IntroductionThe charisma of SirSyed Ahmad Khan’s personality was that he was a great visionary, statesman,social reformer, jurist, educator, author, politician and many more to count andhe proved his versatility in every sphere of his life. Sir Syed was a personwho always thought beyond his times. Some people may have different views abouthim but he was the one who make an effort throughout his life for a singlepurpose that was the “liberation of the Muslims” in all ways of life whileliving in Indian sub-continent.
As Allama Iqbal have said about him that “thereal greatness of Sir Syed consists in the fact that he was the first IndianMuslim who felt the need of a fresh orientation of Islam and worked for it, hissensitive nature was the first to react to modern age”. Sir Syed’s passion anddetermination for the social improvement of his community makes him the mostsignificant Muslim social reformer of all times. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was also agreat critique, who convinced others with his atomistic, realistic and straightforward way of thinking and it can be proved as history of social andeducational reforms in Indian sub-continent was not possible without Sir SyedAhmad Khan. He is such a great thinker, philosopher and revolutionaries who haddedicated his complete life for his nation and especially for his community. Heworked tirelessly for the promotion of education for the masses with all hisheart.
Beside this he was a highly knowledgeableman and a realistic writer who wrote on a number of subjects including history,politics, archaeology, journalism, literature, religion and science. Headvocated interfaith relation between Islam and Christianity in his religiouswork but due to the pressure from Muslimcommunity he seized his writings on this topic and mainly focused on educationand devoted his life to provide education to the masses, the major andstrong reason behind becoming a socialreformer for Muslims. FamilyBackgroundSyed Ahmad Taqvi knownas Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was born on 17 October 1817 in a noble family of Delhi,which was capital of Mughal Empire. This renowned sir name was a ‘Syed’, theword is the indication about his belonging with Prophet Mohamed’s descendant inthe 36th generation.
His familyancestral roots are from Arabia and then they migrated to sub continent when therewas rule of emperor Akbar-I (1556-1605) therefore, they were protected by theroyal Mughal court. They were highly connected with the administrativeposition inMughal Empires generation by generation. His maternal grandfatherKhwaja Fariduddin served as vazir in Mughal Empire. His paternal grandfather Syed Hadi held a mansab, was on a high-rankingadministrative position and had honorary name in the court of Emperor Alamgir II. He was among the closest associates ofEmperor Akbar II and that’s why he was allowed to sit with honor in the royalpresence.
Sir Syed’s father Mir Muhammad Muttaqiwas personally close to Emperor Akbar–II and serveda job as his personal adviser. He was a pious man and devotedhis life to the court of Akbar II (1806-1837). He had refused the offer ofEmperor Akbar II to become his prime minister because of his believe in sufism.He was thankful for the respect God had given him.
He married a pious ladyAziz-un-Nisa who devoted her life according to the Islamic rules. God hadblessed both of them with two sons Syed Muhammad khan and Syed Ahmad Khan. However,Siir Syed married a lady named as ParsaBegum in 1836, and was blessed with three children Syed Hamid, Syed Mahmood andAmina.In short, Sir Syed wasfrom honorable, educated, respectful and religious family who devoted his lifein the service of Mughal Empires for people. These family emotions for thepeople of sub-continent led Sir Syed for a serious action. Early LifeSir Syed withhis elder brother Syed Muhammad Khan, was raised in a large house in a wealthy area of the city. They were raised instrict environment according to Mughal noble traditions and politics. Hisfather died when he was just twenty-one years old.
After the death of hisfather Syed Ahmad went under the care of his mother. As Dr. Arshad Islamquoted:SirSyed Ahmed Khan began his primary education under the guidance of his mother Azizun Nisa Begum. She hailed from anelite family of Delhi and was highly educated. She shared a revolutionarytemperament and questioned and opposed all kinds of superstitions shared by theMuslim society of her times.
In shaping the personality of Sir Syed Ahmad, she played a predominant role.(Islalm,1997) These lines show that their mother Aziz-un-Nisa playedan essential role in Sir Syed’searly life as she brought up him with absolute discipline. Along withreligious learning she focused on his modern education as well.
