By Haqqani Al Qasmi
(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)
17 October 2014
After Sir Syed some of the contexts have changed. Political, social, societal and cultural contexts have changed. The reconstruction of religion, the issue of western interpretations in the light of natural science, modernist thought, an insistence on rationalists, a complete dependence on naturalism and Sir Syed’s educational theory was also a subject of paradigm shift. The concentration on modern scientific sciences and arts was also the result of revolt against the educational concepts. The Islamic subconscious was not ready to accept this paradigm shift, his thought and wisdom. That’s why some sections opposed him and the community became concerned over the foundation of Madrasatul Uloom and Mohammedan Oriental College. These institutions were branded as centres for Christianization.
When Sir Syed laid a great emphasis on philosophy and said that philosophy will be in our right hand and science in our left hand, there was a great hue and cry because he had raised this political voice in a very obscurantist society where philosophy and logic were considered akin to atheism. To the community that had the tradition of burning down the writings of Avicenna and Ikhwan us Safa, the community that had punished Ibn-e-Habib with death for teaching philosophy, the community which perpetrated grave atrocities on Fakhruddin Razi only because he was a great philosopher, the community which forced the great philosopher Ibn-e-Rushd into exile for ‘atheism’, the community that forced Mohammad Bin Ahmad to remain out of his house for almost fifty years only because he was a rationalist, the community which stones and immolates rationalists, speaking of philosophy and science was not less than an atomic explosion. A Galileo could not have taken birth in such an obscurantist society. In an atmosphere when the Ash’aris and Ashraqis are in plenty, it was natural for the liberal, modernist and radical concept of Sir Syed to come under fire. That’s why Sir Syed was also called a Mutazilla.
Notwithstanding all this, if a small section of Muslims of the time accepted Sir Syed, it can be said to be a farsighted and liberal section and supporter of change. It can be said that these Muslims were aware of the changes taking place in the world. They had realized that if the Muslims did not change their attitude and outlook with the changing times and did not confront the challenges of the contemporary world, backwardness will be their destiny in every field.
Sir Syed had the full knowledge of the misfortune of the Muslim community. That’s why he adopted the path that was not harmful for the Muslims; rather it was beneficial for them. Loyalty to the British Empire and culture was based on wisdom and conditional to the interests of the Muslims. Recognizing the existence of the British was inevitable for the existence and survival of the Muslims as a community. Sir Syed had written “The causes of the revolt of India” to make the British aware of the reality. When the life of the entire community was made hell, Sir Syed adopted the path that reflected broadmindedness and was in consonance with the verse of the Quran that said that enmity of any community should not divert you from the path of justice. Sir Syed adopted the moderate path and made the British rulers aware of the true situation. Such situations often come in the life of communities and nations when such policies are adopted. Insha Allah Khan Insha whom the poet Mashafi would call a joker, had said this meaningful couplet:
What a great job I did today
When he abused me, I saluted him in return
Sir Syed had foreseen the dangers to the educational, cultural and religious identity of the Muslims after the British. That’s why he used the prescription that would preserve the religion and future of the Muslims.
Sir Syed rejected many traditions of the Muslims. He denied miracles, Meraj ( of the Prophet pbuh) and revelations (Wah’i) not because he could not understand the secrets of the divine but because the miracles and revelations had no scientific basis. Now when the science is doing new research on the basis of the same miracles and the miracles have become a part of scientific research, Sir Syed would have today felt the need of a paradigm shift if he had seen a harmony in the scientific revelations and miraculous facts. He would definitely have changed his point of view because above all his faith was complete. Circumstances had paved the way for his denial so that the Christians could not get a scientific justification to set Muslims against their religion and they could not hurt the revolutionary spirit of Islam by blaming Muslims for illiteracy and superstition.
The concept of modern education that Sir Syed gave through Aligarh Movement was a positive and logical one. But our road to curiosity and thinking does not end at Sir Syed. We have other worlds, other skies before us. Sir Syed too did not stop at any milestone. He searched for new horizons and pulled the nation out of intellectual stagnation and subjugation. Therefore, it is necessary that our thought also should not stop at Sir Syed. We should march ahead according to the challenges of the time as many milestones are waiting for us and many dreams are to be realized. This was the message of Sir Syed.
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