Background of Aligarh Movement
After 1857, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was a great reformer of attitudes and saw that the main hope for the Muslims in India was education. Muslims in general were hostile towards the British, especially after 1857 when they felt that the whole blame for the events of that year had been unfairly placed of them. Many British were of the opinion that the Muslims were disloyal and untrustworthy. Because of this resentment, Muslims deliberately refused to take much part in western education and commerce. As a result they slipped further and further behind in the rapidly developing India. They had fewer jobs in the governments or senior positions in industry of the army because they did not have the qualifications. This made them even more resentful.
Sir Syed saw that Muslims would soon be totally dominated by the Hindus, who eagerly acquired western education. Muslims seemed destined to become littler more than poor laborers. Sir Syed tried to reform the Islamic view of science, reasoning and technology by arguing that god had created these, and that they were as much a part of His creation as nature and humankind itself. They would not only get better jobs with a western-style education but would also be better people because they could then play a larger part in developing their country. This was a very brave step, as the teaching of most Muslim leaders was to retreat further into the traditional past.
Sir Syed tried to convince people to remain loyal to Britain because the British had brought peace to India. In the 1857 disturbances, he personally intervened to save the British residents in Bundelkhand when the sepoys were intent on massacring them. He felt that one of his main objects was to establish a more friendly relationship between the British and the Muslims, and this he largely achieved – so much so that later Hindus claimed that Muslims were being unfairly given more advantages than they were.
Above all factors, he saw that the whole key to the future of the Muslims in India was education. To this end, he first set up the Scientific Society of Aligarh, which become, with the support of the governor, the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College, and later still, the Muslim University. Here, while Islamic studies were not neglected, western science and languages were also taught.
Contribution of Aligarh Movement
He worked tirelessly to restore relation with the British, his writing, his tireless work and the example he set was convince the British to see the Muslims in a new light. Sir Syed played a major part in bringing about a Muslim revival, largely through the work of the Aligarh Movement. Muslims came to value education as a means of self-improvement and of obtaining better employment. From this came greater feeling of self-worth.
Linked to the Muslim revival was greater political awareness. As Hindus sough to take advantage of the poor relations between the Muslims and the British, Sir Syed emphasized the threat to Muslims and developed his “Two Nation Theory” Once Muslims came to accept the widsdom of this theory, it was only a small step to call for partition. For this reason Sir Syed can rightly be called ‘The Father of the Pakistan Movement”.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s Politics View
Sir Syed felt no bitterness or hostility towards the Hindus, whose religion, customs and culture he said he very much respected. His only fear was that when representative government did come, as it surely would, the interests of the Hindus would always be dominant because of their majority status. It was on these grounds that he opposed Muslims taking part in the Indian National Congress. His fears seem to have been borne out because the 1886 congress had 33 Muslim delegates and 398 Hindus.