Source: The Indian Nation Builders: Part II, 5th ed. (Madras: Ganesh & Co.)
Badruddin Tyabji was born in 1844 to a highly esteemed Arab family in Bombay.
He was trained as a lawyer in England and returned to India in December 1867, where he took up the appointment of Advocate of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay. He eventually became the President of the Bombay Presidency Association and in 1879, made his maiden speech against abolishing import duties on cotton goods. In 1882, he was appointed as an additional member of the Legislative Council and played a key role in the the debates of the Bombay Local Boards and Municipality’s Bills. The display of his oratorical prowess and powers of judgement soon established his reputation as an orator. He became the President of the first Madras Congress in 1887 and in 1895, was offered a judgeship in the High Court of Bombay.
As a politician, he strongly supported the Indian National Congress and openly pronounced that he would not participate in any institution “which had or could be supposed to have the slightest trace of being hostile or antagonistic to the Congress”, believing that the Government had a high opinion of Congress even if it did not explicitly state so. He was also firm in his beliefs that the demands and speech of his countrymen ought to be moderated.
He was also one of the leaders of the social reform movement among Indian Mahomedans and was concerned that Indians as a whole were too fixated upon the issue of politics, neglecting other areas such as education, which were also important for progress. He believed that working towards a representative Government would be in vain if the majority of India remained ignorant from a lack of education. To bring about a change in this mindset, he devoted himself to facilitating the dissemination of Western education among Mahomedans through his role as Secretary and later, President of the Bombay Anjuman-i-Islam.
Convinced that female education should not be overlooked, he did his utmost to diminish the power the power of the zenana system and further set a personal example by sending his daughters for higher education in England. Presiding over the Muhamamadan Educational Conference in 1903, he made a powerful appeal for the renunciation of the purdah system, expressing that its restrictions had been executed beyond the commandments of the Koran. He also disapproved of the old-fashioned manner in which Mahomedans made their wills, believing that their fortunes would be better utilised by allocating them to the cause of advancing and developing education systems.
In 1906, Badruddin Tyabji succumbed to an affliction of the heart and passed away.
Sources: The Indian Nation Builders, Part II, 5th ed (Madras: Ganesh & Co., 1921), 137-147; Eminent Mussalmans, 1st ed (Madras: Ganesh & Co., 1926), 97-112
Exchange of Letters Between Mr. Badruddin Tyabgi and Sir Syed Ahmed (Allahabad: The Pioneer Press, 1888), 54-62
Presidential Address to the Third Session of the Indian National Congress. Madras, 1887”, Congress Presidential Addresses, Volume One: 1885-1900 ed. A. M. Zaidi (New Delhi: Indian Institute of Applied Political Research, 1985), 41-50