Aligarh Movement- Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Aligarh Movement- Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
Beginning of the 19th century witnessed the collapse of the Muhammadan empire in India.
This had direct effect on the Muslims as they had enjoyed economic power.
They developed bitter feeling against Europeans.
As a result Muslims failed to take advantage of the new education. Consequently the Muslims’   position in the North was more backward than the Hindus.

Syed Ahmad Khan (Delhi)
Born in 1817. From a noble family that had connections with the government.
He received Muhammadan education. He also found a position in British administration.

During Mutiny, he was instrumental in saving many Europeans.
He saw the dangerous condition of his community.
He grasped the real value of British rule in India..
He saw that Muslims in India should absorb the science and the education of the west.
Must introduce much social reforms within themselves.

Thus he spoke to friends and published pamphlets and books.
He also formed an association for the study of western science.

He started English schools, emphasized value of western education and culture.

He felt that westerners also should know Indian opinion including political.
Thus in 1866 started British Indian Association  to focus Indian opinion on politics.
In 1869 he went to England with his son to study English life and politics.
He paid more attention to education.

After returning to India, he published a monthly periodical  in Urdu “Tahzibul Akhlaq (reform of morals).
He combated prejudice against western science.
Advocated greater social freedom.
Encouraged Muslims for self confidence and vigorous effort.
Encouraged  friendship (relation) between Europeans and Muslims.
He lived in English style, received English guests and accepted their hospitality.

Consequently he was excommunicated, slandered and persecuted. He was called atheist, renegade and antichrist. But he held bravely on.

The climax of his educational effort was “Anglo Muhammadan College”  at Aligarh.
He wanted it to be like Oxford and Cambridge to the Muslims.
 He thought that good education (like western) and religious education (kuran) will produce people of good capacity.
The basic principle was that education must rest on religion.

Objectives of the college:
Muslims acquire English education without prejudice to their religion.
To organize boarding houses.
To give complete education.

Religious education was also given.
The college proved successful. Convinced the value of western education.
Khan started ‘Muhammadan Education Conference’. People from different places participated.
He also began permeation with modern ideas in religion.
            For him Muslim law has made human freedom impossible.  He was critical of Kuran, idea of God etc.

Against the tradition he said, Bible and Kuran did not contradict one another.
He emphasized reason. For him, reason alone is a sufficient guide.
He was also in favor of Mutazilites school (liberal).

Political reforms:
When Muslims considered India as Dar-ut-harah (house of war0 he called it Dar-Ul- Islam (house of Islam). He published tract explaining ‘the cause of Indian Mutiny’.
To strengthen relationship he started the British Indian Association.

Education Reform:
He emphasized on western education and social reform.
Started an ‘Association for the study of western science’.
He toured England. Lived in European style.
In 1875 started a school in Aligarh, later it became a college in 1877.
He organized All India Mohammadan Education conference in 1886.

Religious Reforms:
Bible not corrupt. Hindus are not infidels.  Advocated Hindu Muslim unity. Reason alone is a sufficient guide.

 Social Reforms:
Khan disapproved Purdah.
He opposed polygamy.

The Aligarh Movement:
Syed was accepted by the government (for elite and peasants).
Government gave funds to college when in crisis.
In 1887 Syed asked Muslims not to join congress (it is not anti-national).
Did not want Hindus to rule but the British to continue. Syed wanted a secular state (religion and politics should be separated).

In 1906 Muslim League was born (demand for Pakistan) in one of the Muhammadan educational conferences. This was after the death of Syed in 1898.

In 1920 the college was raised to the status of a university. (AMU)
Later it became the intellectual center for the demand for Pakistan(Syed was not responsible).


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