Aligarh Alumni Association PO Box 1877, Ellicott City MD 21041


October 2018

AAA-DC – October  2018
Trustees: Aisha Khan (Chair), Tariq Farooqi, Abdullah Abdullah, Fazal Khan, Masood Farshori
Exec.Council: Rafat Husain (President), Harris Usmani (Treasurer), Afzal Usmani (Secretary)

Dinner-Reception for Professor Faizan Mustafa: 

The Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC (AAA) is hosting a dinner in honor of Professor Faizan Mustafa, vice chancellor of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) and former registrar of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) on Friday, November 2, 2018, at the Godavari Restaurant, Gaithersburg. Professor Mustafa who is also a columnist and commentator is expected to provide an overview of the current situation in India. Click here for more details.
The Annual International Mushaira: The much-acclaimed annual Mushaira of the AAA is scheduled on Sunday, November 11, 2018, at Sliver Spring Civic Building. Noteworthy is the new time of the Mushaira-2:00PM – 7:00PM. A galaxy of national and international poets will be participating. Among them, Khushbir Singh Shaad, Salman Akhtar, Rehman Faris and a host of other stars. For details, please click:this link for info.
Sir Syed Memorial Lecture and Dinner: The AAA had its annual function on Saturday, October 13, 2018, to honor the memory and achievements of the AMU founder who also launched the Aligarh Movement. This year’s keynote speaker was Mr. Raza Rumi, a journalist, author and policy analyst, who started his career as a member of the Pakistan Civil Service. He is currently director of Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College. Mr. Rumi spoke on: “Rise of extremism in India and Pakistan. What is the future of liberal democracy”? The president of the AAA, Dr. Rafat Husain, welcomed the guests and the speaker, who was introduced by Dr. Syed Amir.
Mr. Rumi traced the history of ethnic and religious conflict on the subcontinent and lamented the interreligious and sectarian strife prevailing today. He reminded the audience that in the fifteenth-sixteenth century India, several movements, such as the Bhakti mission among Hindus and iconic figures such as Kabir, Guru Nanak and Muslim Sufi Saints preached the doctrine of tolerance, and harmony and peaceful coexistence. He quoted a satirical poem by the famous Pakistani progressive poet, Fahmida Riaz, that bemoaned the advent of Modi era in India that mirrored the sad situation Pakistan has been enduring for the past decades.
The AAA honored Mr. Rumi with a plaque that praised his contributions to journalism and the freedom of press. He later signed copies of his popular new book, Being a Pakistani
AAA Hosts Dinner-Reception for Former VC: Lt. General (Retd.) Zamiruddin Shah, the former vice chancellor of the AMU, was the chief guest at a dinner- reception hosted by the AAA at the residence of Dr. Fazal and Ms. Fathun Khan on Sunday, October 21, 2018. Mr. Shah and Ms. Sabiha Simi Shah are visiting the US on a book tour at the invitation of Aligarh Alumni associations. Some seventy invited guests, drawn from mostly alumni and members of the AAA, enthusiastically greeted the former VC, who was welcomed by Dr. Rafat Husain, president AAA, and introduced by Dr. Abdullah. The session was moderated by Dr. Fazal Khan.
General Shah donning his signature Indian army cap, described the mission he has been engaged in since his retirement. He learnt experientially, he explained, that the difficulties students experienced in assimilating modern science and computer technology at the University level could be traced directly to the poor education they had received at the school level. To remedy this situation, he has launched a string of schools in Uttar Pradesh. Their curriculum blends some religious education with secular subjects, and the schools employ most innovative teaching methods and hire the highest-quality teachers. He anticipated that the students coming out would be highly successful in life.
In answer to a question, Gen. Shah recounted some of the achievements made during his tenure as the VC. He was proud that the AMU had attained the highest ranking amongst all the Indian Universities. Also, it had attracted some of the brightest scientists to its faculty who were making valuable inventions. They are working on producing a battery, cheap and long lasting, that would make the use of fossil fuels obsolete. In addition, advances have been made in developing a water desalination device, more efficient and cheaper to run than currently in use in the Gulf countries. The AAA honored Gen. Shah with a plaque, applauding his achievements as the vice chancellor and promotor of education among the underprivileged.
Gen. Shah signed copies of his book, The Sarkari Mussalman: Life and travails of a soldier educationist, that were available for purchase.
