After the early (1880) death of his father, an official in the Rampur State administration, Muhammad Ali was brought up by his mother, who sent him first to Bareilly and then to the Mohamedan Anglo-Oriental Collegiate School and College in Aligarh. From 1898-1902 he studied Modern History at Lincoln College, Oxford, but failed the ICS examination. Upon return to India he served in the Baroda Civil Service (1904-1910). He meanwhile became involved with the All-India Moslem League, founding the English-language Comrade (1911) and the Urdu-language Hamdard (1913) to propagandise for Muslim causes, but both were banned in 1914, and Muhammad Ali interned as political prisoner from 1915-1919. Upon release he headed the Indian Khilafat Deputation to Europe (1920), was again imprisoned for seditious activity (1921-23), and revived the Comrade and Hamdard (1924).
Ali was a member of the British Indian delegation and died during the first conference session.
For additional biographical information, see the official delegate Who's Who for the First Session. See also Emery Kelen's caricature, from his portfolio of delegates at the Round Table Conference.
- Early January 1925. Attended session of Muslim representatives across the spectrum, including loyalist Shafi and nationalist Jinnah. A commitment to federation of existing provinces with provincial autonomy in British India was agreed (Moore, 1974:24)
- 31st December 1928 : Ali attended a meeting in Delhi Muslims rejected the Nehru Report at an All Parties Moslem Conference (Moore, 1974:38)
- August 1931: Ali wrote to Irwin making clear his demands on accepting an invitation to the RTC: being separate electorates and weightage in Hindu-majority provinces.
- 13th October 1930: in an India Office note assessing the need of delegates for security arrangements, surprise was expressed that the Indian government had made no mention of “Mahomed Ali”, due to his opposition to the civil disobedience movement making him unpopular. Threats had been made of demonstrations when he left India; these didn’t happen due to counter threats from his supporters. Members of the London Branch of the Indian National Congress were reported determined to insult him “by throwing ink at him or tarring his beard if they can get the opportunity.” (British Library L.PJ.12.426)
- 13th November 1930: Secretary of State Benn wrote to Viceroy Irwin, reporting on the evening reception given to delegates and other guests at Lancaster House: “There were many striking figures; none more egregious that Muhammad and Shaukat Ali who were cordiality itself to all comers and, on account of their striking appearance, were much sought after by people so respectable that I think they could hardly have been aware of the murky past of their new lions.” (British Library 6)
- 19th November 1930: in his speech at the opening plenary, Ali stated: “I belong to two circles of equal size, but which are not concentric. One is India, and the other is the Muslim world… We [Mussalmans] belong to these two circles, each of more than 300 millions, and we can leave neither. We are not nationalists but supernationalists, and I, as a Mussalman, say that ‘God made man and the Devil made the nation.’ Nationalism divides; our religion binds. No religious wars, no crusades, have seen such holocausts and have been so cruel a[s] your last war, and that was a war of your nationalism, and not my Jehad.” (Indian Round Table Conference, Proceedings)
- 26th November 1930: a police report noted that Miss Nur Jehan Mohammed Yusuf, MA, has approached Maulana Muhammad Ali on three or four occasions concerning views of London Branch of the Indian National Congress, inviting him to attend a general meeting which would be called especially to hear him speak. “It is said that M.M.Ali would not listen to her.” (British Library L.PJ.12.363)
- 1st January 1931: Malcolm Hailey wrote to Viceroy Irwin of Ali that: “indeed, he is really rather seriously ill and last night succeeded in getting round his bed-side a collection of about twenty people including Alwar and the Secretary of State, and, in spite of the attempts of his doctors to curb him, gave them a kind of dying speech of considerable duration. He must have enjoyed himself immensely though I do not gather that he managed to communicate his enjoyment to his audience.” (British Library E220/34)
- 4th January 1931: Ali died
- 6th January 1931: Hailey apologised to Irwin regarding his unfeeling report of 1st January, reporting on Ali’s death: “Before he died, he dictated a long political testimony to Corbett which is, I understand, to be distributed to the Minorities Committee and which contains a good deal of plain speaking but, of course, cannot be altered now.” (British Library E220/34)
- 24th January 1931: Ali’s body arrived in Jerusalem, where it was buried where the Grand Mufti of Palestine had offered to have it buried within the precincts of the Haram-al-Sharif, in a room facing the Dome of the Rock.
- Mohamed Ali, Thoughts on the Present Discontent (Bombay: Bombay Gazette Steam Press; 1907): https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.102114
- Maulana Mohammed Ali, “Speech at the Fourth Plenary Session of the Round Table Conference in London, 19th Nov., 1930”, taken from G. Allana, Pakistan Movement Historical Documents (Karachi: Department of International Relations, University of Karachi, ), pp. 61-75: http://www.columbia.edu/itc/mealac/pritchett/00islamlinks/txt_muhammadali_1930.html
- Maulana Mohamed Ali, My Life, A Fragment: An Autobiographical Sketch of Maulana Mohamed Ali, Ed. Afzal Iqbal (Lahore: Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf; 1942): https://archive.org/details/dli.csl.8301
- Maulana Mohamed Ali, Select Writings and Speeches Of Maulana Mohamed Ali, Ed. Afzal Iqbal (Lahore: Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf; 1944): https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.276915
- Mushirul Haq, “Muhammad Ali”, in Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. III (M-R), Ed. S.P. Sen (Calcutta: Institute of Historical Studies), pp. 148-150: https://archive.org/details/dictionaryofnationalbiographyvol.3mrsens.p._623_K/page/n221
- Muhammad Ali: His Life, Services and Trial, 2nd enlarged ed. (Madras: Ganesh & Co.; ): https://archive.org/details/muhammadalihisli00alimrich
- “The Ali Brothers”, in Eminent Mussalmans (Madras: G.A. Natesan & Co.; 1926), pp. 508-544: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.62206/page/n555
- The Times, “Maulana Mohamed Ali”, Issue Number 45712 (5 Jan 1931), p. 18
- Times of India, “Mr. Mahomed Ali Dead” (5 Jan 1931), p. 9, 11
- Times of India, “Mahomed Ali” (6 Jan 1931), p. 6
- Afzal Iqbal, The Life and Times of Mohamed Ali: An analysis of the hopes, fears and aspirations of Muslim India from 1778 [sic] to 1931 (Lahore: Institute of Islamic Culture; 1974): https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.244029
- Syed Tanvir Wasti, “The Circles of Maulana Mohamed Ali”, Middle Eastern Studies, 38:4 (2002), pp. 51-62: https://doi.org/10.1080/714004494
- Khalid Ali, Ali Brothers: The Life and Times of Maulana Mohamed Ali and Shaukat Ali (Karachi: Royal Book Company; 2012)