Hassan Ali Effendi

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Born (1830-08-14)14 August 1830
Died 20 August 1895(1895-08-20) (aged 65)

Hassan Ali Effendi (Urdu: حسن علی افندیSindhi: حسن علي آفندي‎; b. 14 August 1830 – 20 August 1895) was an educationist in South Asia who is credited as the founder of one of the first Muslim schools in British India: the Sindh Madrasatul Islam (established in 1885), located in Karachi in modern-day Pakistan.[1] Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, became among the school's famous graduates. Other notable graduates of the school include Shahnawaz Bhutto, Abdullah Haroon, Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah and Allama I.I. Kazi.[2]


Effendi belonged to a respectable family of Akhunds from Hyderabad, Sindh; he had Turkish ancestry.[3]

While still very young, he lost his father and was brought up by his elder brother Umed Ali Akhund.[citation needed] As according to the tradition of the Akhund family, he was enrolled in a local madrassa to read and study the Qur'an and learn the basics of the Persian language.[citation needed]

Upon the completion of this traditional education, Ali found work as a clerk in the office of the Deputy Collector of Naushahro. One of his Christian colleagues there persuaded him to learn English, a language that was at the time avoided by Muslims in the Indian subcontinent. Nevertheless, he devoted all his leisure hours to the pursuit of learning English and soon acquired reasonable proficiency in reading, writing and speaking the language.

Later, Effendi started to work for the Indus flotilla, a shipping company. In the mid-1860s, while he still worked for the company, a British judge from Karachi by the name of Middleton, happened to cross the Indus river by ferry, spending the night on the ferry boat in order to cross the following morning. Middleton found Hassan Ali Effendi reading an English book by the dim light of an oil lamp. Surprised to discover that the man was a Muslim, he was impressed enough to offer him a role as a translator in the District Court of Karachi on the magnificent salary of sixty rupees a month. Hassan Ali Effendi accepted the offer and moved to Karachi to assume his new responsibilities. Impressed by his performance, Judge Middleton allowed him to practice law before the court without passing any formal degree in law. This was the turning point in Hassan Ali Effendi's life. At that time, there was not a single Muslim advocate apart from him in the entire province; the lawyers tended to be either English or Hindus. Soon he was appointed as the Public Prosecutor, the first non-European in Sindh to be in charge of that post, which he would retain for 14 years.

His family includes Wajid Shamsul Hasan High Commissioner of Pakistan to the United Kingdom and the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, is Effendi's great grandson through his mother's family.[2]

Sindh Madrasatul Islam[edit]

Effendi began to take an interest in the welfare of the Muslim population in Sindh, and especially the spread of education in communities.[citation needed] Much of his drive was influenced by the Indian Muslim educationist Syed Ahmed Khan, founder of the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College.[citation needed] Wishing to replicate his efforts, Effendi even travelled to Aligarh (present-day India) where he sought guidance from Syed.[citation needed] It was here that he also happened to meet the British principal of the college, Theodore Beck.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Soomro, Faiz Mohammad (1977). Cultural history of Sind. Karachi: National Book Foundation. p. 2. OCLC 5147200.
  2. ^ a b SMIU’s 127th Foundation Day, The News
  3. ^ Shaikh, Muhammad Ali (1995). Sindh Madressah: a journey through times. Sindh Madressatul Islam. p. 22. OCLC 35861879.