AMU celebrates Sir Syed Day


Aligarh : Very few people in history have triumphed in driving out blind orthodoxy of people—making them embrace enlightened thoughts and attitudes like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and to pay homage to the great Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) founder and his life-long journey; dignitaries, members of University community from across the globe, faculty members and students joined the online Sir Syed Day celebrations.

Delivering the commemoration address, the Chief Guest, Honorable Shri Tirath Singh Thakur, former Chief Justice of India (CJI) said: “Sir Syed’s vision of a civil society, his sustained efforts for creating pragmatic awareness about what ailed Indians at that point of time, his secular vocabulary and his well thought model of indigenous modernism in contrast to colonial modernism get his relevance convincingly established in the post-modern world we live in”.

“At a time when countries are in a race of possessing nuclear weapons that can potentially kill millions and jeopardize the natural environment and lives of future generations through the long-term catastrophic effects; Sir Syed’s message of peaceful co-existence is more relevant today than ever before”, he stressed.

Former CJI emphasized that the fact that AMU brings positive stories of diversity and inclusion to the forefront to make this world a better place was also acknowledged by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi who called AMU a ‘Mini India’.

“Sir Syed was a great champion of Hindu Muslim unity. Addressing a big gathering at Gurdaspur on January 27, 1884, he said: O Hindus and Muslims! Do you belong to a country other than India? Don’t you live on the soil and are you not buried under it or cremated on its Ghats? If you live and die on this land, then bear in mind that ‘Hindu’ and ‘Muslim’ is but a religious word: all the Hindus, Muslims and Christians who live in this country are one Nation”, said Shri Tirath Singh Thakur.

He pointed out that Sir Syed’s ideas of secularism and inclusiveness are reflective in the way AMU works and operates.

“Some of the very rare and old translations of Ramayan, Geeta and other scriptures are preserved at AMU and the university attracts students from all religious communities from across the Country and the world”, said the Chief Guest.

Remembering the multi-faceted personality of Sir Syed, Shri Tirath Singh Thakur pointed out that the couplet of Jigar Muradabadi, ‘Jaan Kar Manjumila-e-Khasan-e-Maikhana Mujhe, Muddaton Roya Karenge Jam o paimana Mujhe’ brilliantly describes how Sir Syed is indeed remembered by both Muslims and Hindus.

He added: “Sir Syed thought that the modern education was the cure for all ills and aptly described ignorance as the mother of all trials and tribulations and to bring reform he set up the Scientific Society in 1864, launched the Aligarh Gazette in 1866 and started the Tehzibul Akhlaq in 1870 and finally established the MAO College in1877 which later became the Aligarh Muslim University”.

“With the modern approach and implication of scientific thinking, Sir Syed fashioned a narrative to change the destiny of Indians. His concept of education was inclusive and he strongly believed that Indians cannot get on the path of empowerment unless they build up their own educational institutions”, emphasised Shri Tirath Singh Thakur.

He further said: “This day is about self-discovery, introspection and re-dedications to the values India stands for. It is gratifying to learn that Sir Syed’s living memory, the institution he established continues to live up to his expectations and I take this opportunity to congratulate the Vice Chancellor, faculty members, students and alumni for their remarkable work”.

Guest of Honour, Prince Dr Qaidjoher Ezzuddin (Chairman, Saifee Hospital Trust and Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust) emphasized that according to the Islamic tradition, the first thing God created was the pen and then he commanded it to write the fate of all things up to eternity.

He added, “The pen represents intellect and the sum total of the knowledge God gave it and we must embrace the power of writing and knowledge”.

Prince Dr Qaidjoher urged AMU students to write their own destiny with innovative ideas and thoughts.

The fact is that destiny can be changed as one wants or desires. But the question is how to create your own destiny. One has to dream, plan, take action and create your own vision. Be visionary and enterprising to create a niche in the society, said the Guest of Honour.

He urged students to be passionate, believe in their vision, dream big by acquiring knowledge and execute their plans by making extra efforts on their goals.

Prince Dr Qaidjoher pointed out that the Chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin continues to pray for the health and well being of AMU students, faculty members and the University community with a hope that all of us will keep working to realise the dreams of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

The AMU Treasurer, Padma Shri Prof (Hakim) Syed Zillur Rahman presented the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honour with the mementoes in virtual mode.

