Muhammad Shibli Nomani (Jun 1857-Nov 1914)

Born in a village of Azamgarh (UP), Shibli Nomani enjoys a unique place in the annals of history. An eminent poet, a literary scholar and essayist, a visionary educationist, who in order to reform the “Mullahs”, pioneered to unite the occidental and oriental knowledge in “Madarass”.

He was closely associated with Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and started teaching at Aligarh College at an age of 25. He was appointed Professor of Persian and Arabic and served the institution for 12 years. Here, he became associated with Prof. Thomas W. Arnold and learned firsthand modern / western thoughts. Some of his students at Aligarh who were to become the mentors of the nation are Abul Kalam Azad, Saiyid Sulaiman Nadvi, Muhammad Ali Jauhar & Zafar Ali Khan.

He realized the need of modern education for the “Ulemas” and cofounded “Nadwat al-Ulema”, an association of Scholars in 1894 in Lucknow. This was an effort to bring about the reconciliation of eastern and western learning of Deoband and Aligarh. In 1898, the Nadwa founded a madrasa, the Darul Ulum, with the intention of incorporating the best of Islamic and western learning in its curriculum, in order to produce a new breed of educated “Ulema”. Steps were taken to promote the study of English, Mathematics, Hindi and Sanskrit. The task of translating the Holy Qur’an into English was undertaken.

Shibli Nomani was amongst those who first drew the attention of Muslims towards the incorrect and mischievous writings of British scholars in history books in order to disparage Islam and Muslims. To correct the record of history, he concentrated on Islamic scholarship and dissemination of biographical and historical writing in Urdu.