"How can I leave my brethren here behind me?" - he is reported to have told one of his close associates and admirers, Mr. Hassan Riaz, former editor, Manshoor, Delhi.
Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan ( محمد اسماعیل خان) was an eminent Muslim politician and a leading activist of the All-India Muslim League, who stood in the forefront of the Khilafat Movement and Pakistan Movement. Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan was one of the founding fathers of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan due to the pivotal role he fulfilled for the cause of it. As deciphered through history, his position was described as only second to that of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is also evident through the letters that were actively exchanged between the leaders. He was often credited as a gentleman with an immense breadth of vision and an individual who selflessly rendered his services for the welfare of underprivileged Muslims in the Indian Subcontinent. Even after the consummation of Pakistan, he invariably chose to remain in India to share the fate with the Muslims who were destined to remain within its boundaries.
Mohammad Ismail Khan was born in August, 1884 in Meerut, a part of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. He was born to Nawab Mohammad Ishak Khan of Jehangirabad and was the Grandson of the renowned Urdu and Persian poet, Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta (sometimes spelled as "Shaifta") - "Shaifta/Shefta" being his Urdu pen-name. Upon completing his early schooling in India, he proceeded to England, at the age of twelve to continue his studies as a full-time boarder at Tonbridge School in Tonbridge, Kent. He went on from there to attain his undergraduate credentials from St John's College, Cambridge to thereafter become a Barrister of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (Inns of Court School of Law). In those days travel to the Great Britain was by ship from Bombay and around the Cape of Good Hope, taking more than a month to reach. He returned to India at the age of 24 in 1908 and opted for a career in law. His father, as a career ICS (Indian Cicil Servant) officer had become a Judge in Allahabad and was a founding member of the Muslim League; in addition to being a close friend of Pundit Motilal Nehru's. During his job as District and Session Judge, he was greatly impressed by the eminence of Pundit Motilal Nehru as a lawyer. When M. Ismail Khan returned from England after becoming a barrister at law, Nawab M. Ishak Khan made commenced his legal practice as assistant lawyer to Pundit Motilal Nehru - who prevailed upon Nawab M. Ishak Khan to permit his son to stay with him as his guest. Hence M. Ismail Khan was sent to live with the Nehru family in Anand Bhawan for a few years. Whilst practicing law in India, he befriended Muhammad Ali Jinnah, with whom he entered politics.
Nawab M. Ismail Khan entered politics at a very early age. As a young gentleman he had closely observed the agitation of the Muslims masses for a separate electorate and seen how a delegation of the Muslims was sent (October, 1906) to Lord Minto - which secured the right of separate representation for the Muslims.
It was about the same time (December, 1906) that the Muslim League came into being through the efforts of Nawab Vaqarul Mulk and Nawab Sir Khwaja Salimullah at a meeting in Dacca which was attended by some of the leading Muslim leaders from all over the country. Limited as the aim of the organisation was then, it included the advancement of the political rights and interests of the Muslims of India and prevention of the rise amongst themselves of any feeling of hostility towards other communities. Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan.
Nawab M. Ismail Khan actively associated himself with the All India Muslim League and became a member of its Working Committee in 1910 - a position which he held for more than four decades. Nawab M. Ismail Khan would also contest and win the election to the Central Legislative Assembly, therefore having presided over the All India Khilafat Committee. He was a member of the foundation committee of the Jamia Millia Islamia, but was opposed to the Indian National Congress's campaign for Swaraj through civil disobedience. In the 1930s, Nawab M. Ismail Khan would lead the Uttar Pradesh Muslim League and served as the Chairman of the All India Muslim Civil Defence Association. In 1934 and again in 1947, he rendered his services as Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh University.