Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan Chronology

October 17
1817 Birth at Dehli.
1828 Death of Khwaja Fariduddin, maternal grandfather.
1837 Sayyid-ul-Akhbar started by Sayyid Muhammad Khan.
1838 Death of his father, Sayyid Muhammad Muttaqi.

1839 Appointed Naib Munshi at Agra.

December 24
1841 Appointed Munsif at Mainpuri.

January 10
1842 Transferred from Mainpuri to Fatehpur Sikri.
1842 Received the title of Jawad-ud-Daula Arif Jung from the Mughal court.
1842 Completed Jila-ul-Qulub bi Zikr il Mahbub.
1844 Completed Tuhfa-i-Hasan and Tashil fi jar-i-Saqil.
1845 Death of Sayyid Muhammad Khan, his brother.
1847 First edition of Asar-us-Sanadid appeared.
1849 Completed Kalamat-ul-Haqq.
1850 Completed Risala Sunnat dar radi bid'at.
1852 Completed Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh and Silsilat ul-Mulk.
1854 Second edition of Asar-us-Sanadid.

January 13
1855 Appointed permanent Sadr Amin at Bijnor.
1855 Edited A'in-i-Akbari.

May 10
1857 Revolt breaks out.
1857 Death of his mother at Meerut.

1858 Appointed Sadr us Sadur, Moradabad.
1858 Published Tarikh Sarkashi-i-Zilla Bijnor.
1859 Nominated member of special commission for hearing appeals about confiscated property.
1859 Published Causes of the Indian Revolt.
1859 Established a madrasa at Moradabad.
1860 Published Loyal Muhammadans of India.
1860 Famine in N.W.Provinces and relief work by Sayyid Ahmad Khan.
1861 French translation of Asar-us-Sanadid by Garcin de Tassy.
1861 Death of his wife.

May 12
1862 Transferred to Ghazipur.
1862 Edited Tarikh-i-Feroz Shahi.
1863 Published a pamphlet on education.
1864 Laid the foundation of a madrasa at Ghazipur.
1864 Transferred to Aligarh.

July 4
1864 Elected Honorary Member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.

December 30
1865 Sends a memorandum to the Government about the intention of the Scientific
Society to publish books on agriculture.
1866 Aligarh Institute Gazette started.

August 1
1867 Sends a memorandum to the Viceroy for establishment of a vernacular university.

August 15
1867 Transferred to Benares.

September 25
1867 Started homeopathic dispensary and hospital at Benares.

April 1
1869 Leaves Benares for England.

August 6
1869 Receives the insignia of C.S.I.

September 4
1870 Left London for India.

October 2
1870 Reached Bombay.

December 24
1870 Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq started.

December 26
1870 Established the Committee for the Better Diffusion and Advancement of Learning among Muhammadans of India.

1873 Scheme for establishing a college presented.

May 24
1875 Inauguration of the college.

June 1
1875 Regular teaching starts at M.A.O. College.
1876 Retired from service.
1876 Starts writing commentary on the Quran.

January 8
1877 Lord Lytton's visit to Aligarh.
1878 Nominated member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council.
1882 Appears before the Education Commission.
1883 Founded Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association.
1883 Established Muhammadan Association, Aligarh.
1886 Established Muhammadan Educational Conference.
1887 Nominated member of the Civil Service Commission by Lord Dufferin.

1888 Established Patriotic Association at Aligarh. 1888 Received K.C.S.I.
1889 Received the degree of LL.D. honoris causa from Edinburgh. Circulates the Trustee Bill.

March 27
1898 Death at Aligarh

A Poem On Mera chaman

woh ek chaman hai khaar bhi jiska hai khubru
woh ek chaman hai jo har gul ki hai aarzu
woh ek chaman hai khushbu jiski hai chaar su
woh ek chaman hai jo har chaman ki hai aabru.

