When two Indian healthcare professionals visited Europe in 1925.

Both Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari and Hakeem Ajmal khan were also elected as presidents of the Muslim league and the Indian National Congress. Together with Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar they laid the foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia. Hakeem Ajmal Khan became the first chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia followed by Dr Mukhtaar Ahmad Ansari. Hakeem Ajmal Khan was also the founder of Tibbia College for Ayurvedic & Unani medicine.

This account shows their visit to Europe in 1925.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari sailed from the Bombay harbour on 10 April 1925 in the company of his ailing friend, Hakim Ajmal Khan, who was to receive medical treatment in Paris and London. This voyage was different from his previous two. He first went to England as a student; later, he travelled to Constantinople as a relatively unknown doctor.

But it was not the same on this occasion, for his reputation both as a professional surgeon and a statesman with much political acumen was firmly established in the countries he planned to visit. Ansari could have well anticipated the welcome that awaited him.

The first Indian Doctor (from the family of Hakims) to work at the Charing Cross Hospital

Ansari’s first halt was Port Said where he and Ajmal Khan were enchanted by the reception extended by some distinguished Egyptians. He wrote: “Tlie crowding of the main deck by long-robed officials, the warmth of their welcome, the flow of eloquent and sonorous Arabic in high-pitched voices, accompanied by even more eloquent gestures, though it wanned our hearts greatly, caused a little flutter in official dovecotes.” The reference was to the Viceroy of India, Reading (1860-1935), who was on his way to London.

Paris was the next stop. Judging from their letters home, both Ansari and Ajmal Klian were quite ecstatic to be in the French capital and to see much that was new, such as the mosque and the Muslim Institute, situated on the same side of the river Seine as the University of Sorbonne and the Quaitier Latin.

‪Hakim Ajmal Khan, one who had defeated British surgeons in the surgical duel.‬

They were also introduced to the savants of the Sorbonne and the University of Paris, received as officials of the Jamia Millia Islamia at a gathering of the Rapproachement Universitaire: and feted and lionized by the Carnegie Foundation, a melange of poets, aitists, writers and rich young hangers-on.

They lectured at the Societe de Sociologie de Paris and the Ligue du Droit de PHomme et du Citoyen, on the non-cooperation movement, conducted discussions with Several prominent Indians which convinced them that India’s salvation lay in Gandhi’s non-violent non-copperation programme and were able to keep up with the rapid, esoteric chatter that swirled around them. They were even quicker at becoming adept at the nightly partying. Ansari, in particular, looked every inch the polished performer.

After a month long stay in Paris, the doctor and the hakim spent six weeks in Lausanne where “at last we have got that complete rest and peace which has done us a world of good.” The trip was all sweetness and light.

Vienna was their next halt. There they saw the Medical Exhibition and purchased pathology specimens, charts and maps for the Ayurvedic and
Yunani Tibbia College at Delhi. They also went for sightseeing though Ansari was depressed that the ‘magnificent capital of the old dual monarchy looked like a ghost of its former self.

Hakim Ajmal Khan, Man behind India’s first Female Midwifery School and Hospital.

The chateaux, palaces, monuments, public buildings, squares and boulevards in Vienna ‘stand today quite neglected, reminding one of their past splendour. The Austrians can hardly keep them in repairs’.

Ansari’s stay in Europe was rewarding. He made a round of the hospitals and clinics where work on tlie regenerative methods of treatment was done, watched with care the technique of different workers and discussed their results with
them. He visited Paris, Lucerne and Vienna specially and saw the work of Eugene Steinach, Robert Lichtenstern, a urologist, and S. Voronoff. He gained much in practical and clinical knowledge which was reflected in his paper presented at the Delhi Medical Association in October 1925.

Ansari parted company with Ajmal Khan in Vienna. While the hakim left for Marseilles, Ansari boarded the Orient Express on its journey to Constantinople.
He reached the historic city on the morning of 19 July 1925. But it was a city with a difference.

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari : Great Freedom Fighter of India & "Symbol of Hindu-Muslim Unity"

On 13 October 1923 the National Assembly had voted that Ankara (old Ancyra), founded by the Phiygian king Midas in the seventh century BC and once a great centre from which caravan roads led off into Persia, Syria and Armenia, be the seat of government. The decision to move the
capital from Constantinople (Istanbul) into central Anatolia was in recognition of the fact that Anatolia now was in Turkey, unencumbered by European, Arab or African provinces. The shift to Ankara also symbolized a clean break with the Ottoman past. Ansari noticed the change.

He reported in the columns of Comrade that Constantinople did not show the same ‘bustle and activity’ as in the days of the Ottoman Empire. He found large buildings, militaiy barracks, depots and arsenals empty and bare. Caught up in post-war lethargy and weariness, the people were hungry, taxes were heavy and food scarce.

Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari with Muhammad Ali Jauhar in Constantinople, 1912

Ansari wrote of ‘a vast number of poor, ill-clad, starving humanity begging in the streets’. He also referred to the uphill task of making a ‘civilized’ nation out of nothing, though he was acutely aware of the futility and superficiality of certain reforms, such as the “Hat Law”, being part of the much-advertised modernism.

Meeting old friends and comrades convinced him that, despite external threats and internal feuds, Turkey was surging ahead on the road to progress.

In relation to India generally and the Muslims in particular, Ansari commended the views of Turkish officials to the judicious and careful consideration of his people. According to his assessment, the Turks were sympathetic to the national ideals and aspirations of the Indians and believed that the
greatest service India could render to world peace was to attain freedom speedily.

Their message to the pan-Islamists in India was equally significant. In the first place, it was made plain that Turkey was beset with great external and internal difficulties and could not, therefore, participate in ‘any movement involving fresh responsibilities’. Secondly, the Muslim peoples should work towards their educational, social and economic advancement, ‘should not even think of electing a Khalifa’ and on no account lend themselves to perpetuate autocracy of an individual or a dynasty in any guise or shape.

The Indian Subcontinent Red Crescent Society’s Aid to the Ottoman State during the Balkan war in 1912:

And finally, Ansari informed the readers of the Comrade that the Turkish officials ‘are cognisant of the differences in their point of view and ours regarding the question of Khilafat’. But they maintained that it was better to have no Khalifa rather than to have one who would be ‘ineffective’ and even ‘injurious’.

The Turkish Government could not have disavowed its remaining links with the pan-Islamists in India in a more forthright and categorical manner. Ansari’s impressions, published in the Comrade of 18 September, sealed the fate of those intransigent pan-Islamists who hoped to make political capital out of the situation prevalent in Turkey.

In fact, when Ansari returned to India at the end of 1925 he found the Khilafatists deep in the hot cauldron of party quarrels because their movement had lost its raison d’etre. The Khilafat party was split into factions and the factions into fractions.


Source :- M.A. Ansari (1995), by Mushirul Hasan

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Dr. Zareen Fatima

Dr Zareen is an ambitious general dentist working and residing in UAE. She is able to handle multiple tasks on a daily basis. Alongside her busy work schedule, she is a vivid reader, researcher, writer editor and is currently pursuing Masters in Public Health. In her leisure she brings out the forgotten history in the field of medicine and associated disciplines.

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