Banquet and Mushaira Mark Sir Syed's 192nd Birth Anniversary in New York
By Shaheer Khan, PhD
Foster City, CA

Glimpses of Sir Syed’s 192nd Birth Anniversary in New York

The Alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), one of the oldest and famous seats of learning in Asia, celebrated Founder's Day on October 17th, at Akbar Restaurant in Long Island, NY which happened to be the 192nd birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
The evening started with light refreshments. The formal program as always in the Aligarh tradition started off with a recitation from the Holy Qur'an which was presented by Ms.
Naila Ali. Mr. Faiq Siddiqi, well known TV personality in NY, was emcee for the program. Secretary of the association, Mr. Muzaffar Habib, presented the annual report and thanked the volunteers and sponsors. He stressed the need to keep the Aligarh tradition alive and spoke about what needs to be done to achieve the Association's goals. He presented a plaque to Mr.
and Mrs. Riaz Alvi for their services to the association. Dr. Masood Haider presented the obituaries of Dr. Abdul Bari (past President of the Association) and Haneef Akhgar Malihabadi (popular poet of the USA) who passed away this year. Mrs. Bari was presented a plaque to recognize the contributions of her late husband to the Association.

Mr. Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan was next honored with "Life Time Achievement Award" for his outstanding services to the continuation of the spirit of the Aligarh Movement and to the cause of higher education in Pakistan. From our long years of association with him we can certainly attest to the fact that his efforts have been exemplary, especially due to his association with the Aligarh Old Boy's Association, and establishment of Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology at Karachi.

Mr. Muzaffar Habib and Dr.
Masood Haider presented the award to Zakir Ali Khan carrying a cash prize of Rs. 1,00,000 and citation. Zakir Ali Khan expressed his gratitude for the award and donated the whole prize money to the welfare of AMU students.

The keynote address of Zakir Ali Khan was equally inspiring. He shared Aligarh anecdotes and wisdom that just had to be appreciated. Especially interesting was his emphasis on team work which resulted in the establishment of Sir Syed University. Mr. Khan said that the best tribute to Sir Syed is to take his educational movement forward.

The first part of the program ended with the traditional singing of the tarana or anthem of Aligarh Muslim University: "Yeh mera chaman hai mera chaman, Mein Apnae chaman ka bulbul hoon" written by Asrarul Haq Majaz Luchnawi and presented by Masood Farshori and group.

After dinner in the Mughlai tradition, the second part of the program. Saleem Kausar (Pakistan) conducted the proceedings starting with his congratulations on a full house.

The Mushaira, which originated in the courts of kings and patronized by the nobility, survived these institutions due to the links with the common man. It was completely brought into the public domain by the beginning of the last century. Mushaira, with a strong secular tradition, had been taking Urdu poetry to the masses, entertaining and educating them.
Its appeal cuts across caste, communal and linguistic barriers. It has contributed greatly in keeping the interest in the Urdu language alive and unifying the people through collective celebration of universal human values in today's society threatened by the culture of intolerance. The Aligarh Alumni Associations carefully select the poets from India and Pakistan and this time, seven poets enthralled the audience for almost four hours. Participating poets included Tahir Faraz (India), Abbas Tabish (Pakistan), Meraj Faizabadi (India), Waseem Barelvi (India), Zamin Jafri (Canada), Saleem Kausar (Pakistan), and Manzar Bhopali (India).

At the start, Tahir Faraz was invited to present his poetry. He proved to be a good opener and enthralled the audience with his poetry and melodious voice.

Aahat si mahsoos huyi hai aankho(n) ko Shayad koi Aansoo aaney walaa hai Since the stage was set for traditional ghazal recitation, Abbas Tabish was called on the stage. He was applauded when he said: Ek muddat se meri maa(n) nahi soyi Taabish Main ne ek baar kaha tha mujhey dar lagtaa hai He was followed by Manzar Bhopali who mesmerized the audience with his voice and couplets. Referring to his feelings he said: Jo meetha paani tha usko kharaa bana diya hai Hamein to duniya ne ek shararaa bana diya hai Zamin Jafri presented his humorous poetry. His hilarious couplets brought smiles all around when he recited, "Moulvi Sahab Jannat May": Mujhko Dar Hai Huro Gulma SubKo LarWaiGay Ye Yahan Bhi Ab Zati Nizam-e Mustafa LayeGay Ye To boost the Mushaira even more, Meraj Faizabadi was called in for his poetry.

Khuda Mahfooz rakhey aisi majboori se hum sub ko Jo majboori padosi ka janazah chor deti hai Saleem Kausar hosted the event successfully and he got a lot of praise when he presented his poetry: Tum bhala kya nayi manzil ki bashaarat dogey Tum to rasta nahi detey hamein chalney ke liye Last but not the least Waseem Barelvi was called in to recite, and he quickly emerged as one of the most successful poets: Ajab mizaaj hai in khaandaani logo(n) kaa Tabaah hokey bhi daryaa dili naheen jaati The sweetness of the Urdu poetry has so much power that it can force the people who are not very passionate about poetry to derive enjoyment from hearing it. This was quite evident in the Mushaira when majority of the attendees sat glued to their seats until the end of the Mushaira at 12.30 A.M.

On the occasion of Sir Syed Day Celebrations-2009, a new website ( on Sir Syed and his mission "Aligarh Movement" was launched by one of the flag bearers of Aligarh Movement, Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan.

The proceedings started with a brief introduction of the website and its developer, Mr. Afzal Usmani by this scribe. He emphasized the need of a website where introductory information and Sir Syed, Aligarh Movement and prominent Aligarians is easily accessible. He said that this new website will fill the vacuum and will inspire others to work in this direction. After his brief comments, he requested Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan to inaugurate the website by clicking the mouse on the link of the website.

While inaugurating the website, Mohammad Zakir Ali Khan expressed the need of such website which can fulfill the void in cyberspace to carry on the mission of Sir Syed and the Aligarh Movement. This is an era of Information Technology and people look for information on Internet because it's easy and accessible from anywhere on a click of a button. He congratulated Mr. Afzal Usmani, the brain behind this website and his team and extended his support to make this website a reference portal for all the information of Aligarh Movement to carry on the mission of Sir Syed.

Prof. Waseem Barelvi, famous Urdu poet, also spoke on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts for making the material on Sir Syed, his associates, and Aligarh movement available at one place.

While addressing the function via teleconference, Afzal Usmani expressed his gratitude to all those who helped him to make this website a reality. He also expressed his happiness over the inauguration of the website by Zakir Ali Khan. He also requested everyone to share any information of relevance for the website.

Dr. Shaheer Khan proposed the vote of thanks.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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