Allama Muhammad Iqbal Essay
Allama Muhammad Iqbal
Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on 9th November 1877 in Sialkot. After seeking early education, he was admitted to the Government College Lahore, where he obtained the degree of MA in the subject of philosophy. He left for England for higher studies in 1905. He obtained the degree of philosophy of ethics in 1907; he obtained the degree of doctorate (Ph.D.) from Munich University.
Services of Iqbal in Pakistan Movement
Iqbal and Pakistan Movement
Although his main interests were scholarly, Iqbal was not unconcerned with the political situation of the country and the political fortunes of the Muslim community of India. Already in 1908, while in England, he had been chosen as a member of the executive council of the newly-established British branch of the Indian Muslim League. In 1931 and 1932 he represented the Muslims of India in Round Table Conference held in England to discuss the issue of the political future of India. And in a 1930 lecture Iqbal suggested the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Iqbal died (1938) before the creation of Pakistan (1947), but it was his teaching that spiritually … has been the chief force behind the creation of Pakistan.
Iqbal’s Idea about Nationhood
Allama Iqbal is the greatest philosopher and poet of the present era. Along with this, he possessed the view about political affairs. He awakened the feeling of Muslim nationhood among the Muslims of India through his poetry and told them about the propaganda of West about the Muslim nationhood. When the Hindu philosophers presented this philosophy that a nation is born throughout the country and when Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni seconded it, then Iqbal reacted strongly towards it. His thinking and poetry reflect the Two Nation Theory and his poetry awakened the feeling of Islamic Nationality among the Muslims of India. This feeling was a milestone in the created of Pakistan.
Iqbal’s Political Life
Allama Iqbal made his debut in politics then he was elected as the member of Punjab’s Legislative Assembly in 1926. During the elections of 1937, when Quaid-e-Azam started re contructioning of the Muslim League, Allama Iqbal was along with him. He always supported Quaid-e-Azam and the Muslim League. He always respected Quaid-e-Azam’s point of view.
Iqbal and Two Nation Theory
Allama Iqbal firmly believe that the Muslims of India have a separate identity and to protect his identity, the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India was necessary. On 28th March, 1909, he excusing the invitation from the secular party “Minsva Lodge” said I have been a keen supporter of this theory that religious differences in the country should end and even now I practise the principle. But, now I think that separate national identity for the Muslims and the Hindus is necessary for their survival. At his Presidential address in 1930, on the occasion of the annual session of Muslim League at Allahbad, Iqbal said
India is a continent of human groups belonging to different races, speaking different languages and professing different religions. There behaviour is not at all determined by a common race conciousness. I therefore, demand the formation of consolidated Muslim state in the best interest of India and Islam Pakistan’s Sketch
Allama Iqbal’s Presidential Address at Allahbad in 1930 determined the political path of the Muslims of sub-continent. In his address, he in clear words said I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sindh and Balochistan be amalgamated into a single state. He further stated that
The formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appeares to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India. Thus, Iqbal demanded a sovereign independent Muslim state even before the Muslim League demanded it in Pakistan’s Resolution.
Round Table Conference
During 1930-1932 three sessions of Round Table Conference were held. Iqbal attended Second and Third Round Table Conference. Having attended the Second Round Table Conference in September, 1931 in London, he was keenly aware of the deep-seated Hindu and Sikh prejudice and unaccommodating attitude. He had observed the mind of the British Government. Hence he reiterated his apprehensions and suggested safeguards in respect of the Indian Muslims In so far then as the fundamentals of our policy are concerned, I have got nothing fresh to offer. Regarding these I have already expressed my views in my address to the All India Muslim League. In the present address I propose, among other things, to help you, in the first place, in arriving at a correct view of the situation as it emerged from a rather hesitating behavior of our delegation the final stages of the Round Table Conference.
In the second place, I shall try, according to my lights to show how far it is desirable to construct a fresh policy now that the Premier’s announcement at teh last London Conference has again necessitated a careful survey of the whole situation. I mus be kep in mind that since Maulana Muhammad Ali had died in January 1931 and Quaid-e-Azam had stayed behind in London, the responsibility of providing a proper lead to the India Muslim had fallen on him alone. He had to assume the role of a jealous guardian of his nation till Quaid-e-Azam returned to the sub-continent in 1935. During the Third Round Table Conference, Iqbal was invited by the London National League where he addressed and audience which included among others, foreign diplomas, members of the House of Commons, Members of the House of Lords and Muslim members of R.T.C delegation. In that gathering he dilated upon the situation of the Indian Muslims.
