The First Muslim President of Indian National Congress | Badruddin Tyabji Biography

The First Muslim President of Indian National Congress | Badruddin Tyabji Biography

The first Muslim President of Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji. He was also known by the name Tyab Ali. He was a learned and respected man who was considered as Mahatma Gandhi as an instrumental figure in formation of Indian National Congress. According to Gandhi, it was the influence of Badruddin Tyabji which helped to shape the national character of Congress by making Muslims participate in it. He was the first Muslim who created secular political consciousness.

Badruddin Tyabji

In this article we will take a quick look into Badruddin Tyabji’s life and his contributions but before that, let us take a quick look into his life in a tabular format.

Born in Bombay
Born on October 10, 1844
Major Achievement Helped in the foundation of Bombay Presidency Association
Political Affiliation Congress
Position Held First Muslim President of Indian National Congress
Major Contribution Campaigned against Purdah system
Chief Justice Held the post in Bombay in 1902 and was the first Indian to have achieved this

Early Life of Badruddin Tyabji

He was born in Bombay on October 10, 1844. His father was a descendent of an emigrant Arab family who settled in old Cambay. He was a bright student from childhood and he passed London Matriculation. After that, he was able to get into Middle Temple and from there, he emerged as a barrister in year 1867. That made him India’s first barrister located in Bombay. He quickly earned respect and became popular in his profession.

He spent three years at Bar and then entered into public life. In 1871 he was elected as a member of Bombay Municipal Corporation. After that, he became one of the three stars of Bombay public like. The other two stars were Kashinath Telang and Pherozshah Mehta. In 1882 he became Bombay Legislative Council’s member but in 1886, because of health problems, he resigned from the post.

Entrance into Indian National Congress

While being a member of Bombay Legislative Council, he helped with the foundation of Bombay Presidency Association in year 1885. Weirdly enough, he ran the association almost single-handedly. Soon Indian National Congress held its Bombay session where Badruddin Tyabji and his brother Camruddin Tyabji were invited. However, an urgent business showed up in Cambay and both of them had to go there. They could not show up as delegates. There opponents wanted to take advantage of this and they immediately stated that the Muslims were boycotting Congress. Badruddin Tyabji didn’t take this comment lightly and he immediately denied the allegations stating that he is above the sectarian and communal prejudices.

He was once again invited for a second session of INC but once again he failed to show up. However, this time it was health reasons. Nonetheless, his popularity didn’t decline and he was chosen as the President of the third session of Indian National Congress. The third Session was in Madras in 1887 and his selection was unanimous.

Badruddin’s Idea of Indian Politics

Badruddin was himself a very educated man. He noticed that India was heavily focused on politics alone. He realized that politics alone will not take India anywhere. He believed that no matter how big and powerful a government is, if the majority of its members are uneducated and ignorant, the government remains useless. He noted that Indians, especially Muslims lacked education and were ignorant. Hence, he started campaigning against the Purdah system and he maintained that campaign throughout his life stating that this system of Purdah is way beyond injunctions of Quran.

He became India’s first Muslim to abolish Purdah system in his very own family. He sent both his daughters abroad for education. In 1891, he was the person who supported the Age of Consent Bill despite the fact that both Hindus and Muslims were opposing the same.

Judgeship and Death

Badruddin’s health started deteriorating in 1895. He was no longer able to actively participate in politics and that’s when he accepted Bombay High Court’s Judgeship. Hindus, Parsis and Muslims – every sect welcomed this with open heart. In 1902 he became Bombay’s chief justice. This made him the first Indian to hold this position. In that position, he showed great judgement, impartiality and courage by granting Bal Gangadhar Tilak a bail. It became a sensational case as the bail appeal of Tilak was declined thrice before it reached Badruddin’s desk. By doing so, he even admonished the British Counsel members for belittling Indian National Congress.

He clearly stated that Congress Presidentship has always been highly regarded by him and so much that he honours that position more than the bench of Chief Justice and hence, he will not tolerate any contemptuous reference to INC in his court.

Later his health started deteriorating quickly. In 1906 he went to England (London) where he took his last breath on August 19, 1906. The cause of his death was heart attack.

There is absolutely no doubt that Badruddin Tyabji was a Patriotic Indian Muslim who always put his nation ahead of his religion and strived to make it a better nation.

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