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HomeHistoryFreedomofExpressionFuelingtheFireSIRSYEDAHMADKHANTHEREFORMIST

SIRSYEDAHMADKHANTHE
REFORMIST
HischiefconcernwasEDUCATIONeducationforalltheMuslimsandhe
emphasisedoneducationforgirls/womenaswell.Herecognisedthatthestate
ofMuslimscouldnotbereformedwithoutgainingeducationtheywouldhave
tobringachangeintheirapproachtowardseducationinordertogrowand
prosper.HebelievedtheprogressofMuslimcommunitywasimpossible
withoutgaininghighereducation.

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FreedomofExpressionFuelingtheFire
Monday,October01,2012

SirSyedAhmadKhanborninDelhiin1817wasconsideredasthegreatestreformeroftheMuslimsofsubcontinent.His
familyhadacompactconnectionwiththeMughalcourts.Hismothertookapronouncedinterestinhiseducation.Hereadand
understoodtheQur'an,receivedhisearlyeducationinDelhi.HewasproficientinUrdu,Arabic,Persianandreligioussubjects.
HethoroughlystudiedthewritingsoftheprominentMuslimscholars.Inaddition,hestudiedmathematics,Islamic
Jurisprudenceandastronomy.Withsuchabroadbackgroundofearlyeducation,histalentgroomedwhichdevelopedthe
facultyoflookingdeepintoaffairs.Moreover,hisdiligenceandloveforIslamplayedakeyrolewhichcultivatedanurgeinhim
todosomethingfortheMuslimsofthesubcontinent.
SirSyedAhmadKhan'smajorcontributiontowardstheMuslimnationwasthathewasthefounderofAligarhMuslim
University.Allofhisefforts,whichcanbeseenthroughhisworks,weremainlytoimprovetheplightoftheMuslimsandwere
devotedforthewellbeingoftheMuslimsofthesubcontinent.
Hischiefconcernwas,inoneword,EDUCATIONeducationforalltheMuslimsandheemphasisedoneducationfor
girls/womenaswell.HerecognisedthatthestateofMuslimscouldnotbereformedwithouteducationtheywouldhaveto
bringachangeintheirapproachtowardseducationtogrowandprosper.HebelievedtheprogressofMuslimcommunitywas
impossiblewithouthighereducation.
HereitisessentialtoknowastowhytheMuslimsofthesubcontinentwerelaggingbehindineducationandwhytheyusedto
experiencehatredforthewesterneducationwhichprovedtobeahurdlebetweenthemandtheknowledge.
Firstly,MuslimsbelievedthattheirtraditionalIslamiclearning/teachingsweresuperiortothatofthewestern.Secondly,they
didnot'own'thiseducationbecausethiswesterneducationwasimposeduponthembytheforeigners.Lastlyandmost
importantly,Muslimsofthesubcontinentassumedthattheirbeliefswouldbecorruptedbythewesterneducationbecausethis
knowledgewascomingtothemfromtheChristianshenceitwouldbeencapsulatingChristiansystemofbeliefs(Christianity)
whichcouldendangertheirfaith.

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jworldtimes.com/Article/102012_SIR_SYED_AHMAD_KHAN_THE_REFORMIST

Muslimsofthesubcontinentassumedthattheirbeliefswouldbecorruptedbythe
westerneducationbecausethisknowledgewascomingtothemfromtheChristians
henceitwouldbeencapsulatingChristiansystemofbeliefs(Christianity)which
couldendangertheirfaith.
AligarhMovementwasSirSyedAhmadKhan'ssupremeaccomplishment.Themovementwasagreateducationalproject
havingoneclearobjective:ToEducateMuslims,consideringittheonlycureofallthesufferingsoftheMuslimsofthesub
continent.TheunderlyingobjectivesweretoencourageMuslimsofthesubcontinenttotryforalltheopportunitiesavailableto
themundertheBritishgovernmentwithoutharmingtheirfundamentalbeliefsandtoremovethestrainandmisapprehension
betweenthenewBritishRajandtheMuslims.
AftertheWarofIndependence(1857),Muslimswerefacingacrucialstage.TheyhadastronghatefortheEnglishmen,their
education,languageandculture.Theykepttheirchildrenawayfromthewesterneducation.TheirilliteracyabouttheEnglish
languagewascreatingadistancebetweenthemandtherespectablegovernmentposts.Itwascreatingadestructiveimpacton
theMuslimsinterests.SirSyedAhmadKhaninferredtheneedofthetimeandtooktheresponsibilitytoeducateMuslims.First
ofallhetriedtoclarifythemisunderstandingoftheBritishgovernmentbywritingessaysonthecausesoftheIndianRevolt
(AsbaabeBaghawateHind).

