PADMA SHRI ISHRAT ALI SIDDIQUI- A Biographical Narrative

A Biographical Narrative

By: Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary

Translated by: M. Navaid Hasan

Translator’s Note

The article in Urdu was published in ‘The Collegian’, the annual magazine of Lucknow Christian
College in 2003. Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui (1918-2014) was a student of the College during
1932-1934.
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was my grandfather Choudhary Noorul Hasan’s cousin and during his days at
Lucknow University (1934-1936), he worked as the assistant editor at the latter’s Urdu weekly
“Paegham”.
The original author of this text Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary retired as a Reader from Lucknow Christian
College, where he taught organic chemistry at graduate and post graduate levels. Dr. Choudhary is
an avid reader and writer and has written on diverse subjects from chemistry to history and religion.
I am grateful to Dr. Zia ul Haq Choudhary allowing me to translate this, and to my uncle Syed Shoeb
and aunt Muneera Siddiqui for helping me understand the difficult words. My late grandmother Ms.
Habibun Nisa first read this article out to me 2003, I remember her admonishing me for not being
able to read Urdu, she’d be proud.

Mohammed Navaid Hasan

Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui: The Shining Light of Urdu Journalism

Eminent journalist Padma Shri Ishrat Ali Siddiqui stands tall among the prominent alumni of
Lucknow Christian College. His spectacular and noteworthy career as a journalist started at the
young age of 22 and continues unabated to this day.

Realm, Birth and Education
A member of the famed Chaudhary family of Sandila – a prominent town in the erstwhile Awadh
province and now a part of Hardoi district in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui is the 32nd
descendant of Hazrat Abu Bakr ‘Al-Siddiq’ – a distinguished companion of Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) and the first Caliph of Islam. His ancestors migrated from Arabia to Persia (Iran) and settled
at Jam, a city in the region of Khorasan. After some years in Persia, the clan emigrated to Faaryaab
(Afghanistan) and eventually to Hindustan via Khyber Pass – taking the conventional route for
caravans entering the Sindh valley.
Shamshad Husain Faakir writes in ‘Ashfaaqnaama’ (published in 1998) that “Islam reached Sandila
and adjoining areas through Hazrat Peer Tajuddin which was likely towards the end or after
Shahabuddin Ghori’s (Muhammad of Ghor) conquest of India.” Shahabuddin Muhammad Ghori first
assailed India in 571 Hijri (1175-76 AD) and died in 602 Hijri (1206-07 AD). It can thus be stated
based on evidence at hand that this first Muslim family of Sandila has been associated with and
inhabited the place for nearly eight centuries.
Raja Durga Prasad ‘Mehr Sandilvi’ in his book Taareekh e Sandila (The History of Sandila, published
in 1915) under the heading ‘ZIkre Daakhla Ehl e Islam’ (The emergence of the followers of Islam)
writes – “My exploration based on credible historical records and archives lead me to conclude that
the first Muslim settlers of Sandila were Sheikhs and Sufis. The first among them was Hazrat Peer
Tajuddin followed by Miraan Muizuddin, followed by Qazi Sirajuddin and Syed Mahmood
Shanuzaani, the eminent Sufi Sheikh Makhdoom Syed Alauddin Quds’ life at Sandila coincides with
the latter two. Other early Muslim inhabitants and visitants at Sandila were Qazi Burhanuddin,
Sheikh Ali Lahori Nabeerah, Wazir Hashim Shah and Junaid Rouhani, and Chishti Sufi Sheikh Hazrat
Fareeduddin Shakarganj. Many Muslim families living in Sandila today have descended from these
venerable early dwellers, I shall delve in detail about these clans further ahead.” (Page 204).
Later in his book, Raja Sahib writes under ‘Khaandaan Peer Tajuddin Quds Sirra Hu’ (The
descendants of Peer Tajuddin ) “..this family traces their origin to Peer Tajuddin, who came to India
from Faaryaab (Afghanistan) and spent a major part of his life in Sandila where he died and was
buried at a high spot on the eastern side of the town. Many branches of the family continue to
inhabit Sandila, the end of this clan’s sojourn at Afghanistan as scrutinized by Chaudhary Ataullah’s
branch of the clan was the starting point of my analysis, it must be mentioned however that a few
other branches of the family claim that their ancestors migrated to India directly from Persia without
a prolonged stay in Afghanistan. Thus, due to these divergences in claims one cannot affirm with
certainty the exact year of their advent or for how long they have been here when I write this. The
family is in possession of notably detailed and obliging documentary archives though along with the
shijra (family tree), which I’ve had access to while researching for and writing this book…..” Raja
Sahib thus deducing from the archives at his disposal and counting the generations passed writes
that “….by the math thus, the family established in Sandila nearly 757 years ago i.e. the time of

