Urooj-e aadam-e khaki se anjum sahme jaate hain
Ke yeh toota hua taara mah-e kaamil na ban jaaye
A man was born at a time when darkness engulfed the Indian society in general and muslims in particular. He acquired knowledge and wisdom and achieved un-scaled height of scholarship in varied arena. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was a silver lining on otherwise dark cloud shadowing the Indian subcontinent throughout the 19th century. He awakened from slumber the somnolent community which was oblivious of fast changing politico-social scene of 19th century. His indelible footprint still guides the activists who endeavor for positive changes in society.
Many treatises have been written about Aligarh movement. The Aligarh Urdu tehreek needs special focus today as this movement was to regain the rich Socio-Cultural heritage lost by muslim community.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was litterateur par excellence and steered the Aligarh movement for reform in Urdu literature. He tried to awaken the masses using all the genres of literature as an instrument. He wrote poems using Ahan as takhallus, worte essays on social issues. His vast literary works are varied like the man was himself. His masterpiece Asarus Sanaadeed, a book of architecture is still widely refered to, His book on causes of Indian mutiny was instrumental in the reform and passage of Government of India Act 1858. Sir Syed and his friends established scientific society to translate books in Urdu to bring scientific temperament in the community. The endeavor to bring scientific temperament in society is today part of directive principle of state policy of Indian constitution. On his return from England, Sir Syed started a journal called Tehzibul Akhlaaq. This was a successful experiment in the field of journalism. This guided the masses for social and educational reform. Sir Syed wrote Khutbaat-e Ahmediya responding to William Muir’s book Life of Muhammad which showcases civility even if one disagrees. Sir Syed travelled to England and stayed there to write the book disproving falsehood of Muir regarding prophet Muhammad.
Sir Syed and his friends liberated Urdu literature from age old tradition. The literature which served the purpose of taste now was refashioned to bring social change. He and his caravan wrote for the social reform without compromising the high standards of literature. Maulana Altaf Hussain Hali, Muhammad Husain Azad, Maulana Shibli Nomani, Dy Nazeer Ahmed, Akbar Allahabadi and others showed a new literary path to the budding writers of the time. In a very short period there was a new literature with message of social reform. Shair-e mashriq Allama Iqbal is not but the extension of this movement.
Today, when we remember the great soul, what tribute can we offer to him? The community is facing challenges today similar Sir Syed’s time. This century may not produce another Sir Syed but Aligarh movement may still be revisited and success stories may be rewritten.
Ganwa di hum ne jo aslaaf se miraas paayi thi
Surayya se zameen par aasmaan ne humko de mara