After failure of the first war of independence in 1857, Muslims in India became a shattered lot. They were psychologically broken. At that time Sir Syed Ahmad Khan embarked upon his educational mission and established MAO College in 1875 which later was incorporated into the Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. Though Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his associates had established only a College but their Aligarh Movement lighted a lamp of education and knowledge.
After passing away of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan a group of enlightened Muslims taking initiative from Sir Syed constituted Bazm-e-Iqbal at Agra with an aim to develop Urdu language and teaching. They established a distance educational institution named as Jamia Urdu at Agra in 1939.
Jamia Urdu passed from different stages and later an Executive Committee was constituted wherein Lt. Col. Nawab Dr. Sir Alhaj Hafiz Mohammad Ahmad Saeed Khan Sahab Bahadur of Chhatari, became its Rector and Mr. Right Hon’ble Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru Chancellor while Dr. Maulvi Abdul Haq became Pro-Chancellor. Alhaj Maulvi Abul Hasan became Vice Chancellor and Khan Bahadur Akhtar Adil Pro-Vice Chancellor. Pandit Rajnath of Agra held the position of Treasurer and Mr. Mohammad Tahir Farooqui was appointed as the Registrar.
Soon the news of establishment of Jamia Urdu spread in far corners. Various educational institutions including Madarsas like Madrasa Alia, Agra, Taleemi Board, Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu, Bayawar, Darul Uloom Hameediya, Bhopal, Idara-e-Sadia, Tonk, Darul Uloom Islamia, Jaipur and Madrasa-e-Islamia, Amroha launched coaching classes for preparing students for Jamia Urdu examinations.
In 1947 when Tahir Mohammad decided to migrate to Pakistan, the burning question cropped up where should Jamia Urdu may be located?
In the meantime Syed Zahiruddin Alvi came in forefront and in 1948 Jamia Urdu was transferred to Aligarh. Jamia Urdu shifted in the present building on January 8, 1960.
Syed Zahiruddin Alvi was a lecturer in Urdu Department of Aligarh Muslim University and was associated with a number of administrative activities. Being the Manager of Aligarh Magazine, he was quite familiar with the administrative and financial affairs.
The first meeting of Executive Committee in Aligarh was held on September 13, 1948 at which the following office bearers were elected. Former President of India, Dr. Zakir Husain became the Vice Chancellor and Professor Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Shifaul Mulk Hakeem Abdul Lateef was elected Treasurer and Syed Zahiruddin Alvi Registrar. Besides these, Nawab Ahmad Saeed Khan of Chhatari became Rector and Mr. Shanti Saroop Bhatnagar Chancellor while Pandit Rajnath Kunzru became Pro-Chancellor. In view of his selfless services and dedication, Syed Zahiruddin Alvi was given the complete charge of Jamia Urdu.
Although, Jamia Urdu’s status was that of an examination body only, but to give it a stature of a University, it was decided to organize its annual Convocation and some big personalities be invited to deliver the convocation address. In 1954, the first convocation of Jamia Urdu was organized in the Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union Hall and Khwaja Ghulamus Saiyyedain delivered the convocation address. In 1955, Gopinath Amn, 1956 Mohammad Tahir Farooqui, 1957 Rajnath Kunzru, 1958 Dr. Syed Mehmood, 1959 Maulana Hifzur Rahman, 1961 Dr. Gopal Reddy, 1963 Acharya Jugal Kishore, 1964 Pandit Anand Narain Mulla, 1965 Syed Masood Hasan Rizvi, 1966 Malik Ram, 1967 Mustafa Rasheed Shervani, 1969 Mohd. Yunus saleem, 1970 Hayatullah Ansari, 1971 Syed Abid Husain, 1972 Syed Sajja Zaheer and in 1973 Rasheed Ahmad Siddiqui presented the convocation address.
Jamia Urdu, a minority institution, which owns the credit of being mother of distance education system in India, is scaling new heights of success without any kind of government help or assistance. It awards degrees and certificates every year without any discrimination on the ground of sex and religion. Since its inception in 1939, it has proved that Urdu is not the language of Muslims only, but it is the language of India and every person who loves India will love Urdu and lend support to Jamia Urdu.
Presently Jamia Urdu Aligarh is running Ibtedai equivalent to class VIII, Adeeb equivalent to high school, Adeeb Mahir two year course, equal to intermediate, Adeeb Kamil three year course equlent to graduation, Adeeb Fazil two year course equivalent to masters, Moallim-e-Urdu equivalent to BTC., Diploma in Urdu journalism & Mass Communication course through its 1891 centres with a student population of 78000. Jamia Urdu Aligarh has tried to link Urdu language with employment also.
The future of Jamia Urdu is aptly reflected by its glorious past. It did not limit itself to the award of degrees only; rather it associated every distinguished personality of India in some way or other. However, unfortunately it remained out of sight of government bigwigs, may it be the pre or post independence era in Indian history.