Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College was founded in 1875, initially as a primary school, with the intention of taking it to a college level institution, known as Muhammedan Anglo Oriental Collegiate School. Its given Urdu name was Madrasatul Uloom Musalmanan-e-Hind. It started operations on Queen Victoria’s 56th birthday, 24 May 1875.

It was established as Madrasatul Uloom Musalmanan-e-Hind in 1875, and after two years it became Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College.

The Anglo–Indian statesman Sir Syed Ahmad Khan founded the predecessor of Aligarh Muslim University, the Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College, in 1875 having already established two schools. These were part of the movement of Muslim awakening associated with Syed Ahmad Khan which came to be known as Aligarh Movement.

He considered competence in English and “Western sciences” necessary skills for maintaining Muslims’ political influence, especially in Northern India. Khan’s image for the college was based on his visit to Oxford and Cambridge and he wanted to establish an education system similar to the British model.

In the beginning, the college was affiliated with the University of Calcutta for the matriculation examination but became an affiliate of Allahabad University in 1885. In 1877, the school was raised to college level and Lord Lytton laid the foundation stone of the college building.

Around 1900 A.D. efforts began to make the college its own university. The Aligarh Muslim University Act of 1920 made it a central university.

HH Sir Mohammad Ali Mohammad Khan and the Aga Khan III also played a major role in realising the idea of Syed Ahmed Khan by collecting funds for building the Aligarh Muslim University.