Special Reports

VP Hamid Ansari inaugurates Shibli Centenary

By MG Correspondent

Azamgarh (UP): Stating that the Indian Muslims have failed in responding to modern challenges and adjusting to the changing times, Vice President of India Mohammad Hamid Ansari said here on 29 November that this is why they are exhibiting all the signs of social, educational and economic backwardness. He was inaugurating the 3-day Shibli Centenary celebrations.

Vice President Ansari delivering his address

VP Ansari said, “The past sixty-seven years show that we have not responded to the challenge fully. We have cited tradition and social custom as reasons for this. We have failed to walk in step with our fellow countrymen and women. We have, as a result, exhibited all the signs of social, educational and economic backwardness. Speaking on the Shibli Academy’s contribution, he said, for a century now, the Shibli Academy has contributed to scholarship, particularly in the field of Seerat-un Nabi, early Islamic history, Quraniyaat, Indian history with a focus on the medieval period, and Urdu, Persian and Arabic literature and literary personalities. The compendium of its publications is impressive, and is a tribute to the past and present scholarship.

Prof. Zilli presenting the sapasnama to the VP

Ansari used the occasion to advise the goverment to work for faster implementation of its schemes, especially those meant for the backwards. He said, “The objective of ‘Sab ka Sath Sab ka Vikas’ is valid and commendable; an essential requirement for this is a common starting point and an ability in all to walk at the required pace. This ability has to be developed through individual and social initiative, and governmental initiatives that fructify on the ground. Programmes have been made, the need of the hour is their implementation.” (Read the full text on page 11 in this issue).

VP Ansari inspecting rare manuscripts in the Shibli Academy library.

Darul Musannefin Shibli Academy was founded a century ago by the great historian and litterateur Allama Shibli Nomani in Azamgarh alongwith Shibli School which has now grown into Shibli National Degree College. Incidentally, the occasion is also the hundredth death anniversary of Allama Shibli.

The centenary was attended by a galaxy of scholars from across the country as well as from foreign countries like Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, US and Canada. A cause of disappointment was the absence of Pakistani scholars and academicians who were very keen to attend. The Union Home Ministry denied permission to 13 Pakistani scholars but one Pakistani scholar was able to attend because, being a judge of his country’s Supreme Court, he is exempt from visa regulations under SAARC agreements.

Director of Shibli Academy Prof. Ishtiaq Ahmad Zilli welcomed the chief guest and others saying that the grand-father of Vice President Ansari was Dr Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari whose boot was kissed by Allama Shibli Nomani when the former returned from his medical mission during the Balkan wars. Prof. Zilli thanked the Vice President for gracing the occasion and presented him a traditional “sapasnama”.

UP minister and MLA from Azamgarh district, Balram Yadav also welcomed the VP and guests. He suggested that the alumni of Shibli College should assemble in yearly functions like some other colleges and universities. Chairman of Darul Musannifin’s executive committee, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan offered vote of thanks.

Celebrated guests included judge of Pakistan Supreme Court Prof. Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Maulana Muhammad Rabey Hasani Nadwi (chairman of the AIMPLB), Dr Saeedur Rahman Azmi (principal of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama), Alam Badi Azmi (MLA), Wasim Ahmad (minister, UP), Professor Akhtarul Wasey (commissioner for linguistic minorities), Prof, Khalid Mahmood (vice chairman, Delhi Urdu Academy), teachers and students of Shibli College as well as many people from Azamgarh and nearby areas.

Academic sessions spread over three days were held in which Shibli, his academy. students and related subjects were discussed. Scholars stressed on translation of the academy’s books into English and Hindi languages as well as publication of new research in history and comparative religion and other issues thrown up by the new age. They also stressed that the government of India should come to the rescue of this national heritage which since Independence is surviving on contributions from ordinary citizens.

Prof. Zilli said in his concluding speech on the third day that the academy has contributed a lot during these past hundred years but we realise that a lot of Shibli Academy’s projects and plans are still unrealised. He said we want to publish books on the history of Islam in Europe, Indonesia and Malaysia as well as responding to the allegations made against Islam and Muslims these days.

Prof. Muhammad Al-Ghazali said that it is more important to author men than to author books and it goes to the credit of Allama Shibli that he prepared persons like Syed Sulaiman Nadwi and a whole group of scholars who continued his work after his death. He said there is no institution in Pakistan where the services of Shibli and his students are not discussed.

A number of new books were released on the occasion and a books exhibition as well as a musha’ira (poetic meet) were also organised.  

The celebrations had a special session on “Hindustani Sanjhi Sanskriti aur Allama Shibli” which was chaired by educationist Prof Devendra Raj Ankur, while Kashinath Singh, Mukesh Bhushan and Liladhar Mandloi were among speakers. “We need to inculcate the vision of Allama Shibli. He was a great thinker and had advocated Hindu-Muslim unity,” said Mukesh Bhushan while presenting a paper during the special session. “It is not the function of only Shibli Academy but of whole Azamgarh. We are proud of Allama Shibli,” said Ravinder Rai, a retired principal who attended the event. 

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 December 2014 on page no. 13

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