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LOYALTY TO THE MASTER: SIR SYED'S EDUCATIONAL REFORMS POST WAR OF INDEPENDENCE 1857


Widely regarded as the face of social reform within British India, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was unarguably the most important figure in the educational movement for Muslims of India in the 19th century. Born in 1817, Sir Syed realized the importance of education early on and envisaged how Muslims could overcome their disadvantage in society and climb up its social and political rungs, much like the rapidly progressing Hindus; by taking up western education. Often labeled as a British sympathizer, he openly advocated for democratic principles and freedom of speech, a concept alien to the region's Muslims.


Perhaps his magnum opus was his brainchild, “The Aligarh Movement”. It was a movement that looked to improve the Muslim Community in the social, political, and economic spheres of life. He also pioneered a Scientific Society in 1863 to translate renowned works of science and literature into Urdu. For this purpose, he published two journals, namely, the Aligarh Institute Gazette and the Tehzibul Akhlaq. Moreover, he established the Madrasatul Uloom in Aligarh in 1875, later known as the Aligarh Muslim University, a leading institute in the region. In 1886, he also created the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental Education Congress to create a network of education and culture.


Thus, in light of all his significant contributions, Sir Syed Ahmad was regarded as a visionary who was well ahead of his time. Given that the Muslims had suffered a huge setback in the War of Independence in 1857, an event that was largely associated with them and caused them to slip further down the social echelons in British India, he embarked on an arduous journey of ensuring that this was no longer the case and that Muslims were able to reclaim their lost esteem by gaining an education.

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Though Sir Syed Ahmed Khan did alot of things for Muslims one can not deny the fact that he wasn't a good representative for Indians specially muslims. He with his priviledge chose to side with British on many matter while they did nothing but persecute Indians

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From phrases and sentences within your article, such as "he openly advocated for democratic principles and freedom of speech, a concept alien to the region's Muslims", it seems as if the reason for the Muslims' plight stemmed mainly from their own mindset or way of life. Of course, the war and the establishment of a new ruler within the hierarchy considerably shook the Mulsims' way of life and thus their educational opportunities, but could their educational decline be attributed to their self-imposed limitations more so? What was the Muslim attitude towards education before the British advent? Were they ignorant of a liberal and democratic mindset back then too?


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It is to note that before the British, Muslims were enjoying the bounties of subcontinent which was the twilight of the Mughal empire. In subcontinent only, they held important positions and were comfortable which led to their overall decline. The need and realization for education only came when they suffered heavy losses in 1857 after which colonial rule started. Hence, it is true that the ignorance of Muslims towards education was prevalent before Sir Syed actually realized it.

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