Aligarh University

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eo:Aligarh universitato

Victoria gate, a prominent building at the university
Victoria gate, a prominent building at the university

Aligarh Muslim University is located in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Northern India. It was the first institution of higher learning set up in British India for Muslims. Many prominent Muslim leaders, and Urdu writers and scholars of the subcontinent have attended the University. Arguably, no other educational institution in the 20th century has contributed more to the shaping of the history of the Indian sub-continent than Aligarh.

The University grew out of the work of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who in the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny felt that it was important for Muslims to gain a modern education and become involved in the public life and Government Services in India at that time. The British decisions to replace the use of the knowledge of Persian in the 1830s for Government employment and as the language of Courts of Law caused deep anxiety among Muslims of the sub-continent. Sir Syed then clearly foresaw the imperative need for the Muslims to acquire proficiency in the English language and "Western Sciences" if the community were to maintain its social and political clout, particularly in Northern India. He began to prepare the road map for the formation of a Muslim University by starting various schools. In 1864, the Scientific Society of Aligarh was set up to disseminate Western works into native languages as a prelude to prepare the community to accept "Western Education".

In 1875, Sir Syed founded the Anglo-Muhammadan Oriental College in Aligarh and patterned the college after Oxford and Cambridge universities that he had visited on a trip to England. His objective was to build a college in tune with the British education system but without compromising its Islamic values.

It was the first purely residential educational institution set up either by the Government or the public in India. Over the years it gave rise to a new educated class of Muslims who were active in the political system of the British Raj, and who would serve as a catalyst for change among not only the Muslim population of India, but of the entire subcontinent.

The college was originally affiliated with Calcutta University, and was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. Near the turn of the century it began publishing its own magazine, and established a law school. It was also around this time that a movement began to have it develop into a university to stand on its own. To achieve this goal, many expansions were made with more and more programs added to the curriculum. A school for girls was established in 1907. In 1920, the College was transformed into a fully-fledged University, and it was named Aligarh Muslim University. Its growth continued. The first chancellor of the university was female, Sultan Jahan Begum. In 1927, a school for the blind was established, and the following year, a Medical School was attached to the university. By the end of the 1930s, the Aligarh had also developed its Engineering faculty.

The Jami' Masjid, located on campus
The Jami' Masjid, located on campus

After the Independence of India in 1947, the charter of Aligarh was modified in 1951 to bring it in line with the secular constitution of India by enabling non-Muslims as well to be qualified as part of its governing structure. The University received many high-profile visitors such as Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India (for whom the Medical School was renamed), Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, the then Shah of Iran, and Saud bin Abdul Aziz, the then King of Saudi Arabia.Other than receiving international recognition, these high profile visits also earned the university contributions from across the globe, including the United States; a cultural complex with an auditorium was named after President John F. Kennedy in honor of his country's gift.

Currently the University has almost thirty thousand students, and over two thousand faculty members with over eighty departments of study. It continues to function as an important education institution in India, and draws many foreign students.

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