In the welcome address, AMU Vice Chancellor, Professor Tariq Mansoor said: “It will be difficult to sum up Sir Syed, a multi-faceted personality whose work changed the course of history during the second half of the 19th century. The era was marked by several upheavals. The mutiny was foiled, medieval feudal order had collapsed and with this, the economic system was in shambles. Amidst this, Sir Syed, a man of extraordinary talent, comprehensive knowledge, clear vision and farsightedness steered the country men”.

“Education remained high on Sir Syed’s agenda. In a speech delivered at Patna on May 26, 1883; Sir Syed summed up the developments by saying ‘it is categorical verdict of all the nations and great seers of the world that national progress depends on education and training of the people. If therefore, we desire the prosperity and development of our nation, we should strive for a national system of education to educate our people in science and technology”, said the Vice Chancellor.

Prof Mansoor stressed, “Sir Syed’s advocacy for modern education was coupled with equality, rationalism and reforms. The MAO College, precursor of AMU stood for equality and even today AMU is an epitome of equitability and equipoise. Its doors are open for all, irrespective of caste, colour, or creed”.

“Sir Syed founded the Scientific Society and started the periodicals, the Aligarh Gazette and Tehzibul Akhlaq to nurture a scientific attitude and secular approach. The writings in these periodicals shattered several misconceptions, superstitions and also the prejudice that had cornered the minds of people. In the current scenario, Sir Syed’s pragmatic vision, spirit of renaissance and a new orientation towards understanding the religion are the need of the hour”, said Prof Mansoor.

He pointed out that ever since its inception, AMU is making steady progress and it is a matter of pride that the university is today ranked among the top Indian educational institutions by various ranking agencies.

“In the last few years, a record number of new courses have started including two new B. Tech courses in Food Technology and Artificial Intelligence, Master programmes in Data Science, Cyber Security and Digital Forensics. We have also introduced BSc Nursing, BSc Paramedical Sciences, DM (Cardiology) MD in four new subjects of Unani Medicine, MA (Strategic Studies) and M.Ch (Neurosurgery). Meanwhile, the number of MBBS seats will soon be increased to 200 from 150”, said the Vice Chancellor.

Prof Mansoor further said that despite the Covid pandemic, two new colleges and three centres have been established. They are College of Nursing, College of Paramedical Sciences, Department of Cardiology and Centres of Food Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Green and Renewable Energy.

He pointed out that the medical infrastructure of the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College has been upgraded for the anticipated third Covid wave.

The Chief Guest, former CJI Shri Tirath Singh honoured illustrious British historian and Professor of History of South Asia at the University of London, Dr Francis Christopher Rowland Robinson and acclaimed Indian theorist, Padma Bhushan and former president of the Sahitya Academy, Prof Gopi Chand Narang with the Sir Syed Excellence Awards in the international and the national categories respectively.

Prof Francis Robinson received a citation and a cash prize of Rs two lakhs, while Prof Gopi Chand Narang was given a cash prize of Rs one lakh with the citation.

Receiving the Sir Syed Excellence Award in the international category, Prof Francis Robinson said that it is a great honour to receive the Sir Syed International Excellence Award 2021 from AMU, a great institution fashioned by the UP Muslims whose history he has been studying for fifty-five years.

“It means much to me that you have read, understood and valued my work. That the award bears the name of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan only adds to the honour. I have long admired Sir Syed for his leadership, courage and determination”, he pointed out.

Explaining his work as a historian, Prof Francis Robinson stressed: “Amongst my concerns have been: to explore what it was to be human in another place at another time; in the process always to show respect to those who I have been studying”.

“I have studied in the context of UP Muslims: the emergence of Muslim politics; the widespread adoption of print from the nineteenth century and its major impact on religion and politics; aspects of religious change, among them the emergence of forms of ‘protestant’ Islam; religious change and the development of forms of modernity, for instance, individualism; and the world of the Ulama”, he emphasised.

Thanking the Vice Chancellor for the award, Prof Francis Robinson said that the work it recognises is in part mine, but also that of UP Muslims, many associated with Aligarh Muslim University.

Recipient of the Sir Syed Excellence Award in the national category, Prof Gopi Chand Narang said, “Sir Syed, born to nobility in a dirgeful Delhi coming to terms with Mughal decline and British ascendancy, grew up under the eclectic influence of the city’s cultural ferment, but chose to devout his life for bringing reform through education”.

