The role of Princess Fatma Ismail in establishing the Egyptian University is related to the idea itself and how the dream of establishing this university was converted into a real fact. Thus, we should stop a little to know the idea and role of contributors in taking it out into the light and raising the awareness of the Egyptian Public opinion of its importance and role in upgrading the perceptions and the ethics of the Egyptians in spite of the diversity of religion through spreading arts and science among its sons.
The idea was frequent among students of Egyptian missions who were sent to Europe in the era of modern Muhammad Ali and his successors. They frequently were talking about the European universities and their huge buildings, the number of faculties included in every university, and stating science and arts taught in them. They stated their advantages and benefits, and that universities are indispensable for a country want to live up to the city Qubool and be regular in real means of civilization. However, their speech about European Universities was nothing but drama and wishes.
Arab press and national magazines were engaged in speeches about European universities, and suggested to nationalists establishing universities in Egypt. Press and magazines also stated statistics about European Universities as well as their numbers and expenses, and expanded their speech in this especially in era of Khedive Tawfik. However, Egyptians saw that the expenses were exorbitant if only one person volunteered. They were also not sure about the ability of achieving this through cooperation of all different social classes.
The society witnessed two experiences; the first was an individual one which Ahmed Pasha El-Menshawy made in his last days, as he declared his desire in establishing a university in Pasos and Aby-Gheit at his own expense. He searched with the best scientists what this university requires of initial expenses, and annual expenditures, and how they would bring teachers and tools. The idea occupied his thought in the last year of his life, and was the subject of his speech, at day and night, with Prof. Sheikh Mohamed Abdu, however, he passed away before achieving his dream.
However, this did not mean that the idea became impossible. On the contrary, the number of its pedophiles increased, and inspired the minds of thinkers and elite of intellectuals and politicians who competed, with real desire, in writing in the pages of national newspaper urging the people to cooperate in this great matter, and stressing that its establishment through money of individuals, whether they are rich or poor, will lead to the advancement of the nation.
The idea met great demand among the people, especially among the social elite group. Towards the ends of 1906, journals wrote about subscription of Mustafa Bek El-Ghamrawy, who was one of Bani-Soeif's notables, with 500 L.E. to the Egyptian University. He was followed by many offerings in different newspapers, by other notables. At that time the project appeared spontaneously. A large number of those who were keen on achieving this idea requested forming associations to receive offerings and propagate on a regular basis. It seemed that some newspapers attributed to some of the rich false offerings, hoping that they embarrass them, so they achieve the hope with the strength of shame. However, the construction was not on a solid foundation, so it crumbled, as some of them lied, and others were honest.
Organizers of the idea worked hard, in removing barriers that may prevent continuity and achievement of the project. So they asked the subscribers whose names appeared in newspapers, and from others who are keen on achieving the project, to attend meetings at "El-Moaied" House to examine the project and to make agreements that saves it from falling. But some feared that this project falls without achieving what is intended from it, therefore they suggested holding a meeting in another place that its owner had not had a political nature. Their opinions settled on holding the meeting in Saad Zaghloul's house. Zaghloul was meanwhile a counsel in the Civil Court of Appeal. Thus, they made invitations for the meeting in newspapers, and determined the 24th of Shaaban, 1324, 12th of October, 1906.
The meeting was held in the house of Saad Zaghloul, and the audience supported their offerings to the university, and agreed on several resolutions; electing the Preparatory Committee, in which Saad Zaghloul was deputy for the President, and in which Qasim Amin was a secretary of the Commission. Fund Secretariat was assigned to Hassan Said, who was working as deputy in the Eastern German bank. They also set eight other members, and the public president was not selected yet, so they suggested postponing it to another session. And settled on naming the university, "the Egyptian University", and to publish all their decisions and their call for people to contribute to the establishment of this institution, at all the local newspapers whether Arabic or foreign. After the meeting took place, the total amount of the offerings was 4485 pounds.
Being keen on implementing the idea, and being afraid of receiving any attack from the occupation authorities or the government, the text of invitation for the project, published in all newspaper was "The University does not have a political character, and have nothing to do with men of politics, or workers, and politics is not included in the administration, nor in the lessons, in any manner was. The Objective of the University establishment is nothing but to be a school to teach science and literature for each student whatever his race and religion".
