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The Aligarh Movement and the Making of the Indian Muslim Mind 1857-2002

The Aligarh Movement and the Making of the Indian Muslim Mind 1857-2002


Item Code: IDI933

by Tariq Hasan

Hardcover (Edition: 2006)

Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN 812910847X

Size: 9.3" x 6.2"
Pages: 292
Weight of the Book: 623 gms
Price: $39.50
Discounted: $29.62   Shipping Free
Viewed times since 2nd Oct, 2008


From the Jacket:

THIS IS A long-awaited book on one of the most enigmatic personalities who helped to shape the idea of India. Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, the founder of the Muslim Anglo-Oriental College now known as the Aligarh Muslim University, was what one may call a complete individual-educationist, philanthropist, administrator, leader, and most importantly a self-made man secular. It is perhaps ironical that the challenges Sir Sayyid faced in his lifetime were also in subsequent years, and indeed to this day, faced by the institution he founded.

The university has gone through several twists and turns. There were events that threatened its very existence, sometimes for the lack of funds and at other times because there were people who wanted to see the venerable institution go. Sir Sayyid too faced several challenges. He had to take several though decisions in life. Some were personal, like his decision to leave his mother behind when he was evacuating the family during the mutiny. At other times, he was simultaneously fighting the British and opponents to his cause. If there was one part of his personality that Sir Sayyid passed on to AMU it was his resilience. The university might have over the years become the happy hunting ground for politicians and vested interests, but it survives and holds its own despite the odds.

The book provides a historically relevant perspective to the story of Sir Sayyid and the AMU, and brings it up to date. The author uses rare archival matter, and but for this book, those documents would have been lost forever. The author's insights into the life and times of Sir Sayyid are perhaps helped by the fact that he is a descendant of Maulvi Samiullah Khan, one of the co-founders of the institution. This is, in every sense, a frank, lucid book about a genius.

About the Author:

Tariq Hasan, is an Aligarh based journalist. He joined the Aligarh Muslim University in 1965. After a brief stint in industry, he entered the field of journalism in 1975. He has worked with The Pioneer (Lucknow), The Patriot (New Delhi), The Times of India (New Delhi) and the Press Trust of India (PTI).

His main sphere of interest lies in Muslim affairs and environment and wildlife issues. He has covered the affairs of AMU for more than two decades. He was president of India's nominee at the AMU court for three years. His family was closely associated with the establishment of the Aligarh Muslim University and the freedom movement. The late Maulvi Samiullah Khan, a co-founder of the AMU and the founder of the Muslim Boarding House of the Allahabad University was the author's mother's great grandfather.

Abdul Majeed Khwaja, the author's grandfather was among the founding fathers of the Jamia Millia Islamia.


I began work on this book in 1995. The idea that prompted this venture was to provide the discerning reader a chance to peep through the window of the history and catch a glimpse of the nineteenth century movement of the Indian Muslims leading to a sort of educational renaissance.

At the very onset let me stress that I lay no claims whatsoever of any scholarly pretensions. I was a student of science and somehow strayed into the field of journalism. As a journalist, I have covered events at the Aligarh Muslim University for more than two and a half decades for some leading newspapers of the country. I soon realized that for some inexplicable reason, the study of the social and political ramifications of the nineteenth century movement, popularly referred to as The Aligarh Movement, have been largely ignored by scholars. As a result of this vacuum of serious scholarly work, it occurred to me to bring about a narrative of this movement which could arouse the interest of others, more capable than me, to seek answers from it for some deeply disturbing questions faced by us today.

I carry no weight on my shoulders, as there is no particular viewpoint that I seek to propagate.
I was born in a family where religious values ran deep and at the same time a deep reverence existed for the religious beliefs of others.

My maternal grandfather, A.M. Khwaja, was a Gandhian to the core and also a close personal friend of Jawaharlal Nehru. In my early childhood, during the turbulent days following the partition of India, heavy rioting broke out at Dehradun and Aligarh where a large number of my family members were residing. It was during this impressionable phase that my mother succeeded in instilling deep religious values in my mind. These ideals were, however, not based on narrow formalism but on the broader values she had inherited from her parents.

