NEWS FROM AROUND WASHINGTON AREA
A Roundup of the Past Year’s Activities
Twenty-sixteen was a very productive year for The Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), as it successfully hosted a number of social, literary and scholarly programs. Following are the highlights of the activities.
Annual Meeting and General Elections:
The AAA held its annual meeting and elections to elect new office bearers for 2016-2017, on Sunday, March 27, 2016. The outgoing officers presented an overview of the scholarship program and a summary of the activities undertaken during the previous year. The members elected Dr. Mohammad Akbar as the president-elect of the Executive Council, and Dr. Abdullah as the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Forty-Second Annual International Mushaira: The Annual Mushaira is considered AAA’s signature event and those interested in poetry and literature look forward to it all year long. This year’s Mushaira, marking the 42nd year of this literary tradition, was held on Saturday, November 5, 2016, at the Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland. A constellation of poets, both national and international, participated, transforming the evening into a literary feast. At the outset, the AAA recognized the passing of three of its luminaries, Dr. AR Kidwai, Mr. Yazdani Siddiqui, Mr. Ale Ahmad Hashmi and Mr. Nida Fazli by highlighting their life’s landmark events in a slide show. Among the participating international poets were Rahman Farris (Pakistan), Sadaf Mirza (Denmark), Nusrat Mahdi (India), Sunil Kumar (India), Sarwat Zahra (UAE) and Khaja Fareeduddin Saadiq (India). The Mushaira was delightfully enriched by the presence of local and national poets. The poets were later treated to a midnight supper, hosted by Dr. and Mrs. Mohammad Akbar. More info is here.
Annual Sir Syed Day Lecture and Dinner: The traditional celebration to mark the birthday of the founder of the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College, later to become the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), was held on Sunday, October 16, 2016, at the Argyle Country Club. The featured speaker was Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool, former South African ambassador to the United States, a scholar and one of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. He captivated the audience with his eloquence and powerful speech in which he drew parallels between the plight of Muslims following the establishment of British sovereignty in India and of people living under minority rule in South Africa. The lecture was preceded by a sumptuous dinner. Click here for more info.
Mushaira KaviSammalan: In keeping with the past traditions, the AAA, in collaboration with the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin, organized a poetry-reading ceremony on August 20, 2016, to mark the independence of South Asian countries in which both Urdu and Hindi poets participated. The occasion provided a forum where people drawn from different countries and cultures could share a literary afternoon. More than sixteen poets recited their poetry and enthralled the audience. This year, the program was supplemented by the unveiling of three books of poetry by their authors. More information is available here.
Reception for a Distinguished Aligarian:
In August 2016, the AAA had an opportunity to welcome a prominent AMU alumnus, Mr. Shahid Mahdi, who had been both a student and faculty member. He later joined the Indian Administrative Service and served in important positions in India–including the vice-chancellorships of Jamia Millia–and with international organizations, such as UNESCO, ILO and FAO. Ms. Shakila Raza hosted a lunch-reception at a local restaurant in his honor to introduce him to the community.
The Annual Iftar-Dinner Fundraiser:
The Association held its Annual Iftar-Dinner Fundraiser on Saturday, June 18, 2016, at the Gaithersburg High School, Gaithersburg, MD. The funds support needy and bright students at Aligarh Muslim University and sustain coaching centers in various cities in India. The project is long enduring and has been highly successful.
AAA Welcomes a Prominent Philanthropist to DC:
The Association hosted a Meet and Greet gathering on May 7, 2016, to honor a visiting Alig, Mr. Ameer Ahamad Manappat. He is a Dubai-based, highly successful Indian businessman and community activist. The function was held at the residence of Dr. Fazal and Mrs. Fathun Khan. The chief guest was welcomed by the AAA President, Mr. Masood Farshori, followed by a brief account by the Chairperson, Dr. A. Abdullah, of AAA’s history and its ongoing activities. Mr. Manappat’s talk outlined his vision of the future of Muslim education in India and the movement he is spearheading to uplift the economically and socially marginalized Muslim communities in UP and Bihar. The evening ended with the recital of selected songs and ghazals, presented by local artists.
The Passing of a Founding Member:
The Aligarian community in the DC area suffered a major loss this year with the demise of Syed Ale Ahmad Hashmi who embodied many of the glorious traditions of Aligarh University. Hashmi Saheb was one of the founders of the Association in our area, having served as the treasure and in other position. He remained active until the very last. Hashmi Saheb provided a link to a bygone era when the University was known as the embodiment of noble traditions.
Glimpses into the Past History of Aligarh
Visit of Emir Habibullah Khan to MAO College
Habibullah Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan from 1901 until 1919. He signed a treaty of friendship with British India in 1905. He paid an official visit to India in 1907, during which he also visited the MAO College. The king had heard many negative comments about the institution, especially that the English education was driving students away from religion and towards irreligiosity. Being a very devout man, he was much depressed with these rumors and wanted to assess the situation himself.
He visited the college on January 11, 1907. Picking a student at random, he asked him to recite any sura from the Quran. Fortuitously, the student he chose was a hafiz, and a trained qari. He recited a part of the Sura Ale Imran, with beautiful Egyptian inflection. His Majesty was so pleased and moved that he started to cry, and continued until his long beard got soaked with tears. He then got up from his place in excitement and exclaimed repeatedly, “what they have been saying are all lies and fabrications. Now, if anyone attacks MAO, I will be its first and strongest defender.” (Adapted from: A’Mal Nama; Sir Reza Ali, Dec. 1943)