“Sir Syed was keen to have Indians wrap their heads around modern science and visits to Oxford and Cambridge on a trip to England in 1869-70 left him so struck that he wanted an institution set up back home on the same model”, said Prof Narang.

He added that Sir Syed famously said, ‘India is a beautiful bride and Hindus and Muslims are her two eyes. If one of them is lost, this beautiful bride will become ugly’.

“Sir Syed’s life was an open book and he kept the doors of MAO College open for people of all religions. He always said that Hindus and Muslims have borrowed and adopted culture from each other”, stressed Prof Narang.

On the occasion, Prof Qamrul Hasan Ansari, distinguished mathematician, Department of Mathematics, AMU was bestowed with the ‘Outstanding Researchers Award’ 2021 in Sciences category for outstanding accomplishments in mathematics.

Dr Mohammad Zain Khan (Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry) and Dr Mohammad Tariq (Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering) shared the ‘Young Researchers Award’ in the Sciences’ category.

Dr Mohd Arshad Bari (Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Education) was given the ‘Young Researchers Award’ in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences.

AMU BALLB student, Raza Haider Zaidi won the first prize in the All India Essay Writing Competition on ‘Sir Syed as a Protagonist of Interfaith Dialogue’ of the Public Relations Office, AMU. He won a cash prize of Rs 25,000 with the award.

Rajib Sheikh (BA, Darul Huda Islamic University, WB Campus, Birbhum, WB) stood second with a cash prize of Rs 15,000 and Abraham Hadi (MA, Aligarh Muslim University) secured the third place –winning Rs 10,000.

Eight other participants representing different states were given the state topper prizes with prize money of Rs 5,000 each, while two participants each from two states were jointly given the state topper prizes with shared prize money. The state toppers are Mohd Yasir Jamal Kidwai (B.Sc., Aligarh Muslim University, UP), Anirban Nanda (Ph.D., Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Maharashtra), Srinjay Roop Sarbadhikary (B.Sc., Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, Simhat, Nadia, West Bengal), Maryam Maqsood (Ph.D., Sri Venkateshwara Colloge of Pharmacy, Hitech City Road, Hyderabad, Telangana), Vanshika Behnal (Sher-e- Kashmir University Of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu and Kashmir) and Shadab Alam (BUMS, A and U Tibbia College, Karol Bagh, New Delhi).

Diya Amna (BA, PSMO College, Tirurangadi, Malappuram, Kerala) and Mohammed Ashir (BA, Jamia Madeena, Thunnoor Markaz Garden, Kerala) shared the prize from Kerala while Chennasamudram Chenna Kesavulu and Mydukuru Pooja (D Pharma students from Annamacharya College of Pharmacy, Rajampet, Kadapa, AP) were the joint winners from Andhra Pradesh.

Faculty members, Prof Nazia Hasan (Department of English/ English Section, Women’s College) and Prof Md Zafar Mahfooz Nomani (Department of Law) and students Sidra Noor (BA English) and Yasir Ali Khan (Ph.D) delivered speeches on teachings, philosophy, works and mission of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

Prof (Hakim) Syed Zillur Rahman (University Treasurer), Mr Mujib Ullah Zuberi (Controller of Examinations), Prof Mohd Mohsin Khan (Finance Officer), Prof Mohd Wasim Ali (Proctor), Mr S M Suroor Athar (Officiating Registrar) and other dignitaries attended the online function.

Prof Mujahid Beg (Dean Students’ Welfare) extended the vote of thanks; while Dr Faiza Abbasi and Dr Shariq Aqil conducted the programme.

Two books were also released on the occasion. They were ‘A History of Aligarh Muslim University (1920-2020)-A Centenary Publication’ edited by Prof Asim Siddiqui, Dr Rahat Abrar and Dr Faiza Abbasi (Publisher, Times of India Group) and ‘The Allure of Aligarh: A Poetic Journey into the University City’ by Huma Khalil.

The proceedings of the day began with a Quran Khwani (Quranic Recitation) after the Fajr prayer at the University Mosque. The Vice Chancellor, Prof Mansoor with faculty members and officers of the University paid floral tribute at the Mazaar (grave) of Sir Syed following the traditional ritual of ‘Chadar Poshi’.

The Vice Chancellor also inaugurated the online ‘Exhibition of Books and Photographs’ pertaining to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan at the Sir Syed House—jointly organised by Maulana Azad Library and Sir Syed Academy.


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