AT A GLANCE – AAA WASHINGTON, DC
The Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), Washington DC, founded in 1975, is a non-political, non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable, educational, social, and cultural organization for non-alumni and alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh, India. The Association takes interest in affairs of the University, runs a scholarship program to help meritorious students from low income families, and organizes social, literary, and cultural programs. The aims and objectives of the Association are to: (i) help AMU and its student body through scholarship and other programs; (ii) develop and strengthen a sense of community by organizing social projects and events in the Washington DC area; and (iii) promote cultural awareness through cultural and literary activities
Even if you have only visited the Aligarh Muslim University once in your lifetime, it remains with you forever. Wherever there are even a few Aligs, they are quick to form an Association to reconnect to the Aligarh spirit, to rejuvenate old friendships, to renew acquaintances and to reminisce. The Washington Metropolitan area was no exception. In 1975 some Aligs painstakingly developed a list of alumni residing in the metropolitan area and organized a meeting in suburban Maryland. Within a few months this initial meeting led to the formation of the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington, DC.
The Association deviated from the traditional “Old Boys Association” label to eliminate gender bias and called itself the “Aligarh Muslim University Alumni Association” or simply the “Aligarh Alumni Association.” It is the oldest continuously functioning Aligarh Association in North America.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
— To serve the cultural, literary and intellectual needs of the South Asian community in North America and to nurture a sense of community
— To promote the concepts of the Aligarh Movement
— To develop leadership and team building skills
— To maintain contact with and help the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU)
- Annual Sir Syed Day Mushaira to promote an appreciation of Urdu literature. This program attracts the best poets worldwide and has facilitated the development of a literary network that now sponsors Urdu poetry symposiums in several cities of North America.
- Al-Beiruni Fellowships and other Scholarships for meritorious and needy students at the Aligarh Muslim University. Up to 70 scholarships are now awarded annually. Details are provided elsewhere.
- Muhammad Iqbal Lecture Awards (instituted in 1979) for outstanding western scholars of Indo-Islamic civilization
- Syed Ahmad Khan Awards (instituted in 1979) for distinguished Aligs
- The Aligarian, a newsletter for the community started in 1976 and is now published on the Internet
- Hosted Sir Syed Memorial lectures and seminars with administrators, academicians, literary figures and other prominent personalities
- Sir Shah Sulaiman Visiting Fellows Program (instituted in 1979) to arrange lectures at Aligarh by US based scholars who may be visiting India. This program has been expanded into a summer university and is now managed by the Federation of Aligarh Associations in North America.
- A Library program which has a collection of about 600 books to date.
The Annual Urdu Mushaira
Urdu is a vibrant language and Urdu poetry is an integral part of our culture. We lace our sentences with ‘ASHAARs’ just to make our conversation interesting or to stress a point. Even in a social gathering a ‘Sheri-Nashist’ or poetry recitation is a common form of intellectual entertainment. To the best of our knowledge, however, in 1975 the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington, DC organized the first ‘formal’ Urdu Mushaira in North America. It was the first time in the United States that an organized poetry symposium was presented where invited poets recited their own compositions. This pioneering Mushaira has been held regularly since 1975 (with the sole exception of 2001 when the function was canceled due to the aftermath of 9/11). Over the years almost all prominent Urdu poets have participated in our Mushaira.
A distinctive feature of the annual Mushaira was that it had a purpose beyond just a few hours of intellectual delight. The Mushaira was used as a vehicle to bring the Urdu speaking immigrants together and to develop a sense of community. Inspite of an increasing number of South Asians immigrants settling in the United States, a sense of community among the Urdu speakers was sorely lacking. Our Mushaira functions acted as a catalyst in bringing the community together and it soon became a highly popular and much anticipated annual event. Another goal of this pioneering initiative was to develop a “Mushaira” tradition throughout the USA. This process led to the formation of a number of new Aligarh Alumni Associations in participating cities. At the present time there are ten (10) Aligarh Alumni Associations across North America. A small but determined effort paid off.
From 1975 to 1982 our guest poets were limited to the residents of North America. In 1983 we organized the first International Mushaira with Majrooh Sultanpuri and Ahmad Faraz as our distinguished participants. This event was a resounding success. Encouraged by the success and patron demand, each successive year we invited more and more poets from abroad. In 1987 the Urdu Markaz of Los Angeles joined hands with the Aligarh Alumni Association of Washington in organizing these annual events. Today the Mushairas are an integral part of the cultural life of the Urdu speaking community in North America.
JO abr yahan se uth-the ga
wo sare jahan par berse ga Majaz