Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Saiyad Ahmad, Khan Bahadur, L.L.D, K.C.S.I.

By Afzal Usmani


"There are two kind of people came to this world, one who work to live and the other who live to work". Sir Saiyad lived to work


Sir Syed Origional photo

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Born : 17th October 1817 Delhi

Died : 27th March 1898, Aligarh

Father : Saiyad Muhammad Muttaqi,
Mother : Azizun Nisa Begum
Wife : Parsa Begum(Mubarak) Married : 1836
Children : Saiyad Hamid, Saiyad Mahmud and Amina.

Biography: Hayat-e-Javed (By Maulana Altaf Husain Hali)

“ Hai Dileri daste-arbab-e-siyaasat ka Aasa` “

“Sir Saiyad was a prophet of education “ (Mahatma Gandhi)

“The real greatness of the man (Sir Saiyad) consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it’’ (Sir Allama Iqbal)


“Sir Saiyad was an ardent reformer and he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking basic belief. He was anxious to push new education. He was in no way communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political and national significance”.
( Jawaharlal Nehru, Founder Prime Minister of India)


“Sir Saiyad’s vision and his laborious efforts to meet the demands of challenging times are highly commendable. The dark post 1857 era was indeed hopeless and only men like Raja Mohan Roy and Sir Saiyad could penetrate through its thick veil to visualize the Nation’s destinies. They rightly believed that the past had its merits and its legacies were valuable but it was the future that a society was called upon to cope with. I offer my homage to Sir Saiyad for his vision and courage that withstood all obstructions both from the friends and the foes”
(Mr. Inder Kumar Gujral, Former Prime Minister of India).


The Founder

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, one of the architects of modern India was born on October 17, 1817 in Delhi and started his career as a civil servant.

The 1857 revolt was one of the turning points of Syed Ahmed’s life. He clearly foresaw the imperative need for the Muslims to acquire proficiency in the English language and modern sciences if the community were to maintain its social and political identity, particularly in Northern India.

He was one of those early pioneers who recognized the critical role of education for the empowerment of the poor and backward Muslim community. In more than one ways Sir Syed was one of the greatest social reformers and a great national builder of modern India. He began to prepare the road map for the formation of a Muslim University by starting various schools. He instituted Scientific Society in 1863 to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims and to make the Western knowledge available to Indians in their own language. The Aligarh Institute Gazette, an organ of the Scientific Society was started in March 1866 and succeeded in transforming the minds in the traditional Muslim Society. Anyone with an average level of commitment would have backed off in the face of strong opposition but Sir Syed responded by bringing out another journal ‘Tehzibul Akhlaq’ which was rightly named in English as ‘Mohammedan Social Reformer’.

In 1875, Sir Syed founded the Madarsatul Uloom in Aligarh and patterned the MAO College after Oxford and Cambridge universities that he visited on a trip to London in 1869. His objective was to build a college in tune with the British education system but without compromising its Islamic values. He wanted this College to act as a bridge between the old and the new, the East and the West. While he fully appreciated the need and urgency of imparting instruction based on Western learning, he was not oblivious to the value of Oriental learning and wanted to preserve and transmit to posterity the rich legacy of the past. Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal observed that “the real greatness of Sir Syed consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it--- his sensitive nature was the first to react to modern age”.

The aim of Sir Syed was not merely restricted to establishing a college at Aligarh but at spreading a network of Muslim managed educational institutions throughout the length and breadth of the country. Keeping in view this, he instituted All India Muslim Educational Conference in 1886 that revived the spirit of Muslims at national level. The Aligarh Movement motivated the Muslims to help open a number of educational institutions. It was the first of its kind of such Muslim NGO in India, which awakened the Muslims from their deep slumber and infused social and political awareness among them.

He contributed much to the development of the modern society of the subcontinent. During Sir Syed’s own life time, ‘The Englishman’, a renowned British magazine of the 19th century remarked in a note on November 17, 1885: ‘Sir Syed’s life “strikingly illustrated one of the best phases of modern history”. He died on March 27, 1898 and lies buried next to the main mosque at AMU.