ham aligarh ko haseen gulshan kahte hain

woh maikhana hai banTti hai jahan ilm ki sharaab
jhoomte hain pee ke wahan deewane behisaab
har sharaabi wahan ka hai ek tahzeeb ki kitaab
peeta raha wahan jo bahar hai saaqi-e-kaamyaab

ham aligarh ko ilm ka watan kahte hain

woh jagah hai noor-e-ilm nawazne ka jahan intezaam hai
wahan har kisi ka aftab, mahtab ya sitaron me naam hai
unchaa suraiyya se wahan ke har taare ka muqaam hai
is baat ka charchaa to mehfil-e-anjum me aam hai

ham aligarh ko noor ka watan kahte hain

woh lau hai jiski chamak ka shaahid raha zamana
sikhlata raha zamane ko mohabbat jiska deewana
mashhoor hai zamane me unki betaabi ka afsana
zindagi paata hai jis me jal jal ke parwana

ham aligarh ko shama-e-roshan kahte hain

Mansoor Hasan Khan
SSSC (10+2)'2000

Sir Syed's Last Message to Aligarians

Oh My dear Children,

You have reached a particular stage and remember one thing that when I undertook the task, there was criticism all around against me, abuses were hurled upon me, life had become so difficult for me that I aged before my age, I lost my hair, my eyesight, but not my vision.

My vision never dimmed, my determination never failed, I built this institution for you and I am sure, you will carry the light of this institution far and wide, darkness will disappear from all around.

Syed Ahmad

with thanx :

Sir Syed: Zartab Haider

October 17th reminds us of a great Muslim reformer, educationist and a legendary figure, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who was born on this date in 1817 in Delhi.

Aligarh Muslim University which became a symbol of Muslim quest towards modern education was the brain-child of this great personality.

Born in a noble family of Mughal empire, Sir Syed was more in influence of her mother than his father. His mother Aziz un Nisa took great interest in the education and upbringing of Sir Syed and her rigid discipline and supervision guided him in his character formation.

The death of his father in 1838 left the family in difficulties. Thus young Syed Ahmad was compelled at the early age of 21 to look for a career. He entered the service of the East India Company. He started his career as Sarishtedar in a court of law. He became Naib Munshi in 1839 and Munshi in 1841. In 1858 he was promoted and appointed as Sadar-us-Sadur at Muradabad.

While working as a Jurist he developed an interest toward writing and he published a series of treatises in Urdu on religious subjects in 1842. Though it was his book Athar Assanadid (Great Mounments) which won him a national fame and he was being considered as a cultural scholar. His other Literary works include Jila-ul-qulub bi -Zikr-il Mahbub, Tuhfa-i-Hasan,Tahsil-fi-jar-e-Saqil, Namiqa dar bayan masala tasawwur-i-Shaikh, Silsilat ul-Mulk, Asbab-e-Bhaghawath-e-Hind (The Causes of the Indian Mutiny), Loyal Muhammadans of India, Tabyin-ul-Kalam, A Series of Essays on the Life of Muhammad and Subjects Subsidiary Therein. Apart from that he also wrote a commentary on Bible and Quran.

There were many inspirations which were the binding force behind his many literary works, like the commentary on Bible was written by him suggesting that Christianity is the closest religion to Islam in terms of culture and traditions, also Asbab-i-Bhagawat-i-Hind was inspired by the unethical expansion of British colonial rule and the massacare of Indian mass in the aftermath of 1857 mutiny by the Britishers.

During 1850’s Sir Syed Ahmad Khan began developing a strong passion for education. He thrived hard to inject the western style of education among the Indian masses and worked throughout his life to achieve this goal, he was against the traditional dogma and religious orthodoxy which were the influential themes among the muslims at that time. He was criticised by many religious zealots at that time and even been termed as kafir for his efforts.

Committed to working for the upliftment of Muslims, Sir Syed founded a modern madrassa in Moradabad in 1859; this was one of the first religious schools to impart scientific education. He established another modern school in Ghazipur in 1863. Upon his transfer to Aligarh in 1864, he founded the Scientific Society of Aligarh which were on the lines of Royal society and Royal Asiatic society. He enrolled many renowned personalities across India in this society and held annual meetings of the same which in turn decide about the allocation of fund for educational causes across India. He published two journals also, Aligarh Institute Gazzette and Tehzeeb-ul Ikhlaq. Tehzeeb-ul-Ikhlaq succeeded in infusing a desire among Muslims towards acquiring modern Education and it also gave muslims a new social and political thought.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan also advocated Muslims against joining the political parties without getting the parity in Education with the Hindus.

