Mohammad Habib

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Mohammad Habib (Urdu: محمد حبیب‎, Hindi: मोहम्मद हबीब) (1895–1971) was an Indian historian of medieval India.[1] In 1947, the year of India's independence, he delivered the presidential address to the Indian History Congress.[2] He was a professor, later emeritus, at Aligarh Muslim University. His son is the historian Irfan Habib.[3]


Mohammad Habib was a son of Mohammed Naseem. His wife Sohaila was the daughter of Abbas Tyabji.[4] His son Irfan Habib, is a historian and Professor Emeritus at Aligarh Muslim University.[5]


Mohammad Habib studied at the M.A.O. School and College (now Aligarh Muslim University. He topped the B.A. examination of the Allahabad University in 1916. The Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College was then affiliated to Allahabad University. He then proceeded to Oxford for higher studies where he was the president of the Oxford Majlis.[6]

It was there that he received his baptism in nationalism. He was among the organizers of the Oxford Majlis, which he served as president for one term. The ideas of his liberal-minded tutor Ernest Barker, a meeting with Sarojini Naidu, the patronage which he received from Maulana Mohammad Ali, who visited London those days, played a role in shaping young Habib's ideas. At the call of Maulana Mohammad Ali, Habib returned to India to teach at Jamia Millia Islamia but apparently never became a regular member of its staff. When the non-co-operation movement was called off in 1922, he accepted an appointment as a Reader, and almost immediately afterwards as Professor, at the newly chartered Aligarh Muslim University.[6]

In 1926, he won the election of the U.P. Legislative Council as a Swarajist (Swaraj Party). The next year, he married Sohaila, daughter of Abbas Tyabji a noted disciple of Mahatma Gandhi.With her he had two sons named Kamal Mohammad Habib and Irfan Habib. Soon after Habib became a great admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru and gave a considerable part of his income to the Congress Party.[citation needed]

At Aligarh, Habib made his mark in many ways. As an academician, his great emphasis was on writing history based on original sources, and he encouraged the study of aspects of history other than dynastic or political. He himself wrote on social and cultural history, and painstakingly unravelled the history of Muslim mystics for some of whom he came to cherish an almost personal affection.

In the forties, his interest in Marxism heightened; and in 1952 he presented in a remarkable piece, his introduction to a reprint of volume II of Elliot and Dowson's The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians, an interpretation of early medieval India deeply influenced by Marxist ideas. He visited Paris to represent his country at the UN General Assembly, followed by a trip to Peking (now Beijing) in 1952 on the first goodwill mission from India to People's Republic of China.Both the visits strengthened him in his belief in the need for India to help countries resisting imperialism. He kept nursing the sapling of liberalism in the portals of the University.

He retired in 1958 but was appointed Professor Emeritus.[citation needed] He lost neither his interest in politics nor in research work. He contested for the office of the Vice-President of India in 1969 as a candidate of the combined opposition, partly because he was critical of the government policies, and partly because, as he cheerfully told Press Correspondents, he was going to lose.[7] He died on 22 June 1971 following a brief illness.[8]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Hazrat Amir Khusrau of Delhi. 1st Pakistan ed. Lahore : Islamic Book Service [1979].
  • Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya: hayat aur talimat.Dihli : Shubah-yi Urdu, Dihli Yunivarsiti, [1972] University of Delhi. Dept. of Urdu. Silsilah-i matbuat-i Shubah-yi Urdu [1970].
  • The political theory of the Delhi sultanate (including a translation of Ziauddin Barani's Fatawa-i Jahandari, ...) Allahabad, Kitab Mahal [1961].
  • Politics and society during the early medieval period: collected works of Professor Mohammad Habib / edited by Khaliq Ahmad Nizami. New Delhi : People's Pub. House [1974–1981].
  • Some aspects of the foundation of the Delhi Sultanat [sic]. Delhi, Dr. K. M. Ashraf Memorial Committee; [sole distributors: Kalamkar Cooperative, 1968] Dr. K. M. Ashraf memorial lecture, 1966
  • Sultan Mahmud of Ghaznin. 2d ed.Delhi, S. Chand [1967].


In 1972 the newly constructed Hall of residence was named after him. Mohammed Habib Hall is one of the several halls of residence in Aligarh Muslim University. It consists three hostels: Chakraverty Hostel, Umaruddin Hostel and Haider Khan Hostel.[9]


  1. ^ Satish Chandra (2004). Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206–1526) – Part One. Har-Anand Publications. p. 145. ISBN 978-81-241-1064-5. 
  2. ^ Barbara D. Metcalf; Thomas R. Metcalf (2006). A Concise History of India (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 303. ISBN 978-0521682251. 
  3. ^ Nauriya, Anil (24 December 2002). "Memories of another Gujarat". The Hindu. Retrieved 5 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Obituary of Sohaila Habib in The Hindu, December 24, 2002
  5. ^ AMU confers emeritus status on Irfan Habib
  6. ^ a b "Mohammad Habib - Aligarh Movement" Retrieved 2015-03-09.
  7. ^ Dr.zakir Hussain:quest for Truth, By Dr. Z. H. Faruqi
  8. ^ Prof. Mohammad Habib

External links[edit]