Mohammedan Literary Society

Mohammedan Literary Society was founded by Nawab abdool luteef in Kolkata in 1863. He himself was its secretary and his residence at 16 Taltala (Calcutta) was its head office. The management committee of the society was formed with Prince Mahomed Ruheemoodin of Mysore as President, and Prince Mirza Jahan Kader Bahadur of Oudh and Prince Mahomed Nusseroodin Hyder of Mysore as Vice-Presidents. There were 12 members in the committee, notable among whom were Prince Mirza Asman Jah Bahadur and Prince Mahomed Jah Ali Bahadur of Oudh and Prince Mahomed Harmuz Shah and Prince Mahomed Bakhtyar Shah of Mysore. The Lieutenant Governor of Bengal was made the Patron of the Society. More than 500 Muslims from all parts of India joined the society as ordinary members. Deliberations in the monthly meetings were held in Urdu, Persian, Arabic and English languages.

The Society was established, in Luteef's own words, 'to educate the Muslims in western learning through English medium and to prepare them equal to the educated Hindus and the English men in social intercourse. With this end in view, he arranged meetings for discussion on various subjects such as science, arts and living issues, and to find out ways and means for the expansion of Muslim education. The society worked to restore the self-confidence that was eroding faster among the Muslims and to initiate a new phase of social development by introducing modern education and intellectual discussions in order to establish a dependable bridge between the rulers and the ruled. So the establishment of the society, the first Muslim institution of its kind, in course of time produced great internal as well as external benefits.

The first meeting of the Mohammedan Literary Society was held at 16 Taltala under the chairmanship of Maulvi Md Wazir. Exchange of views and opinions was the main feature of such regular meetings. Once a year, the society held a conversazione at the town hall of Calcutta. Some of the most eminent scientific personalities of the city, European as well as native, were present on the occasion for the purpose of exhibiting interesting scientific experiments. In 1865 a large gathering was held in the Calcutta Town Hall in which the Lt Governor of Bengal was the chief guest. About two thousand delegates - Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Jews - attended the meeting. Soon the Society became a meeting-place of distinguished scholars and learned persons. The Maharaja of Indore, the Begum of Bhopal, the Rajas of Jaipur, Patiala and Kuch-Bihar attended as guests of honour in meetings of the Society.

Nawab Abdool Luteef drew the attention of the Government to the fundamental issues confronting the Muslims. Spreading higher education among the Muslims and proper utilization of the Mohsin Endowment Fund for Muslim education were noteworthy achievements of the Society. Through his tireless efforts, Nawab Abdool Luteef made the Mohammedan Literary Society a powerful forum for the social, cultural and intellectual progress of Muslims. It survived as the most important nerve centre of the Muslims of Bengal down to 1930 under the name of the Muslim Institute of Calcutta. [MA Khaleque]