Shahabuddin Ghori’s successive invasions, the writer absolves himself of any shortcomings should the
estimate vary by a decade or two – I now desire to put in place a sequential memoir of this clan –
Peer Tajuddin’s son was Peer Ahmad, who was the father of Khwaja Imamuddin, Khwaja
Imamuddin’s son was Peer Bhole father of Miya’n Achhan, Miya’n Achhan’s son was Peer Ahmad,
Peer Ahmad was the father of Miya Laad whose son called Peer Tayyab rose to prominence and was
honored through an imperial decree giving an estate of the rural area adjoining Sandila, the
hereditary title of ‘Choudhary’ and the rank of magistrate during the reign of Mughal Emperor
Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar. The family to this day is in possession of a copy of the decree dated
Zeeqad 963 Hijri (September 1556) with the imperial seal.” (Page 208-209). Further under
“Choudhary Mansab Ali”, Raja Sahib writes “I have earlier written about the family of Chaudhary
Ataullah validating that his ancestors came to India from Jam or Faryaab, and the first of his
ancestors to settle in the burgh was Peer Tajuddin, Feroz ‘Khan’, a contemporary of ‘Miya’n Tayyab’,
an eighth generation descendant of Peer Tajuddin was awarded with the title of ‘Chaudhary’ and the
estate of Pargana in rural Sandila, and the title of ‘Khan’ was also bestowed to Sheikh Feroz at this
time. It is recorded in Tareekh-e-Taluqdarana-e-Awadh that his clan was also given the title of
‘Khan’ during the reign of Emperor Akbar…..the book also mentions that the title of ‘Chaudhary’ was
originally bestowed on the clan after Timur’s conquest of Delhi, however, Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat
Ali, a revered scholar and a venerable man of Sandila and the son of Chaudhary Masnad Ali in his
book ‘Shumraat Aala Anzaar’ refutes the Timurid link to the grant of title and considers Chaudhary
Ataullah’s indagation as more profound and reliable which traces the title to the reign of Emperor
Akbar. Sheikh Feroz’s son was Sheikh Sadar Jahaa’n whose son was Pyaare who was the father of
Abdul Rasool whose son was Meer Daa’em, Meer Daae’m’s son was Muhammad Yaar, Muhammad
Yaar’s son was Abdullah who was the father of Chaudhary Mansab Ali who had three sons –
Chaudhary Masnad Ali, Chaudhary Hashmat Ali and Chaudhary Azmat Ali. Peer Tajuddin’s family
tree has many branches, I have already mentioned the offshoot of Chaudhary Ataullah, here I will
focus on another branch to which belonged Chaudhary Hashmat Ali, a renowned and honorable
man …..” (Page 211-213). Tawareekh e Taluqdarana e Awadh by Munshi Kishori Lal and Samraat Al
Anzaar by Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat Ali were published in 1879 and 1881 respectively.
Timur invaded India in 1398 AD (800 Hijri) by when Peer Tajuddin’s era in Sandila had long passed,
and his progeny already held eminence among both the ruling and the ruled by virtue of their
scholarly pursuits and moral fiber, they already were bestowed with the title of ‘Choudhary’ and had
administrative and magisterial authority over the area, during the reign of Akbar, Sheikh Feroz was
also awarded with the honorary title of ‘Khan’ and his son Sadar Jahaa’n held prominent positions
during under the rule of Mughal Emperors Akbar and Jahangir – a reference to which can be found
on page 162 of Syed Sabahuddin Aburrahman’s book “Bazm-e-Taimuri” (Published 1948). Raja Durga
Prasad in his book “Tareekh e Sandila” has estimated the clan’s history in Sandila to 757 years –
which comes down to 1158 AD while Ghori’s invasions started in 1175-76 AD. Raja Sahib wittingly
articulates in his defense “the writer absolves himself of any shortcomings should the estimate vary
by a decade or two”. Through this credential it can thus plausibly be determined that Peer Tajuddin’s
emergence in Sandila coincided with Ghori’s maneuvers in the subcontinent.
Through references mentioned above and information collected through other sources, I am
presenting here the family tree (Shijra) of Ishrat Ali Siddiqui
Ishrat Ali s/o Ehtisham Ali s/o Mohammed Rauf s/o Hashmat Ali s/o Mansab Ali s/o Abdullah s/o
Muhammad Yar s/o Meer Daa’em s/o Abdul Rasool s/o Sheikh Pyaare s/o Sadar Jahaa’n s/o Sheikh
Feroz ‘Khan’ s/o Muhammad Burhan s/o Mufazzal s/o Sheikh Hasan s/o Sheikh Maa’ruf s/o Sheikh
Nizamuddin s/o Sheikh Ahmad s/o Peer Tajuddin s/o Khwaja Naseeruddin s/o Khwaja Muhammad

