Sir Syed Bi-Centennial Celebrations

Sir Syed Bi-Centenary Celebrations by Aligarh Alumni Association Washington DC

Bicentennial Celebrations of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

India’s Premier Educational and Social Reformer

organized by

Aligarh Alumni Association Washington DC

Following India’s unsuccessful first war of independence from the British colonial rule in 1857 and the atrocities of the British army on them, the north Indian community was very disenfranchised and alienated from the British rulers. That led to their turning away also from European curriculum education imported by the British. In these very dire circumstances, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan struggled valiantly to fulfill his mission. He went door to door to raise funds, to persuade his opponents and to beseech the British rulers. Finally, in 1875 he was able to start a modern curriculum school by the name ‘Madrasatul Uloom’ in the small town of Aligarh, about 80 miles from Delhi. In 1877 he developed the school into the Mohammadan Anglo Oriental (MAO) college. The followers of Sir Syed and the Indian community continued to make the MAO College grow and in 1920 it was transformed into the modern Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), which is today one of the world’s most prominent and modern universities of the Muslim community. Today there are 30,000 students and 2,000 teachers at AMU that comprises of 15 faculties and 7 colleges at the Aligarh campus and 3 remote extension centers in Kerala, Bihar and Bengal. A large number of students, teachers and staff at AMU are non-Muslims.

To commemorate the bicentennial of the 1817 birth of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, The Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC, the oldest organization of AMU alumni in the US organized a very impressive half day event. The event was also supported by many like minded local organizations like American Indian Muslims (AIM), Urdu Academy of Maryland (UAMD) ,Montgomery Nawabs and University of Karachi Alumni Association (UKAA). It turned out to be a grand celebration of the educational, cultural and social basics that form the multi-religious, multi-ethnic Indian society. A large number of AMU Alumni and friends of AMU from many cities across the US and Canada assembled in Washington DC on September 9, 2017 to pay their respect to Sir Syed and cherish his contributions. The memorable event attended by about 300 participants was held at the Turkish American Community Center, Lanham, MD, a suburb of Washington DC.

The event comprised of a two-hour long seminar entitled “Peaceful Coexistence in Today’s Multicultural Society: Using Sir Syed's Approach", an exhibition of portraits of Sir Syed and his major colleagues in the 19th century educational movement and books written by them, a play on Sir Syed’s struggle to build the MAO College, and a humorous skit highlighting the experiences of current South Asian immigrants in the modern multicultural American society.

The seminar, the highlight of the day was addressed by Prof Geoffrey Willette, Dean & Professor of Philosophy at the Mercer University, Atlanta, GA; Prof Abdelaziz Sachedina, Professor of history at the George Mason University, Virginia; and Frank Islam, a Washington DC businessman and philanthropist. Prof Willette, whose Mercer University established a Memorandum of Understanding with AMU a few years ago, described the ongoing very successful program of exchange of students and teachers between the two universities, and how it is benefitting both institutions in developing an understanding between the Indian and American societies. Prof Sachedina who was keynote speaker of the evening elaborated on Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s books on interfaith dialogues that taught the world respectful coexistence among diverse communities, one hundred and fifty years ago. Frank Islam addressed the critical need to spend much more effort to spread market-oriented education among India’s minorities and deprived communities in order to raise their standards of living.

In the after-dinner hour the audience was entertained by an interesting half hour play that was a poignant re-enactment by some alumni and stage-actor friends of AMU ( A Abdullah, Khalid Hameed, Ali Rizvi, Masood Farshori, Shoeb Ali Hasan, Farooq Ahmad) of an 1880 event when, the septuagenarian Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his younger colleagues Prof Shibli Nomani and Prof Altaf Hussain Hali assembled in a theater in Delhi to raise funds for the MAO College in Aligarh. Tarana was very carefully integrated in the play at the end which gave an emotional climax to the play and moved the the audience with emotion. Another interesting entertainment event was a skit by AMU alumnus Javed Danish, Toronto based storytelling actor, who put on the costume and the narration style of typical storytellers from the courts of India’s Mughal kings to regale the audience with the very humorous travails, “Daastan hijraton ki” (tale of the immigrants), of southasian immigrants in today’s America.