An Architect of Modern India

History of social and educational reforms in Indian sub-continent can not be completed without Sir Saiyad Ahmad Khan. He is one of the great thinker, philosopher and revolutionaries who had dedicated his complete life for his nation and especially for his community. Nineteenth century was a hard time for the nation of India and especially for Muslims in the aftermath of 1857 revolt against British colonialism. Sir Saiyad tried and motivated Indian Muslim. In the history of India’s transition from medievalism to modernism, Sir Saiyad stand out prominently as a dynamic force pitted against conservatism, superstitions, inertia and ignorance. He contributed many of the essential elements to the development of modern India and paved the growth of a healthy scientific attitude of mind which is sine qua non for advancement, both material and intellectual. Sir Saiyad said : After the Revolt of 1857, I was grieved neither on account of the plunder of my house nor on account of the loss of property that I had suffered. What saddened my heart was the misery and destruction of people. When Mr. Shakespeare offered to me the Taluqa of Jehanabad, which originally belonged to a distinguished Saiyad family, and yielded an annual rental of more than a lac rupees, as a reward of my services, my heart was deeply hurt. I said to myself, how can I accept this jagir and become the Taluqdar while all the people are in distress. I refused to accept it.

Sir Saiyad was born on 17th October 1817 in Delhi in a respectable family of Saiyad Mohammad Muttaqi & Azizun Nisa Begum . Sir Saiyad and Maulana Qasim Nanotwi (Founder of Darul-Uloom, Deoband) studied together under the able guidance of Maulana Mamlook Ali in Delhi. Sir Saiyad studied mathematics, Geology and Medicine from his uncle, Saiyad Zainul Abedin. He also studied Arabic literature, Tafseer-e-Quran, Hadith, and Fiqah from Maulana Makhsusullah (s/o Maulana Shah Rafiuddin Dahlwi ), Maulana Nawazish Ali and Maulana Faizul Hasan Saharanpuri. In 1836 Sir Saiyad got married to Parsa Begum (Mubarak) and had two sons, Hamid (born in 1849) and Mahmood (born in 1850) and a daughter Amina. His elder brother Saiyad Muhammad started a weekly newspaper in 1837 and out of love of his younger brother Saiyad Ahmad (also known as Saiyad in his youth), named the newspaper Saiyadul-Akhbar . After Saiyad Muhammad’s death in 1845, Sir Saiyad Ahmad started managing Saiyadul-Akhbar.

Sir Saiyad was a great champion of Hindu-Muslim Unity. Addressing a big gathering at Gurudaspur on Jan. 27, 1884 He said: “ Hindus and Muslims ! Do you belong to a country other than India ? Don’t you live on this soil and are you not buried under it or cremated on its Ghats ? If you live and die on this land, then bear in mind, that Hindus and Muslims is but a religious word; all the Hindus, Muslims and Christians who live in this country are one nation.”

Father of Aligarh movement

This most respected and important educational centre for Indian Muslims was initially founded as Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College (MAOC) at Aligarh in 1875 by Sir Saiyad Ahmed Khan and subsequently raised to the status of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in 1920. Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), known more as a movement than an academic institution is one of the most important chapters of Indian history as far as the sociology of Hindu-Muslim relation is concerned. Sir Saiyad said: “This is the first time in the history of Mohammedans of India, that a college owes it nor to the charity or love of learning of an individual, nor to the spending patronage of a monarch, but to the combined wishes and the united efforts of a whole community. It has its own origin in course which the history of this county has never witnessed before. It is based on principles of toleration and progress such as find no parallel in the annals of the east.” Sir Saiyad’ famous speech which he made while foundation of MAO College was laid down by Lord Lytton on 18th January, 1877 is the soul of Aligarh Movement. Sir Saiyad said: “from the seed which we sow today, there may spring up a mighty tree, whose branches, like those of the banyan of the soil, shall in their turn strike firm roots into the earth, and themselves send forth new and vigorous saplings”.

It’s a common misconception that Sir Saiyad and Aligarh Movement is anti-oriental studies (Islamic and Eastern studies) and MAO College was started in a reactionary movement to counter the religious school, Darul-Uloom Deoband, started by Maulana Qasim Nanotvi (another student of Sir Saiyad’s teacher Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanotvi). In fact Sir Saiyad had a broader vision and had put forward the need of the hour to get equipped with the modern education to improve the social and economical conditions of Muslims of India. He never discouraged or denied the importance of religious and oriental studies. By his individual means and with the help of Muslim Educational Conference, he always tried to modernize the Madarasas, update their syllabus as per the need of the hour.

Sir Saiyad wrote a lot about these things in Tahzeebul-akhlaq. Sir Saiyad’s educational vision has two strong points;

  1. Adoption of Modern education
  2. Moral Education

From the beginning, Madarsatul-Uloom, later MAO College was equipped with the above philosophy. Tarbiyat of the students living in Hostels were part of the duties of Principal and Manager of Hostels. For Islamic and moral education, Sir Saiyad created a position of Nazim-e-Diniyaat for MAO College who was responsible for Islamic and moral education of the students. Dars-e-Quran was part of curriculum of the college and every morning before the start of the class, Allama Shibli Nomani used to give Dars-e-Quran for about half hour from 1887 to 1895 and later on the responsibility was handed over to Maulana Abdullah Ansari, the founder Nazim-e-Diniyaat.

