam. At the meeting, Roghe donated Rs 10,000 while Tayabji contributed Rs 7,500 towards the school fund,” says linguist and researcher professor Abdus Sattar Dalvi.
Once the number of students—all boys; a girls school came up later—swelled to 628, the founders decided to have a permanent building, says Kazi. The then Bombay governor, Lord Reay, laid the foundation stone of the present building on May 31, 1890, while his successor, George Harris, inaugurated it on February 27, 1893.
While retaining its Islamic roots, Anjuman has maintained its secular character. When Anjuman opened its girls school, later named after Saif Tayyabji, at Mumbai Central in 1936, an eclectic list of women manged it: Ms Samson, a Jewish woman, was its principal, Ms Bharucha, a Parsi, its vice-principal, and Ms Parulekar, a Hindu, its head teacher. When it opened its girls school in Bandra next year, Ms Mathai, a Christian, became its principal.
Although several past presidents, including barrister Akbar Peerbhoy, freedom fighter Moinuddin Harris and Dr Ishaq Jamkhanawala, expanded Anjuman, the institution has grown “phenomenally” in the past decade. A jewel in Anjuman’s crown is its Integrated Technical Campus at Panvel. Anjuman’s alumni include thespian Dilip Kumar, actor-writer Kader Khan, producer-director Ismail Merchant, cricketers Salim Durrani, Ghulam Parkar and Wasim Jaffer, Dr A R Undre, Dr M A Patankar, politicians A R Antualy and Majeed Memon, and several corporate leaders.
SOURCE: Times of India |Mumbai |17th February, 2019|Page No. 05