Aligarh Alumni Association of New England

Purpose

The purpose of the Sir Syed Excellence in Science Award is to provide multi-layer higher education opportunities to the students and faculty of AMU in the United States. Merit based SSESA scholarship provide financial support to students attempting entrance exams and application fees for admission to universities in the United States. One-on-one mentorship by senior alumni and professional experts provides guidance throughout the application process and after the admission cycle. Senior alumni and professionals from academia and industry provide postdoctoral opportunities and arrange and support short term visits for AMU faculty at US universities. This program is sponsored by Boston based AMU alumni association "The Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE)" and alumni from around the world.

AMU at a Glance

The following article was written by Prof. Ashraf Khan (President AAANE 2002-04) for Sir Syed Day Mushaira 2004.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, one of the architects of modern India was born on October 17, 1817 in Delhi. Sir Syed created an institution which, first as M.A.O. College and then since 1920 as Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), became the source of an amazing range of talent in all fields of life. In one of his lecture Sir Syed stated: “The main reason behind the establishment of this institution, as I am sure all of you know, was the wretched dependence of Muslims, which had been debasing the position day after day.

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AMU at a Glance

Their religious fanaticism did not let them avail the educational facilities provided by the government schools and colleges. It was, therefore, deemed necessary to make some special arrangement for their education. Suppose, for example, there are two brothers, one of them is quite hale and hearty but other is diseased. His health is on the decline. Thus it is the duty of all brothers to take care of their ailing brother bear the hands in his trouble. This was the very idea which guided me to establish the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College. But I am pleased to say that both the brothers get the same education in this college. All rights of the college appertaining to those who call themselves Muslims are equally related to those who call themselves Hindus without any reservations.

