KARACHI: The services rendered by Dr Sir Ziauddin Ahmed for education in the subcontinent were remarkable, said Senator Dr Asim Hussain. The university established with his name is also flourishing in the light of the Aligarh school of thought, he said at a seminar organised at Ziauddin Medical University (ZMU) to commemorate the 64th death anniversary of its ideological patron.
Dr Hussain, who is also the minister for petroleum and natural resources, was the keynote speaker.
“Dr Ahmed went on to become a member of the Indian Legislative Council and the vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University from a mere assistant master in Mohammedian Anglo Oriental College,” he said. “Dr Ahmed was also awarded Sir Isaac Newton Scholarship in 1904, which was a rare academic honour to be conferred to an Indian.”
Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq, the provincial education minister, said that Dr Ahmed’s services were exemplary especially so because he deterred the verdicts issued by conservative religious scholars of that time.
Haq told the audience that his grandfather, Pir Ilahi Bux – who also went to the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) for higher education, requested Dr Ahmed to become the vice chancellor for a university that Bux wanted to establish in Sindh. Bux later moved a draft bill for the Sindh University Act by the provincial legislative assembly, said Haq. “When the Sindh University was finally set up, Prof. ABA Haleem, from Aligarh University, was appointed by my grandfather as the first vice chancellor.”
Haq said that the late Benazir Bhutto believed that private institutions for higher education should be chartered by the Sindh government because soon the public-sector universities will not be able to cater to the needs of the young generation. “I received the honour to forward the draft bill for the establishment of the first ever private institution, Ziauddin University, in the Sindh Assembly,” said Haq. It paved the way for other institutions to be established, he added.
In his speech, the former vice chancellor of ZMU, Shahid Aziz Siddiqui, said that it would be unfair to Dr Ahmed if we discussed his services without remembering the tough times he lived in. “In those days, people were hunted and prosecuted for their beliefs. Mosques were locked up and there seemed to be no chances for Muslim renaissance,” he said.
Siddiqui said that Sir Syed Ahmed Khan took upon himself the task of bringing Muslims back into the mainstream society in a way that was consistent with new political realities. “Modern education was his prime focus,” he said. “Dr Ahmed was among those very few who carried the mission of Sir Syed forward as true followers of his ideology.”
Talking about Dr Ahmed’s personal achievement, Siddiqui said that he managed to bag the Cambridge Wrangler –the highest award available to a mathematics student by Cambridge University based on the result of an arduous forty-five hours exam.
Later, he moved to Germany and got a PhD in Astronomy from Goetingen University in 1906. “But eventually Dr Ahmed returned to Aligarh in the same year and devoted himself in serving his alma mater and the Muslims of the sub-continent,” Siddiqui said.
Dr Aijaz Fatima, the daughter of Dr Ahmed, told the audience how Dr Ahmed was as a father. “He took a lot of effort to educate his own family and the Muslims India,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2011.