Sir Saiyad breathed his last on Sunday, 27th March 1898. The funeral took place on Monday, 28th March 1898. The Janazah prayers were offered in the cricket field lead by the founder Nazim-e-Diniyaat, Maulana Abdullah Ansari (son in law of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi and grandson of Sir Saiyad’s teacher Maulana Mamlook Ali). The burial took place in College Jama Masjid.

Maulana Altaf Hussain Haali- writer of Sir Saiyad’s biography, HAYAAT-E-JAVED;

“After Sir Saiyad’s death, it was not only by words but also by actions that the people proved their love and respect for his high ideals. Almost at once, some people began to press for the foundation of Muslim University. The movement spread all over India and abroad and people started raising money for Sir Saiyad’s finest memorial.. Even in England students raised money for the Muslim University. People were surprised to see the interest of Englishmen and their efforts to collect money to fulfill the dream of Sir Saiyad to make MAO College as Muslim University. There is an old saying that a good friend is like a leafy tree. For when a tree is in full bloom one has the pleasure of its shade and the enjoyment of its fruits, and when it withers, its wood is put to many uses. Sir Saiyad was such a friend to the Muslims. When he was alive, he laboured for them with his body, his words, his pen and his money. When he died he left the memory of his love and work imprinted on their hearts so that they might come together and build on the foundations he has laid. “




Sir Syed with famil friends

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with family & Friends




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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with family & Friends (Colored*)



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Sir Syed's Stick & Compass


Sir Syed's Desk



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Sir Syed's Sofa Set


Sir Syed's Doshala



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Sir Syed's home when he first moved to Aligarh



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Sir Syed's House (Original)



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Sir Syed's House



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Justice Syed Mahmood (Youngest son of Sir Saiyad)


Mr. Syed Hamid (Eldest son of Sir Saiyad)



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Sir Syed Ross Masud (Grandson)


Mr. Syed Anwar Masood (Great grandson)




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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with Mohsinul Mulk and Syed Mahmood*




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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with Haji Ismail Khan of Dattawali




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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan with his supporters and Well wishers*




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Group Photograph of Sir Syed with the students of M.A.O.College




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Janazah Prayer of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan




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Maqbarah of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan




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Maqbarah of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan




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Shajarah-e-Nasb of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan -I




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Shajarah-e-Nasb of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan -II




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Sir Saiyid Ahmad Khan's Family Tree**



Sir Syed Biography - English - Hayat-e-Javed
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Books/Lectures : Sir Saiyad Ahmad Khan


Institutions named after Sir Saiyad Ahmad Khan




Chronology of Sir Saiyad Ahmad Khan's Life




Sir Syed and Secularism



The personality of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan



Sir Syed ki Scientific Tarz-e-Fikr



The Role of Saiyid Ahmad Khan in The Shift to Modern Education of Muslims Of South Asia



Sir Syed Ahmad Khan - A Modern man of Liberal and Scientific Thinking*



Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Jihad*



Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: His Life And Contribution



Retrospect: `The spirit of all human beings'



SIR SYED's Mission in the 21st Century


*The pictures are a courtesy from http://sirsyedresearchcenter.com

**The document is a courtesy from Mr. Enver Masood, a direct decedent of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan - Shaikh Ismayeel Panipati

Sir Syed, British and Theory of Loyalism

Sir Syed, British and Theory of Loyalism



By Prof. Iftekhar Alam Khan *


Note from Webmaster : The article is originally published in monthly Urdu journal, "Conference Gazette" by All India Muslim Educational Conference, Aligarh. www.aligarhmovement.com is reproducing it with the permission from the author Prof. Iftikhar Alma Khan.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: His Life And Contribution

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: His Life And Contribution

By Azhar Mohammed K

http://www.ummid.com/news/October/20.10.2009/sir_sayyad_life_and_vision.htm

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) was a great visionary, statesman and Muslim reformer of the 19th century, the like of whom is rare. He wanted to make the community and country progressive and take them forward on modern lines. His supreme interest was intellectual development of the people through modern education. He was the first Indian Muslim to contribute to the intellectual and institutional foundation of Muslim modernization in Southern Asia. Interest of community and country was dearer to him rather than anything else. He was successful in making the Muslims understand the importance of modern education and endeavour their best to achieve it in order to stand on their own legs and live a dignified life in accordance with Islamic thoughts.


Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal says:

`'Mubtalaayay dard koi azu ho roti hai aankh

Kis qadar hamdard saray jism ki hoti hai aankh''

(The eye weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body, How sympathetic it is to the entire organism)

To the Muslim community Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was and is like the eye which weeps for the suffering of any and every part of the body. The sufferings of the community worried him. He took an oath to reform, educate and empower the Muslim community and was successful to a great extent in implementing it despite strong opposition from a section of the Muslim community which hated the British and their language. Today we can see the products of the Aligarh Muslim University adoring in every field of activity in India and neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh. They have earned a name for the community and country, thanks to the Aligarh movement.


Sir Syed's educational caravan reached everywhere including Tamil Nadu from where I hail. It inspired and encouraged people to take to modern education by establishing educational institutions.


BIRTH AND CHILDHOOD

Sir Syed was born on 17 October 1817 in Delhi. His family was highly regarded by the Mughal dynasty. His maternal grandfather Khwajah Farid was a `wazir' (minister) in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a `mansab' of the title of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Syed Ahmed's father, Mir Muttaqi was also close to Akbar Shah but rejected the position and titles offered to him due to his interest in mysticism. Perhaps he abhorred the way the materialistic world functioned. He died when Syed Ahmed was about 21 years of age. Mother, Azizunnissa Begum was, however, a strong willed woman of clearly defined principles. She showed extraordinary interest in the education, character building and upbringing of her son. She was a strict and God fearing lady.


EDUCATION

Sir Syed received his education under the old system prevailing at that time. He learnt to read the holy Quran under a female teacher at his home. After this, Maulvi Hamidud Din, became his private tutor. He completed a course in Persian and Arabic, and later took to the study of mathematics, which was a favourite subject of the maternal side of his family. He later took interest in medicine and studied some well-known books on the subject. At the age of 19 his formal education came to an end but he continued his studies privately. He started taking a keen interest in the literary gatherings and cultural activities of the city.


The passing away of his father left the family in financial difficulties, and after a limited education he had no option but to work for his livelihood. Starting as a clerk with the East India Company in 1938, he qualified three years later as a sub-judge and served in the judicial department at various places.


VISION

The supreme interest of Sir Syed's life was education in its widest sense. He wanted to create a scientific temperament among the Muslims of India and to make the modern knowledge of Science available to them. He championed the cause of modern education at a time when all the Indians in general and Indian Muslims in particular considered it a sin to get modern education and that too through English language. He began establishing schools, at Muradabad in 1858 and Ghazipur in 1863. A more ambitious undertaking was the foundation of the Scientific Society, which published translations of many educational texts and issued a bilingual journal in Urdu and English. It was for the use of all citizens and were jointly operated by the Hindus and Muslims. In the late 1860s there occurred some developments that were challenges to his activities. In 1867 he was transferred to Benares, a city on the Ganges with great religious significance for Hindus. At about the same time a movement started at Benares to replace Urdu, the language spoken by the Muslims, with Hindi. This movement and the attempts to substitute Hindi for Urdu publications of the Scientific Society convinced Syed that he should do something. Thus during a visit to England (1869-70) he prepared plans for a great educational institution. They were "a Muslim Cambridge." On his return he set up a committee for the purpose and also started an influential journal, Tahzib al-Akhlaq "Social Reform" for the uplift and reforms of the Muslims. A Muslim school was established at Aligarh in May 1875, and after his retirement in 1876, Sir Syed dedicated himself to make it a college.


In January 1877 the Viceroy laid the foundation stone of the college. In spite of opposition to Syed's projects, the college made rapid progress. In 1886 Syed organised the All-India Mohammadan Educational Conference, which met annually at different places to promote education and to provide the Muslims with a common platform. Syed advised the Muslims against joining active politics and to concentrate instead on education. Muslims generally followed his advice and abstained from politics. This advice is applicable even today. We have to concentrate our attention more on education for the uplift of the backward Muslim community. Many reports have clearly noted that the Muslims are educationally and economically more backward.


Throughout his life Syed Ahmed Khan showed concern with how Indian Muslims could adapt to intellectual and political change accompanying Western rule. His first mission became reinterpretation of Muslim ideology so as to reconcile tradition with Western education and science. He argued in several books on Islam that the holy Quran rested on a deep appreciation of reason and natural law and therefore did not preclude Muslim involvement in scientific methodology. These themes, mixed with a call for Muslim education, regularly appeared in his journals, the Mohammedan Social Reformer and the Aligarh Institute Gazette.


Syed Ahmed's ideas became institutionalized despite criticism from theologians. In 1862 he formed a scientific society, and 13 years later he assisted in establishing the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which prospered and became the key intellectual center for Indian Muslims - The Aligarh Muslim University. The success of the college was largely due to his leadership and a curriculum embodying both Western and Oriental studies.


