Islamia College University: The embodiment of knowledge and architectural beauty

Education Contributor
Islamia college University
Photo Courtesy: Writer

Even a traveler sitting in his vehicle looking from the main Jamrud road is amazed at the captivating beauty of Islamia College University’s magnificent building at Peshawar, KP, Pakistan. Islamia College Peshawar (ICP), was founded by Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan (1863 – 1937) and Chief Commissioner George Roos-Keppel (1866 – 1921), in 1913. The college was granted university status by the government of Pakistan in 2008.

Spread over 113 acres of land, this historic educational institution is of immense significance in the subcontinent. It was meant to provide quality education to the students of the then Province of N.W.F.P (North West Frontier Province) now renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa(KP).

Foundation of Islamia College University

Sardar Abdul Qayyum khan and George Roos-Keppel visited Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, in 1909 (which was upgraded later on to Aligarh Muslim university in 1920). Pashtun Muslim students from N.W.F. P, requested S. A. Qayyum khan for a hostel at the college. S.A Qayyum told the students that he was planning to build a similar college at Peshawar for them.

When the fundraising campaign for the college was started, tribal elders, religious Scholars, philanthropist like Abdul Majid Khan Tarin, Ghulam Haider Khan Khalil, and common people from all walks of life donated generously. Ruler of the Dir state donated, Rs 125,000 and 400 plants. Well-known businessman Karim Bakhsh Sethi contributed Rs50,000. Similarly, Abdul Karim khan contractor at Peshawar gave Rs10,000. While Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum Khan contributed Rs1,000. Khairullah Khan’s widow Bibi Gul from Charsada, KP, Pakistan donated her jewelry.

Inheritor of Quaid-e-Azam’s property

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah made the College one of the inheritors of his property. As per Quaid-e-Azam’s Will which he made on May 30, 1939, at Bombay, he said, “All my residuary estate including the corpus that may fall after the lapse of life interest or otherwise to be divided into three parts – and I bequeath one part to Aligarh University – one part to Islamia College Peshawar and one part to Sindh Madrassa of Karachi,”. The Quaid-e-Azam Trust paid an amount of Rs.10811600 in several installments to the College.

The foundation stone of Islamia College Peshawar was laid by great leader Maulana Fazal Wahid. He was commonly known as Haji Sahib of Turangzai. A request was made to him by Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayyum. The entry of Haji Sahib Turangzai had been banned into British controlled-territory before S.A. Qayyum requested him. Haji sahib had been declared as an opponent of the British rule. Therefore, he was residing out-side British controlled territory in tribal areas. S.A. Qayyum khan requested the British to allow Haji Sahib Turangzai to lay the foundation of the college and return back to the tribal areas.

Faculty of Islamia College University

In the leadership of Mr. L. Tipping as the first principal the college was formally opened for students to get registered for admission on October 1, 1913. Allama Inayatullah Mashraqi was appointed as the Vice- principal. There were 10 other faculty members. The first student who got admission in Islamia College Peshawar was Sahibzada Khurshid Khan (who became Governor KP later on) and 32 other students were also enrolled.

Islamia College Peshawar was envisioned as a blend of Aligarh and Deoband School of thought which has been producing leaders in every field from KP, Pakistan. But this great seat of learning, due to its high merit remains only a dream of many students across the province to get admission. That is the reason that many intellectuals suggest that there should be campuses as extensions of the college across the province just like Aligarh Muslim University.

Islamia College University, is not only rich in history but it is also rich in property and wealth. It has 545 acres of cultivable land to its name in District Charsada KP Pakistan. Similarly, it has 395 shops and flats in the famous Khyber Bazaar Peshawar and the main bazaar district Charsadda.

Magnificient architecture

The elegant building of Islamia college is a combination of Mughal and British Architectures. Its magnificent construction, historic hostels, glorious Khyber Union Roos-Keppel Hall, evergreen grounds and a huge variety of plants are reminiscent of Muslim culture.

Today, if we want to preserve the past glory of its architecture, the college management and directorate of archeology need to work together to guide new construction similar to the old one.

If we planned well, we can make the words of Qauid –e-Azam come true which he expressed on April 12, 1948, at Islamia College Peshawar. The Quaid said: “Let me tell you that nothing is nearer to my heart than to have a great center of culture and learning in a place like Peshawar, a place from where the rays of knowledge and culture can spread throughout the Middle East and Central Asia.”


(Written by Ijaz Ali, a freelance journalist. He holds a Master Degree in European Studies from Germany and can be reached at [email protected])

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