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




Reception




Seminar MC Afzal Usmani



Speakers



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)
ki"



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