Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan

Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan

Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan was greatest contribution helping Indian Muslims towards modernity through participation in the benefits provided by science, technology and new educational methods.

Basis of Reform Movement under Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan

He was an advocate of the secular state. According to him, there was nothing inconsistent with a deep religious commitment and support for a secular form of Government where religions would receive equal status, rights and privileges.

Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan was in favour of separation of religion and politics stating that ‘a good government has nothing to do with religion and genuine religion is not concerned with world affairs’. Moin Shakir declared that Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan’s belief in the ‘separation of religion from politics is a great contribution not only to polit6ics but also to the development of Islamic polity in India.

Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan ignorance is the cause for the entire malady and his watchword is Educate, Educate, and Educate. He emphasized education and science of the West. Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan said, “All the religious learning in Muhammedan libraries is of no avail” (Farquhar, MRMI,p.92). He emphgasized creation of English schools and tried to convince his community members to realized the wisdom of learning English and absorbing the culture of the West.

S.A.Khan favoured combination of modern science and oriental learning. He went to England in 1869 and stayed there for 17 months and gave attention to education. Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan returned to India and did publication of a monthly periodical in Urdu, the Tahzibu’l Akhlaq (Reform of Morals). He emphasized religious, social and educational reforms and fought against the prejudice of the people for Western science.

Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan took steps for education


He started the Anglo-Muhammedan School at Aligarh in 1875. This became the College in 1877. In 1920 it was made the Aligarh Muslim University. His idea was to create an institution which should do for young Muslims that Oxford and Cambridge did for English people.

Vision of Sir Sayyed Ahmad Khan

His vision is good education supported by wise religious teaching from Quran would produce young Muslims of capacity and character. For such purpose and with such vision the Aligarh College was the first college that followed the missionary idea where education must rest on religion.

Residential students and teachers live there. Development of character, intellect, athletics and religion was emphasized and were integral part of the work of the College. At first Principal and several teachers were Europeans.

When Aligarh College became University in 1920, its first principal and leading figure of the foundation was Maulana Muhammad Ali. The University had the following characteristics:

  1. Autonomy with no Government control.
  2. Relevance to the whole of Muslim society and all spheres of social life.
  3. Belief that true education leads to co-operation, unity and peace.

Effect of Aligarh Movement

S.A.Khan’s reforming work aroused Muslim leaders of India for new concern and activity of Muslims.

His concept of religion – religion must have a value in terms of current human experience to move forward.

He emphasized a necessity of interpretation and reinterpretation of religion and scriptures according to the spirit of age – ongoing change.

Greatest and meaningful effect of Aligarh movement is causing a great development and progress for the Muslims in India and opened a door for Islamic country. This was possible because many important personalities arose and contributed their talents and gifts for Islamic cause. (S.A.Khan was the leader and Secratary of Aligarh College).

The Formation of Muslim societies and associations with variety of emphasis,

After Khan’s death All India Muslim League, an impt instrument for full expression of Islamic nationalism in India was founded in 1906.

Other important associations are –

(1) Society for the Propagtion of Islam (Jai Yat-I-Tabliqh-ul-Islam) this had an anti-Hindu/Christian mission tendency. It caused the birth and growth of nationalist spirit among Muslims.

(2) Educational Congress for the Muslims & others.