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SIR SYED (1817-98) & ALI GARH MOVEMENT

A. BACKGROUND:
1. The events of 1857 have a two-fold significance in the history of modern
Muslim India. They dealt a final blow to the idea of the Mughal Empire on
one hand, and they put a seal on the debacle of the Muslims in all walks of
life on the other.
2. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, After the
Holocaust of 1857, the Indian Muslims came under a dark cloud. It
was perhaps natural for the new rulers to turn their back on those
who by religion were connected with the erstwhile rulers of India.
The Muslims were not only dislodged from power but were also
penalized. The government singled them out for exclusion from any
position of responsibility, as it was very widely believed that the
responsibility for the Sepoy Mutiny rested mainly on the Muslims.
It was therefore quite natural again for the British authorities to
suspect the Indian Muslims as potential rebels. The Muslims share
in the administration of the country was reduced to negligible
proportions.
3. W. W. Hunter in the Indian Mussalmans, There is now scarcely a
government office in Calcutta in which a Muhammadan can hope for any
post above the rank of porter, messenger, filler of ink-pots and menders of
pens.
4. The War of Independence 1857 ended in disaster for the Muslims. The
British chose to believe that the Muslims were responsible for the anti-British
uprising; therefore they made them the subject of ruthless punishments and
merciless vengeance. The British had always looked upon the Muslims as
their adversaries because they had ousted them from power. With the
rebellion of 1857, this feeling was intensified and every attempt was made to
ruin and suppress the Muslims forever. Their efforts resulted in the
liquidation of the Mughal rule and the Sub-continent came directly under the
British crown.
5. After dislodging the Muslim rulers from the throne, the new rulers, the
British, implemented a new educational policy with drastic changes. The
policy banned Arabic, Persian and religious education in schools and made
English not only the medium of instruction but also the official language in
1835. This spawned a negative attitude amongst the Muslims towards
everything modern and western, and a disinclination to make use of the
opportunities available under the new regime. This tendency, had it
continued for long, would have proven disastrous for the Muslim community.
6. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, Coupled with this

policy of repression by the government was the Muslims unwillingness to


reconcile themselves to the changed circumstances. They were loath to take
to western learning as it would, they thought, produce disbelief in the
Muslim faith. It was argued that to read English was forbidden by the laws of
Islam. Pride of race, memory of bygone superiority, religious fears and a
not natural attachment to the learning of Islam was some of the most
powerful factors which precluded the Muslims from accepting their new
position. They were not prepared to change with the times.
7. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, While the Muslims
thus sulked in the corner brooding over their misfortunes, the majority
community, with its traditional flexibility of mind, continued to make a great
progress.
8. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, They desperately
needed a bold leader who can pull them out of the quagmire and stem the
tide of their further degeneration. It was at this time that Syed Ahmed Khan
came forward to lead the destinies of his co-religionists and help them steer
through stormy seas of ignorance and superstitions to safe shores of
confidence and fresh aspirations.
B. INTRODUCTION:
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a social reformer, a political leader, a religious
thinker and as a moralist, a rationalist, a humanist and a jurist, he
contributed much to the realm of theology, philosophy, religion, history,
literature, education and politics, besides building institutions which aimed at
eradicating ignorance, apathy and superstition.
2. Sir Syed washed off the dust of the centuries and melted the ice of
rigidities that had made the Muslims moribund. It was he who brought about
a rapprochement b/w the British and the Muslims who had been
characterized for over a century as the inveterate foes of the colonies.
3. A great thinker and reformer, Syed Ahmed Khan shaped the destiny of
Muslims in the subcontinent and galvanized a frustrated mass of people into
a nation with a future.
4. Syed Ahmed Khan appeared on the horizon of Indo-Pak at a time when
the existence of the Muslims in the subcontinent was at a stake.
5. Sir Syed's first and foremost objective was to acquaint the British with
the Indian mind; his next goal was to open the minds of his countrymen to
European literature, science and technology.
C. EARLY EDUCATION & PROFESSION:
The great emancipator of the Indian Muslims Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was a scion of a
noble family and was born on 17 october 1817 in Delhi.
Sir Syed was very healthy by birth and his grandfather remarked: A Jat has been born
in our family. (S.M Ikram, Modern muslim India). He got his early education from his
maternal-grandfather Khwaja Farid-ud-din, who was for eight years Prime minister at