He explained why he wanted the communal settlement first and then the constitutional reforms. He stressed the need for provincial autonomy because autonomy gave the Muslim majority provinces some power to safeguard their rights, cultural traditions and religion. Under the central Government the Muslims were bound to lose their cultural and religious entity at the hands of the overwhelming Hindu majority. referred to what he had said at Allahabad in 1930 and reiterated his belief that before long people were bound to come round to his viewpoint base on cegent reason.
Iqbal’s letter to Quaid-e-Azam
The seed sown, the idea to began to evolve and take root. It soon assumed the shape of Muslim state or states in the western and eastern Muslim majority zones as is obvious from the following lines of Iqbal’s letter, of June 21, 1937, to the Quaid-e-Azam, only ten months before the former’s death A separate federation of Muslim Provinces, reformed on the lines I have suggested above, is the only course by which we can secure a peaceful India and save Muslims from the domination of Non-Muslims. Why not the Muslims of North-West India and Bengal should be considered as nations entitled to self-determination just as other nations in India and outside India are.
Ideology of Pakistan and Iqbal
Iqbal was strictly against nationalism. He considered all the Muslims to be a part of One Umma. For him, a Muslim whether he belonged to any part of the world was the part of brotherly relation. He considered nationalism to be a coffin for the Muslim Umma. Thus, opposing the limitation and disadvantages of nationalism, Iqbal gave the philosophy of a “Millat-e-Islamia” and this philosophy is the basis of Pakistan ideology.
In short, personality of Allama Iqbal has left indelible marks in history. He tried to awaken the Muslims of India through his philosophy, poetry and politics and he brought the ideas of independence among the Muslims of India. Iqbal died on 21st April, 1938. He was buried in front of the “Badshahi Mosque” in “Huzori Bagh”.
Father: Jinnah Poonja. One of eight children. Married Emibai in 1892 (she died 1893). Married Ratanbai ‘Ruttie’ Petit, daughter of Sir Dinshaw Petit, a wealthy Bombay Parsee, in 1918. Ruttie died in 1929. Daughter: Dina Wadia (married to Neville Wadia, a Christian).
Sindh Madrasstul Islam, Karachi
Gokal Das Tej Pal School, Bombay
Christian Missionary Society High School, Karachi, 1891
Bar-at-Law, Lincoln’s Inn, London, 1895
Legal practice, Bombay, 1897
Imperial Legislative Council, 1910-1919
Elected member of All-India Muslim League, 1915
Participates in Round Table Conference(s), 1930
(Settles in London, 1931-34)
President, League’s Lucknow Session, 1937
President, League’s Lahore Session; ‘Lahore Resolution’ adopted, 1940 Pakistan’s first Governor-General, 1947
Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on 25th December 1876 at Vazeer Mansion Karachi, was the first of seven children of Jinnah bhai, a prosperous merchant. After being taught at home, Jinnah was sent to the Sindh Madrasah High School in 1887. Later he attended the Mission High School, where, at the age of 16, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay. On the advice of an English friend, his father decided to send him to England to acquire business experience. Jinnah, however, had made up his mind to become a barrister. In keeping with the custom of the time, his parents arranged for an early marriage for him before he left for England. Quaid-e-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on 25th December 1876 at Vazeer Mansion Karachi, was the first of seven children of Jinnah bhai, a prosperous merchant. After being taught at home, Jinnah was sent to the Sindh Madrasah High School in 1887.
Later he attended the Mission High School, where, at the age of 16, he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay. On the advice of an English friend, his father decided to send him to England to acquire business experience. Jinnah, however, had made up his mind to become a barrister. In keeping with the custom of the time, his parents arranged for an early marriage for him before he left for England. In London he joined Lincoln’s Inn, one of the legal societies that prepared students for the bar. In 1895, at the age of 19, he was called to the bar. While in London Jinnah suffered two severe bereavements–the deaths of his wife and his mother. Nevertheless, he completed his formal studies and also made a study of the British political system, frequently visiting the House of Commons. He was greatly influenced by the liberalism of William E. Gladstone, who had become prime minister for the fourth time in 1892, the year of Jinnah’s arrival in London. Jinnah also took a keen interest in the affairs of India and in Indian students.
