Zaka Ullah of Delhi

Zaka Ullah of Delhi

Product ID: 11342

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Author: C F Andrews
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year: 2003
Language: English
Pages: 114
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0 19 565909 0


Set against the backdrop of the mutiny of 1857, Charles Freer Andrews draws upon the story of Zaka Ullah’s life to briefly trace the cultural history of Delhi from the decline of the Mughal Empire to the emerging nationalist movement in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

A teacher at the Delhi College, and one of the most distinguished scholars of his day, Munshi Zaka Ullah (1832-1911) belonged to that small fraction who, at a time when the Muslims in Delhi were largely indifferent to New Learning, showed much enthusiasm for modern education and the new sciences. He was perhaps the last relic of an era that saw many changes and for a while, simultaneously accommodated two worlds-the decaying and the emergent.

While on the one hand, he embodied the traditional values of an old world culture, he was also a visionary whose pioneering contribution to modern education in northern India earned him the reputation of a committed educationist and liberal enlightenment rationalist. Convinced that Western education could be disseminated through the vernacular, he devoted his life to translating and writing numerous textbooks in Urdu on science and mathematics.

Although focused on Zaka Ullah, this book provides and entrée into the lives of not two charismatic figures but the trio-Zaka Ullah; his comrade, Maulvi Nazir Ahmad, the great Urdu novelist; and his close friend and biographer, C F Andrews. The two introductory essays to this volume offer new insights into the debates on the Delhi Renaissance and the intellectual influences-including the significant role of the Delhi College –that shaped the minds of these men and their contemporaries.

The essays also provide an overview of the cultural and intellectual life of Delhi during Zaka Ullah’s time. While Mushirul Hasan’s evocative Introduction discusses the divergent ideas and interpretations to which the revolt of 1857 gave rise as well as the problems encountered by the Muslim elite in coping with the alien West, Margrit Pernau closely examines the life of the biographer. She demonstrates how the friendship between C f Andrews and Munshi Zaka Ullah can be read as an outcome of the encounter-a long history of the manifold intertwining of cultures, which goes back to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

This book will not only appeal to students of modern Indian history but also to readers interested in the cultural and intellectual history of Delhi during the heyday of the Delhi Renaissance.


The background of Delhi before the mutiny and that of the foundation of the Aligarh movement are of interest, and the portrait of Zaka Ullah with his religious devotion, Old World courtesy, and gracious hospitality stands out clearly and vividly.

-The Moslem World: A Christian quarterly review of current events, literature, and thought among Mohammedans (1930)

Extensive as the literature concerning the many aspects of the Muhammadan world is...there has been no adequate presentation of one of the most characteristic types of Muhammadan society, the man of learning…It is just such a picture that is provided by the biography that Mr C F Andrews has written of Munshi Zaka Ullah.

-Bulletin of The School of Oriental Studies, London Institution (1929)


Sharif Culture and Colonial Rule:
A Maulvi-Missionary Encounter

Preparing a Meeting-Ground:
C F Andrews, St Stephen’s and Delhi College


Introductory Memoir


Old Delhi
The Moghul Court
The English Peace
The New Learning
Zaka Ullah’s Family
Zaka Ullah’s Early Life
The Mutiny at Delhi
The Victorian Age
The Aligarh Movement
Political Ideas
Old Age
Zaka Ullah’s Character