Allama Shibli Nomani & Prof. Thomas W. Arnold
By Afzal Usmani
When Allama Shibli returned to India after performing Hajj, he met Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who had just established M.A.O. College. Allama Shibli Nomani was offered and accepted a teaching position at the MAO College in 1882. He met Prof. Thomas W. Arnold in 1888 when Prof. Arnold joined MAO College staff from whom Allama Shibli learned first hand modern western ideas and thoughts. At the same time Prof. Arnold learned Arabic from Allama Shibli. They traveled together in 1892 to Syria, Egypt, Turkey and other countries of the Middle East and got direct and practical experience of their societies. Allama Shibli’s scholarship influenced Prof. Thomas Arnold on one hand and on the other he was influenced by Thomas Arnold to a great extent, and this explains the modern touch in his ideas.
When Prof. Arnold left MAO College and joined Government College Lahore, Allama Shibli wrote to his cousin brother and disciple Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi (MAO College graduate and later a Professor of Arabic at MAO College); “Arnold left, College is sad about his departure. He was given a warm farewell.”
In 1904, when Prof. Arnold was finally leaving India to join as the staff of the India Office as Assistant Librarian in Britain, he was given addresses at different places including at MAO College. For the said event Allama Shibli again wrote to Maulana Hamiduddin Farahi ; “ Mr. Arnold is leaving for Britain, MAO College Aligarh will give addresses to him, one of the address will be in Persian too. I have been requested to prepare that, but I am not good in Persian so please prepare one and send it to Prof. Abul Hasan, MAO College immidiately.I will prepare the Arabic one. Mr. Arnold will be coming to Aligarh on 26th February, 1904.”