When the Parsi leader Dada bhai Naoroji, a leading Indian nationalist, ran for the English Parliament, Jinnah and other Indian students worked day and night for him. Their efforts were crowned with success, and Naoroji became the first Indian to sit in the House of Commons. When Jinnah returned to Karachi in 1896, he found that his father’s business had suffered losses and that he now had to depend on himself. He decided to start his legal practice in Bombay, but it took him years of work to establish himself as a lawyer. It was nearly 10 years later that he turned toward active politics. A man without hobbies, his interest became divided between law and politics. Nor was he a religious zealot: he was a Muslim in a broad sense and had little to do with sects. His interest in women was also limited to Ruttenbai, the daughter of Sir Dinshaw Petit, a Bombay Parsi millionaire–whom he married over tremendous opposition from her parents and others. The marriage proved an unhappy one. It was his sister Fatima who gave him solace and company.
Entry into politics
Jinnah first entered politics by participating in the 1906 Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress, the party that called for dominion status and later for independence for India. Four years later he was elected to the Imperial Legislative Council–the beginning of a long and distinguished parliamentary career. In Bombay he came to know, among other important Congress personalities, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the eminent Maratha leader. Greatly influenced by these nationalist politicians, Jinnah aspired during the early part of his political life to become “a Muslim Gokhale.” Admiration for British political institutions and an eagerness to raise the status of India in the international community and to develop a sense of Indian nationhood among the peoples of India were the chief elements of his politics. At that time, he still looked upon Muslim interests in the context of Indian nationalism. But, by the beginning of the 20th century, the conviction had been growing among the Muslims that their interests demanded the preservation of their separate identity rather than amalgamation in the Indian nation that would for all practical purposes be Hindu.
Largely to safeguard Muslim interests, the All-India Muslim League was founded in 1906. But Jinnah remained aloof from it. Only in 1913, when authoritatively assured that the league was as devoted as the Congress to the political emancipation of India, did Jinnah join the league. When the Indian Home Rule League was formed, he became its chief organizer in Bombay and was elected president of the Bombay branch. “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.” Jinnah’s endeavors to bring about the political union of Hindus and Muslims earned him the title of “the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity,” an epithet coined by Gokhale. It was largely through his efforts that the Congress and the Muslim League began to hold their annual sessions jointly, to facilitate mutual consultation and participation. In 1915 the two organizations held their meetings in Bombay and in 1916 in Lucknow, where the Lucknow Pact was concluded. Under the terms of the pact, the two organizations put their seal to a scheme of constitutional reform that became their joint demand vis-à-vis the British government.
There was a good deal of give and take, but the Muslims obtained one important concession in the shape of separate electorates, already conceded to them by the government in 1909 but hitherto resisted by the Congress Meanwhile, a new force in Indian politics had appeared in the person of Mohan Das K. Gandhi. Both the Home Rule League and the Indian National Congress had come under his sway. Opposed to Gandhi’s Non-co-operation Movement and his essentially Hindu approach to politics, Jinnah left both the League and the Congress in 1920. For a few years he kept himself aloof from the main political movements. He continued to be a firm believer in Hindu-Muslim unity and constitutional methods for the achievement of political ends. After his withdrawal from the Congress, he used the Muslim League platform for the propagation of his views. But during the 1920s the Muslim League, and with it Jinnah, had been overshadowed by the Congress and the religiously oriented Muslim Khilafat committee.
When the failure of the Non-co-operation Movement and the emergence of Hindu revivalist movements led to antagonism and riots between the Hindus and Muslims, the league gradually began to come into its own. Jinnah’s problem during the following years was to convert the league into an enlightened political body prepared to co-operate with other organizations working for the good of India. In addition, he had to convince the Congress, as a prerequisite for political progress, of the necessity of settling the Hindu-Muslim conflict. To bring about such a rapprochement was Jinnah’s chief purpose during the late 1920s and early 1930s. He worked toward this end within the legislative assembly, at the Round Table Conferences in London (1930-32), and through his 14 points, which included proposals for a federal form of government, greater rights for minorities, one-third representation for Muslims in the central legislature, separation of the predominantly Muslim Sindh region from the rest of the Bombay province, and the introduction of reforms in the north-west Frontier Province. But he failed.
