Hakim Ajmal Khan
39th President of Indian National Congress
In office
Preceded byC. Vijayaraghavachariar
Succeeded byChittaranjan Das
Born(1868-02-11)11 February 1868[1]
Died20 December 1927(1927-12-20) (aged 59)
Resting placeHazrat Rasool Numa compound in Panchkuian Road, Delhi, India
MonumentsDelhi Tibbia College and Jamia Millia Islamia
Nationality British Indian
Occupation(s)Physician, Politician, Spiritual Healer, Sufi Mystic, Herbalist, Poet
Known forFounder of Jamia Millia Islamia and Tibbia College, Delhi
Founding Member and President All-India Muslim League
President, Indian National Congress
Notable workHaziq
FamilyKhandan e Sharifi

Mohammad Ajmal Khan (11 February 1868 – 29 December 1927), better known as Hakim Ajmal Khan, was a physician in Delhi, India, and one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia university in Delhi, India. He also founded another institution, Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, better known as Tibbia College, situated in Karol Bagh, Delhi. He was the only Muslim to chair a session of the Hindu Mahasabha. He became the university's first chancellor in 1920 and remained in office until his death in 1927.[2][3]


Born on 11 February 1868 (17 Shawwal 1284), Khan descended from a line of physicians who had come to India during the reign of Mughal Emperor Babar. His family were all Unani doctors (hakims who had practised this ancient form of medicine since their arrival in the country. They were then known as the Rais of Delhi. His grandfather, Hakim Sharif Khan, was a physician to Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam and had built the Sharif Manzil, a hospital-cum-college teaching Unani medicine.[4][5][6]

Hakim Ajmal Khan learnt the Quran by heart and as a child studied traditional Islamic knowledge including Arabic and Persian, before turning his energy to the study of medicine under the guidance of his senior relatives, all of whom were well-known physicians.[6] To promote the practice of Tibb-i-Unani or Unani medicine, his grandfather had set up the Sharif Manzil hospital-cum-college known throughout the subcontinent as one of the best philanthropic Unani hospitals where treatment for poor patients was free.[7] He completed his Unani studies under Hakeem Abdul Jameel of Siddiqui Dawakhana, Delhi.[7][3]

On qualifying in 1892, Hakim Ajmal Khan became chief physician to the Nawab of Rampur. Hailed as "Massiha-e-Hind" (Healer of India) and "a king without a crown". Hakim Ajmal Khan, like his father, was reputed to effect miraculous cures and to have possessed a "magical" medicine chest, the secrets of which were known to him alone.[7] Such was his medical acumen that it is said that he could diagnose any illness by just looking at a person's face. Hakim Ajmal Khan charged Rs. 1000 per day for an out-of-town visit but if the patient came to Delhi, he was treated free, regardless of his position in society.

Khan proved to be the most outstanding and multifaceted personality of his era with matchless contributions to the causes of Indian independence, national integration and communal harmony.[7]

He took great interest in the expansion and development of the native system of Unani medicine and to that end built three important institutions, the Central College in Delhi, the Hindustani Dawakhana and the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College better known as Tibbia College, Delhi, which expanded research and practice in the field and saved the Unani System of Medicine from extinction in India. His untiring efforts in this field infused a new force and life into an otherwise decaying Unani medical system under British rule.[8] Khan proposed the absorption of Western concepts within the Unani system, a view diametrically opposite to that adopted by physicians of the Lucknow school who wanted to maintain the system's purity.[9]

Hakim Ajmal Khan also recognised the talents of chemist Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, whose subsequent research into important medicinal plants used in the field gave Unani medicine a new direction.[10][3]

As one of its founders, Khan was elected first chancellor of the Jamia Milia Islamia University on 22 November 1920, holding the position until his death in 1927. During this period he oversaw the University's move to Delhi from Aligarh and helped it to overcome various crises, including financial ones, when he carried out extensive fund raising and often bailed it out using his own money.[11][12]


