By Abdul Bari Masoud, MM News
Azamgarh (UP): Paying rich tribute to Allama Shibli Nomani, Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari said that he was an encyclopaedic and iconic figure who dominated the intellectual and literary scenes in a critical and formative period of Muslims of India. Delivering inaugural address at the “International Seminar to mark the Centenary of Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy here on Saturday, he said Allama Shibli’s quest for change was deeper as he confronted many a issues of his time with aplomb and establishment of Shibli Academy was one of his accomplishment.
In this context, the Vice President expressed his concerns that the past 67 years show that the country has not responded to the challenge fully. “We have cited tradition and social custom as reasons for this. We have failed to walk in step with our fellow country men and women,” he remarked. “We have, as a result, exhibited all the signs of social, educational and economic backwardness. Each of these can be surmounted, given the organisation and the will to succeed,” he added.
In an oblique remark on the changed political scenario in the country, Hamid Ansari said that any segment of the country’s vast and diverse population has the right as citizens to demand from the State four essentials: social peace, physical security and protection of identity; Empowerment through appropriate education; A fair and equitable share in employment and the largesse of the State since unequal economic opportunities lead to unequal outcomes which in turn lead to unequal access to political power; and Participation in decision-making.
During his speech, the Vice President has highlighted Allama Shibli’s contribution and scholarship, adding that the world in which he lived and worked was a very different one, perhaps beyond our comprehension today. “His life, his travels, his circle of friends, and above all his scholarship all testify to a searching mind. His great scholarly work, Al Farooq, was translated in many languages. Another work, Shairul Ajam, on the history of Persian poetry, was described by E.G. Brown in his four volume Literary History of Persia as ‘the best critical estimate of leading Persian poets from the earliest times to the latter part of the seventeenth century”.
Hamid Ansari said that one of the questions Maulana Shibli Nomani confronted related to education in the context of a particular brand of modernity that was thrust on India and Indians in the wake of the establishment of the British rule. Underlying the quest for change was a deeper, psychological perception reflective of dispossession as Shibli expressed this distress in his long poem Shehr-e-aashob-e-Islam.
The Vice President also lauded the contribution of Shibli Academy saying it nurtured a rare environment of single minded and selfless devotion to academic pursuits. “For a century now, the Shibli Academy has contributed to scholarship, particularly in the field of Seerat-un Nabi, early Islamic history, Quraniyaat, Indian history with a focus on the medieval period, and Urdu, Persian and Arabic literature and literary personalities. The compendium of its publications is impressive, and is a tribute to the past and present scholarship. “This institution, along with some others in the country, has devoted itself specifically to the culture and history of Islam. India and Indians rightly consider it an essential ingredient of their heritage and an aspect of their multi-dimensional identity,” he added.
The Shibli Academy has completed 100 years of its life which was conceived by Maulana Shibli Nomani and established by his disciples headed by Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi on November 21, 1914, three days after his death. To mark the occasion, the Academy has decided of celebrating “Centenary of Shibli”. The 4-day International Seminar, which began with today’s inaugural function, is being attended by noted scholars from Indian and abroad including from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, Sudan and other countries. The seminar will dwell upon the various aspects of Shibli’s life and his academic contributions.
The Academy, situated in the old Azamgarh town of Uttar Pradesh, was widely acknowledged by scholars from the world. It specializes in research on Islamic Learning, medieval Indian history and oriental studies. Moulded in the scholarly tradition of India’s ancient centre of learning, the Darul Musannefeen has taken its place alongside some known modern research institutions. It has a well-equipped library and a well organised Publication Department, putting out original works or the fruits of modern research in oriental philosophy, history and culture, make it the envy of many an institution in the field. It is a repertoire of wide range of knowledge and it houses 750 rare manuscripts including Abul Fazal’s 830-page Akbarnama written in Persian. The Academy boasts of having more than one lakh books in Urdu, Arabic Persian, Hindi, and English. It had so far published more than 250 books including such significant works as Siratun Nabi and Al Farooq.
The Academy has produced a number of scholars of world-repute like of Allama Sulaiman Nadvi, Syed Sabahuddin Abdur Rehaman and others. Presently the Academy is headed by Prof Ishtyaq Ahmad Zilli.
However, due financial constraints, it cannot take modernisation of its famed library, preservation of rare manuscripts, publication of Hindi and English translations of its books and a number of other projects. It is worth to be mentioned that the Academy had maintained an unbroken tradition of publication of its renowned Urdu monthly journal ‘Maarif’ in uninterrupted circulation since July 1916.