His failure to bring about even minor amendments in the Nehru Committee proposals (1928) over the question of separate electorates and reservation of seats for Muslims in the legislatures frustrated him. He found himself in a peculiar position at this time; many Muslims thought that he was too nationalistic in his policy and that Muslim interests were not safe in his hands, while the Indian National Congress would not even meet the moderate Muslim demands halfway. Indeed, the Muslim League was a house divided against itself. The Punjab Muslim League repudiated Jinnah’s leadership and organized itself separately. In disgust, Jinnah decided to settle in England. From 1930 to 1935 he remained in London, devoting himself to practice before the Privy Council. But when constitutional changes were in the offing, he was persuaded to return home to head a reconstituted Muslim League. Soon preparations started for the elections under the Government of India Act of 1935.
Jinnah was still thinking in terms of co-operation between the Muslim League and the Hindu Congress and with coalition governments in the provinces. But the elections of 1937 proved to be a turning point in the relations between the two organizations The Congress obtained an absolute majority in six provinces, and the league did not do particularly well. The Congress decided not to include the league in the formation of provincial governments, and exclusive all-Congress governments were.
Jinnah had originally been dubious about the practicability of Pakistan, an idea that Sir Muhammad Iqbal had propounded to the Muslim League conference of 1930; but before long he became convinced that a Muslim homeland on the Indian subcontinent was the only way of safeguarding Muslim interests and the Muslim way of life. It was not religious persecution that he feared so much as the future exclusion of Muslims from all prospects of advancement within India as soon as power became vested in the close-knit structure of Hindu social organization. To guard against this danger he carried on a nation-wide campaign to warn his coreligionists of the perils of their position, and he converted the Muslim League into a powerful instrument for unifying the Muslims into a nation.
The Creator of Pakistan
At this point, Jinnah emerged as the leader of a renascent Muslim nation. Events began to move fast. On March 22-23, 1940, in Lahore, the league adopted a resolution to form a separate Muslim state, Pakistan. The Pakistan idea was first ridiculed and then tenaciously opposed by the Congress. But it captured the imagination of the Muslims. Pitted against Jinnah were men of the stature of Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. And the British government seemed to be intent on maintaining the political unity of the Indian subcontinent.
But Jinnah led his movement with such skill and tenacity that ultimately both the Congress and the British government had no option but to agree to the partitioning of India. Pakistan thus emerged as an independent state in 14th August, 1947. Jinnah became the first head of the new state i.e. Pakistan. He took oath as the first governor general on August 15, 1947. Faced with the serious problems of a young nation, he tackled Pakistan’s problems with authority. He was not regarded as merely the governor-general; he was revered as the father of the nation. He worked hard until overpowered by age and disease in Karachi. He died on 11th September 1948 at Karachi.
FIRST LEADER OF A NEWLY BORN STATE
In recognition of his singular contribution, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah was nominated by the Muslim League as the Governor-General of Pakistan, while the Congress appointed Mountbatten as India’s first Governor-General. Pakistan, it has been truly said, was born in virtual chaos. Indeed, few nations in the world have started on their career with less resourcesand in more treacherous circumstances. The new nation did not inherit a central government, a capital, an administrative core,or an organized defense force. Its social and administrative resources were poor;there was little equipment and still less statistics. The Punjab holocaust had left vast areas in a shambles with communications disrupted. This, alongwith the en masse migration of the Hindu and Sikh business and managerial classes, left the economy almost shattered.
The treasury was empty, India having denied Pakistan the major share of its cash balances.On top of all this, the still unorganized nation was called upon to feed some eight million refugees who had fled the insecurities and barbarities of the north Indian plains that long, hot summer. If all this was symptomatic of Pakistan’s administrative and economic weakness, the Indian annexation, through military action in November 1947, of Junagadh (which had originally acceded to Pakistan) and the Kashmir war over the State’s accession (October 1947-December 1948) exposed her military weakness. In the circumstances, therefore, it was nothing short of a miracle that Pakistan survived at all. That it survived and forged ahead was mainly due to one man-Mohammed Ali Jinnah.
The nation desperately needed in the person of a charismatic leader at that critical juncture in the nation’s history, and he fulfilled that need profoundly. After all, he was more than a mere Governor-General: he was the Quaid-e-Azam who had brought the State into being. In the ultimate analysis, his very presence at the helm of affairs was responsible for enabling the newly born nation to overcome the terrible crisis on the morrow of its cataclysmic birth. He mustered up the immense prestige and the unquestioning loyalty he commanded among the people to energize them, to raise their morale, land directed the profound feelings of patriotism that the freedom had generated, along constructive channels. Though tired and in poor health, Jinnah yet carried the heaviest part of the burden in that first crucial year.