The Aligarh Alumni Association, Washington DC presented a lifetime service award to Dr Abdullah Abdullah, who established the organization in 1975 and has been its mainstay throughout. The evening came to an end after vote of Thanks was proposed by Secretary of Association Mrs. Nasree Khan..

Sir Syed Exhibition

Sir Syed Exhibition


Seminar MC Afzal Usmani


Dr. Mohammad Akbar - President, Welcome Address

Mr. Frank Islam

Mr. Hasan Kamal

Prof. Geoffrey Willete

Prof. AbdelAziz Sachedina

Dr. Moazzam Siddiqi was recognised for his help and support to AAA Washington DC

Short Play - Sir Syed

Short Play - Shibli Nomani and Sir Syed

Short Play - Altaf Hussain Haali and Sir Syed

Tarana joined by play Characters

Dr. Abdullah was bestowed with "Sir Syed Lifetime Achievement Award" for his contributions to the mission of Sir Syed

Dr. Abdullah with his wife Dr. Sofia and AAA Office bearers

Jawaid Danish from Canada presenting "Daastaan - Hijrato(n)

Mrs. Nasreen Khan, Secretary AAA, proposed Vote of Thanks

SS Bicentenary Invitation

Dear All,

We are pleased to announce that The Aligarh Alumni Association Washington DC (AAA-DC) is celebrating the bicentennial of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s birth on Saturday, September 9, 2017, at the Turkish auditorium, part of the majestic, newly built Turkish Mosque and Cultural Center in Maryland. A lively and eclectic program is being drawn up for the occasion that will include lectures by eminent scholars, an exhibition of historic pictures and documents, demonstration of the classic Indian art of Dastan Goii (story telling), culminating in a sumptuous dinner. More details will be forthcoming later.

We would like to invite you to join us, either as individual or as part of the group/organization, to participate in this historic event, designed to pay homage to one of the greatest benefactors of our nation. In addition, your participation will provide you with an opportunity to renew old friendships and make some new friends.

The AAA-DC, established in 1975, is the oldest organization of the AMU Alumni in North America. It has been successfully disseminating the message of the Aligarh movement, leading to the establishment of twelve new alumni associations throughout North America and The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA). We continue to be involved in the promotion of charitable, cultural and literary work in the greater Washington, DC, area and at the AMU.

Should you need further information please contact:

A. Abdullah : Phone : 240-271-1612 Email:

Afzal Usmani : Phone: 805-358-6150 Email:

With our regards,


Mohammed Akbar Fazal R. Khan
President Chairperson
Executive Committee Board of Trustees

Sir Syed Died on 27th March, 1898 in Aligarh, United Province of British India

Sir Syed Died today in 1898 in Aligarh, United Province of British India

We pray to Allah to shower his blessings on Sir Syed and grant him highest place in Jannah - (Aameen)

By Afzal Usmani

The sad demise of Sir Syed on 27th March 1898 was covered by national and international media of the time.

Here I am reproducing the coverage on the March issue of M.A.O. College Magazine which was in press for publication so they just added a notification and a brief news. Later on articles were published on his life and major achievements in College Magazine"

Here I am reproducing the coverage in the Times of London which was reproduced in the M.A.O. College Magazine May issue of 1898"

Many condolence messages were received from India and abroad which was reproduced in the M.A.O. College Magazine April/May issue of 1898. I am reproducing a condolence message sent to Syed Mahmud from Pandit Madan Mohan Malviyaji, who later founded Banaras Hindu University (BHU) along with Ms. Annie Besant and Maharaja of Darbhanga in 1916"

India's Nation Builders - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan by D.N. Bannerjea

India's Nation Builders - Sir Syed Ahmad Khan by D.N. Bannerjea

By Afzal Usmani

"There would be no educated Mohammadan community existing and flourishing today but for the heroic pioneer efforts and far-sighted vision of this great man, who did not see in the utter collapse of the Moghul empire an argument for racial estrangement and enmity, nor yet a sign and symptom of the permanent moral decay of his community, only a fresh inspiration to summon courage, to accept the challenge on behalf of his community, thrown by the arduous competitive spirit of the West, to serve as a pathfinder for his countrymen, to prepare them for that relentless competition through education and social reform, so that they may thus be equipped for the struggle which the introduction of western civilization had rendered inevitable."

