Aligarh Alumni Association PO Box 1877, Ellicott City MD 21041


February 2017

The Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association, Washington DC (AAA), is currently developing plans for events to be hosted this year. Details of these will be presented in later issues.
Review of Past Activates: In a recent working meeting, the AAA members reviewed the functions staged last year and went over their successes and deficiencies. There was a consensus that in the Greater Washington area interest in the literary and scholastic events has been waning for some years, as evidenced by a declining participation in the Annual Mushaira and Sir Syed Day dinner-lecture. Several potential reasons were advanced. Some members attributed it to ready availability of poetic and literary events on social media, the greying of the generation that migrated from South Asia, and difficulty in recruiting poets from overseas with name recognition.

Sir Syed’s Bicentennial Celebration: The year 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Sir Syed’s birth. The AAA is planning to celebrate this landmark occasion sometime later this year by hosting a series of events, including a cultural display, lectures and an exhibition of literary and historic documents. The Association will invite all Aligarh Alumni Associations and other similar organizations in North America to join it in making this celebration a memorable event (Contributed by Mr. Afzal Usmani).

AAA-Urdu Academy Initiative: The AAA has been collaborating with Urdu Academy, Montgomery County, MD, in a project to promote teaching of Urdu as one of the special foreign languages in the County School System. The cost of this project is $3,500 per year, which is being shared by the AAA.

Educational, Cultural Exposition: Some members of the AAA are planning to launch on exhibition of Urdu books, literature, and the recitations of ghazels and qawwali in April or May this year. Other activities may include display of crafts, paintings, and costumes (Contributed by Dr. Razi Raziuddin).

AAA Participation in India’s Republic Day: A number of AAA members attended the celebrations marking the 68th Republic Day of India on 29th January
2017, at Martin’s Crosswinds, organized by the Indian-American Community Organizations of Washington Metropolitan Region (Contributed by Dr. Zafar Iqbal).

Association members attend 68th Republic Day of India
organized by Indian-Community Associations

Selection of the New Vice Chancellor: The current VC of the AMU, Lt. General (Retired) Zameer Uddin Shah, is due to retire in May this year. The process to find an appropriate replacement is now well underway. The AMU Court has identified three outstanding candidates, Drs. Tariq Mansoor, Abu Saleh Shariff and Shahid Jameel as finalists. One of them will eventually be selected to fill the coveted position (Contributed by Dr. Rafat Husain).
Dr. Rahila Raees Receives the Prestigious Hindi Award: Dr. Raees, Department of Hindi, has been awarded the Hindi literature’s prestigious honorary degree of ‘Sahitya Kusumakar’ by the Sahitya Mandal, Nathdwara, Rajasthan. She was cited for her valuable contributions in the field of story writing in Hindi. The honor is given annually in recognition of outstanding contributors in the field of literature (Contributed by Dr. Razi Raziuddin).
Princely State of Hyderabad, Eighty Years Ago
Ms. Khalida Adeeb Khanum was a Turkish nationalist and a freedom fighter who was a one-time associate of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk. She became an emblem of Muslim women’s struggle for emancipation and equality throughout the Islamic world in the nineteen twenties and thirties. In 1935, late Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari, the iconic nationalist leader, invited her to visit India and give a series of extension lectures. Later, she wrote a book, Inside India, based on her impressions and experiences. The following paragraph about her visit to Hyderabad State is translated and adapted from her memoirs.
“On my way to Hyderabad, I thought of Sarojini Naidu as this princely state was her home. She once told me that as a child she used to go to school riding an elephant. But, that is the story of Hyderabad of forty years ago. Much has changed since. Now, it looks like a European metropolis in which elephants have been supplanted by modern motor vehicles. The busy traffic plying on paved roads is efficiently regulated by smartly dressed policemen standing at intersections.
I was to stay as a guest of Sir Akbar Haidari, the chief minister and a distinguished economist. His personality is a charming blend of Eastern traditions and Western culture and learning. The pivot of his interests is, of course, the Usmania University, where I was to deliver my lecture. Sir Akbar’s house was a showcase of quiet efficiency and perfect order. This vast household is presided over by Lady Aamina Haidari, a tall, elegant and highly intelligent woman, who has the regal bearing of an eastern princess.
At Lady Aamina’s mansion, I met several important ladies. The most illustrious among them was Princess Durru Shehvar, the wife of the heir to the throne, Prince Azam Jah. Clad in a simple sari, this 23-year old, a direct descendent of storied Ottoman Sultans, has fully embraced her new identity, transforming herself into Indian royalty. She speaks fluent Urdu and English. I had even forgotten that she was Turkish, until she addressed her beautiful child in Turkish. Her delicate facial features reminded me of her ancestor of long ago, Sultan Mehmed II, the Conqueror. The princess loves her father-in-law, the Nizam, just like a daughter and has immersed herself in various projects to promote education among women and uplift their status.” (Editor’s Note: Princess Durru Shehvar died in London in 2006 at the age of 92)
Sultana Durru Shehvar of Berar Hyderabad
and Prince Azam Jah Bahadur


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