A Glorious Chapter of Our History!
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).
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.
Taken from Ali Garh Movement by Afzal Usmani.