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A view of the Sindh Madresatul Islam through the university’s pillars

December 25 will mark Mr Jinnah’s 137th birth anniversary, so this is an ideal time to pay tribute to his alma mater, the Sindh Madresatul Islam, which Mr Jinnah attended between 1887 and 1892.sindh madresah

The institution’s vision is inscribed over the gateway

A school with a vision… Sindh Madresatul Islam is located on Shahrah-e-Liaquat. The institution’s vision is encapsulated in the inscription on its gate: ‘Enter To Learn Go Forth to Serve’. It was founded by the educationist Hassan Ali Effendi in 1885 and started off as a primary school for boys. In its initial years, in addition to the school’s building, a boarding house for ‘Young Talpurs’, two mosques, as well as the Sindh Madresah Library were constructed on the grounds.

Outstanding architecture… Designed by James Strachan, the school building was inspired by early English and Tudor architectural styles, replete with arcades, spacious verandahs, arches and pillars, most made using yellow gizri stone.A young Mr Jinnah

A young Mr Jinnah

From a boys’ school to much more… In 1943, the Sindh Madresatul Islam was upgraded to include a college which was established by Mr Jinnah. Last year, a university was established on the grounds (the school still functions and is now attended by both boys and girls). In many ways the institution’s growth from a school to a college and then a university is in line with the words by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan to Hassan Ali Effendi: “Don’t think of a school only, aim at a college to expand into a university.” However, due to the expansion required to house the university, the fields where Mr Jinnah once played no longer exist. (Miss Jinnah once remarked that Mr Jinnah’s fondness for those fields trumped the time he spent in the classroom.)

In a nutshell… Mr Jinnah’s affection for his alma mater became evident when he bequeathed one third of his estate to the Sindh Madresatul Islam. Therefore, the school is not just an educational institution, it is also a historic landmark.

– Ayesha Shaikh
First published in the Real Estate section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 22, 2013.