The AMU in the Firmament of Future India
No country has undergone the changes in socio-political and subjugation pattern as much as the Indian Subcontinent. The downfall of the Mughal Empire, the desperate attempts of Indian factions to prevent British domination, the subjugation of British colonisation, the Freedom Struggle and the division and further subdivision of the Indian subcontinent with a tremendous blood bath and then the still-prevalent unrest in the countries of Indian subcontinent together with disunity, conflicts and quarrel between them, all these pose a great challenge to the people of the region in general and the citizens of the capable, talented and resourceful India, the largest democracy in the world, in particular.
The invitation, the establishment and the role that has been played by the Aligarh Muslim University in the town of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh- India, through all these past events to date is a clear indication of its importance and the potential it continues to have to play the most important role in future to bring peace, contentment and harmony to the region of South Asia.
It may seem a little boastful, but only to those who don't conceive how great illuminaries and persons of great sacrifice and integrity have changed the tide of history towards harmony and peace by channeling all the forces, even the wicked ones, for constructive and positive thinking and actions. Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Muhammad, Sir Syed, Matin Luther, Gandhi, Iqbal and Maudoodi made great sacrifices in thinking and acting upon the attainment of their cherished goals for the betterment of humanity.
Here we have the success story of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his Aligarh Movement, his education scheme, and his mobilisation for the establishment of an entirely unique and counter-current institution. His Education Movement was opposed with tooth and nail from every corner except for the help, cooperation and encouragement of his very few British friends and Indian companions of different classes and creeds.
Though, at the beginning, this scheme was designed for the most disillusioned, confused and degraded Muslim community in India in the last decade of the nineteenth century after the turmoil of the mass-killings by the British in 1857, basically it catered to the needs of the whole population of India in general and of North India in particular as it adopted the Indian culture of that time followed by all the people of different religions Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs & Christian alike. The Aligarh Muslim University attracted the persons of different ethnic group that desired for education, culture, courage and righteous in all works of life. The AMU because the training centre for youth that wanted to take the leadership of the country for freedom struggle. What a great amazement that many Hindu and Muslim students both learnt the skill and positive thinking, presentation of their viewpoints in the most logical and orderly manner and played leading role in Congress, Communist Party, Socialist-group, INA, Bharatiya Sevak Sangh and of course Muslim League after graduating from the Aligarh Muslim University. This shows the freedom of the school of thought to be followed after getting the education in such an enlightened University.
Sir Syed inculcated a new spirit, a new outlook, a new direction to the Muslims of India in general and the Aligarh Muslim University in particular. The AMU has a deep-rooted tradition which can be observed consistently throughout its history.
Firstly, its motto is ‘to think and decide yourself without caring as to what the society or the ancestors will think’. Secondly ‘take the pragmatic and realistic approach. Don’t be utopian on one side nor the opportunist on the other hand ready to yield to anyone’s pressure for your material benefit.
The history of the AMU reveals how strictly it adheres with the above two basic principles of dealings. Let us analyse the past and then in its light, suggest the role for the future.
The AMU from the very first day of its inception has taken care and responsibility of leading the Muslim community of India.
In its first phase, the AMU was the only institution in India which carried the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge, that is to think and express freely. From the very beginning, the AMU students, whilst studying as well as after graduation, were bold to think independently and take a decision as to what they thought was right. The first era of the AMU can be considered a pro-British era in which the modern education was taken very seriously. The AMU produced the brilliant scholars of western education.
In the second era of the efforts for the freedom of India, the AMU again took an independent view and from it emerged all the three trends of the politics of freedom. The Muslim nationalists, the Muslim League’s and the Progressive Communist groups all the three carried their activities side by side in the AMU.
After the unplanned and non-envisaged partition of India, that is, the establishment of the countries Pakistan and India, the AMU played a very important role in both countries - Pakistan and India, the two sub-territories of the subcontinent of India.
The Muslim League’s went to Pakistan and they played the role of establishing the homeland of Muslims. It was a great role they tried to play in Pakistan but unfortunately they could not succeed. The Aligarians who went to Pakistan are still trying to put Pakistan on the right track.
The Muslim Nationalists and the secular group of the AMU were not disheartened after the partition. They took an active role and carried on their efforts in different ways.
In the meantime, just a decade before the partition a new trend was developed in the western-educated class of Muslims by the writings of Maulana Maudoodi (r). The AMU, being sensitive to any call warmly welcomed the idea of Maudoodi and a new class of Islamic-oriented Muslims emerged both in India and Pakistan, coordinating with the Muslim League in Pakistan and Muslim Nationalists in India. This movement of Islamic minded group was strengthened by the simple but effective movement of Tabligh by another great worker of Islam, Maulana Ilyas (r).