Scholarship Report: In 2018, the AAA Scholarship Program continued to support the AMU and AMU-bound students through its two flagship programs: the AMU Scholarship program, and the Feeder/Coaching program for schools all over India. The AAA awarded 287 scholarship in 2018, an increase of 15 over last year. Since 1976, the total number awarded has been 3,000 scholarships.
In addition, 25 schools and coaching centers in various cities have been helped, benefitting 700 students this year, to a total of 6,000 since 2008. The Committee has also encouraged students to apply for available national scholarships. The total amount of money spent on these programs was $54,000, $32K for AMU Scholarship, $22K for Feeder program (Contributed by Dr. Aftab Ansari, chairman, scholarship committee)
An Inspirational Story: I reached my office at NASA Headquarters, Washington DC, the morning of October 22, 2018, to find that a colleague had taken medical leave and would not be there to set up a very important advisory committee meeting. I panicked and sent her an e-mail to send me the host code to start the remote meeting. I was pleasantly surprised when I got an instant response that she was on her way. She reached the meeting room an hour ahead of the meeting time and helped my administrative assistant set up the meeting. During the course of setting up the meeting, she casually mentioned that the reason she was taking leave was that she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had been suffering from pain in her foot for a few months and decided to see a podiatrist when she found herself tripping. Diagnostic tests revealed the brain tumor for which her doctor scheduled immediate surgery on Thursday, October 25. I laud this woman’s courage and dedication, pray for her speedy recovery, and hope her example raises awareness of others that it is workers like her who make this country so great (Contributed by Dr. Hashima Hasan)
MCMF: Annual fund-raising dinner and music program, Saturday, October 27, 2018, 6:30 pm at the Argyle Club, Silver Spring.
Hyderabad Association Dinner and music, Saturday, October 27, 2018, 6:30 pm, Bar B Q Tonight Restaurant, Sterling, Virginia
Karachi University Alumni Association: Annual Dinner, Saturday, November 17, 2018, 6:30 pm, at Argyle Club, Silver Spring, MD
Editor’s Note: Those few of us still around who attended the AMU in the mid-fifties are very likely to be familiar with the name, Abid Ullah Ghazi. A prominent figure, he was very active in the Union politics and was elected as both secretary and vice president of the Union. He later emigrated to the US, earned his Ph.D. from Harvard, relocated to Chicago and founded International Education Foundation, IQRA, that has done some remarkable work in producing modern religious textbooks for children. His recent book, Jehd e Musalsal, is a nostalgic tour of life at Aligarh nearly three-quarter centuries ago. Sadly, Dr. Ghazi is gravely ill at this time. The following paragraph is translated and adapted from his book.
“All my years, I lived in the McDonald hostel. It was located close to the Shamshad building. In front of us, loomed a large open space, like a patch of desert, which Zakir Husain Saheb during his vice chancellorship transformed into a flourishing garden. The cricket pavilion and the Old Boys Lodge also were in this space. According to the legend, once Maulana Shaukat Ali, the storied cricketer and political leader, had hit the cricket ball so hard that it struck the top of the mosque’s dome. Considering his huge size, the legend is almost credible.
I was not around during the hey days of Maulana Shaukat Ali, but did meet his famous son, Maulana Zahid Ali, editor of the daily Khilafat. In respect to his physical dimension, he exceeded his father. He could lie on one side of the bed for long hours and whenever he needed to change side, he had to ask assistance of others. Yet, he had a heavenly sense of humor, and a gift for making witty comments and relating humorous anecdotes. Nobody ever left his company with a feeling of melancholy, even if he came with it. 
From across the lawn, there was the University mosque, which was staffed by a full-time Imam and Moazzan, The Tablighi Jamaat had not yet been active at the AMU, and only a few students attended the regular prayers. Besides leading the prayers, the Imam had no responsibility, no lectures to give, .no discussion groups to lead on the nuances and intricacies of the Quran and Sunnah. Much has changed since.”
Syed Amir (Editor)                                                                              Khurshid Usmani (Web)
Rafat Husain (President)                                                                 Aisha Khan (Chairperson)
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