the Moghul Court. Khwaja Farid was a distinguished scholar and the only
mathematician in his days.
Sir Syed received education in Holy Quran, Arabic and Persian literature. He also
acquired excellence in history, mathematics and medicine. His mother was a very wise
lady who trained Sir syed ahmed Khan in various subjects.
After completing his education, Sir syed had to join govenmnet services as his father
died in 1838. The death of his father and grandfather increased financial problems of
the family. In the beginning he was offered a clerical job in 1839 but he soon qualified
for the post of munasif(sub-judje) in 1841 and was posted at fatehpur sikri. When his
elder brother dies he sought his transfer to delhi where he remained form 1846 to 1854.
After serving in different capacities he was elevated to the position of chief Judge in
1864.
D. CONTRIBUTION IN POLITICS: the political career of Sir Syed began after
1857.
Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, He was neither a
politician nor a political leader. He was essentially a social reformer and his
panacea for all the ill of his community was education.
1. The Causes of the Indian Revolt (1858): on July 28 1859 about 15,000
Muslims assembled in the famous Delhi mosque to thank Queen Victoria for
the general amnesty. He wrote, The British had no attachments with the
land over which they ruled and had no access to the minds of its people.
The book was translated and sent to all, high officials and members of the
British parliament.
HUME, the father of the India National Congress said, It was after reading
Syed Ahmeds book on the Causes of Mutiny that I first felt the need of
having a forum of public opinion of India and eventually the Indian National
Congress came into existence.
Sir Syed wrote, Granted that the intentions of government were excellent,
there was no man who could convince the people of it; no one was at hand
to correct the errors which they had adopted.
Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, The pith and soul of this
pamphlet is that the estrangement b/w the governors and the governed led
to the Indian Mutiny.
2. Pamphlet The Loyal Muhammadans of India (1860): these were the
series of articles.
3. Tabyin-ul-Kalam: he tried to bridge the gap b/w the Christians and the
Muslims. Sent 500 copies to British parliament.
4. British Indian Association (1866): purpose was to keep in touch with the
British parliamentarians. Both Hindus and Muslims could be the members.

5. Urdu-Hindi Controversy (1867): it was started at Benares. He said, Now I


am convinced that these two communities will not join whole-heartedly in
anything. He who lives will see.
6. Speech on Local Self Government System (1883): For socio-political
purposes the whole of the population of England forms but one
community. It is obvious that the same cannot be set of India.
7. United Indian Patriotic Association (1888): As a practical counterblast to
the Congress, Sir Syed formed still another association in August 1888,
which was open to members of all communities.
He founded United Indian Patriotic Association and in connection with this
party he wrote to General Graham, The aim of this party is to oppose the
political ideals and activities of the Congress.
And Sir Syed was correct in his thoughts, it is also clear from the statement
of the Governor of Madras who once said, An eagle doesnt care a bit for the
chirping of sparrows (Hindus) but if a falcon (Muslims) dares to oppose him
he at once breaks its neck.
E. RELIGIOUS SERVICES:
1. Risalah Ahkam-I-Taam-I-Ahli-I-Kitab (1868): In which the principles and
etiquettes of eating and dining in Islam were discussed. In this magazine Sir
Syed wrote thast it was against Islam to eat with the Christians on the same
table. He gave references from the Holy quran and proved that it was not
Un-Islamic to eat with a nation who was the barrier of a holy book.
7. Muhammadan Defence Association (1893): to counter Anti-Cow Killing
Society founded by B. G. Tilak in 1890. Its aim was to acquaint the
authorities with the views of the Indian Muslims and also to prevent them
from participating in political agitation., writes Waheed-uz-Zaman.

