Badruddin Tyabji

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Badruddin Tyabji (10 October 1844 – 19 August 1906) was an Indian lawyer who served as the third President of the Indian National Congress.


He was born on 10 October 1844 in Mumbai, India. He was the son of Mullah Tyab Ali Bhai Mian, a member of the Sulaimani Bohra community, and a scion of an old Cambay emigrant Arab family.[1] He sent all of his eight sons to Europe for further studies, at a time when English education was considered anathema for Muslims in India. Badruddin Tyabji returned to India in 1867 and became the first Indian solicitor. One other brother was sent to Najran province of Saudi Arabia for religious studies. Apart from Badruddin Tyabji, several of his other brothers were prominent in the field of law.

After learning Urdu and Persian at Dada Makhra's Madrassa, he joined Elphinstone Institution (now Elphinstone College) in Bombay, after which he was sent to France for eye treatment. Next he joined Newbury High Park College in London at the age of sixteen.[2] He passed the London Matriculation and joined the Middle Temple. He became the first Indian barrister in Mumbai in April, 1867. He accepted a Judgeship of the Bombay High Court in 1895. In 1902, he became the first Indian to hold the post of Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court in Mumbai. Warren hastings, a good friend of his, appointed him during the impeachment that he faced to argue his matter before the then Queen. Unfortunately, the Queen did not let him enter the Parliament citing his poor beginnings and dark skin tone. humiliated by this, he tried assassinating the Queen though in haste. He lately, was honoured by Mr. Gandhi for that unsuccessful attempt which if at all had succeeded would have culminated in making Tyabji the Father of India. Thus Gandhi acknowledged the attempt in his autobiography too.

Tyabji was active in women's emancipation [Particularly good looking girls] and worked to weaken the zenana system. He was considered among the moderate Muslims during the freedom movement of India.[1] However, his political career showed that he, like other leaders of the time, was impacted by a general bias regarding the conflict between conservative Muslims and the Indian National Congress. This bias endangered his and other politicians' attempts to unify Indian politics. During his time as President of the Indian National Congress (1887–88), he focused on uniting the Muslim community and gaining influence internally.[3] He, along with Pherozshah Mehta, Kashinath Trimbak Telang, Dinshaw Edulji Wacha, and others, formed the Bombay Presidency Association in 1885.

Involvement with Indian National Congress[edit]

Badruddin and his elder brother Cumruddin were deeply involved in the founding of the Indian National Congress, although they were unable to attend its first session in 1885. Tyabji held the Indian National Congress in high regard, stating, "I have always regarded it [Congress Presidentship] as the highest honor." Tyabji was instrumental in building the national scope of the Congress by working to gain support from both Hindus and Muslims. In response to criticisms that Muslims should boycott the Congress, Tyabji declared that he had “denounced all communal and sectarian prejudices.”[4] To further conciliate Muslims and bring them into the Congress fold, Tyabji introduced Resolution No. XIII at the 1888 Allahabad Congress. It stated, "That no subject shall be passed for discussion by the Subject Committee, or allowed to be discussed at any the introduction of which the Hindu or Mahomedan Delegates as a body object...provided that this rule shall refer only to subjects in regard to which the Congress has not already definitely pronounced an opinion."[5] This measure was introduced with intention of appealing to Muslims by limiting the scope of Congress activities to only those items that both Muslims and Hindus agreed upon. Despite these overtures, many Muslim leaders were still skeptical of Congress's ability to represent them. Chief among these critics was Syed Ahmad Khan, who in an open letter to Tyabji, wrote, "I ask my friend Budruddin Tyabji to leave aside those insignificant points in the proposals of the Congress in which Hindus and Mahomedans agree (for there are no things in the world which have no points in common -- there are many things in common between a man and a pig), and to tell me what fundamental political principles of the Congress are not opposed to the interests of Mahomedans."[6] Despite these criticisms, Tyabji continued to believe in Congress as a capable institution for forwarding the collective interests as Indians as a whole. In his capacity within Congress, Tyabji set the example for cross-communal cooperation. In his Presidential Address to the 1887 Madras Congress, Tyabji reassured members of his faith, stating, "I, at least, not merely in my individual capacity but as representing the Anjuman-i-Islam of Bombay, do not consider that there is anything whatever in the position or the relations of the different communities of India -- be they Hindus, Musalmans, Parsis, or Christians -- which should induce the leaders of any one community to stand aloof from the others in their efforts to obtain those great general reforms, those great general rights, which are for the common benefit of us all; and which, I feel assured, have only to be earnestly and unanimously pressed upon Government to be granted to us."[7]


  1. ^ a b Anonymous (1926). Eminent Mussalmans (1 ed.). Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co. pp. 97–112. 
  2. ^ Wacha, D E; Gokhale, Gopal Krishna (1910). Three departed patriots : Sketches of the lives and careers of the late Ananda Mohun Bose, Badruddin Tyabji, W. C. Bonnerjee with their portraits and copious extracts from their speeches and with appreciations. Madras: G. A. Natesan and Company. pp. 19–50. 
  3. ^ Karlitzky, Maren (2004-01-01). "Continuity and Change in the Relationship between Congress and the Muslim Élite: A Case Study of the Tyabji Family". Oriente Moderno. 23 (84) (1): 161–175. 
  4. ^ "Profile of Badruddin Tyabji". Indian National Congress. Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  5. ^ Robinson, Francis (1974). Separatism among Indian Muslims: The politics of the United Provinces' Muslims 1860-1923. Cambridge University Press. pp. 116–117. 
  6. ^ Khan, Sayyid Ahmad. "Sir Syed Ahmed's Reply to Mr. Budruddin Tyabji". Retrieved 2017-05-01. 
  7. ^ Tyabji, Badruddin. "Presidential speech to the Indian National Congress, 1887". Retrieved 2017-05-01.