The AMU then had the trend of Islamic thinking and working of Islam since 1950 to 1970 about two decades. The Indian politics for 25 years since independence was quite stable and the Congress enjoyed the majority party to form the governments. As time passed on, Hindu communalism and in its reaction Muslim communalism came to the upper surface and for the last twenty five years there is political unrest in the country.
Unfortunately the leadership of the Muslims was unsure what strategy should be adopted for the peaceful living of Muslims in Hindu-majority India specially when a separate homeland was assigned for Muslims in Pakistan. Muslims in India could not live with the idea of the two-nation theory in their subconsciousness. The only thing which the Muslims and their leaders could think of was to fight for their rights as minorities. The Congress, the ruling party could not live upto its motto of multiculturalism and work for multi-religious society. Unfortunately Hindu communalism became dominant after the involvement and the dominance of the BJP in the political arena.
The background has been given to show the present situation of chaos and confusion. The leaders, the masses, the intelligentsia, the Islamic workers all are confused as to what step should be taken. Naturally the AMU is not playing any important role as the goal is not set and the destination is not clear. Having Muslim nationalism in their subconsciousness, the Indian Muslims still think in terms of the future of Muslims and not think deeply about the future of Islam. The result is that the totally unlslamic ideology of secularism is preferred over the religious Hinduism. How much distorted Hinduism may have become from the original teachings of the prophets who were sent to India, still there are morals, concepts about divinity, reverence for the messengers of God in Hinduism which is far better than the naked Western secularism with total refusal of God, and total freedom of man being sovereign to formulate his code of conduct without any guidance from God.
There is a need of taking a bold step by Indian Muslims. Again the education and leadership for the new and correct outlook should be taken by the AMU. Following should be the clear manifesto for the Indian Muslims propagated and acted upon by the AMU.
Muslims are not a group of any nation, country or ethnicity. They belong to the ideology of Islam and only those who adhere with Islam in theory and practice are Muslims in the real sense. Islam is not the property of born Muslims. The Holy Quran is the Word of God for all the humanity and the life of the Prophet Muhammad(s) is the model for the whole of humanity to follow. If a born Muslim has understood Islam and is willing to live for Islam, it is his/her duty to make the truth of Islam known to all his/her country fellow persons, to all Indians. A true advocate of Islam should not discriminate between the so called Muslims and the so called Hindus. For the daawah work of Islam, these denominations don’t mean anything. All human beings are required to listen to Islam, to think about it and then, being convinced about its truthfulness, must act upon it.
The Aligarh Muslim University, if it really means to exist honourably in India with the blessings of Allah, has to undergo a complete overhauling. First and foremost, it's task should be to teach Islam in each and every discipline, science, medicine, engineering and humanities etc. Without knowing Islam, the students and staff cannot determine their line of action. Secondly the AMU should concentrate on the development of India. There are many universities that can produce engineers, doctors and scientists but without proper training regarding the principles of living, without becoming aware of basic values, and without becoming the persons who can honestly, sincerely and positively build up the country on sound footings.
If the products of the AMU become true models of Islam, they will be honoured, respected even followed by the Hindus once they prove that they are not communal and they are not going to take the sides of the present Muslim community. They should be just and honest in all their dealings. They should have full
knowledge of the Quran, the ideal life of the Prophet(s) and the detailed teachings of Islam. Then they should act upon Islam in every walk of life. They should boldly preach Islam among the Hindus and Muslims alike and try to bring all of them towards Islam, not necessarily by converting and changing names. The main thing is to get all the Indians realise that Islam is the solution for all their social, political, economic and ethical problems.
It is the task of the AMU to establish the supremacy of the ideology of Islam and to convince all the Indians that Islam is not anything new but is true Hinduism, true message of the prophets and pious people of India. Islam is the real message of Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and others whom you respect and worship. Islam totally condemns any fight between Hindus and Muslims. The AMU should completely detach itself from the communal conflict between Hindus and Muslims. The AMU should neither be interested in Congress or BJP Dalits or Milli Majlis etc. The AMU has to convey its message to all and persuade them to correct themselves in the light of Islam.