This appeal made by the Egyptian nation had a great impact on communities and environments, and echoed in every breath, supporting messages fell on newspapers. Soon donations from generous hands flowed respectively, revealing great mettle, and unrelenting determination.
Invitation for General Subscription
Contributors in subscription for the project were all at the beginning from the Egyptian elite, scientists, and sheikhs, then princes of the royal family started to follow up the project through financial care and efforts to facilitate establishing this organization. Prince Said Pasha was the first to pay attention to that matter. He took the responsibility of Presidency of "Princes' Committee" for which he collected 8000 L.E. "El-Moaied" newspaper asked Prince Said Pasha to carry out his promise, which was issued by him at Paris, to follow up the business till the end.
Two committees were formed; one of them was technical to set up the university's system and all what is necessary for the educational process in it, and the other is dedicated for all subscriptions from donators. In the second meeting, on 30/11/1906, they declared the necessity of electing several secondary committees for subscription and collecting donations from all Egyptians in everywhere of the Egyptian state, since the government, even when it was satisfied with the project and its principles, still saw that it was premature and prohibitive.
Thus, they saw that it is necessary to rely on themselves after Allah, and not to pin their hopes on external aids. All members of committee decided to assign the presidency of the project to a prince of who all would trust and agreeso as to ensure the regularity of the proceedings taken for the project. They also decided to deposit collected money to Eastern German Bank, specifically, because it is the only bank which helped the university by giving it the benefit of4% per year, and that gave it help increasing 1.5% annually, and subscribed amount forty pounds annually, so that the university benefits 5.5%.While all other banks offered fewer benefits, and they did not accept the restoration of all amounts at any time required for the project, while accepted by the East German bank. The total amount of subscription reached 16,536 pounds in the second meeting.
The political elite group which, was interested in the university project,was fully aware of the significance of the concerns raised by foreign newspapers, the mouthpiece of the occupation authorities, in which they claimed that the university project was made for nothing but political purposes, and that it was "Islamic university" that was raised against the occupation. For this, Saad Zaghloul announced, when he became Minister of Education, stepping down from the post of Vice President, and the Committee elected Qasim Amin as Secretary instead of him.
Princes Care for the Project
The third meeting was held on 19/1/1907, when Qasim Amin declared that the Khedive was generous to sponsor the committee, and make his son honorary president for it. Qassim Amin wrote for Prince "Ahmed Fouaad Pasha", offering presidency for him, the text of the letter was as following:
Prince "Ahmed Fouaad Pasha", when we yesterday displayed, for members of the university administration committee, what your country presented of care towards the university issue and readiness to boost its project, they met theses tidings with pleasure, and were confident that victory is near, and they decided to send a delegation to present thanks to your country. They are Mohamed Olwy Pasha, Youssef Seddik Pasha, HanafyNasefBek, and Hasan Said Bek. If your generosity accepted them, please tell me the day and the hour you would determine for this, and please accept the respect of your submissive slave.
On the 22nd of December, 1907.
On Friday, 31st of January, 1908, the general assembly, headed by Qasim Amin, met and declared at this meeting the acceptance of Prince Ahmed Fouaad for presidency. The committee met with its new president for the first time at Prince Ahmed Fouaad Pasha's Saray on 12/3/1908. They negotiated in searching for means that would lead them to achieving the project. Here, serious steps had been actually started to ensure the continuity of the project's progress as they agreed that the first task they should begin with is: consignment and teaching.
Thus, the idea took a long time until it was carried out, it was common among all environments, and had a great effect in every Egyptian soul. Both public and private sectors supported it, and worked on supporting it, and donations poured from rich Egyptians. El-Khedive Abbas Helmy the second declared granting for the project 5000 pounds annually, which made the project move with faster pace. The process of sending missions began, and programs were set up, teachers were called, then the Egyptian Government admitted the university as one of the Public utility installations, leaving only the Egyptian nation to celebrate the inauguration of this venerable edifice.