F. AS A FATHER OF TWO-NATION THEORY:


1. After the Urdu Hindi controversy, now I am convinced that these two
communities will not join whole heartedly in anything, he who lives will see.
G. EDUCATIONAL SERVICES:
1. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman wrote in Towards Pakistan, He firmly believed
that the crying need of the moment for his community was not their
participation in politics but a comprehensive plan of education to fit them for
life in a changing world.

2. As a prophet of education:
In the words of Iqbal, The real greatness of the man consists in the fact
that he was the first India Muslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of
Islam and worked for it his sensitive nature was the first to react modern
age. He was appreciated by The Times of London as a Prophet of Education.
3. Educate, Educate & Educate: In our right hand will be the Holy Quran
and there will be philosophy in our left hand and then there will be Crown of
Laelaha on our head.
4. 1859: Built Gulshan School in Muradabad.
5. 1863: Set up Victoria School in Ghazipur.
6. Translation Society (1864): established in Ghazipur. It was later on known
as Ali Garh Scientific Society; the purpose was to translate the European
books into Urdu for Muslims. It was being managed by Raja Jai Kishan Das.
7. Ali Garh Institute Gazette (1866): he himself wrote articles and editorials.
8. Society for Educational Progress of Indian Muslims (1870): in 1869, he
went to London and took a keen observation of Oxford and Cambridge and
decided to establish a university in India.
9. Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq (1870): he founded a monthly journal in the lines of
Spectator, an English magazine. Its object was to bring home to the
Muslims the need for liberalizing their religious thoughts and turning to
western education in order to regain their former prosperity.
10. Muhammadan college Fund Committee (1872): purpose was to raise
funds for new educational institutions. It worked for 3-years.
11. Ali Garh (May 24 1875):
Sir Syed 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. This college may expand into a university whose sons
shall go forth throughout the length and breadth of the land to preach the
gospel of free enquiry, of large hearted toleration, and of pure morality.
Firstly MAO college, later on in 1920, it became Ali Garh Muslim University
(AMU).
12. Ali Garh as nursery of politicians: Quaid regarded it as a nursery of
politicians. He also said that Ali Garh is the arsenal of Muslim India. He
further stated, Ali Garh is the ammunition for the Pakistan movement.
13. Ali Garh Movement & Freedom Fighters: Muhammad Ali, Shaukat Ali,
Hasrat Mohani.
14. Scholars of Ali Garh: Saddat Hasan Minto, Ismat Chughtai.

15. Muhammadan Educational Conference (1886): a general forum which


held its meetings at various places and carried the message of Ali Garh at all
parts of the country.
16. United Indian Patriotic Association (1888): As a practical counterblast to
the Congress, Sir Syed formed still another association in August 1888,
which was open to members of all communities.
17. The Muhammadan Defense Association of Upper India (1893):
H. CONCLUSION:
1. He once said, I dont agree with those who believe that political
discursion would be conducive to our national progress. I regard progress of
education as the only means of national progress.
2. He was denounced as Kafir, but he persisted with determination.
3. Dr. Waheed-uz-Zaman, Towards Pakistan: Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was
neither a traitor nor a turn coat. He sincerely believed that the Muslims were
backward, educationally and economically, and were far behind the Hindus in
every respect. There could be no cooperation between them in a political
struggle unless they were on a footing of quality. He, therefore, worked
ceaselessly to divert the Muslim energies into literary rather than political
activities. Cooperation with the government was their only chance. He
started out as a nationalist and ended up as a champion of Muslim rights.
4. Sir Syeds contribution to Muslim renaissance in India can be summarized
in one phrase, that it was the inculcation of self-confidence in his people.
5. He shaped the destiny Muslims with a nation with future.