Professor Ali Akhtar Khan (78) of (AMU) passed away on (08/29/2020) after a brief illness.
He was born to parents Ali Qadar Khan and Najmun Nisa, on January 01, 1942, in a landlord family of Naseerpur village, Azamgarh. He studied in Shibli school and then graduated from Shibli National College, Azamgarh. Later on, he completed his M.Ed. from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. After losing his mother at the age of 5, things did not go well for the young child in the early years. Having encountered difficulties early on, the young boy got tough and made him more well versed in worldly affairs that too before age.
He started as a lecturer of Education in Shibli College and later moved to the Department of Education, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He was “Sir” to his students, “Khan Sahab” to his friends/colleagues, and “Abbu” to his kids. He was an institution in himself with always having enough to share about any issue. He was an exemplary teacher, passionate about the subject, and with rock-solid work ethics. He also had enough humility to acknowledge matters whenever and wherever they arose. He realized the importance of teachers in one’s life and firmly believed that teaching is not confined to the classroom but is an ongoing process for anywhere and everywhere. A gifted teacher of philosophy and teaching methodology, he made sure the message reached the lecture theatre’s last student. Many times his notes on “Existentialism” have been quoted in various books and publications.
He had the reputation of being an exceptional writer with the flair for minute detail, clarity, and constant re-evaluation. He had this expertise in all three languages i.e., English, Hindi, and Urdu. His famous write up about Sir Syed, and Muslim education is often seen as a perfect rebuttal to many prominent right wingers’ argument. Contrary to the common belief that great writers are never good speakers, Professor Khan was an outstanding speaker. He firmly believed that engagement with the audience is the perfect recipe for a great speech. He always highlighted the difference between a great speaker and a great debater to his students.
In the administrative and academic arena of Aligarh Muslim University, he was famous as a no-nonsense individual who would not be shy of being the whistleblower if needed to protect the credibility and sanctity of the institution. This quality was because he was admired and will now be fondly remembered both by admirers and detractors. Lastly, his going has created a void that will be difficult to fill soon.
Nadeem Khan is an author and speaker based in Toronto.