He laid down the policies of the new state, called attention to the immediate problems confronting the nation and told the members of the Constituent Assembly, the civil servants and the Armed Forces what to do and what the nation expected of them. He saw to it that law and order was maintained at all costs, despite the provocation that the large-scale riots in north India had provided. He moved from Karachi to Lahore for a while and supervised the immediate refugee problem in the Punjab. In a time of fierce excitement, he remained sober, cool and steady. He advised his excited audience in Lahore to concentrate on helping the refugees,to avoid retaliation, exercise restraint and protect the minorities. He assured the minorities of a fair deal, assuaged their inured sentiments, and gave them hope and comfort.
He toured the various provinces, attended to their particular problems and instilled in the people a sense of belonging. He reversed the British policy in the North-West Frontier and ordered the withdrawal of the troops from the tribal territory of Waziristan, thereby making the Pathans feel themselves an integral part of Pakistan’s body-politics. He created a new Ministry of States and Frontier Regions, and assumed responsibility for ushering in a new era in Balochistan. He settled the controversial question of the states of Karachi, secured the accession of States, especially of Kalat which seemed problematical and carried on negotiations with Lord Mountbatten for the settlement of the Kashmir Issue.
MESSAGE OF JINNAH
It was, therefore, with a sense of supreme satisfaction at the fulfillment of his mission that Jinnah told the nation in his last message on 14 August, 1948: “The foundations of your State have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can”. In accomplishing the task he had taken upon himself on the morrow of Pakistan’s birth, Jinnah had worked himself to death, but he had, to quote Richard Simons, “contributed more than any other man to Pakistan’s survival”. He died on 11 September, 1948. How true was Lord Pethick Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India, when he said, “Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan”. The Agha Khan considered him “the greatest man he ever met”, Beverley Nichols, the author of `Verdict on India’, called him “the most important man in Asia”, and Dr. Kailashnath Katju, the West Bengal Governor in 1948, thought of him as “an outstanding figure of this century not only in India, but in the whole world”.
While Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, called him “one of the greatest leaders in the Muslim world”, the Grand Mufti of Palestine considered his death as a “great loss” to the entire world of Islam. It was, however, given to Surat Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc wing of the Indian National Congress, to sum up succinctly his personal and political achievements. “Mr. Jinnah”,he said on his death in 1948, “was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat, and greatest of all as a man of action, By Mr. Jinnah’s passing away, the world has lost one of the greatest statesmen and Pakistan its life-giver, philosopher and guide”. Such was Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the man and his mission, such the range of his accomplishments and achievements.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
Muslim Scholar, Leader and Writer.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a great Muslim scholar, leader and writer. He was the founder of the great Ali Garh University. He was born on 17 October 1817. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan used to go to the shrine of the king Shah Jahan with his father since his childhood. His mother was very intelligent and raised him well. The religious atmosphere of his home put a positive impact on his personality from his childhood. He was educated according to the old traditional criteria of that time. First, he learned the Holy Quran and read the course books of the Farsi language. He also got the education of Arabic, math and medical. When his father died, he was just 22 years old. His uncle Khaleel ul Lah was the leader of Delhi at that time, so he also got the job there based on his uncle’s reference. After that, he became the assistant Economist in the office of the commissioner of Agra. In 1841, he passed the competitive government exam and became a Judge in Main Puri city.
In 1876, he left the job to accomplish his goals and was settled in Ali Garh. He was also titled as “Sir” by the government of that time. He remained honest in all the 45 years of his job. He also kept writing along his job. He is best known for three things writing, correcting of the wrong religious concepts and the guidance to a nation. He wrote to minimize the hatred between the Englishmen and the Muslims. He spent his whole life for the betterment of the Muslims in many directions. Urdu language also was promoted too much because of his efforts. He never saved money for him and never paid attention to anything else except education. When he died on 27 March 1898, there was nothing left for his burials not even a single penny.
