Muhammad Ismail Sahib was born on 5th June 1896, in Tirunelveli district in the Madras Presidency. He received his education from CMS College and MDT Hindu College in Tirunelveli and later from St. Joseph’s College, Trichy and Madras Christian College.
Ismail established the Young Muslim Society in Tirunelveli Petai in 1909 when he was 14 years old. He also founded the Majlis-ul-Ulama (Council of Islamic Scholars) in 1918. In the same year, he joined the Muslim League, and rose to become the President of its Madras Unit in 1945. Under his leadership, the Muslim League won all 28 seats reserved for Muslims in the 1946 Provincial Elections, and Ismail became the leader of the opposition.
In the 1920s, Ismail went on to become a successful businessman in the leather and meat industries. He held prominent positions in several business and commerce organisations in Madras relating to trade, railways, and excise.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
Ismail was elected to the Constituent Assembly from Madras on a Muslim League ticket. He was one of the 28 members of the Muslim League who stayed behind in India after partition and who participated in the proceedings of the Constituent Assembly. In the Assembly, he intervened in the debates on the official language.
Together with other members of the League who remained in India after partition, Ismail formed the Indian Union Muslim League party in 1948, of which he became the first President.
Ismail successfully contested the first elections to the Rajya Sabha and served from 1952-1958. Later, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for two consecutive terms, serving from 1962 to 1970.
Ismail passed away on 5th April, 1972.
Ismail argued in favour of choosing Hindustani as the official language as it was the most widely-spoken language in India.