Since the decline of the Mughal dynasty, Sir Syed promoted the use of Urdu through his own writings. The schools established by Sir Syed imparted education in the Urdu medium.
The demand for Hindi, led largely by Hindus, was to Sir Syed an erosion of the centuries-old Muslim cultural domination of India. Testifying before the British-appointed education commission, Sir Syed controversially exclaimed that "Urdu was the language of gentry and Hindi that of the vulgar. The success of the Hindi movement led Sir Syed to further advocate Urdu as the symbol of Muslim heritage and as the language of all Indian Muslims.
His educational and political work grew increasingly centred around and exclusively for Muslim interests. He also sought to persuade the British to give Urdu extensive official use and patronage. However, the division over the use of Hindi or Urdu further provoked communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India.
Travelling across England, he visited its colleges and was inspired by the culture of learning established after the Renaissance. Sir Syed described his vision of the institution he proposed to establish in an article written sometime in and re-printed in the Aligarh Institute Gazette of 5 April I may appear to be dreaming and talking like Shaikh Chilli, but we aim to turn this MAO College into a University similar to that of Oxford or Cambridge.
Like the churches of Oxford and Cambridge, there will be mosques attached to each College The College will have a dispensary with a Doctor and a compounder, besides a Unani Hakim. It will be mandatory on boys in residence to join the congregational prayers namaz at all the five times.
Students of other religions will be exempted from this religious observance. Muslim students will have a uniform consisting of a black alpaca, half-sleeved chugha and a red Fez cap Bad and abusive words which boys generally pick up and get used to, will be strictly prohibited. Even such a word as a "liar" will be treated as an abuse to be prohibited. They will have food either on tables of European style or on chaukis in the manner of the Arabs Smoking of cigarette or huqqa and the chewing of betels shall be strictly prohibited.
No corporal punishment or any such punishment as is likely to injure a student's self-respect will be permissible It will be strictly enforced that Shia and Sunni boys shall not discuss their religious differences in the College or in the boarding house. At present it is like a day dream. I pray to God that this dream may come true. He began publishing the journal Tahzib-al-Akhlaq Social Reformer on 24 December to spread awareness and knowledge on modern subjects and promote reforms in Muslim society.
He argued in several books on Islam that the Qur'an rested on an appreciation of reason and natural law, making scientific inquiry important to being a good Muslim. Sir Syed established a modern school in Aligarh and, obtaining support from wealthy Muslims and the British, laid the foundation stone of the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College on 24 May He retired from his career as a jurist the following year, concentrating entirely on developing the college and on religious reform.
Although intensely criticised by orthodox religious leaders hostile to modern influences, Sir Syed's new institution attracted a large student body, mainly drawn from the Muslim gentry and middle classes. Near the turn of the 20th century, it began publishing its own magazine and established a law school. In , the college was transformed into a university. In the same year, Sir Syed founded the Muhammadan Association to promote political co-operation amongst Indian Muslims from different parts of the country.
In , he organised the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in Aligarh, which promoted his vision of modern education and political unity for Muslims. His works made him the most prominent Muslim politician in 19th century India, often influencing the attitude of Muslims on various national issues. He supported the efforts of Indian political leaders Surendranath Banerjee and Dadabhai Naoroji to obtain representation for Indians in the government and civil services.
Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis If we join the political movement of the Bengalis our nation will reap a loss, for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the " people of the Book Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations—the Mohammedans and the Hindus—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. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable. But until one nation has conquered the other and made it obedient, peace cannot reign in the land. Ahmad Khan founded the All India Muhammadan Educational Conference in in order to promote Western education, especially science and literature, among India's Muslims.
The conference, in addition to generating funds for Ahmad Khan's Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, motivated Muslim elites to propose expansion of educational uplift elsewhere, known as the Aligarh Movement.
In turn this new awareness of Muslim needs helped stimulate a political consciousness among Muslim elites that went on to form the AIML. At about the same time a movement started at Benares to replace Urdu, the language cultivated by the Muslims, with Hindi.
This movement and the attempts to substitute Hindi for Urdu in the publications of the Scientific Society convinced Sayyid that the paths of the Hindus and the Muslims must diverge. In January the foundation stone of the college was laid by the Viceroy. In Sayyid organized the All-India Muhammadan Educational Conference, which met annually at different places to promote education and to provide the Muslims with a common platform. Sayyid advised the Muslims against joining active politics and to concentrate instead on education.
Later, when some Muslims joined the Indian National Congress , he came out strongly against that organization and its objectives, which included the establishment of parliamentary democracy in India. I said to myself, how can I accept this jagir and become the Taluqdar while all the people are in distress. I refused to accept it. This was a daring critique of British policies that he blamed for causing the Indian mutiny. He also published pamphlets to highlight the weakness and errors of British administration that had lead to dissatisfaction and countrywide explosion.
Sir Syed tried to motivate the Indian Muslims toward seeking modern education. He clearly foresaw the imperative need for Muslims to acquire proficiency in English language and modern sciences if the community were to maintain its social and political identity.
He also observed that education can only improve the worsening economic condition of the Muslims in India. Sir Syed always hailed the cause of modern education and development of scientific temper in an individual, but he considered that education to be complete when it is done with character building. He considered proper knowledge of Islam and Quran equally important. He wanted to preserve and transmit to the younger generation the rich legacy of the past. Sir Syed thought the conservative Muslim attitude was the greatest obstacle to the material, social and intellectual progress of the Muslims.
He felt the need, therefore to re-examine the foundations of the Islamic faith. Although Sir Syed did sterling work in the modernization of the Indian Muslim community, he remained extremely conservative in some areas of life, for example he advocated the purdah system seclusion of women. Sir Syed's greatest achievement was his Aligarh Movement, which was an educational venture.
He established schools at Muradabad in and Ghazipur in He also founded a scientific society in In , Maulavi Mushtaq Husain , who as Intisar Jang Vaqar-ul Mulk became a high official in Hyderabad and a prominent Indian Muslim much active in the affairs of the MAO College and was a Tahsildar in a district whose Collector routinely objected to his taking a short recess for afternoon prayers.
Here is what Syed Ahmad wrote in reply: Namaz is obligatory upon us from God. Such talk is impossible even to be heard. In my belief, not doing namaz is just a sin which can be expected to be pardoned by God.
You would have starved to death? That would have been an extremely good consummation. Peace be upon you. For Syed Ahmad to have given such advice and for Mushtaq Husain to have accepted it were both acts of high moral courage and prove, if such proof were at all needed, that Syed Ahmad gave to the Indian Muslim a sense of worth and self-respect otherwise rare at that time.
Sir Syed persevered for a new hope for regaining some of the moral ground lost since He wanted the Muslim world to know their worth, their responsibilities, their behavior, etiquettes that are to be inherited by us from our fore-fathers.
There is an old saying that a good friend is like a leafy tree.
However, the division over the use of Hindi or Urdu further provoked communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus in India.