Calling the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) not just an institution but a world in itself in his debut book, Mohammed Wajihuddin describes it in terms of its contribution and vision of blending both worldly education and moral values provided to the minority community of India.
The title “The Making of the Modern Indian Muslim” reflects the vision of its founder, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who worked as judge in a Small Causes court in 1867 for the British. The book chronicles how AMU has been a reflection of the intellectual and moral quests of India’s minority.
Aligarh became an intellectual cradle for the Muslim League and Pakistan. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, one of the architects of modern India, founded the university after the 1857 revolt. It proved to be one of the turning points in Sir Syed’s life. He clearly foresaw the imperative need for Muslims to acquire proficiency in the English language and modern sciences, if the community were to maintain its social and political clout, particularly in northern India.
The book records how Sir Syed’s religious beliefs were questioned, but on the other hand, it also documents how people broke boundaries drawn in the name of religion. They were led by a few eminent scholars who excelled in their fields. Dr Zakir Hussain’s words are truly resonant in this book as to how this institution stood fast and fought hard for its true values through the different phases of our national life.
The book’s everlasting impact on a young reader like me lies in the part that describes the struggles for any creative mind. All one needs is a sheer desire to succeed in meeting one’s goals set on the lines of the university founder’s dream of building not just an institution but a place which produces “modern” Muslims.
Aligarh Muslim University: The Making of the Modern Indian Muslim
By Mohammed Wajihuddin
HarperCollins India, pp. 256, Rs.399