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Dr. Akbar S. Khan

Sir Syed's Vision

Contrary to the fundamentalist ideology of Dar-ul-Uloom (abode of Islamic learning) founded in 1866 at Deoband, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was of the view that backwardness of Muslims could be eradicated only through western education.  Accordingly he set up MAO College on his return from England with the help of British to impart western education along with Islamic knowledge.  With his new educational vision he wanted to prepare the Muslim mind to change the failed medieval system of education, which had not met the material and intellectual needs of the community.  
The Education Commission of 1882, while lauding the efforts of Syed Ahmed remarked:
"The founders of the institution have realised that the only education which could bring their race into harmony with civilisation around them and restore it to a position of influence was an education frankly acknowledging advance of science, catholic in its sympathies with all that was admirable in the literature, history and philosophy of other countries, broad in its outlines and exact in its studies".  
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), known more as a movement than an academic institution is one of the most important chapters of Indian history as far as the sociology of Hindu-Muslim relation is concerned.  This most respected and important educational centre for Indian Muslims was initially founded as Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College (MAOC) at Aligarh in 1875 by Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) and subsequently raised to the status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1920.  This university, being the representative body of the upwardly mobile middle class Indian Muslims created a significant impact on Muslim politics in India. 
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru correctly saw the spirit of Sir Syed's mission when he started 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: it was a difficult enough piece of work to overcome the inertia and hesitation of the Muslims. The Hindus, half a century ahead in Western education, could indulge in this pastime. Sir Syeds 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
A Convocation Address
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
Courtesy by:
Drs. Razi Raziuddin & Syed. Rafat Husain
Aligarh Alumni Association
Washington, D.C.
A 100 Year Chronology
24 May 1875 The inauguration of the School. This presided by Maulvi Mohammed Karim, president of Managing Committee. Speeches delivered by Sir Syed, Raja Jai Kishan Das and Maulvi Samiullah. Maulvi Samiullah's son Mr.Hamidullah Khan admitted as the first student.

1 June 1875 The boarding house started with seven students on the roll with a budget of Rs. 989 per month. Managing committee constituted Maulvi Samiullah, Chiragh Ali, Syed Mahmood, Raja Jai Kishan Das, Sir Syed, Nawab Ziauddin Khan and Maulana Ahsan Nanotovi was appointed its member. Maulvi Samiuulah Khan was appointed secretary of the Managing Committee.

8 January 1877 Lord Lytton laid the foundation stone of Strachey Hall and the M. A. O. College.

1 January 1878 First year classes started and the college affiliated to the Calcutta University for F. A. education.

1 January 1881 B. A. classes started. Mr. Ishwari Prasad was the first student of M. A. O. College to pass the examination.

26 August 1884 Students Union (Siddons Union Club) inaugurated.

16 November 1887 The college affiliated to Allahabad University.

21 December 1889 Trustee Bill passed. Sir Syed and Syed Mahmood appointed as Life Honorary Secretary and Life Joint Secretary of the college.

15 July 1891 First issue of Aligarh Magazine edited by Maulana Shibli Nomani, published.

20 December 1891 Law classes started.

27 March 1898 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan died.

31 March 1898 Efforts started to make the college a Muslim University by Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan.

31 January 1899 Mohsinul Mulk appointed as the Secretary of M. A. O. College.

7 March 1906 Princes of wales visited the college, Science section of the college dedicated to him established.

16 January 1907 His Majesty Habeebullah Khan Shah of Afghanistan visited the college and announced a grant of Rs. 20,000.

10 February 1907 Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah established Girls School which was recognized as Undergraduate College in 1937.

16 February 1907 Students strike against European staff of the College.

11 January 1908 Viqarul Mulk appointed as the Secretary of the College.

10 January 1911 A committee constituted to establish Muslim University with Sir Mohammad Agha Khan as the President and Nawab Viqarul Mulk as the Honorary Secretary.

25 October 1920 Mahatma Gandhi visited the College.

17 December 1920 Inauguration of the Muslim University. Her Highness Sultan Jahan Begum, Wali Bhopal appointed as the first Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Sir Ali Mohammad Khan, Maharaja Mahmoodabad took over as the first Vice-Chancellor of the University.

28 December 1922 First convocation of the University. 228 Science and Arts graduate were awarded degrees.

1 January 1924 Sahibzada Aftab Ahmad Khan appointed the Vice- Chancellor.

16 November 1926 Nawab Bhopal Hameedullah Khan laid the foundation of the Science Faculty. Government of India donated 15 lakh rupees and Nizam Hyderabad also donated 10 lakh rupees to the University.

27 November 1927 Ahmadi School for blind inaugurated.

15 July 1928 Unani Medicine classes started.

21 November 1938 College for Engineering & Technology inaugurated.

11 October 1951 Aligarh Muslim University (Amendment) Act passed.

3 January 1952 Institute of Ophthamology's foundation stone was laid.

6 November 1955 Pandit Nehru laid the foundation stone of Maulana Azad Library which was inaugurated by him on 6 Dec. 1960.

3 December 1955 Shah Saud visited the University.

25 February 1956 Iran's Shah's visit to the University.

21 May 1956 A delegation led by Dr. Zakir Husain visited Saudi Arabia. Shah Saud donated 1 million rupees to the University Medical College. Date of establishment of Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College.

8 November 1960 Foundation stone of Kennedy House laid.22 lakh rupees donated by Ford Foundation, U. S. A. to this complex.

29 March 1961 Foundation stone of Faculty of Arts laid. Commerce Faculty started.

20 November 1964 His Highness Sheikh Sabahu Saleem, Prime Minister Kuwait visited the University.

20 July 1966 Womens's Polytechnic inaugurated.

6 February 1968 Center of west Asian Studies established.

16 April 1969 Faculty of Social Science introduced.

17 June 1972 An undemocratic, highly objectionable Act imposed upon the University, known as "Black Act".

4 January 1975 Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Alnahyan visited the University and announced a grant of millions of rupees for Petroleum College.

13 March 1976 Annual convocation of the University in which Late Mr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad, President of India, was the Chief Guest.

Courtesy by: Drs. Razi Raziuddin & Syed. Rafat Husain
Aligarh Alumni Association
Washington, D.C.
Total students at present:
Resident Students:
Total Staff:
Teaching Staff:
Halls of residence:
Girls Hostels:
Budget plan and non plan:
100 crores.
Maulana Azad Library having more than 1 Million books and rare manuscripts.
Computer Center, Remote Sensing Center and Telematics Center.
Fully developed sports complex, swimming pool, Riding Club, Lawn Tennis etc.
Medical College and Hospital.
Tibbiya College (Unani Medicine), 6 School, One women's College, Two boys and girls polytech.
Submitted by:
Razi Raziuddin, Ph.D.
Frederick, MD , USA


Dr. Akbar S. Khan,
Cell or Mobile: 443-243-3248