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The Aligarh Movement of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

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Who was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan ?

Sir Syed was an Indian Muslim reformer and an educationalist. He was born on 17th of October, 1817 in Delhi, the capital city of India. He got his early education from the spiritual teacher of his father, Shah Ghulam Ali. He was taught the education of Quran and religion by a female tutor. In early age, Sir Syed was interested to learn Persian and Arabic. He was also adept at sports like swimming, shooting etc.

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During his lifetime, Sir Syed tried his best to raise the status of Muslims. He established a lot of educational institutes and wrote a lot of Books. He kept standing with the Muslims in difficult times and fighting for their rights. He played a great role in partition of the Sub-Continent and is considered the father of Two Nation Theory. The great personality was put to rest on 27th March, 1898 at Aligarh, India.

Aftermath of the War of Independence

The Indians were defeated heavily by British in the war. The Mughal rule finally came to an end after the last king Bahadur Shah Zafar was dethroned. The white people captured and sent him to Rangoon, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment. East India Company, a company formed for the purpose of trade between East, Southern Asia and India, captured all the land of Sub-Continent. The hundred-year rule of Muslims in the Sub-Continent had ended and the Muslims were no longer in power. So they had to face a lot of things.

After the war of independence ended, the Muslims had to face a lot of things. They were held completely responsible for the war. They were deprived of their common rights and were not given any government jobs. They had to bear the harsh behavior of British. They spawned a negative attitude amongst the Muslims. It was proved a complete disaster for the Muslims of the Sub-continent.

Seeing this situation of the Muslims, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan realized that the only thing that could raise the status of the nation was modern education. He wanted to transform the look of the Muslims from medieval one to a modern one. He wanted to open up their minds with the British literature, science and technology. So in order to attain these goals, Sir Syed started a movement called Aligarh Movement. The main focus of the Aligarh movement was:

  • Loyalty to British Government.
  • Modern western education for the Muslims to compete with Hindus.
  • To keep away the Muslims from politics.

Educating the Muslims of the Sub-continent would also help the Muslims to compete with Hindus.

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Services of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan:

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Educational:

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan established many different educational institutes that were managed by the Muslims. He established three famous schools for the Muslims so that the children could get the basics of Modern education. The schools of Sir Syed are mentioned below:

  • School at Muradabad (1859)
  • School at Ghazipur (1863)
  • MAO School (1874)

In 1875, Sir Syed formed the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, which was the first Muslim university in Southern Asia. He wanted to build up a college based on the British education system, but without compromising the principles of Islam. He wanted that college to work as a bridge between east and west. Sir Syed founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh. The main objective of the scientific society was to translate the educational and technical literature from English and European languages to the languages that were spoken in India. Sir Syed believed that the Muslims would get the best knowledge only in their own native language.

Literary:

Sir Syed brought a change in the lives of Muslims of the sub-continent through his literature. His poems and books revolutionized them and changed their thinking pattern. He used literature to highlight the burning issues of his age. Asarus Sanadeed, Asbab-E-Baghawat-E-Hind, The Aligarh Institute Gazette and Tehzeeb-ul-Akhlaq are the famous pieces of literature of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Sir Syed did a wonderful job to change the Indian society through his literature. He made unforgettable marks on literature and the lives of people of the sub-continent especially Muslims.

Social:

In 1871, Sir Syed established a journal named ‘Tehzeeb-ul-Akhlaq’. This journal included thought-provoking essays and discussions on general issues. Sir Syed disliked the social evils like slavery, polygamy and pretentious behavior, but also supported the non-Muslims on some issues that were said to be outdated. Like when the Christians criticized the practice of veil, Sir Syed was in favor.

He was a champion of women rights too. It is often stated that he was against the education of women, but it is not true. He wanted the women to get educated, but he believed that the task of educating boys should be taken as the first priority. He appealed the Muslims to encourage widow-marriage to earn blessings in this world and in the hereafter.

Religious:

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan contributed a lot in the religion. He wrote a pamphlet, which was basically a commentary on Bible. In this pamphlet, he mentioned the similarities between Islam and Christianity. The first religious book written by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was ‘Jila’al- Qulub bi Zikr al- Mahbub’. In this book, he mentioned the biography of the Holy Prophet PBUH. He wrote another book named ‘Food Laws of People of the Book’. In this, he explained the Muslims that Islam does not forbid from eating with Christians.

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