Pak Digest

Aligarh Movement – The Renaissance Struggle for Indian Muslims

As we all know, after the Indian Independence War, things were very bad for Muslims in India because the British were harsher on them than on Hindus. They thought that Muslims were to blame for everything bad that happened and for the war because of how tough and rude they were. After 1857, Muslims became a backward country. They couldn’t read or write and knew nothing about anything. They were denied their most basic rights and ignored in every area of life. Still, they were punished harshly from an economic, political, social, and, to be more exact, religious point of view. They had no power against the British and their Hindu allies, so they didn’t trust either the Hindus or the British, who did everything they could to torture Muslims.

Pioneer of Aligarh Movement

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan stepped up and tried to help the Muslims get out of these terrible situations. He led the Muslims in the right direction and tried to get them out of their hopeless situation. He started the Aligarh Movement in order to give Muslims the same respected place in society that they had in the past. Most of the Aligarh movement was about having faith in the British government and for Muslims to be able to compete with Hindus, they need a modern western education and to keep Muslims from getting involved in politics.

Background of Aligarh Movement

Sir Syed understood that Muslims were in this terrible state because they didn’t have a modern education. He thought that giving Muslims a modern education was the answer to all of their problems. So, he started an education program to help the poor and depressed Muslims, who had lost their former glory. He took steps toward his plan for his schooling. So, in 1859, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan opened a school in Muradabad for Muslims. It had to teach English, Persian, Islamiat, Arabic, and Urdu. In 1862, Sir Syed was moved from Muradabad to Ghazipur, where he started another school for Muslims. It was called Madrass Ghazipur. Here, you had to take classes in English, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, and Islamyat.

Aligarh Movement in 1860s and 1870s

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan set up a scientific club in Ghazipur in the year 1864. The goal of this group was to make translations of English books into Urdu. But after he was moved to Aligarh in 1866, the main office of the scientific group was also moved there. Aligarh Institute Gazette was a journal that was put out by the scientific group in 1866. Both Urdu and English versions of this magazine were made. The goal of this magazine was to clear up what Muslims and the British government thought about each other and bring them closer together.

Tour of England

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and his son Syed Mehmud went to England in 1869 with the goal of getting a close look at the English education system. They stayed there for 17 months and studied schools like Oxford and Cambridge University. Sir Syed went on a tour of the whole country and raised money to start a college. The group first decided to start a school as an example for the people, and then they decided to start a college. So, Sir Syed opened the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental School in Aligarh in 1875. In 1877, the school was turned into a college. Lord Lytton was there to open it. The most important thing about this college was that it gave educations from both the West and the East. After Sir Syed died in 1920, this college was raised to the level of a university.

Aligarh Movement in 1880s

In 1886, Sir Syed started a group called the Mohammedan Educational Conference. This group put out a twelve-point program in English and other languages that taught people about the West and religion. Its goal was to get the word of education to a large number of Muslim people. The Conference met in different cities around the country to find out about problems in education and then try to solve them. During the meeting of the conference, people talked about new ways to improve education and help it grow.

Loyalty to the Government

Sir Syed set up the British India Association in Aligarh in 1866. The main goal of this group was to let the British parliament know how Indians felt and what they thought. He also wrote “Loyal Muhammadans of India,” in which he told in depth how the Muslims were loyal to the British rulers and how they helped them. After Sir Syed came back from England in 1870, he set up a group called “Anjuman-i-Taraqi-i-Muslamanan-i-Hind” to give the Muslims of India a modern education.

More Works of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Sir Syed wrote an intellectual commentary on the Bible called “Tabaeen-al-Kalam.” In this analysis, Sir Syed points out the ways in which Islam and Christianity are the same. He also wrote “Essay on the Life of Muhammad” as a reaction to William Muir’s book “Life of Muhammad,” in which he said bad things about the Holy Prophet. Sir Syed also wrote “Anjuman-i-Tariki-i-Urdu” to protect Urdu. Sir Syed put out another influential magazine called “Tahzib-ul-Akhlaaq.” In it, he talked about Muslim culture and criticized the traditional way of life while praising the new, modern way of life.

Struggle of Sir Syed

Even though Sir Syed was the first Muslim member of the Central Legislative Council, he told Muslims not to get involved in politics until they had more schooling. He thought that the only way to solve the problems of Muslims was to give them an education. He thought that until Muslims got an education, they would stay behind in every area of life. So, Sir Syed did what he could for the Muslim cause through the Aligarh movement. He got the backing of the British by being loyal to them, and he kept Muslims from joining the Indian National Congress.

Click to read about Lucknow Pact of 1916.

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