Sheikh Abdullah
Sheikh Abdullah educationist.jpeg
Sheikh Abdullah and his wife Waheed Jahan (right)[1]
Thakur Das

(1874-06-21)June 21, 1874
DiedMay 1965(1965-05-00) (aged 90)
Alma materAligarh Muslim University
  • Educationalist
  • Social reformer
  • Lawyer
Known for
SpouseWaheed Jahan Begum
ChildrenBegum Khurshid Mirza[2]
Rashid Jahan
  • Mehta Gurmukh Singh (father)
RelativesMehta Mastram (paternal grandfather)
AwardsFull list

Sheikh Abdullah (born Thakur Das; June 21, 1874 – March 1965), also known as Papa Mian, was an Indian educationalist, social reformer, lawyer, founder of Women's College, Aligarh and a member of the Executive Council of the Aligarh Muslim University who served to the post from 1920 to 1928. Later in 1902, he was appointed to the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference as a secretary for women's section.[3][4] He is primarily known for his contribution to the Muslim women education during British India period.[5][6]

The recipient of numerous accolades, including a Padma Bhushan, he also served a member of United Province Legislative Council, a legislature of United Provinces of British India.[7] During his time at AMU, he was associated with the Aligarh Movement. He worked at several posts at AMU such as Honorary Treasurer and University's court member from 1920 until he died in 1965.[6]


He was born as Thakur Das to Mehta Gurmukh Singh on June 21, 1874, in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. He originally belonged to Brahmin community of Kashmir. Das converted to Islam in 1891 after he went to Lahore for higher education. He married Waheed Jahan Begum (also known as Ala Bi), daughter of Mirza Mohammad Ibrahim in 1902, with which he had six children, including five daughters and a son. His daughter Mumtaz Jahan was appointed to the Aligarh Muslim University's principal for Women's College where he served for about thirty years.[5] Mehta Mastram, a lambardar of Bhantani village was his paternal grandfather. He was trained in Unani medicine by Hakeem Maulvi Nooruddin, a court physician to Maharaja of Kashmir. The physician was a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, which Thakur Das also joined.[7] Later when he went to United Province, he met with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and adopted Sunni Islam, leaving the Ahmadiyya.[7]


He originally started his basic education with Persian and Sanskrit language from a Maktab in Poonch.[7] He did his early schooling from an uncertain school in his village, and later he went to Jammu where he received further education. In 1891, Abdullah did matriculation in Lahore and then obtained Bachelor's of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the Aligarh university.[5]

Awards and accolades

In 1935, British India awarded him with an honorary title of "Khan Bahadur". After completing his education from the Aligarh, the university awarded him Doctor of Law, an honorary degree in 1950. In 1964, eighteen years later of the partition of the Indian subcontinent, the government of India awarded him Padma Bhushan, the third-highest Indian civilian award, in recognition of his contribution to the female education.[3] The university women's college, Abdullah College is named after him.[6]

Death and legacy

He died in Uttar Pradesh, India in March 1965. His life is covered in a book titled Muslim Leadership and Women’s Education Uttar Pradesh, 1886–1947 written by Dr. Nasreen Ahmad.[7]

The Abdullah School and Abdullah Hall, which comprises nine hostels for girls, in AMU are named after him.[8][9]

In 1975, a documentary titled Papa Miya of Aligarh based on his life and directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas was released.[10]



  1. ^ Fareed 2021.
  2. ^ Begum Khurshid Mirza (2005). A Woman of Substance: The Memoirs of Begum Khurshid Mirza, 1918-1989. Kali for Women. ISBN 978-81-89013-31-8.
  3. ^ a b "The Other Sheikh Abdullah". 24 September 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  4. ^ "As Shaheen Bagh Fights, Where Are the Women of Aligarh?". Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Shaikh Abdullah (Papa Mian) & Begum Waheed Jahan".
  6. ^ a b c "Aligarh Muslim University || Halls".
  7. ^ a b c d e "Another Sheikh Abdullah". Kashmir Life. 25 November 2020.
  8. ^ "Abdullah School". Aligarh Muslim University. Retrieved 18 December 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "Abdullah Hall". Aligarh Muslim University. Retrieved 18 December 2020.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ "K.A. Abbas's Writings and Films". Sahapedia. Retrieved 18 December 2020.

Further reading