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Sir Abbas Ali Baig

The following obituary of Sir Abbas Ali Baig appeared in The Islamic Review, March 1933, entitled In Memoriam. This article is signed “K.N.A.”, which would be Khwaja Nazir Ahmad, son of Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din.

It is our painful duty to record the death of Sir Abbas Ali Baig, K.C.I.E., C.S.I., LL.D., B.A., F.U.B., which occurred at Panchgani, Bombay.

Sir Abbas Ali Baig came of an old military family and traced his descent from those sturdy Chughtais who accompanied Babar and assisted him in establishing the Moghul Empire in India.

Sir Abbas Ali Baig had a most brilliant and distinguished career. He was one of the first graduates of the Bombay University, having taken his degree at the age of twenty-three from Wilson College. Four years later he entered the education service as Inspector of Muslim Schools in the Bombay Presidency. In 1886 his services were lent to Janjira State where he served that State most ably as its Dewan. In 1890 he was admitted to the Statutory Civil Service and in 1893 was appointed the Presidency Magistrate of Bombay. Soon after he was appointed Oriental Translator of the Government of Bombay. In this position he had various difficult duties to perform and discharged them all with singular ability, so much so that his appointment which was originally for five years was renewed again and again, and he held it for more than 13 years. In 1906 he was appointed Chief Minister of Junagadh, the Premier State in Kathiawar. His regime was signalized by substantial reform and progress in all departments. In 1910 he was appointed a member of the Council of the Secretary of State for India, and in 1917 vacated his seat in the Council as its Vice-President. He was made a C.S.I. in 1912 and the title of K.C.I.E. was conferred upon him in 1917. The University of Glasgow conferred upon him the honorary LL.D. degree in the same year, and in 1928 he accepted an invitation from H.H. the Gaekwar of Baroda to act as his Revenue and Finance Minister.

Sir Abbas Ali Baig was an eloquent supporter of the rights of the Muslim community, and never lost an opportunity to serve the cause of Islam. He was a great believer in the Nationalist Movement and always advocated the Indian claims. In his public life he was always characterised by his world-wide outlook, his shrewd intelligence and his sound judgment.

It is, however, with his services to the cause of Islam that we of the Woking Muslim Mission are chiefly concerned. It was Sir Abbas Ali Baig who saved from the hands of the Leitner family the Shah Jehan Mosque and Sir Salar Jung Memorial House at Woking and thus rescued them from the fate of being converted into a private factory. He subsequently founded the Woking Mosque Trust and raised funds for its maintenance. It was, indeed, Sir Abbas Ali Baig who invited Al-Haj Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din to take charge of the Mosque, and later helped him in starting the Muslim Mission and Literary Trust and himself became one of its Trustees. He toured in India for sometime with Lord Headley to raise funds for the London Nizamia Mosque, and H.E.H. the Nizam of Hyderabad was pleased to appoint him as a Trustee. In his later years Sir Abbas Ali Baig devoted most of his time in helping in various ways the Woking Muslim Mission.

It is difficult to write adequately of him who has gone. Our praise seems trite and trivial, our most heartfelt tribute unworthy in face of the colossal fact of his immense, unique and charming personality. All those who came in contact with him respected and loved him. We of the Woking Muslim Mission mourn the loss of a trusted, resourceful and influential supporter; we grieve over the loss of a valuable and dear friend.

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon his soul!

Source: The Islamic Review, March 1933, pages 6263.
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