CONTRIBUTION

Sir Syed's contributions for the betterment and empowerment of the Muslims are great. His position in the judicial department left him time to be active in many fields. His career as an author in Urdu started at the age of 23. In 1847 he brought out an important book "Monuments of the Great" on the antiquities of Delhi. Even more important was his pamphlet "The Causes of the Indian Revolt". His interest in religion was also active and lifelong. He wrote on the Life of Prophet Muhammad (Sal-am) and devoted himself to write several volumes of a modernist commentary on the holy Quran. In these works he explained how the Islamic faith could go with progressive scientific and political ideas of his time.


LITERARY WORKS

Sir Syed was a government civil servant and s scholar. The 1857 revolt was a turning point in his life. The following are his important works:

1) `'ASARUS SANADEED'': It is an archaeological masterpiece providing a wealth of information on countless historical monuments in Delhi from the eight hundred long Muslim rule. This book was published in 1847.

2) ``ASBAB-E-BAGHAWAT-E-HIND''- (The causes of Indian Revolt) This book was published in 1859 after the 1857 revolt after witnessing the atrocities committed by the British on the inhabitants of Delhi. He saw an uncle, a cousin and an aunt dying before his eyes. He saved his mother but she died due to privations she had experienced. Muslims were the main targets of the government's wrath.

3) THE ALIGARH INSTITUTE GAZETTE - It was an organ of the Scientific Society started in 1866. It made the people think and use their wisdom.

4) `'TEHZIB-UL-AKHLAQ'' – It succeeded in making people realise the value of modern knowledge. It also gave new directions to Muslim social and political thoughts.

GOLDEN SAYINGS

1) Sons (of MAO college later AMU)) shall go forth throughout the length and breath of the land to preach the message of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality.

1. Acquisition of knowledge of science and technology is the only solution for the problems of Muslims.

2. Call me by whatever names you like. I will not ask you for my salvation. But please take pity of your children. Do something for them (send them to the school), lest you should have to repent (by not sending them)

3. We will remain humiliated and rejected if we do not make progress'' (in scientific field)

4. Get rid of old and useless rituals. These rituals hinder human progress.

5. Superstition cannot be the part of Iman (faith).

6. The first requisite for the progress of a nation is the brotherhood and unity amongst sections of the society.

7. Yes the main purpose of this college (MAO) is to impart modern education to Muslims who are suffering because of lack of it but this institution is for all, Hindus and Muslims alike. Both of them need education.

8. We (Hindus and Muslims) eat the same crop, drink water from the same rivers and breathe the same air. As a matter of fact Hindus and Muslims are the two eyes of the beautiful bride that is Hindustan. Weakness of any one of them will spoil the beauty of the bride (dulhan)

9. We (Hindus and Muslim) have evolved a new language Urdu

10. I wish that youth of India should follow the example of young men and women of England who are religiously engaged in the hard work of industrial development of their country" (During the stay of Sir Syed in England).

11. Look forward, learn modern knowledge, and do not waste time in studies of old subjects of no value.

12. Ijtihad (innovation, re-interpretation with the changing times) is the need of the hour. Give up taqlid (copying and following old values).

13. Do not show the face of Islam to others; instead show your face as the follower of true Islam representing character, knowledge, tolerance and piety.

14. We should not (by remaining ignorant and illiterate) tarnish the image of our able elders.

15. All human beings are our brother and sisters. Working for their welfare is obligatory for Muslims.

16. Remember that the words Hindu and Muslim are only meant for religious distinction: otherwise all persons who reside in this country belong to one and the same nation.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Sir Syed's greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was nothing but an educational venture. He established schools at Muradabad in 1859 and Ghazipur in 1863. He also founded a scientific society in 1864. When Sir Syed was posted at Aligarh in 1867, he started the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental School in the city. During his visit to England in 1869, he studied the British educational system and appreciated it.


Sir Syed wanted MAO College to act as a bridge between the old and the new systems. His famous quote is that `'a true Muslims is one who must have the holy Quran in one hand and the science in the other''. Today we can see the Aligarh Muslim University offering different courses like Medical, Engineering, Science, Arts, Management, Languages etc.


Sir Syed's aim was not just to establish a college at Aligarh but he was interested in spreading education and empowerment among the people by establishing educational institutions in every nook and corner of the country. He, therefore, started an organisation called `'All India Muslim Educational Conference''to achieve this goal. It motivated the Muslims to open a number of educational institutions in India.


Although the Indian Muslim community has made some good progress in the educational arena, still they have to go a long way to achieve the goal that Sir Syed visualised. Only the vision and enthusiasm of Sir Syed can help us - Muslims to improve our educational and economic conditions further. It is,therefore, incumbent for us to revive the Aligarh movement once again to make the people understand the value of modern education fully.


