A GREAT MUSLIM REFORMER
Following their crushing of the revolution of 1857, the British consolidated their secular rule in the Indian subcontinent, which marginalized, if not totally ignored, religion, particularly Islam. The whole of India suffered in the backlash, but the consequences were most devastating for the Muslims. It was at this critical juncture that Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) gallantly came forward to counter the threat, and to defend the Islamic faith and Muslim community. He was greatly moved by the agony that followed the rebellion and its containment. Notwithstanding his dismissal by some conservative Muslims as an atheist, a traitor and a British agent, Ahmad Khan strongly advocated that Islam is not a religion of violence but of peace that respects other religions. He concentrated on the educational field, which he rightly saw as the best means to raise the Muslims from their backwardness and ignorance vis-à-vis the dominant Hindus. Today the highly respected Aligarh Muslim University in India is a visible monument of his great foresight and outstanding work for Muslims world wide.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was born in 1817 in Delhi. He came from a wealthy family which was well known and respected in the area. Great care was taken by Sir Syed’s father to ensure that he received a high-quality education.By the age of 18 he was skilled in Arabic, Persian, Ahmed Khan Mathematics and Medicine. He had also been introduced to some of India’s most able writers and had developed a love for literature. In 1838 Sir Syed’s father died and he was forced to seek employment. He quickly rose from a lowly position in the legal system to become a judge in Delhi in 1846 .That year he wrote his well-known book on archaeology called Athar-al-Sanadeed. When the War of broke out in 1857 Sir Syed was working as chief judge in Bijnaur and is said to have saved the lives of many women and children during the fighting. In return for his loyalty the British offered him an estate with a large income , but he refused the offer. His belief that armed uprising against the British was pointless him unpopular with some Muslims, but it did not stop him working towards reconciliation between British and the Muslim community after the war .He appointed Chief Justice in Muradabad and later was transferred to Ghazipore. In 1864 he was transferred to Aligarh where he played an important part in establishing a new college. In 1876 he retired cork in the law to concentrate on running the college and to devote himself to improving the positions of Muslims in the sub-continent through education.Aligarh became the centre of a ‘Muslim renaissance’. He died in 27 March 1898, having served his fellow Muslims in a way which few had rivaled.
Sir Syed was extremely unhappy about the position of the Muslims in the subcontinent. Since the days of the Mughal empire their social and economic status had declined sharply. The role of Muslims in the War of Independence had led to a further decline in their fortunes as the British took measures to ensure that their control would not be subject to further challenge. Sir Syed felt that the poor status of the Muslims was due to the way they were treated as second-class citizens by the British and the Hindus, but that they also had to take some of the responsibility themselves. Many Muslims considered the British to be little more than invaders in India and wanted nothing to do with them. Sir Syed believed that the Muslim community had to accept that the British were rulers who intended to stay for many years. The Muslim position could only be improved if they adopted a more positive approach to the British. They needed to accept more British ideas and to take advantage of British education. If they did not, then the Hindus would continue to prosper because of their more cooperative approach. Sir Syed wanted to see the Muslims united and prospering. He also...