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Published in the 16-31 Oct 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Time to revive Aligarh Movement

Sir Syed Day is celebrated by Aligarians all over the world with great zeal and enthusiasm. People assemble and pay tribute to the founder of their Madar-e-Darsgah followed by a sumptuous dinner. Lots of money is spent on the function. No doubt it is a day of rejoicing for Aligarians.

On this occasion I must mention that the Aligarh Movement succeeded, to a great extent, in demolishing the foundation of medievalism, turning conservatism into enlightenment and superstition into reason. In short, it heralded the dawn of a new era for Indian Muslims. 

Now it is for us to consider the relevance of such a movement in the present circumtances. No doubt the torch-bearers shall again be Aligarians. Instead of lamenting on the past and losing all hope in the future we should sincerely make an effort for the revival of Aligarh Movement. Unfortunately no action plan has been envisaged and implemented for the educational upliftment of Muslims which was the core objective of Aligarh Movement.

Various surveys of the Govt. and non-govt. organisations established that Muslims are the poorest, the most illiterate, the most backward, the most deprived. The remedy for their ills lies only in education. As there is educational backwardness, poverty has been rising. The community is on the top with the highest percentage of persons living below poverty line. Due to apathy towards education, the dropout rate increases abruptly after primary education and only 5% Muslim children reach secondary school level. Unless illiteracy is eradicated poverty will haunt the community for long.

It is high time that Aligarians revive the Aligarh Movement. The AMU produced lakhs of graduates who should share Sir Syed’s zeal for the promotion of education among Muslims. They can establish schools for value based, qualitative religious and modern education and develop and promote existing schools. Children of the poor and downtrodden families should be adopted to promote learning. There is need to plan and launch a mass movement to educate Muslims and combat illiteracy with all the might at our disposal.

Primary education is the foundation of knowledge. It has a lot of impact on the future of our children. So emphasis should be given to imparting quality education from the primary level itself. It is desirable to invest as much money as possible at primary level learning. Good education at this level is the seed of a bright future. Moreover, 70 per cent school-going children belong to rural areas where grassroots learning and educational awakening is necessary. It is not a difficult task. Only strong will, hard work, a spirit of sacrifice and missionary zeal is required to achieve this. We must realise that our destiny lies in educating the community. If we don't act today, tomorrow would be very late.

Insha Allah, educational empowerment of Muslims will liberate them from the shackles of misery and poverty.

Irfan Ullah, Faizabad

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