Ajmal Khan or Hakim Ajmal Khan (1863–1927) was a Unani physician and Indian Muslim nationalist politician and freedom fighter. He is credited for the revival of Unani medicine in India in early 20th century, by founding the Tibbia College in Delhi and also spotting Dr. Salimuzzaman Siddiqui, a chemist, whose subsequent research in important medicinal plants used in Unani Medicine gave it a new direction.. A close associate of Gandhi, he participated in the Non-cooperation movement (Satyagraha); led Khilafat Movement, and also became the President of the Indian National Congress, of whose he presided Ahmedabad Session in 1921.. He was one of the founders of the Jamia Millia Islamia University, and became its first chancellor in 1920 and remained so till his death in 1927.
Hakim Ajmal Khan sahib was born in 1863. Ajmal Khan’s ancestors, a distinguished line of physicians, had come to India during the reign of Babar, the founder of the Mughal Empire in India. All members of the family of Hakim Ajmal Khan were Unani doctors. The family had been practicing this ancient form of medicine from the time of the Mughal rulers. They were then known as the Rais of Delhi. His grandfather, Hakim Sharif Khan, was the physician of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam and built the Sharif Manzil, a hospital-cum-college which taught Unani medicine.
He learnt Quran by heart and studied traditional Islamic knowledge including Arabic and Persian in his childhood, before turning his energy to the study of medicine under the wise guidance of his senior relatives, all of whom were well-known physicians. His grandfather Hakim Sharif Khan sought to promote the practice of Tibb-i-unani or Unani medicine and for this purpose, had set up the Sharif Manzil hospital-cum-college that was known throughout the subcontinent as one of the finest philanthropic Unani hospitals that did not charge any fees from poor patients.
Once qualified, Hakim Ajmal Khan was appointed chief physician to the Nawab of Rampur in 1892. No praise is too high for Hakim Sahib, hailed as "Massiha-e-Hind" (Messiah of India) and "a king without a crown". He could effect miraculous cures, like his father, and is said to have possessed "magical" medicine chest, the secrets of which were known to him alone. Such was his medical acumen that it is said that he could diagnose any illness by just looking at a person’s face.. Hakim Ajmal Khan charged Rs.1000 for a visit. That was his daily fee if he went out of town, but if the patient came to Delhi he was treated free, even if he was a Maharaja.
Hakim Mohammed Ajmal Khan proved to be the most outstanding and multifaceted personality of his era. His contribution to the cause of India’s freedom, National integration and communal harmony is matchless. A sound and far cited statesman and an educationist of highest caliber.
Hakim Ajmal Khan took much interest in the expansion and development of the native system of Unani medicine. Hakim Ajmal Khan built three important institutions, the Central College in Delhi, Hindustani Dawakhana and the Ayurvedic and Unani Tibbia College, in order to expand the research and practice hence saved Unani System of Medicine from extinction in India. His untiring efforts in the field of Unani medicine infused a new force and life into an otherwise decaying Indian Unani medical system under the British rule.
One of its founders, Ajmal Khan was elected the first chancellor of the Jamia Milia Islamia University on 22 November 1920 and held the position till his death in 1927. During this period he ensured the University's shift to Delhi from Aligarh and helped it sail through various crisis, including financial crisis, carried out extensive fund raising and often bailed it out using his own money.
The life history of Ajmal Khan changed its course from medicine towards politics after he started writing for an Urdu weekly 'Akmal-ul-Akhbar' that was launched by his family. Khan was also heading the Muslim team, who met the Viceroy of India in Shimla in the year 1906 to give him a memorandum made by them. The following year, he was present at Dhaka when the All India Muslim League was formulated at Israt Manzil Palace on 30 December 1906. At a time when many Muslim leaders were arrested, Dr Ajmal Khan approached Mahatma Gandhi for help. As such, Gandhiji united with him and other Muslim leaders like Maulana Azad, Maulana Mohammad Ali and Maulana Shaukat Ali in the famous Khilafat movement. Ajmal Khan is also the sole person who has had the honor to be elected the President of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League and the All India Khilafat Committee. He completed his Unani study under Hakeem Abdul Jameel of Siddiqui Dawakhana, Delhi.
Hakim Ajmal Khan’s whole life was a portrayal of altruistic service and sacrifice. Hakim Ajmal Khan died of heart problems on 29 December 1927.Hakim Ajmal Khan had renounced his government title, and many of his Indian fans awarded him the title of Masih-ul-Mulk (Healer of the Nation). He was succeeded in the position of JMI Chancellor by Dr. Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari. Ajmaline, a class Ia antiarrhythmic agent and Ajmalan a parent hydride, are named after him.
After the partition of India Hakim Khan's grandson Hakim Muhammad Nabi Khan migrated to Pakistan. Hakim Nabi learnt Tibb (medicine) from Hakim Ajmal Khan and opened 'Dawakhana Hakim Ajmal Khan' in Lahore which has its branches throughout Pakistan. The motto of Ajmal khan family has been Azal-ul-Allah-Khudatulmal, which when translated means that the best way to keep oneself busy is by serving humanity, which his descendants are following since ages.