Aligarh Movement

Analysis of Syed Ahmed words

In a letter from London dated 15/10/1869 he wrote, “Without the flattering of English, I can truly say that the natives of India, high and low etc when contrasted with the English in education, manners and uprightness, are as like them as a dirty animal is to an able and handsome man. Do you look upon an animal as a thing to be honored? Do you think it necessary to treat an animal courteously, or the reverse? You do not! We have no right to courteous treatment. The English have reason for believing us in India to be imbecile brutes”. Sir Syed Ahmad by Graham pg 183-184.

Two, in a 1884 speech he said, “Do you not inhibit the same land, Remember that words Hindu and Muslim are only meant for religious distinction, otherwise all persons, whether Hindu and Muslim, even the Christians who reside in this country, are all in this particular respect belong to one and the same nation". Ref Eminent Mussalmans by Natesan pg 32.

To a Punjabi Hindu audience he said that every inhabitant of Hindusthan is a Hindu and added “I am therefore sorry that you do not regard me as Hindu”. Ref India Divided by Rajendra Prasad pg 99.

Four, but some utterances reflect a different mindset. As far as 1858 he deplored the fact that Hindus and Muslims, were put into the same regiment of the British army, and thus a feeling of friendship and brotherhood sprang between them. He added, “If separate regiments of Hindus and Muslims had been raised, this feeling of brotherhood could not have arisen”. Ref Causes of Indian Revolt pg 54-55.

At a speech at Meerut on 16/03/1888 he refers to the Hindus and Muslims not only as two nations, but as two warring nations who could not lead a common political life if ever the Brits left India. He said, “Now suppose that all the Brits were to leave India, then who would be the rulers of India? Is it possible that under these circumstances these nations, the Muhammadan and the Hindu could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power. Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable”. Ref Sachin Sen pg 42.

Six, does this not reflect the Islamic mindset? As a community Muslims have not learnt to co-exist with other communities. That is because Islam believes in Dar-ul-Islam, Muslim rule pure and simple. These words were echoed by Islamic writer Rafiq Zakaria in his book The Widening Divide. Unless the Muslim stops drawing pride from the deeds of the Muslim invaders and realizes that he is a Hindu convert, the divide between the two communities might never cease.

Arun Shourie wrote in Indian Controversies, “And first suppose that all the Muslims vote for a Muslim and all the Hindus vote for a Hindu, it is certain that Muslims will have four times as many votes since their population is four times as numerous. And then how can the Muslim guard his interests? Now I ask you, O Muslims! Weep at your condition! Have you such wealth that you can compete with the Hindus? In the whole nation there is no person who is equal to Hindus in the fitness for the work!” Pg 112.

Eight, in the same book Arun Shourie wrote, “O, my brother Muslims! I again remind you that you have ruled nations, and have for centuries held different nations in your grasp”. Pg 118. Muslims are unable to forget that Muslims ruled India once.

As early as 1883, SAK delivered a long speech deprecating the system of representative institutions for fear that “the larger community would totally derive override the interest of the smaller community”. Coupland II part I pg 154-56. In this speech he harped upon the elements of discord and disunion that divided India. “In one and the same district, said he, the population consists of various creeds and nationalities”. The whole speech is an eloquent plea against Indian nationality and indicates the wide chasm that divided Hindu and Muslim leaders in their political thought and ideas.

Ten, “In a country like India where homogeneity does not exist in any one of these fields (nationality, religion, ways of living, customs, mores, culture and historical traditions), the introduction of representative govt cannot produce any beneficial results, it can only result in interfering with the peace and prosperity of the land. The aims and objectives of the Congress are based upon the ignorance of history and present day realities; they do not take into consideration that India is inhabited with different nationalities. I consider the experiment, which the Congress wants to make fraught with dangers and suffering for all the nationalities of India, especially for the Muslims. The Muslims are in a minority, but they are a highly united minority."

"Atleast they are traditionally prone to taking the sword when the majority oppresses them. If this happens, it will bring about disasters greater than the ones, which came in the wake of the happenings of 1857. The Congress cannot rationally prove its claim to represent the opinions, ideals and aspirations of the Muslims”. Syed Ahmad Khan, Akhari Madamin, pg 46-50. Ref 'Sources of Indian Tradition' pp 746-7.

Twelve, have things changed! A couple of days i.e. some 20/8/2001, the police in Ahmedabad removed Muslim hawkers from the pavement and they rioted. In Lucknow some time in 2001 during I think a Ramzan procession a Muslim girl was allegedly molested by a policemen. Without checking the veracity of the event or asking the police to take action they took to the streets. Indian Muslim had begun to believe that by resorting to violence the scared Hindu would back off and let him live in a Muslim ghetto without being subject to Indian laws.

