Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi


By Afzal Usmani

Birth: 6th July, 1936, Anbehta, Saharanpur (UP)-India

Education: M.A. (AMU Aligarh)-1959, M.Sc. (London school of Economics)-1967, Ph.D. (Harvard University)-1973

Social & Education Services:
i) Director, Iqra International Educational Foundation (http://www.iqrafoundation.com)
ii) Chairman Board of Trustees, 2005-06 The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (www.aligs.org)
iii) President, National Council of University Students of India-1959
iv) President, AMU Students Union, 1959
v) Honorary Secretary, AMU Students Union, 1954

Advisor to:
Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru (Prime-Minister of India, 1947-64)
Dr. Rajendra Prasad (President of India, 1950-62)
Dr. Zakir Hussain (President of India, 1967-69)

Citizenship Award (United States of America), 1983
Sanad-e-Imtiyaz for Seeratun-Nabi Program, Pakistan, 1983
Nishaan-e-Imtiyaz for Development of Educational Curriculum,Pakistan, 1988

Personal Information:
Great-Grandfather : Maulana Abdullah Ansari (Founding Nazim-e-Diniyat MAO College, Aligarh. He led the Janaza Prayer of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan)
Father : Mr. Hamidul-Ansari Ghazi (Editor Medina Urdu Newspaper - Bijnor)
Mother: Mr. Maimoona Khatoon (Daughter of Maulana Qari Tayyab & Grand daughter of Maulana Qasim Nanotvi)

Wife’s name : Dr. Tasneema Ghazi

Brothers : Mr. Mohammad Tariq Ghazi, Former Chief Editor, Daily Saudia, Gazette, Jeddah (KSA), Mr. Arshad Mansoor Ghazi, Secretary, Idarah, Tahzeeb-e-Jadeed Aligarh, India

Books :
i) Sareer-e-Khama (Compilation of his personal articles)
ii) Maulana Abdullah Ansari, Ahwaal, Khidmat aur Ilmi Asaar

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi founded Iqra' International Educational Foundation, in Skokie, Illinois, US in 1983 as a community project to teach American Muslim children about their faith. Since then it has published nearly 100 textbooks and supplementary "enrichment" books of non-fiction, fiction and poetry and now operates a book club and a bookshop as well. The group linked with Iqra' Charitable Society in 1987 and is still headed by Dr. Abidullah Ghazi. He and his wife, Dr. Tasneema Ghazi, were born in India, came to the United States to earn advanced degrees, and then stayed on with their young children.

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi : A Distinguished Aligarian and Emissary of Islamic and Urdu Culture in USA
Syed M. Naseem, Washington DC

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi was born on July 6th, 1936 in Saharunpur (Peerzadgan) in U.P. His early education was in Deoband. After High school; he joined AMU and completed his B. A. and M. A. (Political Science) in 1959, M.S. from London School of Economics (1967), and Ph.D. from Harvard University in Comparative Religion in 1973. He was also associated with Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi as a teacher. He was Professor at Jeddah University for several years. He is a distinguished Old Boy of Aligarh Muslim University. He was elected Honorary Secretary Aligarh Muslim University Student’s Union in 1954 and President of Students Union in 1959-60. Same year he represented India in Australia, as President of the National Council of University Students of India in 1959. He established AMU student’s Union Rafi Relief Society to help poor students at AMU. He was awarded Saif Fida Hussain Gold Medal for best Speaker in 1954-1955 at AMU Convocation. He and his wife Mrs. Tasneema Ghazi, (M.A. Alig, M. A. Harvard and Ph.D. Minnesota) established Iqra International Educational Foundation in Skokie, Chicago. Subsequently, Iqra Foundation Branch was also opened in Bombay, Pakistan, Singapore, and Europe. Besides, he is also Director of many organizations such as, Indo Islamic Foundation (USA), Academy of South Asian Studies (Aligarh), American Foundation of Muslims of India (USA), and Consultative Committee of Indian Muslims, USA). During his stay in Saudi Arabia, he established Muslim University Assistance Endowment (MUSA) Foundation and is currently awarding hundreds of scholarships in Aligarh and elsewhere.