s/o Sheikh Jahaa’n s/o Sheikh Muhammad s/o Sheikh Zayed s/o Sheikh Abul Hasan s/o Sheikh Asad
s/o Sheikh Asghar s/o Sheikh Amjad s/o Hazrat Ahmad s/o Hazrat Abdul Rahim s/o Hazrat Abdul
Rahman s/o Hazrat Qasim Faqih s/o Hazrat Muhammad (Muhammad Bin Abu Bakr) s/o Hazrat Abu
Bakr (Al Siddiq).
It is probable that in years to come someone may shed further light on the clan’s history and
genealogy. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui’s grandfather Chaudhary Mohammed Rauf’s elder brother Taluqdaar
Chaudhary Khaslat Husain (D. 1882) served as the secretary at Anjuman e Hind Subah Awadh
owing to his organizational and administrative capabilities and was also awarded with the honorary
title of ‘Raja’ in 1882. Among Ishrat Ali sahib’s other elders was Hafiz Chaudhary Shaukat Ali who
was not only a proficient scholar but an accomplished writer and an occasional poet using ‘Alam’ as
nom de plume. Hafiz Shaukat Ali also established a seminary named ‘Shaukat Ala Islam’ that
continued to impart religious education in Sandila for a long period of time. Hafiz Shaukat Ali’s father
Chaudhary Masnad Ali started the construction of Jama Masjid in Mohalla Mahatwana
(Chaudhraana) of Sandila in 1253 Hijri (1838 AD) but couldn’t see its completion due to his untimely
death in 1257 Hijri (1842 AD). The mosque was later completed under the supervision of his younger
brothers Chaudhary Hashmat Ali and Chaudhary Azmat Ali in 1259 Hijri (1844 AD). The mosque is
gorgeous and never fails to ingratiate the eye.
Adjacent to the Mohalla (Neighborhood) Mahatwana or Chaudhraana in Sandila lies Mohalla
Moulviana where lived the famous and respected Maulvi Hamdullah Sandilvi (Died 1160 Hijri- 1747
AD). About his respected family, Raja Durga Prasad in his book “Tareekh e Sandila” writes under the
heading “Khaandaan Maulana Hamdullah” that “the respected Maulana Sahib is also a descendant
of Peer Tajuddin” (Page 287-288). Among other works, Maulvi Rahman Ali’s “Tazkirah e Ulema e
Hind” (Published in 1894 AD) includes narratives on 26 other renowned scholars from Sandila, the
book is in Persian language.
Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was born on October 11, 1918 in Lucknow where his mother had moved
before his birth. He attended DAV School in Sandila for primary education and passed high school
from Hardoi, he then got admitted to Lucknow Christian College and passed the intermediate
examination in 1934 and graduated from Lucknow University with Bachelor of Arts degree in 1936.

