The idea of Islamia College moved on practical track in April 1911. A supervisory committee with Sahibzada Sahib as its first honorary secretary kicked off a donations campaign. Pushtun students enrolled at the Muslim University Aligarh, had already taken lead in this noble task. In 1909, when Sahibzada Sahib and Roos Keppel had made a stopover at Aligarh, these students had collectively donated sixty odd rupees to these dignitaries. The purpose was to build a Frontier hostel at Aligarh or to erect a college in Peshawar for them.
However, the 12th of April 1911 donations collection gathering held at the residence of Abdul Karim Khan Indrabi Contractor in Mohallah Mandi-Beri, Peshawar City may be remembered as the Islamia College’s founders meeting.
The vast chunk of land on which Islamia College has been standing like a beacon of knowledge and wisdom for nearly a century, is located almost at the mouth of historic Khyber Pass. Here were the relics of a second century A.D. Buddhist monastery where knowledge seekers used to come from far off places. Incidentally, this was the same big piece of land on which the valiant Afghans under Mohammad Akbar Khan had routed the armies of Harri Singh, a military commander of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1835. Khalils of Tehkal who were its owners, gave their consent for 916 Kanals and 17 marlas land to the college against Rs.39, 683 at the rate of Rs.30/- per Kanal.
Eminent freedom tighter, Haji Sahib Turangzai laid the foundation stone of the Darul Ulum and its magnificent mosque on 21st of March 1912. The Chief Commissioner, NWFP, Sir George Roos Keppel performed the inaugural ceremony of arts and science faculty building of the Islamia College the same day. A huge gathering of around 25-30 thousands people including elite and commoners, top British officials, Ulema and Afridi hill tribesmen witnessed this historic event, which put a tradition-bound warring nation on scientific education track for the first time in its thousands years old history.
The history of Islamia College as a movement would remain incomplete if it does not have some extracts from the history of freedom struggle for Pakistan. Its students played a very pivotal role in Pakistan Movement. Credit goes to Islamians for coining the name of a future Muslim state to be curved out of the British-Indian Empire in the northwest of India as “Pakistan” in March 1933.
The Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had visited Islamia College thrice. His first visit to this outpost of culture and civilization was on20th October 1936. He visited in the capacity of President, All India Muslim League. Professor R. H. Holdsworth, the Pricipal and Yusaf Khalil, President of Khyber Union greeted him in historic Roos Keppel Hall. He was honoured with life-membership of the Khyber Union. In his historic address on this occasion, he expressed optimism that one day Islamia College would achieve Al-Azher and Cordova grandeur.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s political stature was at the peak of its glory. The realization of the cherished dream of Pakistan was at hands distance when he undertook his second historic visit to this great seat of learning on 25th November 1945. Most of the students of the Islamia College were in the bodyguard contingent of Quaid. He was accorded an unprecedented and red carpet welcome at the Islamia College. The Principal, Professor Sheikh Muhammad Taimur, the President of Khyber Union, Mukhtar Ahmad and the secretary, Sarhad Muslim Students Federation, Muhammad Tehmas, affectionately known as Papa, paid rich tributes to the farsightedness, political acumen and leadership qualities of Quaid-e-Azam. The Quaid had in fact designated the Islamia College students for mustering support for Pakistan, which they successfully won.
Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as a sovereign state on 14th of August 1947. The Islamia College students fought pitched political battles for Pakistan on Quaid’s behalf in cities, towns and villages of the province and tribal territories. How Quaid could forget them. Hardly eight months after the making of Pakistan, he revisted Islamia College and the NWFP for the third and last time in his life. It was 12th of April 1948 that Quaid came to this historic institution as governor general of an independent state. His dearest sister, Miss. Fatima Jinnah accompanied him in this last visit to Frontier province taking off from Islamia College. The college Principal, Professor ACT Brotherton and Abdul Halim, an ideological homeland for the Muslims in the South Asia.
The Father of the Nation acknowledged the services of the Islamia College students towards making of Pakistan in these words:
“I am indeed very happy to be present here today and to have the privilege of addressing the students of this great Darul Ulum, who are the future builders of Pakistan. On this occasion the thing uppermost in my mind is the help that came for the movement and achievement of Pakistan from the student community, particularly from this province. May I say that you have played your part magnificently?”
The Islamia College, its Collegiate School and its mosque are a unique combination of Buddhist, Islamic and Gothic architectures. The dooms at the rooftop of the college building are on Buddhist stupa style. A large number of small, medium and large sixe minarets and arches represent Islamic architecture. While the building’s shape gives a reflection of Gothic architecture, the front view of its building is like the University of Aligarh of India. However, Islamic architecture is more visible in Islamia College’s front view. Its Islamic architecture is more close to the Gordon College, Khartoum, Sudan. The image of the main building of Islamia College is printed on the Rs. 1000 currency note.