On May 24th 1875 Sir Syed Ahmad Khan laid the foundation of Muhammadan Anglo Oriental college in Aligarh with an aim of having a Muslim Cambridge University. MAO attracted a large student body, mainly drawn from the Muslim gentry and middle classes. The curriculum at the college involved scientific and Western subjects, as well as Oriental subjects and religious education. The first Chancellor of the college was Sultan Jahan Begum, a prominent Muslim noblewoman, and Sir Syed invited an Englishman, Theodore Beck, to serve as the first college principal. The college was originally affiliated with Calcutta University but was transferred to the Allahabad University in 1885. Near the turn of the 20th century, it began publishing its own magazine and established a law school. In 1920, the college was transformed into Aligarh Muslim University, after 22 years of Sir Syed’s death.

Tilll his death on 27th March 1898, Sir Syed strived towards the upliftment of Modern education among the Indian mass esand his efforts have successfully broken the shackles of religious orthodoxy and traditional dogma of Indian Muslims and encouraged them to attain a more successful and respected life style by adopting the modern and scientific education.

He was buried besides Sir Syed Masjid inside the campus of the Aligarh Muslim University.

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: As viewed in Pakistan

The greatest Muslim reformer and statesman of the 19th Century, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was born in Delhi on October 17, 1817. His family on the maternal and paternal side had close contacts with the Mughal court. His maternal grandfather, Khwajah Farid was a Wazir in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab and the title of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. His father, Mir Muttaqi, had been close to Akbar Shah since the days of his prince-hood. Syed Ahmad's mother, Aziz-un-Nisa, took a great deal of interest in the education and upbringing of her son. She imposed a rigid discipline on him and Sir Syed himself admitted that her supervision counted for much in the formation of his character.
The early years of Sir Syed's life were spent in the atmosphere of the family of a Mughal noble. There was nothing in young Syed's habits or behavior to suggest that he was different from other boys, though he was distinguished on account of his extraordinary physique. As a boy he learnt swimming and archery, which were favorite sports of the well-to-do class in those days.

Sir Syed received his education under the old system. He learnt to read the Quran under a female teacher at his home. After this, he was put in the charge of Maulvi Hamid-ud-Din, the first of his private tutors. Having completed a course in Persian and Arabic, he took to the study of mathematics, which was a favorite subject of the maternal side of his family. He later became interested in medicine and studied some well-known books on the subject. However, he soon gave it up without completing the full course. At the age of 18 or 19 his formal education came to an end but he continued his studies privately. He started taking a keen interest in the literary gatherings and cultural activities of the city.

The death of his father in 1838 left the family in difficulties. Thus young Syed was compelled at the early age of 21 to look for a career. He decided to enter the service of the East India Company. He started his career as Sarishtedar in a court of law. He became Naib Munshi in 1839 and Munshi in 1841. In 1858 he was promoted and appointed as Sadar-us-Sadur at Muradabad. In 1867 he was promoted and posted as the judge of the Small Causes Court. He retired in 1876. He spent the rest of his life for Aligarh College and the Muslims of South Asia.

Sir Syed's greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was primarily an educational venture. He established Gulshan School at Muradabad in 1859, Victoria School at Ghazipur in 1863, and a scientific society in 1864. When Sir Syed was posted at Aligarh in 1867, he started the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental School in the city. Sir Syed got the opportunity to visit England in 1869-70. During his stay, he studied the British educational system and appreciated it. On his return home he decided to make M. A. O. High School on the pattern of British boarding schools. The School later became a college in 1875. The status of University was given to the college after the death of Sir Syed in 1920. M. A. O. High School, College and University played a big role in the awareness of the Muslims of South Asia.

Unlike other Muslim leaders of his time, Sir Syed was of the view that Muslims should have friendship with the British if they want to take their due rights. To achieve this he did a lot to convince the British that Muslims were not against them. On the other hand, he tried his best to convince the Muslims that if they did not befriend the British, they could not achieve their goals. Sir Syed wrote many books and journals to remove the misunderstandings between Muslims and the British. The most significant of his literary works were his pamphlets "Loyal Muhammadans of India" and "Cause of Indian Revolt". He also wrote a commentary on the Bible, in which he attempted to prove that Islam is the closest religion to Christianity.

