In 1849, the Punjab came under the rule of the British Government, putting an end to the Sikh, regime. Muslims were oppressed by the Sikhs, and (hey were even denied the rights of performing their religious duties. The British Government was apparently adhering to the policy of religious neutrality, but in fact it was giving all support to the Christian missionaries. The Government was a government of the Christians, therefore, those who embraced Christianity were given certain privileges. Christian missionaries were preaching their religion to a considerable extent. In 1875, ‘Arya Samaj’, the most orthodox section of the Hindus, started its anti-Muslim movement. The preachers of Arya Samaj’ far surpassed the Christians in attacking the Muslim religion. In such conditions, ‘Anjuman-i-Himayat ul- Islam’ was founded in 1884 by some sincere people of the nation with the object of refuting the criticism of the Christian preachers and those of Arya Samaj and to resist the wave of apostasy. The Anjuman, in principle, was an off-shoot of the educational programme envisaged by Sir Syed Abmad Khan. The Anjuman started a few schools in the beginning and very’ soon it established an Intermediate college, which was raised to the Degree level in 1890.

To provide for the educational needs of the Muslim children, the Anjuman also established a publication department of its own, which published numerous text books.

The annual session of the ‘A njuman-i-Himayat-ul-Islam almost became one of the national festivals of Muslims in the Punjab. It was attended by many Muslim leaders, and speeches were delivered on various subjects like economics, educational and social aspects of the life of the people. These sessiors inspired national feelings among t Muslims. Maulana Nazir Ahmad and Maulana Shibli frequently attended the meetings the Anjuman and addressed the audience. Allama Iqbal’s public life as a post started 1900, when he recited a poem for the first time on the stage of the Anjuman. He was appreciated so much on his first public appearance that later on he was requested to compose poems for the annual meetings of the Anjuman. Iqbal’s poems were full of inspiration for the national awakening. After his visit to England, he became more conscious of and concerned about, the demoralized condition of his nation. He took the responsibility of awakening the nation through his philosophical poetry. His educational thoughts are discussed in a subsequent chapter.

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