Akhtarul Wasey, a distinguished academic, feels that his education at AMU laid the foundation for all his professional successes

I was born and brought up in Aligarh. The journey at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) started in 1961 and ended in 1977 (AMU offers primary and secondary education besides higher studies.) When the time came to join the University, my father told me that he was not in a position to afford my studies. But I wanted to study and I needed Rs.90 for my admission — which I did not have. My mother gave me her gold earrings and I sold them for Rs.60. The remaining Rs.30 were paid by some kind-hearted teachers and the Duty Society Coaching. This is how I got admitted to the Bachelors programme. Since I was a day scholar, that much money was enough to survive for one year. Later, I started to receive Rs.30 per month as scholarship. Then, when I was in Masters, the scholarship amount went up to Rs.100 per month.

To help make ends meet I worked for a lock factory, and in the morning before going to college I would deliver the locks to the factory.

AMU was always known for catering to the educational needs of students. The reputed institution also ensures economic support without compromising the dignity of the needy. I was a debater throughout my school days, and, in 1963 I received the All India running trophy from Dr. Zakir Husain at Islamic Inter College, Etawah. In seventh standard, I presented my debate on the protest of communal rights and for this I was issued a warrant.

I have great respect for the contribution Sir Syed Ahmad Khan has made to the field of education by establishing AMU which promotes modern secular education. I have never forgotten the most significant sentence of Syed Ahmad: “The nature is the work of God and the Quran is the work of God”.

AMU is not meant for education alone, but basically for personality building. It gives you a sense of confidence, courage and concentration. It converts you from an introvert to an extrovert.

Every year on, October 17, Sir Syed Day, I recall the contributions of Sir Syed. He was a visionary with a mission.

In December 1977, I joined Jamia Millia Islamia as a research fellow, and in December 1978 I was appointed as a lecturer. In September 1979, I joined AMU as a lecturer in Islamic Studies for around 10 months and resigned after getting a permanent job at Jamia Later I was lucky to be selected as a full-fledged professor at the young age of 38 in 1991.

I was the first person to be honoured with a Padma Shri in 2013 in the field of Islamic Studies in India and the first ever in the Jamia Millia Islamia teachers’ community.