Through Iqra Foundation, he wrote more than 140 books in English, for Islamic schools, his books are part of syllabus in almost all Islamic schools through out the world (40 countries). These books have been translated in Urdu and Hindi for Indo-Pak schools. For his services, he was awarded Sanad-e-Pakistan (1983), Nishan-e-Imtiaz (1998), Citizenship Award (USA 1983), and Sark Award (India, 2007). He is Sahib-e-Quran, and lectured all over USA on Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) life. He also performed Nikah ceremony in USA (including my daughter’s Nikah) and Chief Guest during Sir Syed Day celebrations in USA, Europe, India and Pakistan. He is well known Urdu writer, ( novel- Inqlab: Ek Kahani Ek Tareekh) poet, his recent book on Urdu poem “Zikr-e-Saman Azaran” (2003) and Urdu prose book “Sareer-e-Khama” (second edition, 2004) introduced by Sayyed Hamid sahib former Vice Chancellor AMU and Chancellor Hamdard University, is very well received by Urdu lovers and is worth reading.

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi and their Aligarh days

*Dr. Masood Haider, New Jersey (USA)

Dr. AbidUllah Ghazi, whom I greatly admire. Ghazi sahib was two years senior to me and his contest for the presidency of the Student's Union against Mobashir Mohammed Khan remains a fascinating chapter in my collection of memories of AMU. Professor Wahid Uddin Malik, was one of the two closest friends of my late uncle Dr. Intisar Husain (the other being Dr. A.R. Kidwai); who always treated me like a part of his family as he did Ghazi sahib because his (Ghazi sahib's) father was associated with the newspaper 'Medina' Bijnor which was owned by Malik sahib's father-in-law. During the election the preposterous allegation was made that Ghazi sahib, related to a iconic family of the bastion of conservatism Deoband and a practicing Muslims could even remotely be considered to be a communist. In confusion, I asked Professor Malik what his take was on this allegation against Ghazi sahib and he categorically discarded any such possibility. However, the slogan of ' Islam Khatre main hai' used to serve as a potent political weapon and led to Ghazi sahib's defeat. Few years later, he was elected unopposed as the president of the union.

The reason that the ridiculous charge was made against Ghazi sahib was that although a devout Muslim he was not one of our 'run of the mill' orthodox, rigid and conservative Mullahs, which is precisely why I find his views so much in concordance with the Sir Syed model of the compatibility of religion with modernity. A spell binding speaker often sprinkling his speeches with subtle and underplayed humor, a poet, a Urdu writer in a unique inimitable style, a chronicler of the history of the AMU in the fifties, a person at peace with living in the West without spewing venom against the very country which has given all expatriates so much especially to practice our religion freely, a lifetime dedicated to the education of Muslim youth all over the World, Ghazi sahib with the infusion of a little more humility can truly serve as a role model for those young people who share the view that Sir Syed was the greatest Muslim reformist in at least in last 500 years. We need not revert to the time of the holy prophet to be good Muslims and should attempt in our own little way to break the vicious spiral of mindless, revolting and nihilistic extremism and fanaticism. There is no better example than of Ghazi sahib to prove that modernism and Islam can co-exist and one does not have to live in a particular environment to accomplish this feat.

*Dr. Masood Haider of New Jersey (USA) wrote to AMUNetwork about Dr. Abidullah Ghazi and their Aligarh days.


