Aligarh Alumni Association PO Box 1877, Ellicott City MD 21041


July 2014

Iftar-Dinner Fundraiser: The Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington DC (AAA) held its Annual Fundraiser on July 12, 2014, in the Montgomery County Executive Office Building, to support accomplished and disadvantaged students at college and precollege levels. A team of dedicated volunteers, headed by Dr. Rafat Husain, had invested much hard work in making the event a success. It was well attended and raised approximately $41,000, with additional pledges of $8,000. Dr. Aftab Ansari, chairperson of the scholarship committee, reported that in 2013 the total number of scholarships had gone up from 229 to 240, and the amount of individual scholarship from Rs 5,000 ($83) to Rs. 6,000 ($100). The program has so far helped 1,800 students who have gone on to professional careers.
The AAA is also helping low-income students at school level by paying their tuition and other education-related expenses (Feeder Project). In addition, it runs coaching centers in India where students are prepared for competitive tests for admission to Universities and technical colleges. According to Dr. Razi Raziuddin, coordinator of the Feeder project, 750 students are currently benefiting from this program, and the Association is investing $25,000-$26,000 annually on the two projects.
Future Events:
The Sir Syed Day Dinner and Annual Mushaira: The Association’s signature events, the Annual Mushaira and Sir Syed Day Lecture and Dinner are scheduled on September 27 and September 28, respectively. Attempts are underway to bring some of the most popular poets of South Asia to the Mushaira.
The Mohammad Iqbal Memorial Lecture: The AAA has revived the past tradition of inviting a celebrity to deliver the Mohammad Iqbal Memorial Lecture and to receive the Award. This year’s lecture will be delivered by Dr. Shibley Telhami, Anwar Sadat Chair of Peace and Development, University of Maryland, on Saturday, November 22, 2014.
Rahi Masoom Raza, A Solo Performance (Postponed): Due to scheduling conflicts, the program has been postponed and will be re-scheduled at a later date.
Advisory to Foreign Students: Professor Jamshed Siddiqui, the University proctor, has issued an advisory to foreign students that they must inform the proctor’s office before leaving for their home countries on vacation and urges them to carry their ID cards and copies of their passports at all times.
A large Donation: Mr. Musa Dakri, an Indian-American, has donated $50,000 to the University. Vice-Chancellor Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah thanked Mr. Dakri for his generous donation, adding that the University wanted to establish a world-class Museum in the Kennedy Hall, in which a large number of treasured antiques would be housed. The museum would be named after Mr. Dakri’s family.
Shorter Hours during Ramadan: The working hours during the month of Ramadan will be 8 am to 2:30 pm on weekdays without any break, while on Fridays they will be from 8 am to 12 noon. No food time will be served at any function during the fasting month. A siren will sound twenty minutes prior to the end of Sehri, and at the Iftar time.
Exemption from Fasting: Professor Jamal Ahmad, director of the diabetes and endocrinology department, JN Medical College, has recommended that people with diabetes refrain from fasting “because marked departures from the usual amount of food and fluid intake and changed eating patterns during fasting carries the risk of acute metabolic disorders.” He clarified that the Quran specifically prohibited people with medical conditions from fasting, especially if it might lead to harmful consequences.
Book Launch: The vice chancellor, Lt Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, released a new book, “Concept of War and Peace in Islam and Christianity” authored by Dr Rehan Akhtar of the Department of Theology. Gen Shah remarked that he had spent forty golden years of his life in war and found that the best way to defeat an enemy was to bring him to the peace table. He said “earlier wars were won by physical might, but now they are won by strategic and diplomatic skills”.
Tehzibul Akhlaq Comes Alive on Line: The magazine “Tehzibul Akhlaq” launched by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in 1870 has started its online edition, designed to widely disseminate the message of its founder. (Source; AMU News)
Glimpses into the Past History of Aligarh
Mr. Owais Qarni Recalls his Student Days
Mr. Owais Mustafa Qarni, a distinguished, senior Aligarian, obtained his BSc. degree in science in 1948 from AMU. He experienced firsthand one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the AMU, when its very survival was in the balance in the wake of India’s independence. He later moved to Pakistan, completed his master’s degree and successfully competed to join the Pakistan Civil Service (CSP). He served in various top-level positions in East and West Pakistan, including secretary for the Atomic Energy Commission. He retired in 1990, moved to the US and settled in the Baltimore area. Following are his impressions of the life at the University in the late forties.

“I have the honor and privilege of having been a student at one of the most prestigious, respected institutions in the Indian subcontinent. I have some interesting reminiscences worth sharing with my ALIG ‘brathery”.
In my days, the hostel life at Aligarh was never dull. The food items served to us were scarce, both in variety and quantity, and generally consisted of two small loafs of naans. On Thursdays, however, a dessert was added to the menu which was called a “variety.” It was an eagerly awaited and much cherished event.
We were young then, 16- to 18-years old, and the water of Aligarh was very healthy, which enhanced our appetites. Our hunger, however, could not be satisfied with the meager amount of food served at the dining hall. Therefore, we always hoped for and looked forward to, mostly unsuccessfully, the opportunity that one of our room-mates would be absent and we would inherit his lunch and dinner. There were a few alternatives to satisfying our appetites. We frequented the “Café de Phoos.” It had a thatched straw roof which gave the famed Cafe its popular name. Two items on their menu were especially delicious– ‘barfi’ and ‘namak paras.’
We were required to wear University uniform while attending classes. However, during the period 1946-48, some professors relaxed the strict rule. But, one of our chemistry professors, Mr. Bashir Ahmad, was a stickler for regulations. If he spotted a student not wearing Sherwani, he would ask him to leave the class room. This was his way of punishing derelict students–depriving them of the benefit of his lecture.
Late Dr. Sir Ziauddin Ahmad was the vice chancellor at the time. He was a versatile genius, particularly in Mathematics. One day when our regular professor was absent, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad himself showed up to take our class. That spoiled the fun, as we were thoroughly enjoying the absence of our professor. He asked us what subject was to be taught in that period. We said, coordinate geometry. He proceeded to teach it and, amazingly, covered the entire course work without problems. Besides his other great abilities, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmad was a fast, fluent speaker which helped him to complete the course. He passed away in December 1947 in London; his body was brought back to Aligarh and buried in the University mosque. May Allah bless his soul.

Professor Hadi Hasan was another legendary and talented professor. Whenever a regular lecturer was absent, he would often be asked to teach that class, regardless of whatever the subject, an assignment he always fulfilled well.

We used to assign nicknames to our professors without being disrespectful to them. The professors also enjoyed these pseudonyms, which usually had some background relevance, and accepted them in good humor. Our English professor B. A. Khan had dark complexion. We used to call him Black Ahmad Khan. Similarly, one of our chemistry professors, Bashir Ahmad, had a duck-like nose, so his nickname was Bashir Batkha. One of our Mathematics professors, Shaukat, was nicknamed Shaukat Lota, because being a reclusive person he came out of his suite only when he needed to use the bath room–always carrying his ‘lota.’

Syed Amir (Editor)                                                               Khurshid Usmani (Web)

Fazal Khan (President)                                                        Tariq Farooqi (Chairman)

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