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. Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) was a Muslim religious leader, educationalist, and politician. He contributed to the intellectual and institutional foundation of Muslim modernization in southern Asia.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan emerged as a political leader of the Muslim community of Northern India in 1867 mainly due to the Hindi-Urdu controversy. In response of adoption of Hindi as a second language of UP (United provinces now Uttar Pardesh) Sir Syed pleaded for Urdu as the language of Muslims of India. Earlier Urdu has been developed by Muslim rulers of India and was used as a secondary language to Persian in the Mughal courts during Mughal dynasty. But after the decline of Mughal dynasty and during British rule north Indian Hindus demanded Hindi as the second official language strongly opposed by Sir Syed. Sir Syed controversially exclaimed that “Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar. His remarks provoked a hostile response from Hindu leaders, who unified across the nation to demand the recognition of Hindi. But Sir Syed continued his job by establishing schools in Urdu medium and the Scientific Society under Sir Syed translated western works only into Urdu.
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.
Syed Ahmed Khan was born in Delhi, then the capital of the Mughal Empire. He was an Indian educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. His family is said to have migrated from Herat (now in Afghanistan)in the time of emperor Akbar, although by other accounts his family descended from Arabia. Many generations of his family had since been highly connected with the Mughal administration. His maternal grandfather Khwaja Fariduddin served as wazir in the court of Akbar Shah II. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab, a high-ranking administrative position and honorary name of Jawwad Ali Khan in the court of Alamgir II. Sir Syed’s father Mir Muhammad Muttaqi was personally close to Akbar Shah II and served as his personal adviser.
However, Sir Syed was born at a time when rebellious governors, regional insurrections and the British colonialism had diminished the extent and power of the Mughal state, reducing its monarch to figurehead. With his elder brother Syed Muhammad Khan, Sir Syed was raised in a large house in a wealthy area of the city. They were raised in strict accordance with Mughal noble traditions and exposed to politics. Their mother Azis-un-Nisa played a formative role in Sir Syed’s life, raising him with rigid discipline with a strong emphasis on educationSir Syed was taught to read and understand the Qur’an by a female tutor, which was unusual at the time.
He received an education traditional to Muslim nobility in Delhi. Under the charge of Hamiduddin, Sir Syed was trained in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and religious subjects. He read the works of Muslim scholars and writers such as Sahbai, Rumi and Ghalib. Other tutors instructed him in mathematics, astronomy and Islamic jurisprudence.Sir Syed was also adept at swimming, wrestling and other sports. He took an active part in the Mughal court’s cultural activities.
His elder brother founded the city’s first printing press in the Urdu language along with the journal Sayyad-ul-Akbar. Sir Syed pursued the study of medicine for several years but did not complete the course.Until the death of his father in 1838, Sir Syed had lived a life customary for an affluent young Muslim noble. Upon his father’s death, he inherited the titles of his grandfather and father and was awarded the title of Arif Jung by the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. Financial difficulties put an end to Sir Syed’s formal education, although he continued to study in private, using books on a variety of subjects. Sir Syed assumed editorship of his brother’s journal and rejected offers of employment from the Mughal court.
Social reforms in the Muslim society were initiated by Abdul Latif. He founded “The Mohammedan Literary Society” in Bengal. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan established the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental college. Later, this institution came to be known as the Aligarh Muslim University. He opposed ignorance, superstitions and evil customs prevalent in the Muslim society. He firmly believed that the Muslim society would not progress without the acquisition of western education and science. Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed entered the British East India Company’s civil service. He was appointed serestadar at the courts of law in Agra, responsible for record-keeping and managing court affairs.In 1840, he was promoted to the title of munshi. In 1858, he was appointed to a high-ranking post at the court in Muradabad, where he began working on his most famous literary work.
Acquainted with high-ranking British officials, Sir Syed obtained close knowledge about British colonial politics during his service at the courts. At the outbreak of the Indian rebellion, on May 10, 1857, Sir Syed was serving as the chief assessment officer at the court in Bijnor.Northern India became the scene of the most intense fighting. The conflict had left large numbers of civilians dead. Erstwhile centres of Muslim power such as Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur were severely affected. Sir Syed was personally affected by the violence and the ending of the Mughal dynasty amongst many other long-standing kingdoms. Sir Syed and many other Muslims took this as a defeat of Muslim society. He lost several close relatives who died in the violence. Although he succeeded in rescuing his mother from the turmoil, she died in Meerut, owing to the privations she had experienced. Nawab Mohsin ul Mulk, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Justice Syed Mahmood, he was the first Muslim to serve as a High Court judge in the British Raj.
The Causes of the Indian Revolt
In 1859 Sir Syed Published the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (The Causes of the Indian Revolt) in which he studied the causes of the Indian revolt. In this, his most famous work, he rejected the common notion that the conspiracy was planned by Muslim élites, who were insecure at the diminishing influence of Muslim monarchs. He blamed the British East India Company for its aggressive expansion as well as the ignorance of British politicians regarding Indian culture. Sir Syed advised the British to appoint Muslims to assist in administration.
Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali wrote in the biography of Sir Syed that:
“As soon as Sir Syed reached Muradabad, he began to write the pamphlet entitled The Causes of the Indian Revolt (asbab-e-baghawat-e-hind), in which he did his best to clear the people of India, and especially the Muslims, of the charge of Mutiny. In spite of the obvious danger, he made a courageous and thorough report of the accusations people were making against the Government and refused the theory which the British had invented to explain the causes of the Mutiny.”
When the work was finished, without waiting for an English translation, Sir Sayyid sent the Urdu version to be printed at the Mufassilat Gazette Press in Agra. Within a few weeks, he received 500 copies back from the printers. His friend warned him not to send the pamphlet to Parliament or to the Government of India. Rae Shankar Das, a great friend of Sir Syed, begged him to burn the books rather than put his life in danger. Sir Syed replied that he was bringing these matters to the attention of the British for the good of his own people, of his country, and of the government itself. He said that if he came to any harm while doing something that would greatly benefit the rulers and the subjects of India alike, he would gladly suffer whatever befell him. When Rae Shankar Das saw that Sir Syed’s mind was made up and nothing could be done to change it, he wept and remained silent. After performing a supplementary prayer and asking God’s blessing, Sir Syed sent almost all the 500 copies of his pamphlet to England, one to the government, and kept the rest himself.
In 1878, Sir Syed was nominated to the Viceroy’s Legislative Council. He testified before the education commission to promote the establishment of more colleges and schools across India. In the same year, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Association to promote political co-operation amongst Indian Muslims from different parts of the country. In 1886, he organised the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Aligarh, which promoted his vision of modern education and political unity for Muslims. His works made him the most prominent Muslim politician in 19th century India, often influencing the attitude of Muslims on various national issues.
He supported the efforts of Indian political leaders Surendranath Banerjea and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for Indians in the government and civil services. In 1883, he founded the Muhammadan Civil Service Fund Association to encourage and support the entry of Muslim graduates into the Indian Civil Service (ICS). While fearful of the loss of Muslim political power owing to the community’s backwardness, Sir Syed was also averse to the prospect of democratic self-government, which would give control of government to the Hindu-majority population:
“At this time our nation is in a bad state in regards education and wealth, but God has given us the light of religion and the Quran is present for our guidance, which has ordained them and us to be friends. Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis… If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will reap a loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the “people of the Book…”[
When the government of India had the book translated and presented before the Council, Lord Canning, the governor-general, and Sir Barthold Frere accepted it as a sincere and friendly report. The foreign secretary Sale Beadon, however, severely attacked it, calling it ‘an extremely seditious pamphlet’. He wanted a proper inquiry into the matter and said that the author, unless he could give a satisfactory explanation, should be harshly dealt with. Since no other member of the Council agreed with his opinion, his attack did no harm.
Later, Sir Syed was invited to attend Lord Canning’s durbar in Farrukhabad and happened to meet the foreign secretary there. He told Sir Syed that he was displeased with the pamphlet and added that if he had really had the government’s interests at heart, he would not have made his opinion known in this way throughout the country; he would have communicated it directly to the government. Sir Syed replied that he had only had 500 copies printed, the majority of which he had sent to England, one had been given to the government of India, and the remaining copies were still in his possession. Furthermore, he had the receipt to prove it.
He was aware, he added, that the view of the rulers had been distorted by the stress and anxieties of the times, which made it difficult to put even the most straightforward problem in its right perspective. It was for this reason that he had not communicated his thoughts publicly. He promised that for every copy that could be found circulating in India he would personally pay 1,000 rupees. At first, Beadon was not convinced and asked Sir Syed over and over again if he was sure that no other copy had been distributed in India. Sir Syed reassured him on this matter, and Beadon never mentioned it again. Later he became one of Sir Syed’s strongest supporters.
Many official translations were made of the Urdu text of The Causes of the Indian Revolt. The one undertaken by the India Office formed the subject of many discussions and debates.The pamphlet was also translated by the government of India and several members of parliament, but no version was offered to the public. A translation which had been started by a government official was finished by Sir Sayyid’s great friend, Colonel G. F. I. Graham, and finally published in 187 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.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 October 2016
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