Afterthat,heshiftedhissoleinteresttotheeducationoftheMuslims.HetoldMuslimsthatacquiringthewesterneducation
andlanguagewouldnotcorrupttheirbelief,ratheritwasindispensabletocompetewiththeHindus.
Forthispurpose,SirSyedAhmadKhanissuedamagazinenamedTahzeebulIkhlaqwhichexpoundedadoptablewestern
manners.Inthismagazinehewrotevariousessaysspanningeducational,religiousandphilosophicalissuestorevolutionise
attitudeofMuslimstowardswesterneducation.
AtMuradabad,SirSyedAhmadKhanfoundedGulshanSchoolin1859.InGhazipur,heinstitutedVictoriaSchool(1863)anda
ScientificSocietyin1864.Inthefollowingyear,ScientificSocietyshiftedtoAligarh.ThepurposeoftheScientificSocietywasto
translatepracticalandscientificworkswritteninEnglishlanguageintoUrdu.
TheobjectiveoftheAligarhInstituteGazettewastokeeptheBritishgovernmentinformedabouttheinclinationsofthe
IndiansandtofacilitatetheIndianstounderstandtheBritishsway.
SirSyedAhmadKhanjourneyedtoEnglandduring186970.HewroteadefenceinreplytoSirWilliamMuir'sbookLifeof
Mahomet.ThedefencewaspublishedinaseriesofpamphletswhichweresoonpublishedinUrduaswellandwasnamedas
KhutbaateMuhammadiathisdefenceofthelifeoftheProphet(S.A.W.)earnexceptionalpopularityamongthenationsin
India.
DuringhisjourneytoEngland,hegotachancetowatchtheBritishsystemofeducationkeenlyandclosely.Whileexamining
Britisheducationalinstitutions,hegotanideatofoundacollegeparticularlyfortheMuslimsforthereasonthatthe
old/traditionalsystemofeducationwasnomorecompatiblewiththemoderndemands.Hesaid,Itwasnotbadbuttheold
threadwithwhichtheribshadbeentiedwasnowbrokenandanewthreadwasneededtoretiethem.
Furthermore,hesaid,thesmallimitatethegreatnotgreatthesmall.Hefeltanurgentneedtoopenagreateducational
institutiontospreadmoderneducationtothelowerstrataofthesociety.
AfterhisstayatEngland,hecamebacktoIndiawithseveraleducationalpatterns.Keepingthoseallinview,hestartedhis
educationalmovementwithagreaterzealandzest.Asaresultofwhich,hefoundedMuhammadanAngloOrientalCollegein
1875anddevotedtherestofhislifetothiscollege.Afterhisdeath,thecollegegotthestatusofuniversityin1920.The
college,undoubtedly,playedamajorroleintheawarenessoftheMuslimsofthesubcontinent.
Thus,througheducation,SirSyedAhmadKhantriedtocuretherootkeepinginmindthatthetreewoulditselfflourish.

Illiteracyisthemotherofpoverty.Povertycomestothatnationwhichhasnoliteracyandwhenit(poverty)comes,ittendsto
createsomanycrimes,saidhe.Hence,heinsistedalltheMuslimstogeteducationtoeradicateallthedeficienciesdueto
whichMuslimsofthesubcontinentweresufferingfromseeminglyaneverendingmisery.

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