SAK regarded the Congress as inimical to the true interests of the Muslims. He wrote in the Pioneer on 2-3/10/1887 that the parliamentary form of governance “was unsuited to a country containing two or more nations tending to oppress the numerically weaker”. Ref The Development of Indian National Congress by P C Ghosh pg 43C.

Fourteen, during 1888, Tyabji and Hume worked hard to secure SAK ka cooperation. He said, “I do not understand what the words National Congress mean. Is it supposed that the different castes and creeds living in India belong to one nation, or can become a nation, and their aims and aspirations be one and the same? I think it is impossible, and when it is possible there can be no such thing as a national congress, nor can it be of equal benefit to all peoples. I object to every Congress in any shape or form whatever which regards Indian as one nation”. Ref Ram Gopal ph 67. It may be mentioned that the Muslims of north India agreed with the policy of SAK.

At Lucknow on 28/12/1887, on the eve of the Congress session in Madras he said, “If you accept that the country should groan under the yoke of Bengali rule and its people lick the Bengali shoes, then in the name of God! Jump into the train, sit down, and be off to Madras”. Ref Syed Ahmad Khan On the present state of Indian Politics pg 11-12.

Referring to these speeches M Noman said “No Muslim of India since then joined the Congress except one or two. Even SAK’s fellow Muslims who differed from his views on religion, education and social matters, opposed him violently, followed him in politics and preserved their isolation from the Congress”.

Fifteen, there is no doubt that SAK succeed in keeping the bulk of the Muslims away from the Congress. In 1896, Rahimatullah Sayani, a distinguished Muslim, presided over the Congress session. Haji Ismail Khan a friend of SAK suggested to the Congress President that the Congress should pass a resolution to the effect that the Hindus and Muslims should have equal seats in the legislative councils, district boards and municipalities. SAK endorsed it and wrote an article that Muslims could join the Congress only if the Congress agreed to the proposal of Ismail Khan. Ref P C Ghosh.

Lastly, in same book Arun Shourie wrote that SAK believed that, “If the Congress or the British persist in pushing these proposals the Muslims will fight with the help of the Turks and Pathans if necessary. He said that Muslims are enjoined by the Quran and the Prophet to be loyal to the ruler. Muslims are taught by the Koran that people who are most likely to be their friends are Christians rather than kafirs”.

Whatever one might think of the earlier utterances of SAK in favor of the peoples of India forming but one nation, the two-nation theory formed the solid basis of the Aligarh Movement.

Its political views, impact may be summarized as follows -

One, Hindus and Muslims form two separate political entities with separate outlook and conflicting interests. Note that Muslims were, are very clear about it but Hindus like Gandhi desired Hindu Muslim unity. A proof of the two- nation theory is that Gandhi went on fasts whenever he had to make the Hindus agree to his point of view. I do not recall his having gone on fasts to make the Muslims see the Hindu point of view.

Two, let me share one more example of the two-nation theory. The Karachi based Dawood Ibrahim gang is well known in India for its extortion and forcing people into business deals. Have you heard of a Muslim businessmen or film actor being a victim of an extortion threat?

Three, the grant of representative institutions based on democratic principles, and appointment to high offices by open competitive examination in India would be detrimental to the interests of the Muslims, as they would be subject to Hindu domination, which is far worse than Brit rule. SAK knew that education is alien to Islam, is a strong point about the Indians read Hindus so he did not want his fellow Muslims to be put at a disadvantage.

Four, please note that as a system democracy is alien to Islam. Muslims believe in Dar-ul-Islam plain and simple. Peaceful co-existence with other communities is something they are yet to perfect.

Five, consequently, the Muslims should regard the paramount of the British as the chief safeguard of their interests, and keep themselves aloof from political agitation against the government.

Six, as Muslim interests are quite safe in the hands of the Brits, "Muslims should confine their attention to cultural development, and to avoid politics except so far as it is necessary to counterbalance the mischief of the Hindu political agitators”. Ref R Symonds, Making of Pakistan pg 30-31.

Seven, note that SAK gave a veiled threat to all esp. the Congress by saying will take to the sword if the Hindu oppresses them, refer para 7 above. I am unable to fathom why he said that because till then i.e. about 1880 Hindus had never ruled over Muslims. So on what basis did he say that? Remember that in 1946 Jinnah too made the same threats. Give me Pakistan or Direct Action Plan. The massacres of Noakali in 1946 are only two well known.