Sir Syed asked the Muslims of his time not to participate in politics unless and until they got modern education. He was of the view that Muslims could not succeed in the field of western politics without knowing the system. He was invited to attend the first session of the Indian National Congress and to join the organization but he refused to accept the offer. He also asked the Muslims to keep themselves away from the Congress and predicted that the party would prove to be a pure Hindu party in the times to come. By establishing the Muhammadan Educational Conference, he provided Muslims with a platform on which he could discuss their political problems. Sir Syed is known as the founder of Two-Nation Theory in the modern era.

In the beginning of 1898 he started keeping abnormally quiet. For hours he would not utter a word to friends who visited him. Medical aid proved ineffective. His condition became critical on 24th of March. On the morning of March 27, a severe headache further worsened it. He expired the same evening in the house of Haji Ismail Khan, where he had been shifted 10 or 12 days earlier. He was buried the following afternoon in the compound of the Mosque of Aligarh College. He was mourned by a large number of friends and admirers both within and outside South Asia.

With Thanx from :

Sir Syed ~ nationalism and Hindu-Muslim unity

`This man (Sir Syed) is erring and causes people to err. He is rather an agent of the devil and wants to mislead Muslims. It is a sin to support the college. May God damn the founder! And if this college has been founded, it must be demolished and its founder and his supporters thrown out of the fold of Islam," declared the Imam of Mecca in his fatwa against Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

On the 189th birth anniversary of this great educationist and social reformer and in an age of "clash of civilisations" and rabid communalism, an effort needs to be made to understand his vision of India. Was Sir Syed indeed the father of the two-nation theory? Did he believe in pluralism? Why was he denounced by the Muslims and disowned by the Hindus? Are his ideas and ideology relevant today? These are some of the pertinent questions which need to be examined afresh, particularly in the present context.

"From the seed we sow today there may spring up a mighty tree, whose branches, like those of the banyan of the soil, shall in their turn strike firm roots into the earth and themselves send forth new and vigorous saplings; that this college may expand into a university, whose sons shall go forth throughout the length and breadth of the land to preach the gospel of free inquiry, of large-hearted toleration and of pure morality", said Sir Syed at the time of the foundation laying ceremony of the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental (MAO) College on 8 January 1877.

The prophetic words of the founder have come true as the Aligarh Muslim University today has 90 departments, 12 faculties, 27,000 students and has several icons as its proud alumni. The university has rightly been recognised as an institution of national importance by the Indian Constitution.

It is erroneously believed by some historians that the Hindu-Muslim divide in India was the by-product of the two-nation theory which supposedly had its origin in Sir Syed's ideology. We should never forget that "nationalism" as a consciously held idea was a 20th century phenomenon even in Europe from where it was imported to India. The spirit of 19th century India was far away from it. During this period, both Hindus and Muslims lived side by side in equal subjugation under the oppressive British rule and were devoid of any national feeling or national identity. Eminent political scientist Prof Anil Seel has rightly pointed out that during Sir Syed's times, "there were no two nations, there was not even one nation, there was no nation at all."

Even though the concept of nation as we understand it today did not exist during Sir Syed's time, his concept of nation was inextricably woven with secular ideals. He rightly said in a lecture at Patna in 1883: "My friends! This India of ours is populated by two famous communities, the Hindus and the Muslims. These two communities stand in the same relation to India in which the head and the heart stand in relation to the human body."

In Gurdaspur in 1884, he remarked: "O Hindus and Muslims! Do you belong to a country other than India? Do not you live on this soil and are not buried under it or cremated on its ghats? If you live and die on this land, then, bear in mind, that... all the Hindus, Muslims and Christians who live in this country are one nation."

Noted historian Tara Chand has written that it is a travesty of truth to regard Sir Syed as an author of the theory that Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations.

Sir Syed was indeed a great nationalist. Expressing his opinion on the issue of Hindu-Muslim relations, he said that by living so long in India, the blood of both has changed. The colour of both has become similar. The faces of both, having changed, have become similar. The Muslims have acquired hundred of customs from the Hindus and the Hindus have also learned hundreds of things from the Muslims. We mixed with each other so much that we produced a new language – Urdu, which was neither our language nor theirs.