Dr. Abidullah Ghazi with delegates of the 3rd annual convention of FAAA in New York in July 2004
L-R : Afzal Usmani, Dr. Ghazi, Dr. Shaheer Khan, Mr. Ahsan fazli

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Dr. Abidullah Ghazi addressing the 4th annual convention of FAAA in Chicago on July 3, 2005

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Dr. Ghazi giving a tour to the visitors at Iqra International center in Chicago

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Dr. Ghazi with the delegates of annual convention of FAAA at Iqra International on July 4, 2005

L-R : Afzal Usmani, Dr. Hashma Hasan (Washington DC) Dr. Ghazi, Mr. Muzaffar Habib ,Mrs. Avinash Sawhney,

Prof.Asadur Rahman (all New York) and Dr. Shahid Siddiqi (Chicago)

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Dr. Ghazi with Chief Guest, Mr. M.A.A. Fatmi, Minister of HRD, Govt. of India at annual convention of FAAA on July 4, 2005 in Chicago

L-R : Mr. Latafat Hussain, Dr. Ghazi, Mr. Fatmi, Mr. Faisal Saleem, Afzal Usmani, Mr.Qamar Khan,


Dr. Abidullah Ghazi with delegates of the 3rd annual convention of FAAA in New York in July 2004

L-R(chair) : Dr. Hasan Kamil, Dr. Asad Ahmad, Mr. Riyaz Alvi, Mr. Ishrat Aziz, Dr. Asadur Rahman, Dr. A. Bari, Dr. Habib Zuberi, Mr. Abdul Hafiz Khan

L-R(standing) : Dr. Abdullah, Afzal Usmani, Dr. Aftab Ansari, Mr. Ashfaq Quraishi, Mr. Qamar Khan, Dr. Ghazi, Mr. Muzaffar Habib, Mr. Umar Farooq, Dr. Masood Haider, Mr. Ahsan Fazli, Mr. Hasan Kamal

Juhd-e-Musalsal - Aligarh se Aligarh Tak- (1951-1959) : Dr Abidullah Ghazi

Juhd-e-Musalsal - Aligarh se Aligarh Tak- (1951-1959)

By Afzal Usmani

This afternoon after reading portion of his new book Juhd-e-Musalsal, I talked to Dr. Abidullah Ghazi sahab. His voice was crumbling, did not have same energy what he used to have but I can feel that from inside he still has the same passion and energy but unable to bring it to his lips. He is among the few rare people of his generation whom I will surely remember for a long time. I wish and pray that Allah give him full recovery and health and he live amongst us for a long time. "Nayab nahee kamyab hain yeh"

I got familiar with Dr. Abidullah Ghazi sahab's name sometime after joining AMUNetwork in 1998 when I started my career in New Delhi. But met him for the first time in July 2004 in New York when I was there to attend 3rd Annual Convention of The Federation of Aligarh Alumni Associations (FAAA). I was representing AMU Alumni Association of Arizona and Dr. Ghazi sahab was representing AMU Alumni Association of Greater Chicago. It was my first opportunity to meet many respected senior Aligarians of North America including Dr. Abidullah Ghazi sahab. It will not be an exaggeration if I claim that he stood out in the midst of so many shining stars of the Aligarh fraternity in North America. This first meeting left such an impression that even today I am in touch with him and miss no opportunity to meet him or at least talk to him. He is a prolific writer, eloquent speaker, and over and above a lifelong soldier of Aligarh Movement and he misses no opportunity to spread the message of Sir Syed around the world.

Dr Abidullah Ghazi studied in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) from 1951 to 1959 and completed his Masters in Political Science. He also did Masters from London School of Economics and finished his Doctorate from Harvard University in 1973. He founded “Iqra International” in late 1989 in Chicago IL USA which develops curriculum and books of Islamic schools for US and other countries. He also established Association of South Asian Studies (ASAS) in Aligarh (UP) India in 1998. He authored several books and wrote many articles in different literary journals and magazines. His AMU stay have a vibrant history: was elected Honorary Secretary of AMU Student's Union in 1954; got elected, un-opposed, President in 1959. One of his contemporary in AMU , Dr. Masood Haider, and another Aligarian Dr. Shaheer Khan, Editors of the annual Souvenir and Sir Syed Day Magazine of FAAA persuaded Dr. Abidullah Ghazi to write his anecdotes of his AMU days for the magazine. Ghazi sahab agreed and part of it was published in the magazine. Only the 1959 was left to be de recollected. Due to his poor health, we were worried; but to the surprise of many, it was completed and not just as an article but added in a complete book,

