A Man Who Put First Brick In Nation Building Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Noor ul Huda

A Man Who Put First Brick In Nation Building Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

The man who first realized that only through education, Muslims can compete with other nations and can regain their glory again, who learnt the Muslims of the sub-continent that if they wanted to break the chains of slavery they had to fight with master (British) but not through swords but through pens, through seeking English and modern sciences to efficiently understand British notions and be able to stand equal to them. Jinnah, Iqbal was later leaders but the first one was Sir Syed who when saw Muslims of sub-continent in destruction, step in the battle to fight against the despair and started the struggle for the sheer benefit to Muslims.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a dynamic person, a versatile genius, a scholar, social reformer, educationist, who was gifted with the rare vision and intellect. He was the pioneering and revolutionary figure who shaped the destiny of the nation. Sir Syed, a great doyen of education in India, devoted his entire life for the educational uprising of a community who was dejected, despondent, a socially and economically denounced after the fall of Mughal Empire. Without a doubt, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the man who made the first attempt for the progress and prosperity of sub-continent Muslims during British rule of India.

His real name was “Khan Bahadur”. He was born in 17th October 1817 to Syed family in Delhi. His mother Aziz-un-Nisa played a formative rule in Sir Syed’s early life, raising him with rigid discipline with a strong emphasis on modern education. Once, in his childhood, when Sir Syed slapped his servant, Sir Syed’s mother ordered him to leave the house to realize him the equality between humans. Sir Syed was trained in Persia, Urdu and Arabic. He was also instructed in mathematics, astronomy and Islamic Fiqh. Sir Syed was also adept at swimming, wrestling, and other sports. Due to his family connection with the Mughal Empire, he took an active part in the Mughal courts cultural activities. Having recognized the steady decline in Mughal political power, Sir Syed decided to enter the service of the East India Company. In 1858, he was appointed to a high- ranking post at the court in Muradabad.

At War of Independence 1857, he saved almost 20 Englishmen but when he returned home, most of his relative was killed even his mother in poor condition without water died.

He was really hurt and started mediation. Sir Syed reached the point that fight with the British when they contained organized army while the residents of sub-continent were weak, was nothing but the fight between swords and guns. He came to recognize that this time only one thing will be profitable to Muslims of sub-continent which was the compromise with Englishmen. Sir Syed far sighted the need to educate the Indians in general and the Indian Muslims in particular. He felt that empowerment came only with knowledge, awareness, character, and social identity.

Eventually, Sir Syed became the man whom destiny had chosen to play the role of a Messiah for the weak nation. Although he was a very dedicated person, he had to face opposition when he was struggling for the opening of college but he convinced the community that it was the only way to go forward and become successful. He started Aligarh movement and laid the foundation of Mohammedan Anglo-oriented College in 1877 which was later converted to Aligarh Muslim University in 1920.

For rehabilitation and reconciliation of Muslims after independence war 1857, he published the booklet ” Asbab-e-Bagawat-e-Hind ‘’. In it, he rejected the common notion that the conspiracy was planned by Muslims in war. He courageously blamed the British East India Company for its aggressive expansion as well as the ignorance of British politicians regarding Indian culture and advised the British to appoint Muslims to assist in administration.

He has a great love for Islam. When William Muir (who was on govt. post in India by British and also writer) wrote his book ‘’Life of Mohamet” in which he abused the name of Muhammad(SAW), Sir Syed took the responsibility to answer the book in the most appropriate way by writing his own book ” Kuthbat-e-Ahmedia.” There was a shortage of books in India for reference quotes, therefore for writing this book, Sir Syed made his journey to London. Sitting in British library he wrote the book where without enough money, he had to request the British government two times to give him debt to retain his stay in London and third time he wrote letter to home to sell his home (girvi) for his dues but he remained persistent, completed his book Kuthbat-e-Ahmedia and tended Englishman to doubt about William findings about Muhammad (SAW)


Sir Syed in his writings through Tahzeeb-ul-Ikhlaq emphasized two things on which the educational vision should be based: the adaptation of modern education and moral education.

Basically, Sir Syed philosophy and mission was to encourage the selective diffusion of western cultural traits into the collective life of Muslims. He wanted the current Muslims culture in India to come to terms with the technological age to become an up to date nation especially in modern sciences.

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