Irfan Habib: The Pioneer of History
Irfan Habib wrote in ‘Problems of Marxist historiography’ that “we might state we know more about India’s past than Marx did without being overly modest.” He has been a history professor at the Department of History at AMU from 1969 to 1991. He is a very well-known ancient and mediaeval historian of India. And in 2007, same university appointed him as an Emeritus Professor. He comes from the Marxist school and has worked in this subject for many years.
Irfan Habib - Early Life and Education
Irfan Habib, a professor, was born in the Gujarati city of Vadodara in 1931. In 1951 and 1953, respectively, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Aligarh Muslim University. He achieved academic excellence, placing first in both programmes. He began working at AMU as a lecturer after earning his master’s degree and eventually rose to the position of Reader. Additionally, he received his D. Phil from New College Oxford later that year, in 1956.
His Notable Works
- Professor Habib has extensive experience in
- Feudalism in India
- Indian technology history, from ancient to mediaeval
- Meticulously written about the Vedas and the Vedic era after extensive research.
- India’s mediaeval agrarian system.
- The mediaeval economic history of India
- Marxist historical writing
- Concerning British colonialism in India
- India’s Indus Culture
- Indian Maurya’s Rule
Habib made one of the most well-known critiques of Edward Said’s book “Orientalism,” in which Said claimed that western scholars had only exalted their history and personalities and dishonoured the Asian nation. Habib countered that if that were the case, we would never have received recognition from Aryabhata, Rumi, Ashoka, Akbar, etc. To know more Click here
Irfan Habib Political Ideas
Irfan Habib is primarily linked to Marxism; he is frequently referred to as a Marxist historian. This demonstrates his conviction in a classless society, which would finally render the idea of an upper and lower class meaningless and prevent any conflict. His artistic output accurately represents his Marxist worldview. He vehemently opposes communalism and is in favour of the advancement of secularism, a society that can put an end to disputes over religion among the general populace. Many people have been impacted by his thoughts up until this point.
Several Honors and Positions
- In 2005, he received a Padma Bhushan.
- He received the Muzaffar Ahmad Memorial Prize in 2006.
- He was elected general president of the Indian History Congress in 1981.
- He was elected chairman of the Indian Council of Historical Research in 1986.
- In 1952, he was appointed Editor of Aligarh Magazine.
- He served two terms as the department’s chairman of history at AMU (1975-77 & 1984-94).
He also enjoyed his time as the center’s coordinator at AMU’s Department of History from 1975 to 1977 again from 1994 to 1996. Additionally, he was appointed AMU’s Dean of Social Science.
Prominent Books-Irfan Habib
- The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556–1707.
- Map of the Mughal Empire
- India’s mediaeval economy during that time
- Indian mediaeval civilization: A history
- 1st instalment of India’s People’s History
The History Department, AMU
The founder of Aligarh Muslim, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, had a keen interest in history and archaeology, thus he gave it a lot of attention. Since AMU’s founding as Mohammaden Anglo Oriental College in Aligarh in 1875, the Department of History has played a significant role in the institution. From that point forward, this subject began to be taught, and the department has since accomplished countless feats and succeeded in a variety of ways. The department was added as a Center to the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) centres of advanced study programmes in 1968. Professor Noor-ul-Hasan, an Oxfordian, served as the center’s director.
Rapid research in mediaeval history occurred while his presidency, and the department’s three-story structure was constructed. Mohd Habib, the father of Irfan Habib, was another outstanding history professor. He was an Indian Islamic historian who was appointed lecturer at AMU in 1922. He was an active member of the Indian National Movement. He concentrated on history writing and believed that historical literature have to be cited from original sources. Mohommad Habib Hall was given the name in 1972. The division calls itself the centre of mediaeval history.
The department’s Medieval Archaeology Section conducts study and research on mediaeval archaeology. Additionally, it has a cartography lab for old maps and a seminar library for all activities and research. Both undergraduate and graduate degrees are offered by the department. Students are also admitted for research. Several key areas of attention are:
- Persian, vernacular, foreign languages, historical sources
- History of the Socio-Economic and Cultural
- History of art and architecture
- Islamic Background (E.g. Ottoman Empire, history of Persia, etc)
- Studies of Central Asia
- Military background
- Women’s History
- European heritage
Since every subject has a unique history that enables people to understand its foundation, history is the study that encompasses the essence of all other subjects. With the support of a large number of individuals and with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s original creation as its foundation, Aligarh Muslim University has successfully focused on the history department and its development. As a result, the department has a lengthy history of changes or developments. The department and its teachers, including Irfan Habib, who not only used his knowledge in this university but all over the world, are today well-known around the world. The department is thriving because of the extensive research and study that is done here. We can thus refer to it as the history department, AMU is still actively constructing a distinguished heritage of original works.