He was the fourth Muslim (After Badruddin Tyabji, Rahimtulla M. Sayani and Nawab Syed Muhammad Bahadur)to become the President of Indian National Congress. One of his ancestors was the private tutor to Aurangzeb. Hasan Imam's father was a professor of history at Patna College. By his first wife, he had a son Syed Medhi Imam, educated at Harrow and Oxford University, a barrister of the Supreme Court of India and scholar of Latin and Greek. Hasan Imam also married a British woman and Ballu Imam the human rights campaigner, and wildlife expert is their grandson. Regarded as one of India's finest barristers, some barristers such as Chittaranjan Das(C.R. Das) and H.D.Bose considered Hasan as the best barrister in British India. He is related to many other barristers besides those within his own immediate family including Sir Sultan Ahmed and Syed Abdal Aziz. Hasan Imam's Cambridge University educated nephew Syed Jafar Imam was also his son-in-law and later become a Supreme Court judge.
Law and Political Career
Hasan Imam, son of lmdad Imam, and younger brother of Sir Ali Imam, was born at Neora, District Patna, on August 31, 1871. A Shia Muslim by faith, he belonged to a distinguished, educated landed family. After a course of schooling, interrupted frequently by ill-health, he left for England in July 1889 and joined the Middle Temple. While there he campaigned actively for Dadabhai Naoroji during the General Election of England in 1891. He was called to the Bar in 1892; he returned home the same year and started practice in the Calcutta High Court. Hasan Imam was a Judge of the Calcutta High Court. On the establishment of the Patna High Court in March 1916, Imam resigned the Judgeship of the Calcutta High Court and started practice at Patna. In 1921 he was nominated a Member of the Bihar and Orissa Legislative Council. From 1908 onwards he took part in political affairs. In October 1909 he was elected President of the Bihar Congress Committee and in the next month he presided over the fourth session of the Bihar Students' Conference. He resumed political activity on a larger scale after resigning the Judgeship in 1916. Hasan Imam was one of the prominent Indian leaders who called upon Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, in November 1917 and was listed by him among "the real giants of the Indian Political World". He presided over the special session of the Indian National Congress held at Bombay, 1918, to consider the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms Scheme. It was an important, but difficult, session to handle because opinion was sharply divided on the merits of the scheme. Hasan Imam played a moderating role. A staunch constitutionalist he was opposed to the ideology of the Non-cooperation movement. Hasan Imam took a leading part in the Khilafat Movement. He joined the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930 and was elected Secretary of the Swadeshi League formed in Patna. He actively campaigned for the boycott of foreign goods and use of Khaddar. Earlier in 1927, he "materially conduced to the success" of the boycott of the Simon Commission in Bihar. Hasan Imam was a strong advocate of social reforms, particularly the amelioration of the position of women and the depressed classes. As a member of the Tikari Board of Trustees, he promoted schemes for girls' education. He exposed the economic exploitation of the country, both under the Company and the Imperial rule. He was President of the Board of Trustees of the Biharee, the leading English daily of Bihar; he was also one of the founders of the succeeding Searchlight.
He died on April 19, 1933 and lies buried at Japala, Shahabad district.
"The traditions that we of the present generation have inherited from those that founded and established this great national organisation are of perseverance in the face of even tremendous opposition, and today it stands acknowledged as the champion of the rights of the Indian people. Those traditions are dear to us and we cherish them. We know no extremists and we know no moderates, names that have been devised by "our enemies" to divide us. We know only one cause and we have only one purpose in view. Our demand is the demand of a United India, and so long as our rights are denied to us we shall continue the struggle! Unchained in soul-though manacled in limb Unwarped by prejudice- unawed by wrong, Friends to the weak and fearless of the strong". — Syed Hasan Imam - From the Presidential Address, I.N.C., - Session, 1918, Bombay (Special Session)
- Congress biography