Juhd-e-Musalsal - Aligarh se Aligarh Tak- (1951-59)

Koi sune na sune inquilab ki awaaz - pukaarney ki hado(n) tak to hum pukaar aaye

H.G. Wells' Time Machine, is a work of fiction but Juhd-e-Musalsal proved to be a Time Machine for me and took me back to the era of 1951-59. I travelled back to the past re-living it with ease. without feeling like an outsider. While going through it I got the feel of the era: 1951-1959., It felt as if he is talking about my period 1988 to 1997 of Aligarh only names of the characters changed. I always used to think that my Aligarh was way different from that of Ghazi sahib. After going through his memoir, I had to change my opinion about Aligarh. Exterior of Aligarh may have changed but to its core it was still the same as of mine. The period (1951-59) covered in the book is more than 3 decades earlier than I lived there but his picturesque articulation gave me a feeling as if one is watching a movie and visualizing almost every place and character of the campus. His pre-arrival to Aligarh depicts the cultural and traditional heritage of Indian Muslims. His Aligarh arrival and entry into a vibrant life of student politics, debates, speeches, Students Union elections, winning Secretary's election, loosing and then un-opposed election to the highest office of the Students Union and establishing and getting elected as founding President of Council of University Student's of India in 1959 is a marvelous and remarkable journey of Ghazi sahab. Withdrawal of Nomination by his opponents Mr. Umar Farooq (now based in Atlanta GA and erving as Founding President of Aligarh Education Endowment Fund) and (Late) Mr. Ibne Farid in his last election of 1959 for the office of President of AMUSU reflected a unique tradition.

The book also describes the legends of his time among students, teachers and Milli leaders. Presidential election of Ahmad Saeed "Anda" against Amin “Bulbuliya” and tradition of "Janazah" (funeral) after election and its demise is nicely depicted and described as a firsthand account. Urdu debates and exit of Champion of the time (Late) Obaid Siddiqi Sahab and entry of Abidullah Ghazi sahab to fill the vacuum. Zakir Hussain sahab and Saeed "Anda" sahab's speech in presence of Vinoba Bhave is a testimony of higher political aesthetics of Aligarh and their concern for the future generation of Muslims of India and their identity related concerns in the diversities of the country with long civilizational histories. One gets many “firsthand” accounts helping us gauge the thought processes of India’s Muslims, specially the educated ones, in the early years of India’s independence and post partition psyche.

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi was part of Indian officials delegation to China just few years before the Indo-China war of 1962. His first passport and swapping of pictures episode is memorable. Reminded me of my passport story which I will avoid to write here. This 60 years old incident give me a sense that in few aspect, Indian officials working is not changed much.Dr Abidullah Ghazi sahab did not forget his financial difficulties and recognized the people who helped him in those difficult days. His description of final days of his final examination related preparations and his encounters with Mohammad Hamid Ansari sahab (former Vice-President of India) who was his classmate, is quite mesmerizing. It took me back, down the memory lane, to my own examination days and once again I did not find it different that of 1959. Inclusion of historical pictures and his famous poem, "Akhiri Shab - Alwidaa Aligarh", is particularly more touching, hence a bonus read.

Let it be said that this memoir is one of the finest additions into the long list of memoirs of the Aligarians and that too from a person whose whole life is a vibrant and dynamic one. Even now, when he is almost a bed-ridden person, yet he is still working to finalizing his autobiography. We thought we got out of the trauma period of post-partition but present situation of Indian Muslims are no different from what Muslims of India faced immediately after partition in 1947 . There are many lessons for our generation to learn from elders like Dr. Abidullah Ghazi sahib, helping us make sense of and grapple with the challenges of the day---looking into past with vision for better future .


