Syed Abdul Majid
The Hon'ble Moulvi Khan Bahadur Syed Abdul Majid, CIE (Bengali: সৈয়দ আব্দুল মজিদ; 1872-1922), also known as Kaptan Miah (Bengali: কাপ্তান মিঞা), was a Bengali politician, lawyer and entrepreneur. He is notable for pioneering the development in the agricultural and tea industry in British India as well as his contributions to both secular and Islamic education in the Sylhet region.
The Hon'ble Moulvi Khan Bahadur
Syed Abdul Majid
সৈয়দ আব্দুল মজিদ
|Died||29 July 1922 (aged 50)|
|Nationality||British India (Bengali Sylheti)|
|Other names||Kaptan Miah|
|Education||Nawab Taleb Bengal School, Sylhet District School|
|Alma mater||Presidency College and St. Xavier's College|
|Occupation||Politician, lawyer, moulvi, entrepreneur|
|Organization||All India Tea and Trading Company|
|Home town||Kazi Elias, Ward 2, Sylhet|
|Movement||All India Muhammadan Educational Conference|
|Relatives||Shah Mustafa (ancestor), Syed Muhibullah (grandfather)|
|Awards||Khan Bahadur (1915), Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire (1922)|
Abdul Majid was born in 1872 to a noble Bengali Muslim Syed family in Kazi Elias, Sylhet. His father was Syed Abdul Jalil. His grandfather, Syed Muhibullah, was a Sylheti who originated from Moulvibazar and was a descendant of the Muslim preacher Shah Mustafa. His mother, Hasb-un-Nisa, was the granddaughter of Moulvi Syed Qudratullah. This led to Abdul Majid being brought up in a traditional Islamic household in which he studied to become a moulvi. He was fluent in Bengali (including Sylheti), English and Urdu.
He completed his primary education in Nawab Taleb Bengal School in Sylhet. His secondary education took place in Sylhet District High School, where he passed his matriculation exams in 1887. He then moved to Calcutta where he studied at the Presidency College as well as St. Xavier's College. He obtained a BA (Hons) in 1892 and BL (Hons) degree in 1894.
Abdul Majid was a lawyer associated with the Sylhet District Bar Association for a few years after graduating before going into politics and agriculture. His main interests were in agriculture and as a Muslim, he joined the Anjuman-e-Islamia movement. This forum was the only Muslim political organisation which preceded the All-India Muslim League. He was made the secretary of its Sylhet unit in 1902 and later its president. In 1904, he opened the Brahmanchara Tea Estate alongside Muhammad Bakht Mazumdar, Karim Bakhsh and Ghulam Rabbani. He was also made Sylhet Pourashava's vice-chairman in 1906 and later chairman in 1909 for 3 years. As a District Session Judge based in Assam, he was invited by the Nawab of Dhaka, Khwaja Salimullah, to attend the 1906 All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Shahbag, Dhaka. This conference was crucial to the development of the All-India Muslim League.
He was invited by the Indian Government to the opening ceremony of Pune City's agricultural research and college in 1908. Abdul Majid was the first ever native and Muslim Minister of Assam. On 2 February 1911, Abdul Majid pioneered the tea industry as a native by establishing the All India Tea and Trading Company. Consequently, he established three tea gardens in the Sylhet region. The authorised capital of the company was 1 lakh rupees, paid up capital was 7 lakh rupees, and subscribed capital was 8 lakh rupees. In addition to owning tea gardens, he also owned many agricultural farms and one oil mill which made him the first native to do so in Assam.
In 1912, he established Muslim Institute Hall in Sylhet as a new headquarters for the Anjuman-e-Islamia, located south of Shah Jalal's dargah. It is now known as Shaheed Suleman Hall and has been known as Jinnah Hall at one point.
In 1916, he upgraded Murari Chand College's status to first grade degree level and laid the school's foundation stone in Thackeray Hills alongside William Sinclair Marris in 1921. He also founded and developed the Sylhet Government Alia Madrasa at the old private Madrassah of the Anjuman-e-Islamia as part of his role as the Education Minister of Assam.
In 1919, as president and chairman of Anjuman-e-Islamia's reception committee, he invited the Bengali Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore to Sylhet which attracted over 5000 people. It was in 1921, when he gained a seat into Assam's law council (MLA) representing Sylhet Sadar.
Abdul Majid was a prominent leader of the Sylhet-Bengal Reunion League founded in 1920, to mobilise public opinion demanding Sylhet and Cachar's incorporation into Bengal. However, during the Surma Valley Muslim Conference of September 1928, Abdul Majid and the Anjuman-e-Islamia later opposed the transfer of Sylhet and Cachar to Bengal and supported Muhammad Bakht Mazumdar's resolution.
In 1915, the British Raj awarded him the title of Khan Bahadur as part of the 1915 Birthday Honours of King George V. He was subsequently awarded the chivalry of Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire as part of King George V's 1922 New Year Honours. This was during Abdul Majid's office as the Minister for Education for the Governor of Assam, William Sinclair Marris.
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