It is the wrong adherence with dirty politics of the day. The Indian politics and politicians are the real hurdles in the path of peace and love. In the heat of the heart no Indian Hindu or Muslim is communal. The play of dirty politics and the vested interests of the politicians create communalism and hatred. Hence the time is now on to finish harping the melodies of politics. We all have to work for making each and every Indian educated in real sense and come for the socio-economic development of the whole community. To preach Islam does not mean toconvert to Islam. It means to convince the moral values to people and the servitude to the One Almighty in the correct perspective. Islam also teaches religion pluralism ie. To live with other religions without hatred against anyone in the world.
It looks very simple but when comes the question of acting upon this policy, the AMU should have the courage, wisdom and patience of the Prophet Muhammad(s). How he changed the life of Quraish - the idol-worshippers of his own country. The true Muslims of India can also do the same if they change themselves and then be willing to sacrifice all their individual and collective rights.
One word of caution! The AMU has to avoid the two extremes in which the Indian Muslims are at present motivated. One is to worry about the rights and demands of the Muslim community and always fight with the government and other agencies to gain maximum benefit for the Muslim Ummah. This is wrong. This will lead to hatred, and rivalry and help in the establishment of Hindu State. The other is to pacify the Muslim, condemn them and praise the government and its policies. This is wrong because of the opportunistic trend and getting some personal benefits at the destruction of the Muslim community.
The AMU has not to flatter the government and its agencies and should not beg any favour from them nor should it criticise the political regimes whoever they may be. For an ideal group of the followers of Islam it is redundant. A true Muslim should love all humanity and care for their success both in this world and the hereafter.
I sincerely believe that AMU India is the only place where the seeds of love, peace, prosperity for the entire subcontinent could be sown. It is the place where the seeds can sprout and develop in the form of a huge tree under whose shade the subcontinent may find tranquility, peace, love and cooperation.
But, and it is large BUT that Aligarh is allowed to play its role. Provided, and it is a strong proviso, that Aligarh itself rises to play this vital role in the future India. It is very unfortunate that still, even today there hangs a cord of mutual suspicion and misunderstanding between Aligarh and the ever-changing governments of India. We can be frank, even at the cost of being misunderstood that practically nothing has been done to remove the suspicions and misunderstandings till today. Aligarh for example
Aligarh, for example, suspects that the government is bent upon, by hook or by crook, to destroy the Aligarh character by making intrusions, explicitly or implicitly, to change the Aligarh complexion, by reducing to minority the number of Muslim students, teaching staff and the administrative staff, further by severing its relationship with the Muslim community of India at large. The Government of India suspects that Aligarh is a mini-Pakistan, that is the hotbed of machinations against the integrity and safety of the country, that it is an arsenal for carrying out communal activities, rebellious tendencies, and all types of anti-national efforts and striving.
I very sincerely urge that this atmosphere of mistrust that is charged with mutual suspicion, distrust, discontentment and misunderstanding must be cleared away.
This mutual distrust is neither in the best interest of Aligarh nor it serves any useful purpose for the government of India. I humbly and very emphatically appeal to all the patriotic Indians Muslim and Hindus to come forward and imprint in the minds of those Government Authorities who deal with Aligarh that being the more stronger of the two, they must show magnanimity towards Aligarh. Even a show of kindness, of leniency, of soft heartedness would be more than enough to win Aligarh over to their side. It is not enough that Aligarh has been declared as one of the centrally governed Universities of India or that the Government provides funds for Aligarh. A change of heart and attitude is what is the need of the time. It would do no good to the Government or Aligarh that it is ruled as a police state.
On the other hand, and more importantly, the Aligarians, especially we, living in Western countries, have this solemn duty towards our Alma-mater that we go to the students studying at Aligarh, contact the teaching staff there, meet the administrative staff and impress upon their mind the futility, the unreasonableness, the sheer nonsense of unnecessarily and without any reseanable cause , nurturing, creating, promoting distrust again the Government of India. Tell them with sympathy and love, but firmly and frankly that being Indians, being the sons of the soil, being the part and parcel of Indian nation, and being the successors of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan you as a Muslim must contribute towards the development, upliftment and advancement of not only Muslim community, but the Indian nation at large. We should hammer upon their minds that they should prove to be efficient and to be useful and highly qualified and indispensable for the progress and advancement of India. Otherwise they would not only lag behind, but would be discarded and the world would crush them as ants. If they prove ? to be efficient, highly qualified and indispensable, no amount of discrimination could seal their fate.
The influential Muslim scholars, religious and political leaders all should stop using the AMU and Muslim masses for their vested interests: They should humbly serve the community and by dirty politics they should earnestly work for the socio-economic and intellectual uplift of the Muslims.
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