Life as a Journalist
Mr. Siddiqui started his career as a journalist in 1936, by that time the independence movement had
gained good ground. Influenced by the anti-colonial sentiment he started working as an assistant
editor at “Hindustan”, a weekly magazine started by renowned freedom fighter and independent
India’s first Minister of Communications- Rafi Ahmed Kidwai. In 1942, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui moved to
Hyderabad where he worked as an assistant editor at “Payaam” an Urdu daily established and
managed by Qazi Abdul Ghaffar, an eminent correspondent and editor of his times. He spent some
of his days at Sevagraam, where he used to prepare a bulletin for Mahatma Gandhi from Urdu
newspapers and journals from across the country, to help gauge the latter about the prevalent
socio-political mood of Urdu speaking sections of the society.
In 1945, Qaumi Aawaaz was launched in Lucknow by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, at this time Janab
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui moved back to Lucknow from Deccan and joined the news daily as assistant editor.
The first editor of Qaumi Aawaaz was Hayatullah Ansari Firangi Mahli– a renowned writer and
journalist. During 1964-65, Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui served as the president of UP Working
Journalists’ Union and took over as the editor of Qaumi Aawaaz after the retirement of Hayatullah

Ansari in 1972. In 1980, Associate Journalists Limited decided on rolling out Qaumi Aawaaz in three
other cities – New Delhi, Bombay and Patna; Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib then took over as the National
Chief Editor of the daily and until his retirement discharged his duties with integrity and astuteness
that won him accolades from his contemporaries and readers alike. Two of his weekly editorials
“Duniya ka haal” (World Affairs) and “Hindustan ka haal” (Indian Affairs) were vastly popular
primarily due to their comprehensiveness, upfront tone and pristine editorial standards. The weekly
supplement of Qaumi Aawaaz called Zamimah was also very popular among the readers owing to
the literary and cultural themes it entailed; such was the popularity of Zamimah that other popular
journals and publications started to adopt and implement similar themes.
Awards and Honors
In recognition of his contribution to literature and education, Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was conferred
with “Padma Shri” by the President of India in 1974. In 1975, he was nominated as a member by the
UP Government to a committee instituted for the reconfiguration of the state’s Communications
Department. A couple of years later in 1977 he was also appointed as a member of the Samachar
Committee and further in 1980, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib was designated as a Special Member to the
Second Press Commission. Later in 1981, he was designated as the President of National Media
Center in New Delhi – a body collectively established by the governments of 21 Indian states and
Union territories.
In 1983, The Organization of Understanding and Fraternity awarded him for his role and
contributions in preserving and promoting social justice and equality. Further in 1988, he was
commemorated by All India Writers and Journalists Federation’s Patna chapter in recognition of his
efforts towards nation building and inclusiveness. In remembrance and appreciation of his
contribution to India’s freedom struggle through his writings the Uttar Pradesh Government in 1992
included his name in the official list of freedom fighters and awarded him with a lifelong pension. In
the years 1994 and 1997 Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui was given honorary awards by Uttar Pradesh Urdu
Academy and All India Meer Academy, Lucknow respectively. He was given the Lifetime
Achievement Award by Bharat Fankaar Association, Lucknow in 1999 – the felicitation ceremony
took place at the Gandhi Auditorium of Raj Bhawan (Governor House) in Lucknow on May 11, 2000.