There is no distinction whatsoever between Hindus and Muslims. Only one who strive hard can lay claim to get the award. Here in this college Hindus as well as Muslims are entitled to get the stipends and both of them are treated at par as boarders. I regard both Hindus and Muslims as my two eyes". Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru correctly saw the spirit of Sir Syed's mission when he stated in his autobiography: “So, to this education he turned all his energy trying to win over his community to his way of thinking. He wanted no diversions or distraction from other directions. Sir Syed's decision to concentrate on Western education for Muslims was undoubtedly a right one. Without that they could not have played any effective part in the building up of Indian nationalism of the new type, and they would have been doomed to play second fiddle to the Hindus with their better education and far stronger economic position. The Muslims were not historically or ideologically ready then for the bourgeois nationalist movement as they had developed no bourgeoisie, as the Hindus had done. Sir Syeds activities, therefore, although seemingly very moderate, were in the right revolutionary direction. The establishment of M. A. O. College was described by Lord Lytton as an epoch in the social progress of India. Several decades later Sir Hamilton Gibb characterized the college as the first modernist institution in Islam. Our alumni have made significant contributions in various walks of life in the history of the Indian subcontinent. They have excelled in their respective fields and have been able to reach to the top of the ladder including becoming Presidents of both India and Pakistan. A snap shot of some of our alumni who we are proud of are mentioned below; there are many more who have achieved great success in life and excelled in their fields that we may have missed inadvertently and due to limited space. Freedom Fighters and Political Leaders: Aligarh has produced freedom fighters like Mohammad Ali, Shaukat Ali, Hasrat Mohani, Raja Mahinder Pratap, Syed Husain, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai and Mohammad Yunus who played important roles in the Indian freedom movement. AMU had on its rolls a Zakir Husain who rose to be a president of India, an Ayub Khan who became president of Pakistan, a Nawabzada Liaqat Ali Khan, a Prime Minister of Pakistan, an Said Ahmed Khan of Chatari, a Prime Minister of Hyderabad, Sheikh Abdullah, G.M. Sadiq and Mir Qasim, all Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir; Abdul Ghafoor, Chief Minister of Bihar; and Indian cabinet ministers such as Shafi Qureshi, B.P. Mauriya, V. A. Saiyed Mohamamd, Arif Mohammad Khan, Saleem Sherwani and Ali Ashraf Fatmi. Educators and Scholars: Aligarh seems to have been a perennial source of talent in the field of education and scholarly activity and can boast of having the stature of Abdul Haq, Abdul Majid Daryabadi, D. D. Kosambi, K.M. Panikar and Haroon Khan Sherwani among its scholars and Babar Mirza, Zakir Husain, Ghulam Sayyedein, Mohammad Habib, Hadi Hasan, Shaikh Mohammad Abdullah and Mumtaz Jehan Hyder, K. A. Nizami and Irfan Habib among its educators. Aligarh has produced Fani, Josh, Majaz, Jazbi, Rahi Masoom Raza, Shaharyar, Akhtarul Iman, Jan Nisar Akhtar and Ali Sardar Jafri among its poets and Sajjad Hyder Yaldram, Zafar Ali Khan, Sadat Hasan Minto, Ismat Chughtai, Qazi Abdul Sattar, Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqi, Ale Ahmed Suroor and Raja Rao among its men of letters. The mehfils of Aligarh often reverberated with the poems of Waheed Akhtar, Sajida Zaidi, Zahida Zaidi, Ravindra Bhramar and Shiv Shankar Sharma Rakesh. Aligarh men and women reached the highest ranks of the national ladder in the field of Education e.g. Minister of Education, Nurul Hasan; Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Satish Chandra; Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission A. R. Kidwai; Vice Chancellor, Jamia Milia University, Masood Husain Khan; Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training, Rais Ahmed; Director of the National Council of Educational Research and Training and Vice Chancellor of Delhi University, Moonis Raza; Director-General, Department of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Jamia Milia University Zahoor Qasim, Fellow of Royal Society, U.K and fellow of National Academy of Sciences, USA Obaid Siddiqui. Artists & Film Personalities: Even among film personalities Aligarh is not to be left behind. It has given to the country among others Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Begum Para, Renuka Devi, Talat Mahmood, Shakeel Badayuni, Sahir Ludhianvi and Naseeruddin Shah. Noted film director Muzaffar Ali of Umrao Jaan fame is the product of Aligarh. Poet Shahryar and film scriptwriter and poet Jawed Akhtar ; both Aligarians, gave a new trend to the lyrics for film songs and film writing respectively. The most outstanding, however, was late Rahi Masoom Raza, an eminent writer in the film and TV world. He was the dialogue writer of numerous films and of the TV magnum opus Mahabharat. Sports and Athletics: AMU has produced some well known sports personalities some of whom have led the national team in Hockey and Cricket. Ghouse Mohammad learnt his tennis at Aligarh and Wazir Ali, Nazir Ali, Lala Amarnath, C. S. Naidu and Mushtaq Ali their Cricket. Among Olympic hockey players, Mohammed Jafar, Masood Minsha, Ali Sayeed, Inamur Rahman, Govinda and Zafar Iqbal played for India; Abdul Qayyum, Sayed Ali, and Anwar Ahmad Khan for Pakistan and Doraswamy for Malaysia. Afsar Husain was the national yachting champion. In a Convocation address to the University graduates in 1949, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad said “So far as Muslim of India are concerned, one can assert without fear of contradiction that the man who played the most important role in this struggle is the presiding spirit of this university. The battle was fought here in Aligarh and Aligarh is the visible embodiment of the victory of the forces of progress. Here developed the new schools of research, interpretation and reconstruction of Muslim thought. You must remember that this glorious heritage is yours and it is for you to revive the past splendor of Aligarh. The inscriptions which have been carved on the walls of your Strachey Hall may fade with the passage of time but the inscriptions which Aligarh has written on the modern period of Indian history can never fade. Future historians will discover in Aligarh one of the main sources which has contributed to the evolution of modern India. Your duty is to regenerate those old traditions and to create in your University an atmosphere of research and enquiry into all the spheres of knowledge and preach the gospel of large hearted tolerance and of pure morality”. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad February 20, 1949.

The Aligarh Alumni Association (AAANE) is honored to be associated with this great Aligarh heritage. We are proud to introduce our almamater to fellow New Englanders.

Prof. Ashraf Khan, MD
Founding Member and Board of Directors of AAANE and AAANE's Past President
(With excerpts from an article by Dr. Raziuddin and Syed Rafat Husain, Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC)

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