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Sir Syed’s Dream: What is lost, what is achieved?

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, popularly knows as the founder of Anglo oriental college later changed to Aligarh Muslim University in 1920.

Md Farrukh Ilyas By Md Farrukh Ilyas
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Tribute to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan: Translation of both editions of ‘Asār-us-Sanadīd’

“My advice to all of you is: Do only that which you believed (to be right) and do not do anything in (the rightness of) which you do not believe. This is real truthfulness and this is the thing on which the bliss of both world depends”

– Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Mirzapur, Nov 8 1873

It’s the month of October and Aligarh Muslim University will be brimming with its full-fledged celebrations of the long-awaited day of Sir Syed Day celebrations, the entire year covered with academic works, researches, and different competitions on its founder Sir Syed Ahmed khan will come to halt and celebrations will begin.

17th October marks the birthday of the man of Muslim renaissance in the modern history of India’s independence, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, popularly knows as the founder of Anglo oriental college later changed to Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. He was born to a noted Delhi family which has its lineage to the prophet and was known for its education and eradication of evils in the civil society. He was an intellectual, a historian, theologist, a politician, a journalist, political and a social reformer of modern India.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, as a man of rational approach, cognitive thinking, and visionary of his time established the fundamental meaning of change in the civil society. He was the legend to hold and see the impossible changes for the greater cause of civil society. He became the panacea of all the ills existed in human’s approach to development, education, large-hearted tolerance, peace and brotherhood. Discussions and arguments with its robustness towards public reasoning were the centre of his reformation period in the history of modern India. Hence it became its apogee of his personality.

He holds a dynamic aspect of success and people’s progress in the civil society with a common goal-accomplishing for the larger good in the nation at large. He wanted the Muslim community at large and people extensively to address the need of time and competition, to face the world of reason and science, to establish the right to self-sovereignty. He believed in the gospel of individuality, according to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, suppressing a voice amongst the masses would be meaning to massacre the individual with its right to individuality in the society. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan always picked one’s brain to move with time and invest in creating individual productivity. To this, remarkably Sir Syed

Once said, in his lecture at Amritsar, Jan 29, 1884 “God does not communicate his command in black and white; it can, however, be seen writ large on the walls of time.”

Sir Syed Day celebrations don’t come and should not be miniatured to lavish dinners and day of a vacation. But it is the foremost duty by its virtue of being a well-wisher of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and his prolong teaching of scientific educations, Aligarh movement, morality and character being the best virtue. This should collectively compel us to think and introspect in this need of the hour with some basic questions and responsibilities to our founding father of its educational legacy the world is witnessing. It’s the high time we ask ourselves, what did we achieve in the path that was taken by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan? Are we responsible enough to take challenges in contemporary time? Where did we take the Idea of education? Are we all discharging our duties in a successful and progressive manner? Where do we stand in the practical meaning of the term “Largehearted tolerance”? we will fizzle and encumber if we do not collectively hold ourselves responsible for the change Sir Syed had imagined in his brightest time.

Sir Syed Ahmed khan was the master of seeing things in a progressive manner, failure never took him permanently, it was his dire enthusiasm and ardent belief system to eradicate omens, evils, and practise of superstations from the civil society. He deciphered every solution of menaces from the society through his intellectualism and patience attitude with a common goal, learn and preach the teaching of truth, peace and brotherhood. “There are two indication’s will to progress: First, they should realize that they have fallen deep into ( an abyss of ) ignominy and backwardness and Second, that they should struggle to make up leeway ” Asking the people of Benares, Dec 20, 1867, Sir Syed Ahmed khan went on to say them, to realize the weakness amongst themselves before they could witness a new dawn of progress and social reforms.

At that time of crucial juncture when the British government in India went with very rationale choice to distribute and honour different rights to its people, it was the Muslim community which was ailing in the pathetic frame of its tragedy and apathy. The community was in one of its sparsest forms to ask for anything from the government. It was Sir Syed Ahmed khan who couldn’t resist himself and brought the only solution to this prolonged havoc of the Muslim community existence. It was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan indomitable will to bring education with scientific approach amongst the Muslim Community. To this Sir Syed Ahmed Khan went to the breadth and length of his intellectual and physical capacity to bring this into practice. It was on 29 Jan 1884 at Amritsar, where Sir Syed delivered a lecture on this powerful tool to build the community as a strongest and a vibrant one. “If the government has not conceded some of our rights to us as yet, for which we may have a grudge, higher education is such a thing that it will secure those rights for us, maybe willy-nilly or against its wishes,” said Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.

Na ho tab parwaaz agar asman tak

To waan tak uray ho rasai jhan tak

(If one cannot fly up to the sky)

(one should fly to the extent that his power allows him)

To Sir Syed Ahmed Khan education was the root of all progress, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had to deal with a society, which was in the meshes of medievalism, obscurantism, superstitions, and arid ignorance. In  this feeble time and situations, Sir Syed Ahmed khan had to take the social reforms in two folds: First he had to persuade people to give up habit and practices, which stood in the way of social advancements, and Secondly, he had to persuade them to attempt the new scientific approach in all matters.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan advised the Muslims the followings:

  • To develop freedom of thought, and get out of the rut of custom and traditions. “So long as freedom of thought is not developed, there can be no civilized life “he declared.
  • To get rid of those religious beliefs which have no religious sanction behind them but stood as an obstacle to the growth of culture?
  • To get rid of all religious and other superstitions.
  • To educate children for no real progress was possible without literacy on a wide scale
  • To educate women and teach them handicraft etc
  • To make collective efforts for providing educational facilities and to develop various arts and industries.

What if we don’t fall completely on the path of Sir Syed Ahmed khan shown us? Where is the civil society heading towards? Is it towards the narrative and creating chaos between having and have not? As if one takes Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s relevance in the contemporary world, it would only mean that Aligarh Muslim University students and faculty should go length and breadth to do more in the field of education, peace and brotherhood, and nation-building at large.


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