Published on: October 18, 2021
SIR SYED AHMAD KHAN
What is in news : Birth Anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan celebrated recently
- Born in Delhi
- Educated in the Quran and the sciences.
- Received an honorary law degree from the University of Edinburgh
- His elder brother had set up a printing press in Urdu. It was the first one in Delhi.
- Took up employment with his brother’s journal as an editor.
- Rejected an offer of employment from the Mughal court despite his family being employed in the Mughal court for generations.
- Then he took up work as a clerk with the East India Company.
- During the 1857 revolt, he lost many relatives. He was highly affected by the defeat of the Mughal Empire.
- Wrote a profound booklet ‘Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind’ (Reasons for the Indian Revolt of 1857) which cited British ignorance and aggressive expansion policies as the chief causes of the revolt.
- Stressed on the importance of modern scientific education for Muslims to advance their conditions.
- Advocated the learning of English
- Against superstition and evil customs prevalent in society then.
- Advocated inter-faith understanding.
- Was also a scholar on Christianity, and wrote a book, ‘Commentary on the Holy Bible’.
- Believed that Muslim society could move ahead only if rigid orthodoxy was abandoned and pragmatism was adopted.
- In 1869, he received the Order of the Star of India from the British government.
- Set up many educational institutes to propagate education, the most significant being the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College (MAOC) which he set up in 1875. This later became the Aligarh Muslim University. The MAOC was instrumental in the Aligarh Movement of the 19th century which was an important movement of a renaissance among Indian Muslims. This had lasting ramifications on the politics, religion and culture of the country. An unintended effect was the propounding of the two-nation theory that ultimately led to calls for creating Pakistan.
- Believed to be the first Indian Muslim who understood the need for a fresh orientation of Islam.
- Founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh modelling it on the Royal Society of England. This society held annual conferences and published and distributed scientific material in English and Urdu.
- Knew that orthodox Muslim hostility to modern science and technology will come in the way of socio-economic improvement.
- Gave rational interpretations of Islamic scriptures. Many orthodox groups of that time declared him to be a ‘kafir’.
- Advocate of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Indian Muslims. His works propagated the language and also proposed to the government to use Urdu officially.
- Nominated to the Viceroy’s Legislative Council in 1878.
- Supported Dadabhai Naoroji and Surendranath Banerjee in obtaining representation for Indians in the government and the civil services.
- Was wary of the rise of Indian nationalism as he thought power would pass into the hands of the Hindus alone. He advocated Muslims to have loyalty to the British. In his own words, “we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the people of the Book.”
- According to him, modern education was the most important path for improvement in the condition of Indian Muslims.
- Called for the study of European science and technology. He pointed out that there was no fundamental contradiction between Quran and Natural science.
- Founded Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in 1875 to educate Muslims scientifically.
- Regarded as one of the founders of the Two-Nation Theory which says that Hindus and Muslims cannot be one nation.
- Knighted by the British in 1888.
- He died on 27 March 1898 aged 80 in Aligarh.