Travels and Politics
As a journalist Ishrat Ali Sahab interviewed many people of prominence from across the world, the
interviews were much liked looked forward by his readers. He travelled extensively across India and
abroad and visited important landmarks across the world, which in my opinion contributed to his far
sightedness and broad vision. As a journalist Ishrat Ali Sahab not only travelled to countries like
Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Iran, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, France, Pakistan, Switzerland, England and United
States but also took serious cognizance of their reportage and press. Despite being a part of media
entourages of former prime ministers Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, Ishrat Ali sahib’s
credibility remains unblemished by virtue of his sense of responsibility towards his profession, sharp
mind and the ability to hold his own irrespective of the constraints. It is indeed something that as a
journalist his name and character have remained unblemished invariably.
Writings and Books
Journalistic and editorial engagements did not leave much room for Ishrat Ali Sahab to write books.
However, four of his books deserve a mention:

  • Leningrad T’a Samarqand [Leningrad to Samarqand] (Published in 1940 and 1943 from
    Lucknow and Hyderabad respectively)
  • Mumalik e Islamiya ki Siyasat [The Politics of Muslim Nation States] (Published in 1940 from
    Lucknow)
  • Gandhiji aur Zubaan Ka Masla [Gandhiji and the Predicament of Language] (1980, Uttar
    Pradesh Urdu Academy, Lucknow) – (It is a translation in Urdu of English articles and
    editorials penned by Mahatma Gandhi on the then pervading language question in India)
  • Urdu Sahaafat, Sadaaqat aur Aazaadi e Raae (It is the the Eleventh Abid Husain Memorial
    Lecture he delivered in April 1994 in New Delhi, the lecture was later transcribed as a book
    in the same year)
    In March 1999, monthly urdu magazine ‘Naya Daur’ dedicated a section to the memory of Late
    Wajahat Ali Sandilvi titled ‘Gosha Wajahat Ali Sandilvi’ (Wajahat Ali Sandilvi Section), where
    Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib’s article christened “Wajahat, Mera Bhai Mera Yaar” (Wajahat, my
    brother and friend) was published (Page 5). Chaudhary Wajahat Ali Sandlvi (1916-1996), the
    celebrated Urdu writer, humorist and satirist was Ishrat Ali sahib’s cousin and batch mate at
    Christian College in Lucknow. Ishrat Ali Siddiqui’s article started with the couplet:
    “Majnu and I were co-travelers in the sphere of love
    While Majnu left for the desert, I was condemned to the lanes of cities”

He further wrote, “We were members of the same family, I use “were” instead of “are” as my
knowledge of our ancestors was not as vast as Wajahat’s and after graduating from university, I
never got a chance to delve deep into family history. Though Wajahat had a lineage to boast of,
he never misused the power, influence and privilege associated with the family name…”.
This article is a good example of Ishrat Ali Sahib’s ability of articulating profound thoughts in
simple yet appealing words.

Current Engagements
At 85 years of age, Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib is as driven and enthusiastic about writing as he always
was. He is currently the Urdu editor at “Rashtriya Samachar Features and Network” and his famous
editorials “Hindustan ka Haal” and “Duniya ka Haal” are printed in various Hindi and Urdu
newspapers managed by the network. Ishrat Ali sahib greatly values time and is disciplined about
time management, perhaps an important reason for his success.

Personal Qualities
Ishrat Ali Siddiqui sahib is a man blessed with the virtues of faith, integrity and empathy. His words,
both written and spoken are not harsh on others but a lighthouse and a source of encouragement
for those seeking the right path. He indeed is a star among Lucconians (an informal term for the
students and alumni of Lucknow Christian College) . May his pen continue to enlighten and guide
and may his star continue to shine.

The next page includes the family tree (shijra) of Janab Ishrat Ali Siddiqui and other prominent
members of the family mentioned in the text.
(It should be noted here that the family tree thus presented is not exhaustive and includes the
lineage of only those mentioned in the article. For instance, only four of Hashmat Ali’s six sons are
included in the chart, similarly only two of Choudhary Ahmed Azim’s six sons find mention so on and
so forth. For those interested in looking into more detailed and exhaustive tree should reach out
over email to navaidhasan1505@gmail.com)