April 18, 2021

Europeans who founded Aligarh Muslim University

Tasveer Mahal, the former single theater of the city of Uttar Pradesh, is a Christian cemetery located 500 meters from the Aligarh Muslim University campus. Among the many tombs here is a summary of the historical connection that the AMU has with the European community. The inscription reads as follows: Born November 29, 1883, in Clevedon Somerset, he died in Aligarh on June 7, 1930, in memory of Eric Arthur Horn, Vice-Chancellor of the Muslim University.

Conceived by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in the late 19th century, AMU’s idea was to provide a Western education system among Muslims in India. Inspired by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Khan imagined a place in India where the British educational model could be followed. As a result, many Europeans, such as Horny, have been associated with the company since birth and helped grow it in its early days. When Aligarh Muslim University turns 100, it is a good moment to look back on these men, mainly from England.

Professor Shafi Kidwai, head of the mass communication department at AMU, believes that European teachers have played a key role in the overall personality development of students. “Sir Syed Ahmed Khane spent 17 months in the UK, having the first experience of the British education system. More emphasis was placed on Talim & Darbiyat,” he added.

These foreigners took care of the day-to-day operations of the company, coordinated with the management and ensured the optimal use of meager resources by keeping the account book neat. They fostered a healthy social life among the students with a boarding facility on campus. As was the case in English public schools at the time, it was practical to keep school students in separate and relatively small areas where they could be effectively managed by a resident warden.

Jama Masjid (Photo credit: Atif Maroof)

The importance of keeping students under the eyes of an Englishman appealed to parents. The English House, with Gardner Brown as its Housemaster, was a great success, receiving many applications, and denial of admission was common.

Theodore Morrison of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (the forerunner of the AMU) once noted that he regarded Aligarh as such a learning home, commanding the same respect of scholars in Berlin and Oxford, Leipzig and Paris. Some of them even tied the knot with their wives to take care of English classes on a part-time basis.

The journey began in 1875, when Henry George Imbe Sidones, a graduate of the Madrasa-ul-Uloom Oxford, was appointed the first headmaster at a salary of Rs.400. He was a competent administrator, and during his tenure the number of students increased from four to 272.

Although it was difficult for him to withstand the hot summers of India, Sidhon provided much needed inspiration to the company during his childhood. The Sidhons were instrumental in obtaining many figures, such as Syed Ahmed Kulusi Effendi (1877), Ambassador of Turkey, Sir Richard Koil, Governor of Bombay (1878), Lieutenant Governor of the United States Sir John Strachy (1880) and his successor Sir Alfred Lial (1880). 1883), to visit the company during his reign. The Madrasa-ul-Uloom was later converted into the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1877 and was founded by the Viceroy of India, Edward Robert Lytton Pulver-Lytton.

Although European princes brought with them cunning management skills and introduced modern subjects such as philosophy and science, they ensured that the community maintained good relations with the British authorities.

In 1884, Theodore Beckle Sidhon’s Debate Society was established to stimulate the process of discussion and exchange of ideas among students. Beck is a graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, President of the Cambridge Union and a member of the London County Council. It was during his tenure that the number of students in the college rose to 456, the first time a student had passed the MA examination in English. Law classes were also started during his reign, on December 29, 1891, by Judge Douglas Straight.

After Peck, Theodore Morrison doubled the number of students at MAO College. He also founded a riding club, probably the only one at an Indian university.

Mulana Azad Library (Photo Credit: Atif Maroof)

Theodore Morrison described college life and academics in his letters. In letters, he often addressed students and praised their activities. In 1892-93, a student named Kushi Mohammad received his BA degree in English and Persian with courses. During the four years he stayed in college, he played an important role in its intellectual life and composed Urdu poetry. Morrison addressed him as’ Longfellow ‘, the name he gave because of his 6’ 3 “height.

J.H. Of Pakistan, exited.

The college saw a complete growth with the introduction of full-fledged cricket and football clubs. Gerald Gardner started league matches at the Brown Football Club.

AAJ Nesbitt, L. Tipping, then joined Mayo College Ajmer, then Walter Raleigh, and later worked in Liverpool and Glasgow, where he helped strengthen English education at Morton College, Oxford, before becoming a professor of English. Even today, the English Department has an active Raleigh Literary Society.

AMU Students Union Hall (Photo Credit: Atif Maroof)

Viceroy Lord Curzon made another significant contribution to AMU. In 1901, he went to AMU and inspected the college and the boarding house. He expressed the desire to give gifts in any form to meet the immediate needs of the College and to enhance its progress. Morrison explained to him that there was no hospital within the college for students. The potential cost is estimated at around Rs 15,000. Lord Curzon offered Rs.1000 on the condition that the remaining Rs.14,000 be raised through similar donations from 14 persons. Within a short period of time, the Nawab of Bahawalpur raised Rs.17000 by giving Rs.1000.

Another notable figure was Major E. W. Tan, who founded the Department of Geography in 1924, making it the first independent geographical field on the entire subcontinent. Major Dan also started a geography association and started The Geographer in 1926, which is still in publication.

(Faisal Fareed is an AMU officer)