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Sir Syed tried to save the Indian society from breaking: Prof Talat Ahmad
At a time when Indian society was on the verge of collapse, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan tried to protect it and save it from breaking, viewed Prof Talat Ahmad, Vice Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI).

He was speaking at the inaugural session of a three-day international seminar (2-4 February, 2018) on modern day relevance of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, founder of the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which later became the famous Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

The inaugural session of the seminar, jointly organized by Department of Urdu, JMI and the National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language on the occasion of bicentennial celebrations of the nineteenth century Muslim educationalist and reformist Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898), was held at the auditorium of Faculty of Engineering, JMI on Friday, 2 February, 2018.

Sir Syed's contribution holds great significance for us and especially for the field of education, the VC said adding that Jamia, in fact, was a part of AMU. Another important contribution of Sir Syed is the idea of Hindu-Muslim unity, he said.

In his keynote address Prof Iftekhar Alam Khan, former Director of Sir Syed Academy, AMU, extensively quoted historian William Dalrymple and others to bring home the point that Sir Syed's educational movement was the result of his vision and farsightedness. His views of the mundane and religious issues were quite distinct wherein he made it clear that one must not unnecessarily bring one's religion while dealing with worldly affairs. Rather one should try to find a path where this dichotomy could be avoided. For Sir Syed, it even served one's faith better, said Khan.

Renowned Urdu scholar of France Prof Alain Desoulieres made some terse comments about Sir Syed's view of education, his take on religion in the light of views of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and, Sir Syed's own criticism of French orientalist Garcin de Tassy (1794-1878). In his detailed paper presented on February 3, Desoulieres termed Sir Syed as an all-round person who left impressions on all spheres of life and who provided new directions in varied domains of religion, culture, politics, philosophy, history, poetry, literature, journalism. He has been "the tallest figure with an encyclopedic knowledge the like of whom the eastern culture has not produced during the last two hundred years", said Desoulieres.

Prof Wahajuddin Alvi, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Languages, JMI called Sir Syed the mujaddid (revivalist) of his time but of a different kind. For Alvi Sir Syed dealt with Indian history, culture, religion and customs with a new approach making them relevant to the contemporary challenges and realities and to issues which are still relevant.

On the final day of the seminar, noted literary critic Prof Shamim Hanafi remarked, "A major part of Sir Syed's success in the current times lies in his scientific approach and rationality".

Because of the meaning and efficacy of his mission Sir Syed continues to be an ideal whose relevance is unquestionable even today. In the presidential address of the final day Prof Siddiqur Rahman Kidwai observed that challenging the negative values of his times remains the greatest contribution of Sir Syed. He built a new structure on the foundations of old values and legacies.

In his welcome note Prof Shehpar Rasool, HoD, Department of Urdu, JMI highlighted the significance of the papers stating that they will shed light of different aspects of the life of Sir Syed when published in the form of a book. Dr Khalid Mubashshir compered the session.

Around 20 papers were read on different aspects of the life and works of Sir Syed by senior academicians and research scholars. About half a dozen books written by faculty members and research scholars of the university's Urdu Department (Prof Kausar Mazhari, Dr Nadim Ahmad, Ghazal Fatma, Dr Nausheen Hasan) were also lunched on this occasion besides unveiling the current issue of its quarterly journal Armughan. The programme convener, Prof Ahmad Mahfooz called the seminar meaningful and termed all the papers relevant.

Prof Qazi Ubaidur Rahman Hashmi, Prof Quddus Jawed, Prof Altaf Ahmad Azmi, Muzaffar Hussain Syed, Prof Mohammad Zakir, Prof Anis Ashfaq presided over the proceedings of different sessions which were attended by renowned literary figures including dramatis Jawed Danish (Canada), Maryam Sikandar (London), Prof Khalid Mahmood, Prof Zafar Ahmad Siddiqui, Prof Ishaq Ahmad, Prof Iqtidar Mohammad Khan, Prof Mazhar Mehdi, Prof Ali Ahmad Fatmi, Prof Shahnaz Anjum, Dr Mohammad Sohrab, Prof Durga Prasad, Asrar Jaamayee, Dr Shama Afroz Zaidi, Dr Umair Manzar, Prof Shahzad Anjum, Dr Noman Qaisar, Dr Rehman Musawwir, Dr Adil Hayat, Dr Sarwarul Hoda, Dr Rasheed Ashraf Khan, Dr Naushad Manzar, Dr Syed Tanvir Hussain, Tasneem Kausar, Dr Mohammad Adam.

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