Alia Madrasa (Madrasa-i-Alia) is officially called Madrasa-E-Alia. The Alia Madrasa was founded in Kolkata in 1780 by warren hastings, the Governor General of the Fort William in Bengal. The laws, rules and regulations of the government were traditionally printed in Persian. Arabic was also in use, because Muslim Laws were all in Arabic. Thus the east india company government needed an institution, which would produce students with knowledge in Persian, Arabic and also in English. Alia Madrasa was thus intended not so much to instruct religious lessons as to provide instructions in secular subjects. The Moulvis and Muftees of the government adalat were required to know English and Bangla. Both these languages were thus taught at the Aliya Madrasa. Molla Majduddin was the first Head Mawlana of Alia Madrasa.'
The Alia Madrasa was managed by an all-white Board of Governors from 1781 to 1819. A new Board of Governors was constituted under an English Secretary and a Muslim Assistant Secretary, which ran the Madrasa from 1819 to 1850. The post of principal for the Madrasa was created in 1850 and Dr A Sprenger was appointed the first Principal. From 1850 to 1927, all principals were appointed from British Civil Service. Many of them were famous for oriental learning. In 1927, Shamsul Ulama Khaja Kamaluddin Ahmed was appointed the first Muslim to become the principal of the Madrasa.
The course curriculum of Calcutta Aliya Madrasa was designed on the basis of the model of Darshe Nizamia, a leading Arabic-medium school at Lakhnau. In the course curriculum, Persian language was given more importance than Arabic language, because Persian was the court language during the company period. Mathematics, philosophy and logic were included in the syllabus.
FA level classes were offered in the course curriculum of the Madrasa in 1863. But it was abandoned later in 1888. A separate Anglo-Persian department was introduced in 1854. The objective was to groom up the Persian-medium students to appear in the Entrance Examinations. A three-year long Kamil course was introduced in 1907.
After the partition of India, the Alia Madrasa was shifted from Kolkata to Dhaka and the Madrasa started its academic activities from Islamic Intermediate College (at present Kabi Nazrul College) at Laxmibazar. The Madrasa was shifted to its present site, Bakhshibazar, in 1961. The first principal of Dhaka Alia Madrasa was Khan Bahadur mohammad ziaul hoque.
At present the Madrasa has over 1500 students and 50 teachers. Among its facilities include a spacious campus, rich library, computer lab, playground, and hostels. Its library has valuable archival materials.'
The Madrasa got affiliation of the Islamic University in 2006. It produced many veteran personalities during the past 230 years. Among its alumni include: nawab abdool luteef, syed ameer ali, mohammad akram khan, Former Prime Ministers of Pakistan mohammad ali chaudhury, huseyn shaheed suhrawardy and Chief Minister of East Pakistan ataur rahman khan, scientist muhammad qudrat-i-khuda and Justice Mahbub Morshed and many others. [ABM Saiful Islam Siddiqi]