Sir Syed Ahmad Khan [1817-1898]

 

"Sir Syed was the Prophet of Education"

-----Ghandi

" 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 his sensitive nature was the first to react modern age"

Book

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, an educational, political and religious reformer was the major formulator of the concept of the "Two-Nation Theory" among Muslims of India in the latter half of the 19th century. As founder of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh and leader of the Aligarh movement, he attempted to acquaint the British with the Indian mind, his next anxiety was to open the minds of his countrymen to European literature, science and technology.

Born in a leading family of Syeds in Delhi in 1817, Syed Ahmad was raised in the religious and cultural style of the Mughal literati and scholastic tradition associated with Shah Wali-Ullah. In defiance of the wishes of his elders, he took service as a subordinate official of the British regime in 1836 and spent the next forty years of his life posted in a series of small North Indian towns. At the same time, he took seriously to writing books and pamphlets which established his reputation as a writer and thinker.

During the 1857 Revolt, he remained a staunch supporter of British rule, but afterwards published a sharp critique of British policies and attitudes. The most significant of his literary works of this period were his pamphlets "Loyal Mohammadans of India" and "Cause of Indian Revolt."  Publications of the Aligarh Movement

 

During the 1860s, Syed Ahmad became an active public leader, journalist and orator as well as the founder of a series of schools and associations - all aimed at a cultural renaissance and a moral and social regeneration through adherence to the real Islamic values and reawakening the Muslims to modern thinking and education.

Publications of the Aligarh Movement

Sir Syed established Gulshan School at Muradabad in 1859, Victoria School at Gazipur in 1863, a scientific society in 1864 and Aligarh Institute Gazette in 1866. Following a trip to England in 1869-70, Syed Ahmad determined to establish an autonomous Indian Muslim educational system which would prepare a new intellectual leadership grounded in Western knowledge as well as in a reformed Islam. Thus, the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College Aligarh, founded in 1857, and Mohammadan Educational Conference in 1886, became centers of communal unity for Indian Muslims.

Publications of the Aligarh Movement

In 1887, Sir Syed, as he came to be known, warned the Muslims to keep away from the Indian National Congress and in order to defend the political fortune of the Muslims, he helped to bring into being the Mohammadan Defense Association in 1893.

On March 27, 1898, Sir Syed, a staunch supporter of Muslim educational progress and the Two-Nation Theory, passed away.