9th September 1920: The Anglo-Oriental College of Aligarh was converted into the Aligarh Muslim University


On 9th September 1920 the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (MAO College) of Aligarh was converted into the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The main campus of the AMU is located in Aligarh and two functioning off campus centres are located in Malappuram and Murshidabad.


The MAO was the brainchild of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who after the First War of Indian Independence in 1857, thought it was imperative that Muslims train for Government jobs and prepare for further training in British Universities. Sir Syed was assisted in the creation of the MAO by Raja Jai Kishan.


In 1842 the British decided to replace Persian for government jobs and since this was an important language of the Court of Law, this caused a lot of distress among Muslims. Sir Syed thought it important for Muslims to be fluent in English and the sciences if their community wanted to maintain its influence in India (especially in the North). 


In preparation of the foundation of a Muslim University, Sir Syed began by starting schools. The Scientific Society of Aligarh was established in 1864 to translate western books into Indian languages. This was also the commencement of the introduction of Western education in India.


Financial support for the funding of the MAO was provided by Sir Sultan Mahommed Shah, the Aga Khan III. In 1857, Sir Syed founded the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh and devised the college after the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which he had been to on a trip to England. Sir Syed’s vision was to establish a college which was in sync with British education, while retaining its Islamic identity.


The MAO was the first exclusively residential institution founded either by the Government or by the public of India. Over the years the college went on to create educated Indian Muslims who contributed to the political offices of the British in colonial India. Viceroy, Lord Curzon praised the university and the work it was doing greatly.


Initially, the MAO was affiliated with the Kolkata University and was later transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. By the end of the century the MAO had started its own magazine, The Aligarian and had also established a law school.


By this time a movement had begun within the college to convert the MAO into a university. To achieve this, the MAO began by adding more programs to the curriculum and a school for girls was also opened in 1907. On 9th September 1920 the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College became the Aligarh Muslim University.


Sultan Shah Jahan Begum was the first Chancellor of the University. A school for the blind was started in 1927 and a year later, a medical college was established in the university. By the end of the 1930’s, an engineering faculty was added to the university.


The AMU campus is spread over 467.6 hectares in the city of Aligarh. The campus is dotted with Islamic as well as contemporary architecture. The AMU offers more than 300 courses and attracts students from all over the world, like West Africa and South East Asia. Some courses even have places reserved for students from the SAARC and Commonwealth countries. The university is open to everyone irrespective of caste, creed, religion or gender.


Apart from academic, the AMU also provides students with sports facilities, such as football, cricket, basketball, tennis, swimming and horse riding.


The AMU has around 30,000 students, 1,400 teachers and 6,000 non-teaching staff on its payroll. The university also has 12 faculties in 95 departments, 5 institutions and 13 centres, 18 halls of residence with 73 hostels. The AMU also has five high schools, one for the visually challenged and two senior secondary schools for boys and girls. The university also provides housing facilities for teachers and students.


Some of the notable alumni of the Aligarh Muslim University are:

  • Zakir Hussain (Former President of India)
  • Mohammad Hamid Ansari (Current Vice-President of India)
  • Raja Rao (English novelist and short story writer)
  • Dhyan Chand (Hockey wizard and Olympian)
  • Naseeruddin Shah (Hindi film actor)
  • Syed Mahmood Naqvi (Scientist)
  • Tahir Mahmood (Member, Law Commission of India)


Also on This Day:


1850: Bhartendu Harish Chander, poet and dramatist was born.


1915: Jatindranath Mukherjee, alias Bangha Jatin and his companions fought a battle with the British police at Kaptipada on the banks of the Buri Balang River in Orissa.


1943: Four youths were hanged for instigating revolt amongst the Indian Army in the Madras area.

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