Anjuman-i-Islam wins prestigious Sir Syed Award


Anjuman-i-Islam wins prestigious Sir Syed Award
Anjuman-i-Islam wins prestigious Sir Syed Award

By Mohammed Wajihuddin | Mumbai

Just a street separates The Times of India Building from Anjuman-i-Islam campus in South Mumbai. I often leave my office and stroll down to the ground outside Anjuman’s iconic building to take a break or walk up the heritage structure’s wooden, spiral stairs to reach the first floor Karimi Library.

With framed photographs of several literary giants and stalwarts of our freedom struggle on its walls, stained glass windows and thousands of books in the shelves, the library’s spacious Hall is an intellectual’s delight. It also hosts social, literary and cultural meets. Among the giants who look down from the high wall is Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898), founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

Anjuman is justifiably delighted at winning this year’s Sir Syed Excellence National Award by AMU. The Award which carries a cash of Rs 1 lakh and a citation will be presented on Sir Syed Day (October 17) in an online ceremony. In a letter to Anjuman’s President Dr Zahir Kazi, Professor Shafey Kidwai, chairman, Department of Mass Communication and member in charge, Public Relations Organization, AMU, wrote:

“Greetings from Aligarh Muslim University. It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that the Aligarh Muslim University has decided to confer its prestigious annual Sir Syed Excellence national award on your highly esteemed organization, Anjuman-i-Islam, for its exemplary efforts for propagating education among Muslims and other marginalized sections of society. The award carrying a cash prize of 100,000 rupees and a citation will be presented on Sir Syed Day (October 17) in an online ceremony. May I request you to send me your consent as the university feels proud to acknowledge the awe-inspiring efforts of Anjuman set up by Tayyabji more than a century ago that greatly empowered Muslims educationally and culturally.”

Anjuman is one year older to AMU as it was founded in 1874 while Madrasatul Uloom which later became Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College was founded in 1875. MAO College morphed into AMU in 1920.

It is quite relevant that in its centenary year AMU is awarding its annual Sir Syed Excellence National Award to Anjuman, an institution of national importance.

Beginning with one school in 1874 by a group of dedicated individuals led by Badruddin Tayyabji, third president of Indian National Congress and first Indian acting chief justice at the Bombay High Court, Anjuman has expanded exponentially in the last 146 years.

In February 1874, Badruddin Tayyabji, his elder brother solicitor Qamruddin Tayabji, philanthropist Nakhuda Mohammed Ali Roghe, social worker Munshi Ghulam Mohammed, and a few others met at the Tayabji house and decided to establish a school. At that meeting, Roghe donated Rs 10,000 while Tayyabji gave an initial fund of Rs 7,500.

Anjuman’s website informs: “Started with one school and today it has more than 80 (now it is more than 90) institutions from pre-primary schools to graduate and postgraduate level including, College of Engineering, Polytechnics, Unani Medical College, College of Education, College of Commerce & Economics, Institute of Management Studies, College of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, College of Home Science, School of Pharmacy and School of Architecture. It has a high reputation of being a Muslim minority organization catering to the needs of more than 1.10 lakh students from various communities under its umbrella.”

The website continues: “At present, the prime focus of Anjuman is towards quality education, transparency, growth to become a world-class Educational Social Service organization. Anjuman has thus established an Integrated Technical Campus in Navi Mumbai having faculties in Engineering, Management, Pharmacy, Architecture and Computer Applications (Information Technology). Besides, Anjuman-i-Islam provides several services and facilities to the society through various programmes and also manages 15 trusts.”

A nationalist organisation, some of the people associated with Anjuman were in the forefront of the freedom struggle. “Since it was founded by people of stellar nationalistic and secular fervour, Anjuman has imbibed those values and is committed to imparting quality education, discipline and service to the nation,” said Dr Kazi in an earlier conversation with me.

A jewel in Anjuman’s crown undoubtedly is its Integrated Technical Campus at Panvel. A couple of years ago, I visited this campus and was delighted to see the planned way with which the massive campus has been created. Built with the generous endowment funds of late perfume baron and philanthropist Abdul Razzak Kalsekar, this campus is a testimony to Anjuman’s commitment to excel in the fields of science and technology. It is moving with the times with its great tradition intact.

“Although all the past presidents like barrister Akbar Peerbhoy, freedom fighter Moinuddin Harris and Dr Ishaq Jamkhanawala contributed to Anjuman’s growth, but the current president Dr Zahir Kazi has developed it phenomenally,” said Mumbai Congress’s vice-chairman and Anjuman’s well-wisher Mudassar Patel.

Anjuman’s eminent alumni include thespian Dilip Kumar, actor-writer Kader Khan, producer-director Ismail Merchant, cricketers Salim Durrani, Ghulam Parkar and Wasim Jaffer, Dr A R Undre, Dr M A Patankar, politicians A R Antualy and Majeed Memon, and several corporate leaders.

But for the pandemic-induced restrictions, Dr Kazi would have travelled to Aligarh to receive the prestigious award for Anjuman at a glittering function that AMU holds every year as part of Sir Syed Day (October 17) celebrations. Hopefully, this ward will propel and encourage Anjuman to strive more. One hopes it becomes a university in the coming years.

Mohammed Wajihuddin is a senior assistant editor at The Times of India.


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