New Delhi: The Department of History and Culture, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, organized the XXXIIIrd Dr. M. A. Ansari Memorial on "An Overview of Ottoman Archival Sources and their Relevance for Medieval Indian History". The lecture was delivered by Prof. N. R. Farooqi, Officiating Vice-Chancellor, University of Allahabad, at Edward Saeed hall, Jamia Millia Islamia. The lecture was presided over by Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia.
Prof Ahmad spoke eloquently about the significance of Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Ansari as a scholar of repute and drew attention to his contribution to the history of modern India. Besides Prof. Talat Ahmad, Prof. Rifaqat Ali Khan, retired professor and former Dean, Faculty of Humanities, was present on the dais along with Prof. Sunita Zaidi, professor of History and Dean, Faculty of Humanities, and Prof Rizwan Qaiser, Head of Dept, History and Culture.
Prof. Farooqi began his lecture by expressing his concern over the neglect of archival material on Ottoman history, which though not present in India is available in unbelievable volume in the Turkish National Archives, the “Archives of the Prime Ministry” which has about a 150 million documents in it today.
The relevance of Ottoman archival sources cannot be over emphasized in the light of Prof. Farooqi’s statement that “without Ottoman history, there can be no European history”. The Ottomans were involved with the Europeans for almost 400 years and a large number of European and American historians are using these archival materials but no Indian historian or Indian university seems to have woken up to this potential research area.
In the course of his lecture Prof. Farooqi provided several interesting examples like the letters that were written by Aurangzeb to the Ottoman rulers or the inventories of the gifts sent by Muhammad Shah to the Turkish sultans and how all this lies assiduously preserved in the Turkish Archives. He recounted details of how an all women’s Haj contingent, probably coordinated by a woman leader, had been sent to Mecca and Medina during Akbar’s time and that they had come back to India in 4 years.