Princess Durru Shehvar was the daughter of Abdülmecid II of the Ottoman dynasty, who was the last heir apparent to the Ottoman Imperial throne and the last Caliph of the Muslim world. She held the titles of Princess of Berar through marriage.
Her marriage to the eldest son of Nizam of Hyderabad speaks about a deep and warm relationship between Ottoman Khilafat and Muslim political leaders of pre-partition India. Indian Muslim leaders unsuccessfully tried to save Khilafat through Khilafat Movement. When Khilafat was abolished and the last Ottoman Caliph was exiled, few Muslim leaders took the responsibility to fulfil the last responsibility to get the Princess married in a respectful family. Allama Iqbal proposed son of Nizam as a suitable bride-groom. Maulana Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali took the responsibility and put the proposal forward to the last Caliph.
She was a beautiful princess, sought by the Shah of Persia and King Fuad I of Egypt as a bride for their respective heirs. However she agreed to married to Azam Jan, the eldest son and heir of the last Nizam of Hyderabad State Osman Ali Khan Asif Jah VI. The wedding took place on 12 November 1932 in Nice (France) by the good office of Maulana Shaukat Ali. She was 18 and Prince Azam Jah was 25, she was much taller than Prince Azam Jah. Her father-in-law, the last Nizam loved pointing out how much taller she was than his son, at their parties.
She was deeply interested in modernizing reforms and believed in modern education for women. She became a popular public figure upon her arrival in Hyderabad.
Few public activities she performed:
1. Inaugurated airport in Hyderabad 1940.
2. Inaugurated Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad.
3. Inaugurated Durru Shehvar Children’s & General Hospital for women and children in the old city of Hyderabad.
4. Inaugurated Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College Hospital at Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh in 1939.
5. Established a junior college for girls in her name, Baghe-jahan-ara, Yakutpura (Hyderabad).
She died in London and buried in famous Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey. She refused to be buried in Turkey because her father was not allowed the same right in his homeland.
We read historical events to learn from it, main learning point for Muslims of the Subcontinent is the role played by our ancestors that shaped the history and the world. Our religious leaders were armed with both religious and modern education. This was the reason they influenced the masses and an individual. As in this case, Maulana Shaukat Ali had influence on both the last Caliph and the richest man on earth, the Nizam of Hyderabad.
History of Indian Subcontinent