The Islamia College put its first step on unending journey of knowledge and wisdom on 1st of October 1913, six months after the inauguration of school. Like its unique architecture, its educational curriculum was also unique. It was designed to hand down the benefits of western arts and sciences under the umbrella of Islamic precepts to the people of NWFP and its tribal areas. The Darul Ulum, in this manner, enjoined the two parallel Muslim renaissance movements of late nineteenth century – the Devband and the Aligarh. This gave birth to a new unifield movement towards Muslims reawakening in the northwestern corner of British-India. This new movement was called the Islamia College movement.
Islamia College emerged as a beacon of scientific knowledge and torchbearer of supreme ethical and religious values. Nearly a century long journey, the college has become an icon of academic par excellence. Its motto is “Rab-I-Zidni Ilma” (O Lord, enhance me in knowledge). Allah the Almighty has bestowed His special blessing on this Darul Ulum. The college, which began its educational voyage with just 33 students in 1913, after 100 years of its sailing has more than 9500 students today. It has sent to practical field more than 80,000 students so far, who are serving the country and the nation.
Modernity came hand-in-hand to this area with the establishment of Islamia College in 1913. The Indian Postal and Telegraph Department established a post-cum-telegraph office near Islamia College in early 1914. The college authorities granted two rooms to the post office in 1915 to cater the communication needs of around 300 Islamian campus residents. This post office was shifted to Khyber House in 1917, when a market was emerged here, which is commonly known today as Coffee Shop Bazaar. This post office has been lifted to the status of Post Mall today.
An institution which went on spreading enlightenment and fragrance of knowledge and wisdom in 1913 with only ten teachers, today have more than 150 teachers of whom twenty-five have Ph.D degrees while twenty-two teachers have M.Phil degrees. Twenty-four teaching departments have been accommodating more than 9500 students at intermediate, degree and post-degree level. An educational institution is a place where if any thing is most needed it is discipline. It teaches students the value of time, it infuses in them a spirit of doing things systematically and it also builds the character of individuals.
Libraries are treasurers and storehouses of knowledge and wisdom. The new portion hosts most modern books on a large number of subjects. The Islamia College library has seen a steady growth in its collection of books. Around 1930, its oriental collection of books multiplied many times when a handsome amount of thirty thousand rupees was sanctioned. In 1963-64, the collection of books rose to forty thousand. The total number of books in this library went up to seventy-five thousands in 1988. Today, the library houses more than eighty-five thousand books.
At present, Islamia College library is among the finest libraries of this region after burning down and theft of libraries in Kabul because of civil war in Afghanistan. However, a good number of books on Afghanistan, NWFP and its tribal belt, with their first editions, both printed in Great Britain and Kabul, are available in the Islamia College library.
Like academics, the performance of Islamia College students in sports has always been superb. The college gave two captains to Pakistan National Hockey Team. Its Brigadier Hameedi steered Pakistan to victory against India in Hockey in the Rome Olympics 1960. Late Qazi Mohib also remained the captain of Pakistan national squad in Hockey for many years in 1980’s.
Khyber Union Hall is the epicenter of co-curricular activities on Islamia College campus. It had now become a relic of students’ union days. The Islamians elected body used to be called Khyber Union and it continued to function from 1921 to 1983 until the students unions elections were declared illegal in the educational institutions.
The Khyber Union has so far granted honorary life-membership to a number of distinguished personalities in different fields of life. They are Sir Mian Mohammad Shafi (1922), Nawab Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qaiyum Khan (1922), Sir Shuja-ul-Mulk, Mether of Chitral (1924), Khan Bahadur Mian FAzli Hussain, education minister, government of India (1925), Shah Wali Khan, Afghan Ambassador to Great Britain (1929), Prince Azam Jah of Hyderabad Deccan, India (1930), Shahzada Muazzam Jah of Deccan (1930), Sir Ralph Griffith, governor of NWFP (1934), Khalida Adeeb Khanum, a prolific writer of Turkey (1935), Sir Abdur Rahim, president of legislative assembly (1935), Muhammad Ali Jinnah, President of All India Muslim League (1936), Jawaher Lal Nahru, President of Indian National Congress (1937), Mahatama Gandhi (1938), His Highness Muhammad Nasirul Mulk, Mehter of Chitral (1938), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1939), Sir Akbar Hydari (1940), His Highness Nawab Hamidullah Khan, Nawab of Bhopal (1942), Sir George Cunningham, governor of NWFP (1943), Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, communication minister, government of India (1947), Alhaj Khawja Nazimuddinn, governor-general of Pakistan (1948), FAzlur Rehman, education minister, government of Pakistan (1949), Dr. Mahud Hussain, education advisor, government of Pakistan (1949), His Majesty Mohammad Raza Shah Pehlvi of Iran (1950), Mir Laiq Ali, former prime minister, Hyderabad Deccan (1951), Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (1952), Sardar Abdur Rashid Khan, chief minister of NWFP (1954), Qurban Ali Khan, governor of NWFP (1955), Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, chief minister NWFP (1956), Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah (1962) and Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s nuclear scientist (2002).
