Sir Sayyed Ahmed Khan
1817 - 1898
Sayyed Ahmed Khan was an educationist and a reformer of the Muslim community in India. He had a traditional muslim education at home. Though he was not educated in English, Sayyed became one of the greatest promoters of western education in India. He tried to modernise the outlook of the Muslims. His progressive social ideas were propagated through his magazine Tahdhit -ul -Akhlaq. He established the M.A.O College at Aligarh in 1875, which later was named as Aligarh Muslim University.
Sayyed Ahmed Khan was born in 1817 in Delhi. After completing his traditional muslim education, he in 1837 entered into the service of the East India Company. He rose to the position of a subordinate judge in the administration of North - West province by dint of his merit. He tried to reconcile his co-religionists to modern scientific thoughts and to the British rule and urged them to accept services under the Government.
He gave a scientific approach to Islam. He had done it, not by attacking any basic belief, but by a rationalistic interpretation of scripture. He pointed out the basic similarities between Islam and Christianity. He was against purdah system and condemned the system of`Piri` and`Muridi`. The Piris and fakirs claimed to be the followers of the Sufi school and passed mystic words to their disciples. Having condemned the institution of slavery, he described it Un-Islamic.
Sir Sayyed was one of the greatest exponents of English education in India. He was convinced that his countrymen and his co-religionists could be raised, by imparting western education to them, to a position of social, moral and political greatness. The opening of Mohammadan Anglo-oriental college at Aligarh in 1875 was a boost to his thoughts. Instruction was imparted there both in western arts and sciences and on Muslim religion. The school became the nucleus for the formation of the Muslim University in 1920.
Sayyed founded a society at Ghasipur in 1864 for the translation of the western scientific books into Urdu. Later on this society moved to Aligarh and was called as the "Scientific Society". He also started a journal called "Aligarh Institute Gazette."
Sir Sayyed opposed Muslim`s participation in the activities of National congress because he thought any opposition to the British authorities would deprive him of their help. He tried to down anti-British sentiments among the Muslims. One of the declared objects of the Aligarh College, was "to make the Muslims of India worthy and useful subjects of the British crown". He wanted more time for the Indian Muslims to organise and consolidate their position, which he thought, was the only way to maintain a good relation with the British. Apart from this he emphasised on the unity of Hindus and Muslims for a better India.