D.N. Bannerjea

The pages are from the book India's Nation Builders by D.N. Bannerjea published by Headley Bros
Publications Ltd. London in 1919

The Political Works of Sir Syed Ahmad : Theodore Morrison

The Political Works of Sir Syed Ahmad : Theodore Morrison

By Afzal Usmani

It is commonly perceived that Sir Syed was apolitical person and only focused on Social, literature and Educational reforms. But this is not completely true. It was very interesting to read about his political works by Prof. Theodore Morrison. Prof. Morrison has a unique distinction to be associated with all the 3 generations of First Family of Aligarh, Sir Syed, Syed Mahmud and Sir Ross Masud.

Prof. Morrison served as faculty member of M.A.O. College and later became Principal of M.A.O. College. He also served as guardian of Sir Ross Masud, the only grandson of Sir Syed when Syed Mahmud and his wife Begum Musharraf Jahan were going through a dispute in the guardianship of Sir Ross Masud.

To know more about Prof. Theodore Morrison, please read;

Prof. Theodore Morison

The pages are from the May 1898 issue of Mohammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O.) College Magazine and Institute Gazette;

Sir Syed aur Urdu Literature : Allama Shibli Nomani

Sir Syed aur Urdu Literature : Allama Shibli Nomani

By Afzal Usmani

Sir Syed is a well accepted Muslim reformer in modern history. But majority considers him only as a social and educational reformer. But he was a multi facet personality and he brought revolution is lots of fields and Urdu Literature is one of them. When he died on 27th March 1898, the April issue of mouthpiece of M.A.O. College, its Magazine was already out in press so other than a single page notification nothing more was published on Sir Syed. But a lot of important things were published in May 1898 issue and one of them was an amazing article on Sir Syed's reform and contribution in Urdu Literature, "Sir Syed Marhoom and Urdu Literature" by one of his ardent supporter, admirer and his disciple Allama Shibli Nomani.

Before Sir Syed, Urdu was a language of "Ishq and Mashooq".

"Hum huye, tum huye ki Mir Huye, ---- uski zulfo(n) ke sab aseer huye"

Sir Syed broke from this and tried his best to make Urdu as a language of masses. The Urdu language used in his journalistic ventures "Tahzibul Akhlaq" and "Aligarh Institute Gazzette" was simple and effective and made good inroads to common people.

As we are in the year 2017. This year will mark 200th Birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and best way to pay your tribute to him is to know more about him and imitate him to help the humanity in best possible way.

The pages are from the May 1898 issue of Mohammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O.) College Magazine and Institute Gazette;

Sir Syed aur Mazhab : Maulana Altaf Hussain Haali

Sir Syed aur Mazhab : Maulana Altaf Hussain Haali

By Afzal Usmani

Here we are in the year 2017. This year will mark 200th Birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, one of the most respected Muslims reformer of modern time. His credentials are unmatched with his contemporaries and generations which followed him. A lot had been said about him but still at least I do not understood Sir Syed completely.

People do not question his social and educational reform initiatives but his religious reform views are still very controversial even among his admirers and followers. His commentary of Quran are almost untouchable by main stream Muslims and are hardly available in Market including in and around his dreamland of Aligarh Muslim University where he is finally resting.

I heard a lot of negativity about his religious reformist ideology and always wanted to read on this subject by his respected contemporaries. I was amazed to get the following article which was published in May 1898 issue of Mohammadan Anglo Oriental College Magazine and Institute Gazette, just after a month of his death by none other than one of his strongest admirer friend Shamsul Ulama Allama Altaf Hussain Haali, who also authored his detailed biography Hayat-e-Javed few years after the death of Sir Syed.

Maulana Haali's religious credentials are not polluted so something coming on this subject from him was worth reading. I have read it line by line and a lot of things are clear to me about Sir Syed's religious beliefs. Its a must read to know about Sir Syed and his religious reform mission.

The pages are from the May 1898 issue of Mohammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O.) College Magazine and Institute Gazette;