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“Sham dar sham jalenge tere yadoun ke chiragh..

Nasl dar nasl tera dard numaya hoga” – Majaz

Life is battle; one has to fight it fearlessly. Fight with confidence, positive attitude, right aptitude, with determined and concentrated efforts, leads to the surest path of success and Aligarh Muslim University is the result of it which Sir Syed had achieved. Aligarh Muslim University is not just an institution where people of different religion, different caste, colour, and sex come to study but it is an emotion attached to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. It is feeling of oneness. It teaches us to unite one. It brings inner you to understand the fortune. Aligarh Muslim University is the proof that Sir Syed had done for it. How it had been done? A man who went door to door, rich to poor, men to women, faith to belief, comfort to discomfort, hopeless to hope, only for the sake of education, to build an empire, to build a legacy of wisdom, that is none other than Aligarh Muslim University. The effort he made to give such an institution to society, state and the nation is spellbound, speechless; which is the best reward for the upliftment of the minority Muslims, but the doors are open for all. He was the first great Muslim reformer who advocated that the Holy Quran should be taught in the light of modern scientific progress.

Writing a sketch of the Aligarh Muslim University, its statue, contributions and contemporary significance, at this juncture, is like limiting the unlimited, like writing the social history of India of the last two centuries in couple of pages, because the journey of AMU till date encompasses no less than the story of the pre and post- independence phases of India, which includes the aftermaths of the mutiny of 1857 and the British Imperialism, the predicament of the Indians, the clash of the civilizations and the cultures, the clash between languages and education systems, the question of the medium of instruction and the content of education, colonial education policy, the shift from Orient to the Occident, the consequential confused state of the Indians, their backwardness, their prejudices, their shattered faith and values, their traumatized self-esteem, phases of the Indian Freedom Movement leading to the independence and partition of India, fresh socio-political and economic condition and perspective, new education and language policies and provisions, establishment of new colleges and universities, language issues and linguistic riots.

AMU, thus, is not just an institution rather it is an embodiment of the visionary initiative, untiring efforts, never flattering commitment and unfailing dedication taken up by its founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who believed that modern education alone can uplift the Indians from the existing phase of poverty, ignorance, traditionalism and vegetate practices. Little distinct from this view, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan believed in reconciling oriental learning with the Western Literature and Sciences. In order to translate his principle into practice Sir Syed Ahmad Khan took up to sensitize the people. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan envisioned a centre for academic excellence with character building and free thinking as the main function of the university, which has always remained a significant contributor to the socio-cultural, political, scientific and intellectual discourse of the nation in the pre and post Independence journeys of the nation.

AMU stands today as one of the leading Higher Education Institutions of India with formidable presence for over a century. The longevity of AMU as one of the oldest universities of India contributes to make it stand firm and glittering as a proud and active architect of the nation building in the contemporary times as well instead of getting vegetated and decadent like many other educational institutions which began their journey in pre independence era. This sustenance of AMU is visible in the form of its ever increasing renowned alumni who have been freedom fighters, heads of states, ministers, attorneys, advocates, judges, leading scientists, bureaucrats, academicians, artists, poets, sportsmen and Olympians.

“Logon ka hai pyam aur, mera pyam aur hai”- Allama Iqbal

In other words, Iqbal said that the students of AMU have unique aura and they stand out for others. They excel in every fact of life and in every part of the world. That’s why it is well said by Majaz:

“ Jo abr yahan se uthega, wo sare jahan par barsega.”

It is a sad reality that other institutions which started their journey with AMU have never been subjected to hatred kind of prejudiced scrutiny and have never been asked to prove their excellence time and again. The fact that AMU is not merely an academic institution rather an embodiment of our great founder’s futuristic vision and missionary zeal, which makes AMU a discourse of political debates, a treatment which is not met out to other universities generally. Such a stunted perception of the University dwarfed its academic potential in the overall academic perception of the country, besides undermining the credentials in terms of teaching and learning, research output, consultancy and collaborations, publication index, patents, placements, innovation and best practices and extension and outreach programmes. Gloom and despondency engulfed Sir Syed when he thought of the Aligarh Movement. The victorious British had smashed the aristocracy and economic structure. Old system was replaced by science and technology which demanded a restructuring of social fabric. Sir Syed Ahmad realised this transition and plunged in it. He was desperate but took the courage and with the help of some of his sincere and devoted friends, he started the campaign for regeneration of Muslims. Devotion, perseverance and integrity were the hallmark of his being which emboldened him. He very seriously persuades his plan to attain the objectives. Gradually and slowly the thick darkness lightened and the success could be seen. Sir Syed’s many splendored personalities attracted those who once came to him. The intellectual luminaries of his time, finding him sincere and honest, supported him in his multi dimensional efforts and he contributed enormously to the resurgence of modern Indian.

Our University is often put to controversial tests and media trials, which attacks on culture, tradition, heritage and faith. It is an attack on peace, love and brotherhood. It is an attack on secular identity, communal harmony and democratic culture of an Indian institution. It is an attack on particular ideology or identity, an attack on Ganga-Jamuna Tehzib. It is an attack on over progressive thought. It is an attack on emotion, dream and hope of Indians but AMU will always be acknowledged for its contribution in the nation building and for its quality education system within and across the nation; which imbibes us the revisiting of Sir Syed.

There is no doubt if we consider him as a pinnacle of top reformers of all time. What he did in fact is much higher veneration and we can never do justice to his efforts for the 19th century Muslims who were sinking in the darkness of irrationality and ignorance by mere praise. We have to follow him to do that. It’s not about what he did a century back rather his prescience, clairvoyance and prodigious vision for the future of Muslims. He was a polymath and a pragmatic man who dedicated his life for uplifting Muslims so that they could excel in every sphere of life the way western people were doing in contemporary times. World witnessed a drastic transformation and its effect on Muslims is clearly evident even today. He wanted his institution to foster in a way that it becomes a powerhouse from where thousands of revolutionaries should rise with an influence. It happened, the history holds many as their genesis was Aligarh Muslim University and left their impact on the world.

Sir Syed’s exhortations for secular approach, freedom of expression, large-hearted tolerance and communal amity have their own place and peace can be achieved only by adhering to his principles. What would pay today’s India is the true adherence to secularism, tolerance and provision of equal opportunities to every citizen irrespective of their religion and caste as preached by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his movement. Sir Syed was one of the architects of modern Indian who has contributed far more than any reformer in the path of development of Indian nation. His ideas on secularism, Hindu Muslim Unity and Nation are much more value and relevant today than in his own time. India can survive today by following what he said a hundred years ago.

Aligarh Muslim University has positively worked on nation building. Every student of Aligarh Muslim University is an asset for the country. Being the student of AMU, we have liability to work for the communities, society and above all work for the nation with all ups and downs, with accepting all the challenges. We work, worked, working, works for keeping alive the dream of Sir Syed.

hazāroñ saal nargis apnī be-nūrī pe rotī hai

baḌī mushkil se hotā hai chaman meñ dīda-var paidā –Allama Iqbal

Md Mustafa Raza is pursuing his post-graduation in English Literature at Aligarh Muslim University


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