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204th Birth Anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 20, Oct 2021
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204th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was recently observed.

  • He was born on October 17, 1817.

Who was Sir Syed Ahmad Khan?

Sir syed Ahmed khan was a teacher, politician,social reformer etc.

He was also the founder of Aligarh muslim University.

Why has he been controversial?

Sir syed Ahmed khan has often been criticised as the father of Two nation theory which led to the formation of two seperate nations i.e. India and Pakistan.

  • It is erroneously believed by some historians that the Hindu-Muslim divide in India was the by-product of the two-nation theory which supposedly had its origin in Sir Syed’s ideology.

Was “two-nation” theory in existence during his times?

“Nationalism” as a consciously-held idea was a 20th century phenomenon even in Europe, from where it was imported to India.

Eminent historian Anil Seal has rightly pointed out that during Sir Syed’s times, “there were no two nations, there was not even one nation, there was no nation at all.”

  • Till 1898, when Sir Syed breathed his last, there was nothing like an Indian “nation”, nor did the founding fathers of the Indian National Congress make such a claim.
  • Sir Octavian Hume, the founder of the Congress, talked of “a congeries of communities”, not a nation.

Sir Syed’s concept of nation:

  • Sir Syed’s concept of nation was inextricably woven with secular ideals.
  • Sir Syed believed in a multiculturalism under which all cultural communities must be entitled to equal status under state.

Rationale behind the Establishment of Aligarh Muslim University:

The main reason behind the establishment of this institution was the wretched dependence of the Muslims. Their religious fanaticism did not let them avail the educational facilities provided by the government schools and colleges. It was, therefore, deemed necessary to make some special arrangement for their education.