Syed Ahmad Khan

Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, KCSI (Urdu: سر سید احمد خان‎) born Syed Ahmad Taqvi (Urdu: سید احمد تقوی‎), on October 17, 1817 – died March 27, 1898, commonly known as Sir Syed, was an Indian educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. Sir Syed pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in India by founding the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University. His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim entrepreneurs and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims of India.

In 1842, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II revived upon Sir Syed Ahmad Khan the title of Javad-ud Daulah, conferred upon Syed Ahmad’s grandfather Syed Hadi by Emperor Shah Alam II in about the middle of the 18th century. The Emperor added to it the additional title of Arif Jang. The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Syed Ahmad Khan’s incorporation into the nobility of Delhi.

Born into Muslim nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he remained loyal to the British and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. After the rebellion he penned the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (The Causes of the Indian Mutiny) — a daring critique, at the time, of British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt. Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organising Muslim entrepreneurs. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of Indian Muslims.

One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the Indian independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Raj. He denounced nationalist organisations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organisations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Indian Muslims, and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and entrepreneurs. Prior to the Hindi–Urdu controversy, he was Interested in the education of Muslims and Hindus both and this was the period in which Sir Syed visualised India as a beautiful bride whose one eye was Hindu and the other Muslim and due to this stance Sir Syed was regarded as a reformer and nationalist leader but there was a sudden change in his policies after the Hindi–Urdu controversy. His Education and reformist policies became Muslim specific and he fought for the status of Urdu until his last breath.Maulana Hali, in his book Hayat-e-Javed, writes "One day as Sir Syed was discussing educational affairs of Muslims with Mr Shakespeare, the then Commissioner of Banaras. Mr Shakespeare looked surprised and asked him, ‘This is the first time when I have heard you talking specifically about Muslims. Before this you used to talk about the welfare of the common Indians.'" He then told him, "Now I am convinced the two communities will not put their hearts in any venture together. This is nothing, in the coming times an ever increasing hatred and animosity appears on the horizon simply because of those who are regarded as educated. Those who will be around will witness it." Therefore in Pakistan, he is hailed as the father of Two Nation Theory and one of the founding fathers of Pakistan with Allama Iqbal and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

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.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Read more about Syed Ahmad Khan:  Early Life, Career, Causes of The Indian Revolt, Sir Syed and Mirza Ghalib, Scholarly Works, Muslim Reformer, Advocacy of Urdu, Political Career, Legacy, Conclusion

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