The Last Nizam who was nominated the Caliph
  • ·         Mir  Osman Ali refused to buy a blanket but gave Rs. one lakh to BHU
  • ·         Mukarram used to pay Rs. 25,ooo to barber every month for haircut !

  • Dr. Hari Desai

Unless you have the holistic picture of any ruler, you are bound to do injustice to one. Normally, the image of the His Exalted Highness Mir Osman Ali Khan (6 April 1886-24 February 1967), Asaf Jah VII of Hyderabad has been a Miser and a Villian who wanted to have an independent Hyderabad State after the British were to leave India. Thanks to Sardar Patel’s Operation Polo, the police–cum-army action in September 1948, the Nizam’s Hyderabad merged with India. The Nizam VII was one of the richest persons  in the world but he  would borrow cigarettes even from his guests and was a known miserly bargainer when it comes to buy even a blanket worth Rs. 35. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, his legal advisor reminisces how once the Nizam offered him a cigarette and when he accepted it, the Nizam politely took it back, clipped it into two with a clipper he had in his pocket and offered one half to the guest !
In “Hyderabad: 400 Years (1591-1991)”, Raza Alikhan records an interesting contradiction about the Nizam VII’s temperament: “During the winter of 1939,the Nizam ordered his ADC to buy a blanket  for him making it clear that the  price should in no case exceed Rs.25/-. His ADC went to the market and returned and told him that no blanket was available for less than Rs.35/-. The Nizam turned round to the ADC and said that he would manage the winter somehow with his old blanket. Two hours after this incident, there was a personal letter to the Nizam from the Maharaja of Bikaner for donation to the Benaras Hindu University. The Nizam issued a farman granting Rs. one lakh for the university.” The same Nizam donated Rs. one lakh to the Andhra University, Rs. 82,825  to the Yadgarpally temple at Bhongir, Rs.50,000 to Sitarambaug temple, Rs.  29,999 to Bhadrachalam temple and Rs. 8,000 to Balaji temple at Tirupati! When India was at war with Pakistan, the Nizam’s donation of 5,000 kg of gold to the National Defence Fund in 1965 was the biggest ever contribution by any individual or organization in India and remains unsurpassed till today.
Like Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad III, the ruler of Baroda State and Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III,  one of the founders and the first President of All India Muslim League,  the Nizam VII declared his grandson, Prince Mukarram Jah ( Mir Barkat Ali Khan) as his successor, the Nizam VIII. After the death of the Nizam VII in 1967, Mukarram Jah’s coronation as the Nizam VIII was held at Chowmahalla palace in Hyderabad. The Nizam VII did not consider Prince Mukarram’s father, Prince Azam Jah, his worthy successor. The Nizam VIII was born to his Indian father Prince Azam Jah and Turkish mother Princess Durrushehvar on 6 October 1934 in France. The marriage of Azam and Durrushehvar in 1931 brought together the two most important Muslim dynasties of the time- the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Ottomans of Turkey. Mukarram Jah was not only the natural heir of this great alliance, but was also nominated to be the next Caliph of Islam.
The Nizam VIII  now lives in Turkey as a virtual recluse, his address known only to a handful of people, according to his biographer John Zubrzycki.  In “The Last Nizam”, he records, “Having left Australia in 1996 never to return, he indulges in his passion for exploring Roman ruins in complete anonymity.” He was married to Princess Esra and she divorced Mukarram Jah in 1979, but was her former husband’s power of attorney and funded the restoration of Chowmahalla palace in Hyderabad. Mukarram’s biographer Zubrzycki  writes, “In an out of court settlement in June 2002, Jah agreed to distribute his share, which had swelled to Rs. 1.13 billion (45 million US $), among his immediate family, 476 legal heirs of the Seventh Nizam and 1945 descendants of the Sixth. Under the settlement, Jah received Rs. 540 million (22 million US $).”
Unlike his grandfather, Mukarram Jah, the Nizam VIII, has the image of  a generous person. He was educated at the Doon School, Harrow, Peterhouse, Cambridge, the London School of Economics and Sandhurst. Shahid Husain Zuberi who worked and travelled with Mukarram Jah in various capacities for 20 years (1969-1989) has lifted the veil of mysteries surrounding the titular Nizam of Hyderabad in his book “Awraq-e-Maazi”. Zuberi says, “It is an account of the man highlighting the human element. There are two facets-either you believe in something or you know something. I have worked with him closely and have written knowing things.”
Jah used to get his hair trimmed by a barber, Raja Ram, every month at Chiran Palace. Once, after getting done with his hair cut, he told his factotum to pay the barber Rs.25,000 ! When the assistant raised his eyebrows in surprise, Jah said he had given his word to Raja Ram. “While shaving the barber paused with the razor on my jugular vein and expressed his need for Rs.25,000. I readily agreed as at that moment I couldn’t have done anything else,” Jah said, breaking into uncontrolled laughter. Zuberi has written scores of such little-known incidents about Mukarram Jah. He says, “I have not tried to portray Jah as a successful or unsuccessful person. He was my hero and is my hero.”
Mir Barkat Ali Khan Mukarram Jah Bahadur was the titular Nizam of Hyderabad from 6 April 1967, to 28 December 1971. He may have lost the title after abolition of the Privy Purse in 1971, but a large number of people in Hyderabad still hold him as the titular Nizam. But for abolition of the Islamic Caliphate after the Turkey revolution in 1924, Mukarram Jah would have been the spiritual head of 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. His maternal grandfather, Caliph Abdul Majeed II, spiritual and temporal head of the Muslim world and ruler of the Ottoman Empire, in his will named that in case of revival of the Islamic Caliphate, Mukarram Jah would be his successor. The Caliph was also the caretaker of the shrines in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, the three most sacred places of Islam. Mukarram Jah,83, now lives in Turkey. What people generally know  about him is on the basis of hearsay. The biggest problem is people’s comparison of Jah with his grandfather. The later was a king and he did not have to pay any estate duty, wealth tax, income tax or municipal tax. But after his demise, Jah ended up with many liabilities and was asked to pay several taxes for properties he inherited.

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