Q.2. What do you mean by Aligarh Movement? Describe its educational role.
The Aligarh Movement was founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the greatest Muslim educationist of the 19th century. After the war of Independence of 1857 the British did not trust the Muslims. As a result they adopted a policy of oppression and repression towards the Muslims. They arrested and punished leading Muslims irrespective of the fact whether they were involved in the events of 1857 or not. As a result many innocent Muslims became victim of British highhandedness. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan has observed these atrocities in these words
There was no calamity in these days which was not attributed to the Muslims and there is no doubt that any calamity which fell from the firmament might not have come straight to some Muhammadan houses bringing ruin and destruction.
The sufferings of the Muslims multiplied when they refused to adopt the system of education introduced by the British. The Muslims refused to send their children to the European and Government schools because they hated English language. The result was that the Muslims could not acquire modern education and were kept away from reasonable government jobs. The British Government excluded the Muslims from the civil and military honors with the stigma of disdainful unfitness.
According to Dr. Hunter there was scarcely a Government office in Calcutta in which a Muhammadan could hope for any post above the rank of a porter, messenger, and filler of ink-pots and mender of posts. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the first Muslim leader who diagnosed the causes of gradual decline of the status of Muslim Community. He decided to take necessary steps to better the lot of Muslims in the educational, political and economic spheres. His works for the educational development for Muslims are as follows.
1. Farsi Maddarsa Muradabad
He establised a Farsi Maddarsa at Muradabad in 1859. It was the starting point of Sir Syed’s Educational struggle. In this Maddarsa, English is also taught besides English.
2. Victoria School Ghazipur
Sir Syed establised first modern Victoria School at Ghazipur (1864). In this school, besides Modern Education five languages (English, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit) were also taught.
3. Establishment of Scientific Society
A more ambitious undertaking was the foundation of the Scientific Society in 1863 at Ghazipur, which published translations of many educational texts and issued a bilingual journal – in Urdu and English. The basic purpose of this society was translation of English, Persian and Arabic writings into Urdu language.
4. Aligarh Institute Gazette
During his stay at Aligarh he issued a weekly Gazette called Aligarh Institute Gazette. The imparted information on history; ancient and modern science of agriculture, natural and physical sciences and advanced mathematics.
On 24th December 1876 he issued his famous magazine named Tehzib-ul-Ikhlaq from Benares in order to apprise the Muslims of their social evils and moral short comings. This journal contained articles from influential Muslims who agreed with Sir Syed that there was a need for a new approach to education. This magazine also promoted Urdu language immensely. Although some ulema attacked the journal, it played a major part in bringing about an intellectual revolution amongst Muslim thinkers.
6. Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College, Aligarh
For the educational and social uplift of the Muslims Sir Syed Ahmed Khan decided to open Muslim educational institutions. Earlier after his return from England he had established a Madrassah in May 1875. In January 1877 M.A.O College was inaugrated at Aligarh by Lord Lytton the Viceroy of India. The college soon showed tremendous progress. It became the Centre of Muslim educational and intellectual activity in the Sub Continent. It was a residential institution. Many important Muslim figures like Maulana Shibli, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar etc at one time or another remained associated with this college.
7. Aligarh Muslim University
The M.A.O College Aligarh was rendering great service in imparting education to the Muslims of India. The Muslims now wanted to get it elevated to the status of a Muslim University. In 1911 on the eve of the visit of King George – V to India his Highness Sir Agha Khan made an appeal for funds needed to set up Aligarh University. The Muslims responded generously and as a result a large collection was made. A draft constitution was drawn up and a consultative committee was formed. Unfortunately the draft was not approved by the secretary of state. The Government was reluctant to grant the right of affiliating colleges outside Aligarh to the proposed Aligarh University. But the Muslims were not willing to accept a University with limited jurisdiction. However on 15th October 1915 Muslim University Association approved the Muslim University as contemplated by the Government akin to other Hindu Universities. Thus the bill for the Muslim University was introduced in the Indian Legislative Council and was passed in September 1920. Thus Aligarh University Act came into force on 1st December 1920. In this way the Muslims of India came to have their own University after a long struggle. The Aligarh University inculcated a vigorous spirit of nationalism in the Muslim students. It produced thousands of graduates which carried the spirit of nationalism to every nook and comer of the Sub Continent. In 1925 sixty six percent of all the Muslim students admitted to the Indian University were given admission in Aligarh University only. The graduates of Aligarh University were respected in all quarters. All the Aligarh students later on became the standard bearers on Pakistan Movement. Some of them like Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar and Maulana Shaukat Ali become dynamic leaders of the Muslims. Thus Pakistan, owes its establishment to the Aligarh Movement, to a great extent.