I take this opportunity to request the Vice-Chancellor, Aligarh Muslim University to start a movement and come to the rescue of the suffering Muslim community in India. There is no point in blaming others. One feels that the main cause for our backwardness is lack of education. Education alone in the present context can empower us and nothing else. We can create a modern Islamic society only by taking Muslims to modern professional education like medical, engineering, teaching, management etc. No options or short cuts at all. God has given the eyes to see and mind to analyse. We must see what is happening around us and use our intellect to arrive at a conclusion. This is what Allah wants us to do. There is no point in toeing an outdated concept and blaming fate for every misery. Dr. Allama Mohammed Iqbal's call should be taken seriously and march forward. He has said beautifully in the couplet which we read and hear quite often sometimes it echoes even in the Parliament but we do not give serious thought to it.


Khudi ko kar buland itna ki har taqdeer say pahlay,

Khuda banday say khud poochay bata teri raza kya hai

(Raise your position so much that God himself may ask you `'tell me what is it that you want?'').

It echoes the holy Quranic strong dictate that we should endeavour to achieve his rewards. In short we must develop a scientific temper among the people as the holy Quran says in different verses. We are mainly responsible for backwardness.

Sir Syed also brought out a journal `Tehzibul Akhlaq' and succeeded in infusing a new desire amongst Muslims for acquiring modern knowledge.

Sir Syed finally reached to the conclusion that lack of education was the main cause of the backwardness of the community.

Sir Syed became successful in his mission and gave a firm foundation of Aligarh College (Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College) which afterwards became Aligarh Muslim University by an act of the government. It is meant for all- Muslims as well as non-Muslim students. All live and study here in a friendly and peaceful atmosphere. It has got a rich cultural heritage, which is its special and inimitable one.


The intellectuals produced in large numbers by Aligarh Muslim University served and continue to serve the country in various capacities. The first graduate of this University was the great revolutionary Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh. The late Dr. Zakir Hussain, former President of India and Dr. Syed Mahmood were also Aligarh educated dignitaries. The university has produced innumerable doctors, engineers, teachers, scientists, poets, writers, journalists, etc.


EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION

The Aligarh movement launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan influenced the Muslims in the country, particularly in South India. The Souvenir brought out on the occasion of the Centenary Celebration of Ambur Muslim Educational Society on 4th September 2006 mentions as follows inter-alia:


Sir Syed organised the Mohammedan (later Muslim) Educational Conference. Its branches were established in cities and towns to report on the educational needs of the community. This conference used to meet annually at several important cities in the country and carried the message of modern education far and wide.


The 5th session of the Conference was held at Madras in 1901 and set in a brainwave all over the South. Like their brethren in other parts of the country the Muslims of the Madras presidency were also antagonistic towards the English education and therefore they were far behind their other fellow countrymen in public service. Nawab Mohsinul Mulk Mohsinud Dowla from Aligarh inspired the Conference with the saga of adventure which Sir Syed has brought into being in the North.


On 16th December 1905 the Management of the Chowk Masjid madrasa which was in existence then was taken over and later re-named as Madrasa-e-Mazharul Uloom. Janab T.Abdullah sahib visited Aligarh, observed the educational developments there and inspired by it prepared a plan for a Muslim school in Ambur meant for all religions and communities without any discrimination whatsoever. It was primarily his aim to create for young Muslims a good institution for their educational, cultural and social developments.


Many educational institutions came up in Tamil Nadu as a result of the Aligarh movement. Today by the grace of Allah there are 11 (eleven) full fledged engineering colleges and hundreds of Science and Arts Colleges, Higher Secondary and Elementary Schools in difference parts of Tamil Nadu. Many Muslim organisations like All India Islamic Foundation, Sadaq Trust, The South India Education Trust, The Muslim Educational Association of Southern India, Ambur Muslim Educational Society, Vaniyambadi Muslim Educational Society etc. have been playing a very important role in establishing institutions and imparting modern education to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.


RATIONAL APPROACH

Muslims were in the forefront in the struggle for freedom. They suffered a lot. Many Ulema (religious scholars) were hanged in Delhi and other places. Sir Syed was worried. He was of the view that Muslims should not be so vigorous in opposing the British at their own cost and ignore everything including education and government placements.