Eight, SAK kept on harping about the fact about how Muslims would be treated in Hindu India. Probably the benchmark that he had in his mind was the way Muslims treated Hindus when they ruled India. 54 years after independence look at the condition of Hindus in Islamic Pakistan and Bangladesh and compare that with the Muslims in India!

Nine, as a concept nationalism is a recent phenomenon, probably post Industrial revolution. It never existed in the West or the Gulf prior to that. India has always been one cultural unit. This thing of mutli-lingual etc are issues created by the media. The central idea through Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism is the same as it amongst people in different parts of the country.

What unites India is a common culture for e.g. festivals. Raksha Bandhan / Deepavali is celebrated by all. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the north / south and in Nepal / Tibet. Parvati is worshipped in the north, south, east and west. What differs are her manifestations. The Gayatri Mantra is said in the same way across the country.

Read Different parts of India contributed to its religious life

The Rishis of ancient times were wise. Within a common central idea everyone had the freedom to follow local customs. The laws of karma, rebirth and the theory of cause and effect are common to all Indians.

Read Characteristics of Indian Philosophy

Ten, this desire for parity with the Hindus formed an important part of the pre independence Muslim psyche. Post 1947 it is dominance over Hindus.

In support of points 3 and 4 it may be noted that he declined to support the National Mohammadan Association founded in Calcutta in 1877 by Amir Ali Khan etc.

Let me share some recent examples of Muslim mindset and Hindu perception.

One, a lawyer friend who deals with Real Estate matters told me this. He said that in case of any real estate deal in Mumbai the builder or they, as lawyers do not get involved if there is a Muslim even remotely involved. I called him communal and asked why? He said that the Muslims always want things to go their way, in case of a dispute; they do not listen to reason but just shoot you dead.

Two, this incident took place some four years ago. I had gone to Mumbai’s Mahalaxmi Racecourse when I overheard two gentlemen talking of some real estate deal. One said to the other that he had done a partnership with a Muslim that eventually went into dispute. He went to a well-known lawyer firm Kanga and Co. The firm refused to fight the case since the other party was a Muslim. The firm partner said they do not deal with people who do not listen to the voice of reason.

Three, in order to win the battle of the ballot the Muslim realizes, that in a democracy, it is a battle of numbers. Because Muslims want to rule the country again Muslims of the subcontinent have large families and support large-scale infiltration into India. It is strategically done to change the demographic composition of the place and create a Muslim vote bank.

Four, noted author Rafiq Zakaria wrote in 'The Widening Divide', “It is now for Muslims to strengthen Hindu Muslim unity because it is only with the goodwill of Hindus that the future of the Muslims in the country can be assured. Of that I have not the slightest doubt”. Sensible but what have Indians Muslims done to assuage Hindu feelings. Have they have given their claims on Ayodhya, agreed to voluntarily pull down the mosques at Mathura and Kashi.

Five, Muslims of the sub continent are bad losers some egs. In a charity match that was played at Birmigham England sometime in the early 1990s Pakistanis invaded the field when they realized that Pakistan was about to loose to arch rivals India. The same thing was repeated at Karachi a few years later. Things have changed because unlike in the past India beats Pakistan very frequently now.

Six, Nehru, Gandhi encouraged Muslims to live in ghettos. The Muslims love it because bereft of Indian read Hindu influence, rule they can have Dar-ul-Islam. Take Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road or Delhi’s Jama Masjid area.

Seven, because Muslims take to violence easily the English media is scared of reporting events that would show the community in poor light. A few examples. Recently Delhi Muslims staged a protest at the Qutub Minar asking for permission read control to offer namaz there. The Delhi police protested but gave in. Mumbai’s Times of India did not report it but when Hindu priests protested thereafter because it was earlier a temple they made front-page news in the same paper. There was no reason or historical perspective given.

It may not out of place to mention that the present structure of Kutub Minar is stated to have been first built by the King of Ujjain Raja Vikramaditya, on the suggestions of Acharya Varahmihir, who was one of the nine jewels of his court, as an observatory tower as high as Meru mountain for research of celestial bodies.

The Muslim invader changed its shape and gave it a new name in place of its original Merusatambha. The village Mehrauli, earlier known as Mehirsthan, where the Kutub is situated, was established by the great king in the memory of Acharya Mihir. The India Today editorial justified the Muslim takeover by blaming the Archaeological Survey of India for poor maintenance. This implies that Muslims continue to identify themselves with Muslim invaders who perpetuated worst atrocities on Hindus. What feelings would you expect Hindus to have?

Eight, the desire to maintain a separate Muslim identity, resist government control is so strong that it prevents integration with the rest of the country. They will study in madrassas, wear burkhas, want special rights and get aggressive if anyone points out shortcomings.

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