The students and teachers of Islamia College have always felt themselves indebted to their alma mater. The first tribute to the dignified building of Islamia College came from Mrs. Tipping, the wife of British Principal of the college, Professor. L. Tipping in 1913. An oil painting made by her of this college is a masterpiece of painting today. The photograph/CD of this is being sent for issue of commemorative stamp.
The lush green Campus of Islamia College is virtually like a paradise. The barren piece of land on which Islamia College was established in 1913 has turned into a grassy and flowery garden on a 300 acres area in the course of time. When breeze blows across Islamia College, it spreads fragrance all around of knowledge, enlightenment and affection. Its tall trees kissing the forehead of skies tell the story of those who dedicated their lives in turning a desert into an oasis. A few yards away along the western gate of Islamia College are standing two giant trees of Salmalia (Sumbul). Therse are the forerunners of a queue of lofty Pistacia, Plantanus (Chinar), Ficus Relgiosa (Peepal) and Shesham trees on Islamia campus. The vast grassy grounds with multiple coloures eye-catching flower lanes at their boundaries lend Islamia College landscape a touch of heaven.
Islamia College is proud to have a galaxy of old guards who take keen interest in the well being of the college, its academics and other kinds of co-curricular activities. This gamut of former students is called Senior Alumni Association of Islamia College. It reorganized its work in the year 2000. More than 650 former students of the college are its members. The Senior Alumni is playing a very important and serious role in financially assisting the deserving and academically outstanding students in the pursuit of knowledge. It grants 150 scholarships from its NWFP and Islamabad chapter resources annually since 2000. Alot a total of Rs.4428000 has so for been contributed by SAA towards students welfare. The Senior Alumni is also working on compiling a comprehensive history of the Islamia College Peshawar to be published on centenary celebrations of Islamia College in 2013. Some of the illustrious personalities of ICP are one president Ghulam Ishaq Khan to Islamic Republic of Pakistan and 9 Governors to Khyber Pukhtunkhwa. Such as Col Khurshid Sahibzada, Mr. Aslam Khattak, Mr. Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao, Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil, Maj Gen (R). Khurshid Ali Khan, Comdr Khalil ur Rehman, Lt Gen (R). Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai and Lt Gen (R). Imranullah Khan Ex Governor Balochistan.
It was the heartiest desire of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qaiyum Khan – the Sir Syed of Sarhad – that the Darul Ulum should become a university one day. He expressed this desire while welcoming the new NWFP Governor Sir Hamilton Grant on 20th December 1919 on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the College. No authentic historical record is available to answer as to why this desire of Nawazada S. A. Qaiyum remained unfulfilled. However, after the creation of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Islamia College for the last time in his life in April 1948. He promised a university here. His trusted lieutenant, Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan fulfilled this promise by inaugurating University of Peshawar in October 1950. The government of Pakistan kept intact the historic status of Islamia College and allocated university in its immediate neighborhood.
However, the Islamians – both old and new boys and teachers, continued their struggle for up gradation of their college to university level so as to pay homage and tribute to its founders who also thought of a university on the ICP campus. Their efforts, particularly, of Senior Alumni, bore fruit on December 4, 2007, when after 94 years of the establishment of Islamia College, found the status of a public sector university.
The former NWFP governor, Lt.-Gen. (retired) Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai and the then provincial caretaker chief minister, Engineer Shamsul Mulk, both old Islamians, deserve special thanks for taking up seriously the matter of upgrading ICP to university level. The groundwork in the direction of turning ICP into ICUP was carried out during the Principalship of Professor Dr. Nisar Muhammad Nisar, who also deserves equal appreciation from Islamians.
The Islamia College Peshawar came up to its age in September 2007 with the launching of its girls section under the administrative and academic competence of Professor Nisar Muhammad Nisar. The introduction of female education on a campus which remained reserved for males for around a century was certainly an uphill task. But the efforts of a century for enlightenment in a traditions-bound society anyhow made inroads.
On Completion of 100 years of Islamia College Peshawar, Pakistan Post is issuing a commemorative postage stamp of Rs..8/- denomination on May 30, 2013.