City Monument – Maulana Shaukat Ali’s Grave, Old Delhi
A milestone in history.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This morning the simple marble grave in Old Delhi is lined with rotting rose petals and not much else. A historic tombstone but its existence rarely registered.
This is the final resting place of Maulana Shaukat Ali. A notable figure in the story of Indian freedom struggle, he laboured with his younger brother Mohamed Ali in leading the Khilafat Movement against the British. They both supported Gandhi’s first civil disobedience movement and were also among the principal architects behind the setting up of Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University. Incidentally, both the Ali brothers have two prominent roads in Bombay named after them.
Born in 1873 in Rampur to a charismatic woman of her time, Shaukat Ali was educated in Aligarh Muslim University where the zesty athlete, apart from being a wrestler and a street fighter of some repute, famously captained its cricket team. He went on to marry an English woman whom he first met when she was his secretary at the Round Table Conference in London in 1931.
While his sibling is buried many countries away, in the vicinity of the famed Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Shaukat Ali lies here in a small nameless mosque just outside the eastern gates of the Mughal-era Jama Masjid. The Urdu inscription by poet Ameer Minai on the tombstone urges “those who happen to walk by this way to offer prayers at this grave.”