The language he had used against the dangers posed by communalism can not only help us in dealing with this evil but also clarify some of the doubts of even people like Praveen Togadia and Narendra Modi. He said: "We shall only destroy ourselves by mutual disunity and animosity and ill-will to each other. It is pitiable to see those who do not understand this point and create feelings of disunity among these two nations and fail to see that they themselves will be the victims of such a situation. My friends, I have repeatedly said and say it again that India is like a bride, which has got two beautiful, and lustrous eyes ~ Hindus and Mussulmans. If they quarrel against each other that beautiful bride will become ugly and if one destroys the other, she will lose one eye. Therefore, people of Hindustan, you have now the right to make this bride either squint-eyed or one-eyed."

As to the rationale of establishing MAO College, he said: "I shall feel sorry if anybody thinks that this college has been established so as to show discrimination between Hindus and Muslims. The main reason behind the establishment of this institution, as I am sure all of you know, was the wretched dependence of the Muslims, which had been debating their position day after day. Their religious fanaticism did not let them avail the educational facilities provided by the government schools and colleges. It was, therefore, deemed necessary to make some special arrangement for their education."

He went on to say: "Suppose, for example, there are two brothers, one of them is quite hale and hearty but the other is diseased. His health is on the decline. Thus it is the duty of all brothers to take care of their ailing brother and bear the hands in his trouble. This was the very idea which goaded me to establish the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College. But I am pleased to say that both the brothers get the same education in this college. All rights of the college appertaining to those who call themselves Muslims are equally related to those who call themselves Hindus without any reservations. There is no distinction whatsoever between Hindus and Muslims."

It is a matter of great satisfaction that Aligarh Muslim University has consistently adhered to the vision of its founder and does not discriminate between Hindus and Muslims. This vision of the founder is in consonance with the minority character of the university. Article 30 of Indian Constitution does permit minorities to have educational institutions of their own. But these institutions cannot be exclusive institutions. They should have some students from the other communities as well. In fact, the Supreme Court has consistently held that there shall be "sprinkling of outsiders" in a minority institution.

Very few people know that while Sir Syed was opposed tooth and nail by many Muslims, the Hindu community extended all possible help to him and that is the only difference between him and Raja Rammohun Roy. The difference between the two men lies in the response each received from his community. While the Hindus by and large welcomed Rammohun, Sir Syed had only a few takers. As many as five fatwas declaring him kafir were issued. Strangely enough these fatwas have not yet been withdrawn.

In a speech at Muzaffarnagar on 7 February, 1884, he explicitly acknowledged help rendered by the Hindus when he said: "I cannot forget the debt of gratitude that I owe to my brother Hindus who, realising the fallen position of their Muslim brethren, have contributed thousands of rupees for the building up of MAO College. They have really performed a human act of charity. The walls of the college on which their names are inscribed bear testimony to their kindness and non-communal attitude".

This generosity of the majority community also does not change the character of the institution. The Supreme Court has consistently held that other communities may also contribute in the establishment of a minority institution.

The Scientific Society, which was founded by Sir Syed in 1863, was really national in its complexion and character. Apart from the British members, it comprised 82 Hindu and 107 Muslim members. Even the managing committee of MAO College which comprised 22 members, had six Hindu members on it. The first second master of the school was Sri Baijnath who was No. 2 in the administrative hierarchy. The famous mathematician, JC Chakravarty joined as professor in 1888 and subsequently was elevated to the coveted post of registrar. The first graduate of the university was Ishwari Prasad; the first MA was one Amba Prasad.

While Sir Syed's ideals of nationalism, secularism and scientific temper are clearly evident in every nook and corner of AMU, yet his goal of educational advancement of Muslims of India has not yet been achieved. Sachar Committee findings are indeed revealing and shocking. Only 4 per cent Muslims get education up to Class X. Only 2.94 per cent are able to complete graduation. There are less than 1 per cent Muslim women graduates in the country. Not surprisingly the share of Muslims in public services is dismal. Less than 2 per cent Muslims make it to the Indian Administrative Services every year. Among the 467 directors of the nationalised banks, there were only 4 Muslims. More than 50 per cent Muslims are living below the poverty line.

It seems the Muslim community has not adequately responded to Sir Syed's call when he said: "Call me an infidel, an atheist or a nechari or whatever you like, I will not seek your recommendations before God. I would not like you to plead for my salvation. Whatever I say, I say for the good of your children. Take pity on them. Do something for their future, lest you should have to repent over it."

Are Muslims of 21st century India listening?

(The author is Professor of Law and Registrar, Aligarh Muslim University)

*With special Thanx from :