Sir Syed wanted Muslims to have friendship with the British if they want to take their due rights. He quoted the examples of other religious communities benefiting from the government. While he tried his best to convince the British that Muslims were not against them, he persuaded the Muslims repeatedly to befriend the British to achieve their goals. He also wrote many books and published journals to remove the misunderstanding between Muslims and the British by writing booklets like "Loyal Muhammadans of India" and "Cause of Indian Revolt". Sir Syed asked the Muslims of his time not to participate in politics unless and until they got modern education. He was of the view that Muslims could not succeed in the field of Western politics without knowing the system. He was invited to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress and to join the organization but he refused to accept the offer. He gave importance to the education of the Muslim community and succeeded in it. His institutions such as the College and the Muslim Educational Conference continued to influence intellectuals till this day and will continue to do so in the years to come unhindered.


CONCLUSION

1) Dr. Allama Iqbal:

`'The real greatness of the man (Sir Syed) consists in the fact that he was the first Indian Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it''

2) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji:

`'Sir Syed was an ardent reformer and he wanted to reconcile modern scientific thought with religion by rationalistic interpretations and not by attacking basic belief. He was anxious to push new education. He was in no way communally separatist. Repeatedly he emphasized that religious differences should have no political and national significance.''

3) Mr. Inder Kumar Gujralji

`'Sir Syed's vision and his laborious efforts to meet the demands of challenging times are highly commendable. The dark post 1857 era was indeed hopeless and only men like Raja Mohan Roy and Sir Syed could penetrate through its thick veil to visualize the Nation's destinies. They rightly believed that the past had its merits and its legacies were valuable but it was the future that a society was called upon to cope with.

I offer my homage to Sir Syed for his vision and courage that withstood all obstructions both from the friends and the foes.''

This great visionary and reformer, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, whose relevance is felt even today and who will always remain green in our memory inspiring wise thoughts and absolute principles in the right Islamic thinking passed away after a brief illness on 27th March 1898 and was buried the next day in the compound of the mosque in the College. May his soul continue to live in peace.


Sir Syed and Jihad

Sir Syed and Jihad

Prof. Mirza Asmer Beg

Sir Syed is usually known as the foremost advocate of modern education among Muslims in the 19th century. But few people are aware of his scholarship of Islam and his writing on the subject. He favoured the rational approach to understanding Islam; as the Quran itself emphasizes upon activating the faulty of reason, and this occurs in the Quran as many as 750 times. A frequency not found in any other scripture, for they stress upon intuitive future faculties rather than reason. Sir Syed emphasized that a true religion must be compatible with the law of nature and human nature. However, his views on some social laws of the Quran mere quite unorthodox and ran contrary to the traditional understanding of the Quran. His understanding of the nature of issues to be raised in modern times made him realise the importance of looking at them from the rational standpoint. His views on Jihad one of the most contentious issues in today’s world needs to be looked at closely, particularly when this concept has been misunderstood and misinterpreted in all possible ways.


Sir Syed took upon himself the task of defining the concept of Jihad in Islam when a section of the western scholars were bent upon distorting it. His articles on the subject appeared in his Maqalat-e-Sir Syed with the title Jihad Ka Qurani Falsafa. He has dealt with this subject in detail in his Tafsir-al-Quran.


While analyzing all battles fought during the Prophet’s time, he stresses that each of these wars were defensive in nature and were an attempt to establish peace. They were not intended at converting people to Islam by force, as is usually alleged. Forcible conversion is strictly prohibited in Islam. The Quran clearly says, “There shall be no compulsion in the matter of professing a religion”.


Sir Syed says that Islam does not allow deceit, anarchy, fraud or mutiny. It instructs Muslims to obey and feel obligated to those who have given them security and peace, whether they are Muslims or Non-Muslims. Moreover, all pacts or treaties either with Muslims or Non-Muslims are to be followed faithfully. Islam forbids Muslim from invading any country to conquer it and to forcibly spread Islam. Even a single person is not to be forced to convert to Islam.


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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and the concept of Jihad

Prof. Mirza Asmer Beg

A certain section has always tried to cast all kinds of aspertions on Sir Syed. They have branded him as communal and obscurantist. However, the fact remains that he was one of the most enlightened visionaries of his time who towered over his contemporaries. He was the foremost advocate of modern education among Muslims in the 19th century. Few people are aware of his scholarship of Islam and his writings on the subject. He favoured the rational approach to understanding Islam; the Quran itself emphasizes upon activating the faculty of reason, and this occurs in the Quran as many as 750 times. A frequency not found in any other scripture, for they stress upon intuitive faculties rather than reason. Sir Syed emphasized that a true religion must be compatible with the law of nature and human nature. However, his views on some social laws of the Quran were quite unorthodox and ran contrary to the traditional understanding of the Quran. His understanding of the nature of issues to be raised in modern times made him realise the importance of looking at them from the rational standpoint. His views on Jihad, one of the most contentious issues in today’s world, needs to be looked at closely, particularly when this concept has been misunderstood and misinterpreted in all possible ways.