Further about hiseducation Dr. Arshad Islam also stated:AsSyed Ahmed was enjoying his schooling, he too was being trained to recite Quranunder the tutelage of Shah Ghulam Ali. Later Syed Ahmed was admitted to amaktab to learn Arabic, Persian and mathematics. In addition, there were othertutors who taught him the other regular subjects. His family physician HakimGhulam Haider khan gave him some lessons in medicines too.(Islam,1997) Hewas trained in Persian, Arabic, Urdu and other religious subjects. He was alsotaught mathematics and astronomy.
He was an active student who never given upto learning but also participated in sports like swimming and wrestling. Hebegan his study of medicine but did not complete the course. After the death ofhis father, he had to end up his formal education due to financial problems. Thedeath of his father struck him badly and brought a new turn in his life. The dilemma of financial condition was that his father had some differences of opinionwith a court person called Raja Sohan Lal, who revenged with reducing ofpension given to his family by the royal court. Even this was completelystopped after some time of his father’s death. To cope out these crises he supportedhis family and decided to join the services of East India Company instead ofjoining Mughal court and treated his life in a realistic way. During his earlylife, education was not access to him but he tended towards education as hegrew up and mainly showed his interest in science because according to himscience was only a way for advancement of society as well as for their betterfuture what he was looking for.
In those days, the Mughal Emperor had become apuppet in the hands of the perpetrators. He was only enjoying a royal life of pompand show but were doing nothing for people like being responsible ruler. Heobserved this unhealthy attitude for Mughal empires and decided to move towardsEnglish for job. That was the reason he favored and always admired Britishadministration.
In fact he had always wanted to draw the attention of thepublic and the British rulers to the laudable merits of the Mughaladministration so that it could help refine the contemporary approach to thestatecraft.Talking about thesituations that shaped his life there should be mentioned that how the death of his dear elder brothereffected him. His brother was more than a companion for him and after losing himhe was in the state of agony for some time. He was totally anguish for thisincident of his life and caused that he did not even care much about hisappearance and clothing. He had totally finished his all fun and sport in hislife and got a serious mourn inside the depths of his heart.
Discussing thefactors that steered the break of the revolt and the effects it caused will letus understand the stand that Syed Ahmad took regarding the situation. As Zobairiobserved:Thefirst phase of Syed Ahmad’s life and activities ended with the coming of themutiny in 1857. The catastrophe and its after-effects suddenly brought him faceto face with the harsh realities of his age and brought a consequent change inhis entire outlook. After having witnessed large-scale suffering and miseryamong his fellow countrymen and, particularly, on a much large scale, among hisco-religionists, Syed Ahmad was forced to abandon his dreamy visions of thepast and narrow sectarian controversies. “The Mutiny showed him, as by a flashof lightening, the frightful danger in which his community stood.”(Zobairi,1999)According to Zobairi,he ended up his activities of early life and become a mature person enough toface the harsh realities of his life. After these all a determined personalitybuilt and in result he thought about community’s bitter reality and tried hisbest to give them a enlightened future. For this purpose he started efforts tofulfill his dream and stressed on education as there was only way he perceive abetter solution for the situation of that time.
ConclusionIt is no doubt, not aneasy job to describe all his qualities, capabilities, achievements and efforts.What is presented here is just an overview of what he could achieve during his earlylife time after all crises. Thus, rest of his life Syed Ahmad lived with amission to restore the honor and dignity of his co-religionists and tried his bestto guide them to live according to the changing needs of the world. He died on 27 March1898, at the age of 80. His funeral was attended by thousands of people,including British officials, Muslim leaders, and his students.
To the Muslimcommunity Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was and is like the eye which weeps for thesuffering of any and every part of the body. The sufferings of the communityworried him. He took an oath to reform, educate and empower the Muslimcommunity and was successful to a great extent in implementing it despitestrong opposition from innumerable sources.