Hakim Ajmal Khan changed from medicine to politics after he started writing for the Urdu weekly Akmal-ul-Akhbar launched by his family. Khan also headed the Muslim team who met the Viceroy of India in Simla in 1906 and presented him with a memorandum written by the delegation. At the end of December 1906, he actively participated at the Dhaka founding of the All India Muslim League on 30 December 1906.[13] At a time when many Muslim leaders faced arrest, Khan approached Mahatma Gandhi for help in 1917, thereafter uniting with him and other Muslim leaders such as Maulana Azad, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali in the well-known Khilafat movement. Khan was also the sole person elected to the Presidency of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and the All India Khilafat Committee.[6][3]

Hakim Ajmal Khan Congress president 1921

Death and legacy

Hakim Ajmal Khan on a 1987 stamp of India

Before he died of heart problems on 29 December 1927, Hakim Ajmal Khan had renounced his government title, and many of his Indian followers awarded him the title of Masih-ul-Mulk (Healer of the Nation). Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari succeeded him as the Jamia Millia Islamia chancellor.[6][3]

Ajmaline, a class Ia antiarrhythmic agent and Ajmalan a parent hydride, are named after him.[14]

After the partition of India, Khan's grandson Hakim Muhammad Nabi Khan moved to Pakistan. Hakim Nabi had learnt Tibb (how to practice medicine) from his grandfather and opened 'Dawakhana Hakim Ajmal Khan' in Lahore which has branches throughout Pakistan. The motto of the Ajmal Khan family is Azal-ul-Allah-Khudatulmal, which means that the best way to keep oneself busy is by serving humanity.

He is buried near Tibbia College Karol Bagh in Delhi where other members of his family were also buried. The current location is near RK Ashram Metro Station.[15]


See also


  1. ^ Hameed, Abdul (1986). Exchanges Between India and Central Asia in the Field of Medicine. Department of History of Medicine and Science, Institute of History of Medicine and Medical Research.
  2. ^ Profile of Hakim Ajmal Khan Jamia Millia Islamia website, Retrieved 22 August 2019
  3. ^ a b c d e "Who was Hakim Ajmal Khan?". Biographies.net website. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  4. ^ Sharif Manzil by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Aiwan-i Urdu, Delhi, June 1988, pp. 29-35
  5. ^ "Sharif Manzil & Hindustani Dawakhana". the-south-asian.com website. April 2002. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Hakim Ajmal Khan (1863–1927) President – Ahmedabad, 1921". Congress Sandesh, Indian National Congress publication. Archived from the original on 3 May 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman (1995), Dillī aur t̤ibb-i Yūnānī (Dillī aur t̤ibb-i Yūnānī ed.), Naʾī Dihlī: Urdū Akādmī, Dihlī, OL 16755751M
  8. ^ Masih-al Mulk Hakim Ajmal Khan by Hakim Syed Zillur Rahman, Shaida-89, (Souvenir), Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College Delhi, 1989
  9. ^ Alavi, Seema (2008). Islam and Healing: Loss and Recovery of an Indo-Muslim Medical Tradition, 1600–1900. Palgrave Macmillan.
  10. ^ "Hakim Ajmal Khan (Biography in Hindi language)". Publications Division, Government of India. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  11. ^ "History of Jamia". Jamia Milia Islamia website. Archived from the original on 16 April 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  12. ^ Faruqi, Ziaulhasan (1999). Dr. Zakir Hussain, quest for truth. APH Publishing. p. 108. ISBN 81-7648-056-8.
  13. ^ Suhail Zaheer Lari (20 June 2017). "Dawn of freedom (founding meeting of All India Muslim League in 1906)". Dawn (newspaper). Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  14. ^ KARACHI: Experts for alternative medicine system Dawn (newspaper), Published 5 October 2003, Retrieved 22 August 2019
  15. ^ "हकीम अजमल ख़ान की कहानी, जो हिंदू महासभा के अध्यक्ष भी रहे". BBC News हिंदी (in Hindi). 11 February 2024. Retrieved 12 February 2024.

Further reading

  1. ^ Hakim Ajmal Khan Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Publicationsdivision.nic.in. Retrieved on 2018-12-11.