By Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi
While the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) has been in the eye of storm following the resurgence of right wing elements in the socio-political spectrum after the partition, the institution, also called as the Oxford of the East, has provided base to India’s plurality besides being custodian of country’s modern education. Over century, the institution stood by its principles, core values of togetherness, earning praises from a range of luminaries. Here are statements and excerpts from writings of some of them.
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, former Prime Minister of India
“An ardent reformer who wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking the basic belief. He was anxious to push new education. He was in no way communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political and national significance.”(Discovery of India).
Mr. I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India
“Sir Syed’s vision and his laborious efforts to meet the demands of challenging times are highly commendable. The dark post-1857 era was indeed hopeless and only men like Raja Mohan Roy and Sir Syed could penetrate through its thick veil to visualize the Nation’s destinies. They rightly believed that the past had its merits and its legacies were valuable but it was the future that a society was called upon to cope with. I offer my homage to Sir Syed for his vision and courage that withstood all obstructions both from the friends and the foes”. (Message to Urdu Scientific Society, Lucknow).
Allama Iqbal on Sir Syed
“The real greatness of the man consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it”.
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
‘Sir Syed had established at Aligarh not only a college but an intellectual and cultural centre in tune with the progressive spirit of the times’.
Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, Former Speaker, Lok Sabha, on Sir Syed
“Sir Syed wanted the College, to act as a bridge between the old and the new and the East and the West. He actively advocated the necessity of modern and scientific education. He wanted that the students of the college should preach the gospel of free enquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality. (Address to Aligarh students, 2007)
‘’Sons (of MAO college later AMU)) shall go forth throughout the length and breadth of the land to preach the message of free inquiry, of large hearted toleration and of pure morality’’.
‘’Acquisition knowledge of science and technology is the only solution for the problems of Muslims.’’
‘’Get rid of old and useless rituals. These rituals hinder human progress.’’
‘’Superstition cannot be the part of iman (faith).’’
‘’The first requisite for the progress of a nation is the brotherhood and unity amongst sections of the society.’’
‘’Yes the main purpose of this college (MAO) is to impart modern education to Muslims who are suffering because of lack of it but this institution is for all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Both of them need education.’’
‘’We (Hindus and Muslims) eat the same crop, drink water from the same rivers and breath the same air. As a matter of fact Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan. Weakness of any one of them will spoil the beauty of the bride (dulhan).’’
‘’We (Hindus and Muslim) have evolved a new language Urdu.’’
‘’I wish that youth of India should follow the example of young men and women of England who are religiously engaged in the hard work of industrial development of their country (Sir Syed during his stay in England).’’
‘’Look forward, learn modern knowledge, do not waste time in studies of old subjects of no value.’’
‘’Show your face as the follower of true Islam representing character, knowledge, tolerance and piety.’’
‘’We should not (by remaining ignorant and illiterate) tarnish the image of our able elders.’’
‘’All human beings are our brother and sisters. Working for their welfare is obligatory for Muslims.’’
‘’Remember that the words Hindu and Muslim are only meant for religious distinction: otherwise all persons who reside in this country belong to one and the same nation.’’
‘’Strengthen Aligarh Movement for the betterment of the Community’’.