NEWS FROM AROUND WASHINGTON AREA
Working Group Meeting: Dr. Fazal Khan, president of the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington, DC (AAA), moderated the Working Group meeting held on August 23, 2014 at his residence. Following are the highlights of the meeting:
The members reviewed the overall progress of the preparations for various forthcoming events. The committee expressed collective relief that the involvement of the Association in a lawsuit had finally and satisfactorily ended and it now could focus on its social, cultural and charitable agenda.
Yaum-e-Azadi Mushaira-Kavi Sammelan: Dr. Zafar Iqbal is the coordinator of the function and it is being organized in collaboration with the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin. It will be held on Saturday, August 30, (11 am to 4:30 pm) at Herndon Library, VA.
The 40th Anniversary Mushaira, Sir Syed Day Lecture and Dinner: Drs. Abdullah and Rafat Husain presented detailed progress report on the Mushaira to be held on September 27 at The Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville. The Sir Syed Day Lecture and Dinner will be on the following day, Sunday, September 28, at Argyle Country Club. Professor Gopi Chand Narang will be the keynote speaker at the dinner. Preparations for the 40th Mushaira are in full swing, and we can expect an impressive gathering of national and international poets.
Qawwali program: Mr. Masood Farshori is organizing the program scheduled for October 18, 2014. More details will be forthcoming.
The Iqbal Memorial Lecture: Mr. Tariq Farooqi and Mr. Yazdani Siddiqui discussed plans for the Iqbal Memorial Lecture scheduled for Saturday, November 22, 2014, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Rockville, MD. Professor Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development, University of Maryland, will be the keynote speaker. Professor Telhami will sign his latest book entitled, The world through Arab Eyes. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
The Feeder Program: Drs. Razi Raziuddin and Rafat Husain expressed satisfaction on the success of the ongoing Feeder Program, designed to help prepare needy and bright students to compete for college admission tests in India. Dr. Raziuddin made a plea for some additional funds to start a new center in Assam. His request was approved by the committee.
Audio CDs: Radhika Chopra’s Program Audio CDs will be available on our 40th Annual Mushaira – see above for Mushaira details.
NEWS FROM ALIGARH UNIVERSITY
|Sufism and Islam: Professor Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the leading scholars of Sufism, delivered a lecture on ‘Sufism, Islam and Globalization” sponsored by KA Nizami Centre for Qur’anic Studies. He defined Sufism as a “mystical path based on universal truths that transcend culture, politics and history,” and highlighted the roles of Sheikh Nizamuddin Auliya and Baba Ganj Shakar in the promotion of Sufism in India.
The Revival of the Students’ Union: The Union has been in suspension for some time, because of the indecorous behavior of a few students. The vice chancellor, Lt. Gen. Zameer Uddin Shah, recently granted permission for its revival and for holding new elections. However, discouraged by some incidents of violence at the campus, he warned that he might revoke the permission if such occurrences continued in the future.
Ragging is to be Discouraged: The long-established practice of harassment of new students by seniors (ragging) is an undesirable tradition and should be discontinued. The University authorities have decided to launch a sensitization campaign against ragging and highlight its damaging effect on the students’ morale. Posters containing warnings and prohibitions against ragging will be prominently displayed at the campus.
Glimpses into the Past History of Aligarh
Opposition to Sir Syed and the Aligarh Movement
As Sir Syed started his campaign for the establishment of the MAO College, it set off strong opposition to him personally and his movement. The planned MAO College became the target especially of conservative, obscurantist religious elements who opposed all western education and cooperation with the British. The two most vocal and vehement critics were Ali Bakhsh Khan and Syed Imdad Ali who were particularly opposed to the cultural and religious reforms as advocated by Sir Syed in his monthly magazine, Tahzib ul-Akhlaq.
Soon Moulvi Imdad Ali started publishing pamphlets and later a regular journal attacking Tahzib ul-Akhlaq, calling on Muslims to boycott Sir Syed’s Aligarh movement. Meanwhile, Ali Bakhsh travelled to Mecca to get fatwas, condemning both Sir Syed’s religious views and anyone who would aid such a heretic in starting a madrassah for secular education. Sir Syed responded to these accusations initially with anger and then offered an ingenious rebuttal. “Maybe, he was a heretic, apostate or even an atheist, but the college was for the glory of Islam. Its opponents were therefore doing harm to the religion. In fact, they were demolishing a mosque simply because an unclean and sinful man sat in it.”
Sir Syed’s simple, compelling response carried the day. Nobody today remembers, Imdad Ali or Ali Bahksh Khan, but Sir Syed’s name has been immortalized by the institution, one of the finest in the world, that he left behind.
(Adapted from: Aligargh’s First Generation, by David Lelyveld, Princeton University Press, 1978).
Syed Amir (Editor) Khurshid Usmani (Web)
Fazal Khan (President) Tariq Farooqi (Chairman)