Reminiscing about her childhood years, my mother would often narrative incidents connected to the happenings in her fathers rambling house, 'Habibbagh,' where Gandhi stayed for almost a week in the autumn of 1920. "Perhaps the most vivid memories I have are connected with the non-cooperation movement, when following Gandhiji's visit to our house, my mother set aflame all her precious garments and donated all her ornaments for the movement. I also remember when a dozens of policemen surrounded our house to arrest my father who calmly went along with them for a long stay in the district jail", my mother still recalls.

When Gandhi passed away into the ages, it was my grandfather, who recited the Holy Quran at the funeral service of the Father of the Nation.

The decade following the freedom of India was a very testing period for my grandfather who stayed at our family house at Aligarh. Quite apart from frequent communal riots in the city, many influential persons were clamouring for the close down of the Aligarh Muslim University. Their contention was, that after the creation of Pakistan, a 'Muslim University' had no place in secular India. Each time such a crisis arose, my grandfather would rush to New Delhi to meet Maulana Azad and Jawaharlal Nehru and try to diffuse the crisis. "I told Jawaharlal", he recounted, "If there is any attempt to tamper with AMU, it will be over my dead body." He would often take undue liberties with 'Panditji', with whom he had an association of more than half a century, having been colleagues at Cambridge.

Coming back to the present, the followers of Islam the world over, including India, are passing through a deeply troubled phase. The 9/11 attacks at New York, followed by the recent London blasts, have placed Muslims in a vulnerable position wherever they are. Where do all this turmoil, suspicion and hatred leave an honest, God fearing Muslim?

Equity and social justice form the bedrock of Islamic belief. Another feature, which marked the rise of Islam was the noble tradition of deep respect for the religious beliefs of others and for their places of worship. Islam explicitly forbids the killing of innocents even during war. The triumphant entry of Caliph Omar into the city of Jerusalem in the year AD 637 and the respect which he treated the conquered people and their places of worship are recorded for posterity in the annals of history.

Any attempt to rationalize the killing of innocents, for any cause, is an exercise which will result in more misery and suffering. It is equally true that the response of the West in tackling the menace of global terrorism is also seriously flawed. It is, to be precise, fuelling the forces of destruction. America's 'phony war' against terror is largely a smokescreen for its attempts to control the world's oil supply. The world is paying a heavy price for this ambivalence. The killing of innocents in a retaliatory move is no answer to the present crisis, nor is the trend of 'Islam-bashing' by the western media.

How is all this connected to the history of The Aligarh Movement? through a similar crisis. It was then that one man stood up and led them from ignorance to light. His message was simple and direct - follow the path which leads to the wealth of knowledge and do so with an open mind and heart. "Study and revere the holy scriptures of all religions and let not hatred blur your vision", he always pleaded. Sayyid Ahmad Khan, the leading light of The Aligarh Movement urged Muslims of India to imbibe moral values, which spring from large-hearted tolerance.

The frustration over the fall of the Mughal Empire and the rise of Wahabism had resulted in the spread of religious intolerance among Indian Muslims. Sayyid Ahmad Khan had the vision to understand the ramifications of this trend. Today, this obsessive intolerance within a small fringe of the Muslims society is once again posing a grave threat to the Islamic society as a whole. The time for ostrich-like postures is over. We have to understand how precariously perched we are.
In the following pages, I have attempted to narrate the story of this remarkable man and the noble souls who stood by him.


Preface Vii
Introduction: The Genesis 1800-1857 Xii
1. Sayyid Ahmad Khan - The Early Years 1
2. The Debacle of 1857: Quest for a Muslim Identity 7
3. The Aligarh Movement and the Birth of the M.A.O. College 1864-1875 28
4. The Religious views of Sayyid Ahmad Khan 47
5. Aligarh, the British Raj and the Forces of Separatism 1877-1887 59
6. The Parting of Ways 1887-1898 79
7. The Last Days of Sir Sayyid and the Aftermath 1898-1907 112
8. The Demand for a Muslim University 143
9. Aligarh and Jamia - the Golden Years 1920-1937 172
10. The Rise of the Muslim League: Sir Ziauddin and his Role at the A.M.U. 216
11. Aligarh and the Road to Freedom, and Partition of the Country 1937-1947 225
12. Aligarh after Independence 244
13. Crisis at the Campus 1955-2002 253
Acknowledgements 274
Index 275
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