Today (October 17, 2008) marks the 191st birthday of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898).
In the history of Indian Sub-Continent, the role Syed Sahib played for Muslims of India deserves golden words. Sir Syed was the most influential leader and social reformer of his time. He felt that the socio-economic future of Muslims was threatened by their orthodox aversions to modern science and technology. He made significant contributions in this regard that had long term implications for the Muslims of India that eventually lead to creation of state of Pakistan.
Either it be his advocacy for Urdu to be recognized by British empire as second language of India & a symbol of Muslim heritage or establishment of a â€˜Muslim Cambridgeâ€™ in form of MAO college at Aligarh, he is seen as a most vocal figure for the rights of Indian Muslims in the second half of 19th century under British Raj. At Aligarh, Sir Syed formed Scientific Society of Aligarh, the first scientific society of its kind in India that assembled Muslim scholars from across India, held annual conferences, disbursed funds for educational causes and regularly published a journal on scientific subjects in English & Urdu.
His views, at times, challenged orthodox clergy who appeared averse to his message of â€˜changeâ€™.
Today, as we find our nation amidst divergent schools of thought, when one segment of society is bent towards ultra-liberalism & appear to blindly follow western civilization, more of its bad than good and on other end, there are those who are hell bent to stick to age-old orthodox philosophy, do we await another Syed Sahib that would channelize our energies to the middle path. Or can we revive spirit of Syed Sahibâ€™s life as a guideline in all the issues that confront us as a nation? Men like Syed Sahib are born once in decades, or perhaps, centuries! Are we ready to wait centuries for that to happen or reformulate our thought in-line with modern demands, choice is ours!
As Iqbal rightly put it:
aaen-e-nau say darna, tarz-e Kuhan pe aRna
manzil ye hi katthan hai, qaumoN kee zindagi meiN
‘To be afraid of modern ways, to get stuck on age old patterns, is the biggest hurdle in the life of Nations’.
Photo Credits: Khurram Ali Shafique and Wikipedia.com