It is commonly understood that jihad is synonymous with terrorism. People have come to understand, that jihad which is an important tenet of Islam, is usually a religious war of aggression for the purpose of proselytizing or exacting tribute and exterminating the idolaters. Actually jihad does not classically or literally signify warfare or hostility and is never used in such a sense in the Quran. The Arabic terms for warfare and fighting on Harb and Qital. The Quran does not teach a war of aggression but has allowed a war of defence, clearly setting forth the grounds in its justification and strictly prohibiting offensive measures. It says, “fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you but do not attack them first. Allah does not love the aggressors”.


The irresponsible linkage of an Islamic concept with militancy has led to the presentation of Islam as violent religion.
Sir Syed took upon himself the task of defining the concept of Jihad in Islam when a section of the western scholars were bent upon distorting it. He was particularly hurt by the writings of Sir Willium Muir, Governor of North west frontier province. He even persuaded his friend Maulvi Chirag Ali to write a book rebutting the mischievous writings on the subject of jihad. Sir Syed’s articles on the subject appeared in his Maqalat-e-Sir Syed, with the title Jihad Ka Qurani Falsafa. He has dealt with this subject in detail in his Tafsir-al-Quran. While analyzing all battles fought during the Prophet’s time, he stresses that each of these wars were defensive in nature and were an attempt to establish peace. They were not intended at converting people to Islam by force, as is usually alleged. Forcible conversion is strictly prohibited in Islam. The Quran clearly says, “There shall be no compulsion in the matter of professing a religion”.


Sir Syed says that Islam does not allow deceit, anarchy, fraud or mutiny. It instructs Muslims to obey and feel obligated to those who have given them security and peace, whether they are Muslims or Non-Muslims. Moreover, all pacts or treaties either with Muslims or Non-Muslims are to be followed faithfully. Islam forbids Muslim from invading any country to conquer it and to forcibly spread Islam. Even a single person is not to be forced to convert to Islam.
However, Sir Syed mentions that the Quran allows Muslims to resort to violence in certain circumstances. Islam steers a middle course between unqualified and unchecked violence on the one hand and slavish submissiveness on the other. It gives due consideration to forgiveness, pity and kindness, but it allows people to seek remedies for their grievances and wrongs.


Sir Syed argues that Islam allows Muslims to fight those, who fight with them, but calls upon them to refrain from any excess. He say that religious laws need to be practical and consistent with natural law and hence it is natural to defend oneself when attacked. According to Sir Syed, there are only two situations when ‘Jihad’ is allowed in Islam (1) when unbelievers, guided by their hatred for Islam and intending to destroy it, attack Muslims. Sir Syed clarifies that an attack on Muslims for mere territorial conquest does not come in this category, and therefore, does not justify ‘Jihad’, (2) when in a country, life and property of Muslims are under threat because of their being Muslims and they are not allowed to discharge their religion obligations. If they are the subjects of that State and had implicitly or explicitly agreed to live in peace, they have no right to rise in revolt against the state. The only legitimate course open to them is to migrate from there. Those not the subject of the State can, however, resort to arms to help their co-religionists to come out of this precarious condition. Even in times of war, Islam has prescribed certain rules, which are to be strictly followed. Children, women, old peoples, disabled, and non-combatants, are not to be killed. Burning or looting, desecrating sacred places and mutilating dead bodies are strictly forbidden. Prisoners of war are not to be enslaved, but released on ransom or granted grace. All efforts need to be made to enter into peace agreement. Jihad says Sir Syed, is not permissible for any other purpose, certainly not for worldly conquests or worldly goods.


Sir Syed’s purpose behind expressing his views on such a sensitive subject was not intended at undermining Islam. Having striven to spread education in the English sciences among Muslim youths, he thought, it was his duty now to do whatever was in his power, to rid the original luminous face of Islam of the black stains of irrationalities read into it or added to it. He believed that if this was not done, the ones educated by him would be disaffected towards Islam. He was convinced that the Quran was in conformity with nature, for him it was not surprising as the “word of God and the work of God” had to harmonize.


The author is a Professor, Department of Political Science, AMU, Aligarh
e-mail: asmer@rediffmail.com

Sir Syed and Secularism

Sir Syed and Secularism



By Prof. Iftekhar Alam Khan *


Note from Webmaster : The article is originally published in monthly Urdu journal, "Urdu Duniya" by National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language. We are reproducing it with the permission from the author Prof. Iftikhar Alma Khan.

Sir Syed aur Jadeediyat - Prof. Iftikhar Alam Khan

Sir Syed ki Scientific Tarz-e-Fikr