Dr. Abidullah Ghazi with delegates of the 3rd annual convention of FAAA in New York in July 2004
L-R : Afzal Usmani, Dr. Ghazi, Dr. Shaheer Khan, Mr. Ahsan fazli

The Contemporary Relevance of Abul Kalam Azad : Dr. A. Ghazi & Dr. Muzaffar Farooqi

The Contemporary Relevance of Abul Kalam Azad

Here is the talk on "The Contemporary Relevance of Abul Kalam Azad" on GLOBAL FORUM by 2 Aligs, Drs. Abidullah Ghazi and Muzaffar Farooqi. Dr. Abidullah Ghazi and Dr Muzaffar Farooqi, both are based in Chicago-IL in US.
Dr. Muzaffar Farooqi, is an Alig and recipient of Ahmad Adaya Urdu International award from Urdu Markaz International Los Angeles, CA on his book, Teen Mulk Ek Kahani.

Dunya News Zabta-e-Hayat April 28th 2012

Teaching Should be Centered Around the Child, his Needs and Temperament : Dr. Abidullah Ghazi

Teaching Should be Centered Around the Child, his Needs and Temperament

Interview : Dr. Abidullah Ghazi (Published in Islamic Voice in October 2000)

Dr. Abidullah Ghazi hails from Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. Holding a Doctorate in comparative religion from Harvard University, he and wife Dr. Tasneema Khatoon Ghazi, (a doctorate in child psychology), have been pursuing the goal of an ideal Islamic curriculum in English with a passionate zeal. During his visit to Bangalore in 2000 he spoke to Maqbool Ahmed Siraj. Excerpts

Q: Why a new Islamic curriculum?

A: I read the Quran at the Darul Uloom, Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. I perceived that students were beaten up thoroughly while learning the Quran. The very thought of classes made them tremble with fears. I studied at Universities at Aligarh, London and Harvard. When I was a student at the Harvard, I had 3 1/2 year old kid. She used to say that she could go to school on her own as she was grown up. I juxtaposed this with a scene from African madrassa on TV where the children were being beaten. We both discussed the contrast and concluded that education in the West was centered around the child while in the Islamic world, it was centered around the book. So the Western curriculum takes in its stride everything that makes the child learn, develop curiosity and expect more and more of knowledge. These may be in the form of illustrations, charts maps and music. I thought why Islam cannot be taught like that. On the initiation of our colleagues, I began preparing some books and a curriculum. Later we shifted to Gary in Indiana state, 40 kms from Chicago. In 1976, I met Rabita chief Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef and Dr. Zainul Abedin of Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs. They encouraged me to take up this venture. The first book to come out was Our Prophet, an assignment from King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah at Dr. Naseef’s behest. But books were not enough. What was required was a curriculum. We studied the religious curriculum of Christians and Jews. The Jews teach the Old Testament on four levels. We estimated that we would need nearly 150 books to teach the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, Sociology, moral sciences etc.

Q: But you were working in the USA. What objective did you set before yourself?

A: We were clear that the children must be taught the universal values of Islam and that our primary target was children who were growing up in a secular and plural country. We developed systematic curriculum lesson by lesson for 40 minute period. Reason and rational informed its very foundation. Tasneema scrutinized the vocabulary which was to be graded as per the child’s comprehension level at a particular age.

Q: Project for the future?

A: We are now preparing the enrichment literature which is known as non-detailed literature in India. We are also preparing lessons for teachers and we will put them on the Internet. We will develop a whole system of examination, certification etc. and ultimately make it an Open University. Our emphasis is on quality production of books.

Q: Pictures in Islamic books are resented by the ulema. How do you cope with modern needs for pictures and opposition from the traditional class?
A: We have minimized the use of pictures. Often need for pictures in books narrating Prophet’s stories have been fulfilled with silhouettes.

Q: Maslak too poses problems particularly in cosmopolitan crowds of Muslims in India or the US?

A: We do not go into polemics. We have avoided sectarian differences at the lower level. Later all different mazahib (schools of opinion) have been put side by side.

Q: No general agreement is found on certain geographical maps. How an international syllabus should look at it?

A: This is a sensitive question. In a series of books on Muslim social studies there have been questions over Palestine and Israel maps. Jews get exercised and unleash charges of anti-Semitism. There cannot be any universal agreement on maps.