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In response to TOI Article (Marghoob Mohsin)

Allama Sir Dr. Muhammad Iqbal says:

Mubtela-e-Dard Koi Azuu Ho, Roti Hai Aankh
Kis Qadar Hamdard Sare Jism Ki Hoti Hai Aankh

(The eye weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body, how sympathetic it is to the entire body)

On April 1, 1869 Sir Syed went, along with his son Syed Mahmood, to England, where he was awarded the `Order of the Star of India’ on August 06 by the British government. Travelling across England, he visited its colleges and was inspired by the culture of learning, established after the Renaissance. Sir Syed returned to India in the following year determined to build a "Muslim Cambridge” in India. Upon his return, he organized the "Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning” among Muslims. On December 26, 1870, Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed in an article written sometime in 1872 and re-printed in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of April 5, 1911:

I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli, but we aim to turn this MAO College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge. Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College. The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim.It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers (namaz) at all the five times. Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap…… bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a "liar" will be treated as an abuse and shall be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs.Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betel shall be strictly prohibited. No corporal or any such punishment shall be permissible as is likely to injure a student's self-respect. It will be strictly enforced that Shia and Sunni boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true.

To those, who says, don’t turn AMU into Madrassa and those who have given a name “Aligarh Millat University”, I feel pity for them studying in a University and are unaware of the mission & vision of its Founder.

Article mimics about burqa wearing women and offering five time congregational prayer, then what would you call to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who wears traditional Muslim outfit, had long beard & offer five daily prayers, an orthodox, then I salute them for redefining the term “Liberal”.

And they thought that throwing away `burqa’ (veil) is a sign of progress and modernism; women in `burqa’ are oppressed; then it is high time they change their mindset & prejudice regarding `burqa’ clad women. Many Western countries have banned `burqa’, but the women are coming forward to oppose this dictatorial rule and opposing it as much as possible. Would you still call it a forcible thing by male-chauvinistic society? Most of the women are wearing `burqa’ by choice and not by force. I am not denying the fact that extremism of any form is dangerous but it doesn’t mean that you will attack on the basic principles and teachings of Islam.

And what right do they have to think that wearing burqa is a sign of oppression and exposing her body is a sign of progress & modernism. I ask, rather, I must ask who has set these standards. Is it not a form of “racism” that you treat these `burqa’ clad women as inferior?

Opponents should keeping in mind that Aligarh Muslim University started its journey from the beginning as Madarsat-ul-Uloom, later MAO College and finally a Central University by an act of the Parliament; alas! after knowing all these facts people are saying don’t turn AMU into Madrassa. The institution whose foundations were laid upon the firm principles of Islam with an objective to impart modern scientific education, the aforementioned article seems to be ridiculous.

Sir Syed wanted MAO College to act as a bridge between the old and the new systems. His famous quote is that ‘a true Muslims is one who must have the holy Quran in one hand and the science in the other''. I wanted to discuss many more points but it’s better to cut it short and hence would like to conclude with this famous quote by Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru:

Sir Syed was an ardent reformer and he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking 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.

*Marghoob Mohsin is an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University. He graduated in Engineering from Zakir Husain College of Engineering & Technology (AMU) in 2011. He is now with Madaf Trading and Contracting Co. Ltd. in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Above views expressed on Facebook are personal to the author. He is available at https://www.facebook.com/mohsin.mechies
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