Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan
From Classic Encyclopedia 1911
SIR SAYYID AHMAD KHAN (1817-1898), Mahommedan educationist and reformer, was born at Delhi, India, in 1817. He belonged to a family which had come to India with the Mahommedan conquest, and had held important offices under the Mogul emperors. Although his imperfect acquaintance with English prevented his attainment of higher office than that of a judge of a small cause court, he earned the title of the recognized leader of the Mahommedan community. To the British he rendered loyal service, and when the mutiny reached Bijnor in Rohilkand in May 1857 the British residents owed their lives to his courage and tact. His faithfulness to his religion was pronounced, and in 1876 he defended the cause of Islam in A Series of Essays on Mahommed, written in London. He used these advantages to act as interpreter between the Mahommedans and their rulers, and to rouse his co-religionists to a sense of the benefits of modern education. The task was no light one; for during the first half of the 19th century the Mahommedans had kept themselves aloof from English education, and therefore from taking their proper part in the British administration, being content to study Persian and Arabic in their own mosques. Sayyid Ahmad set himself to alter their resolution. He established a translation society, which became the Scientific Society of Aligarh. He wrote letters from England to draw the hearts of the East to the West. In 1873 he founded the Mahommedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, and raised funds for the buildings of which Lord Lytton laid the foundationstone. He stimulated a similar movement elsewhere, and among other cities Karachi, Bombay and Hyderabad caught the infection of his spirit. Thus he effected a revolution in the attitude of Mahommedans towards modern education. He was made K. C. S.I., and became a member of the legislative councils of India and Allahabad, and of the education commission. He died at Aligarh on the 2nd of March 1898.
See Lieut.-Colonel G. F. I. Graham, The Life and Work of Sir Saiyad Ahmed Khan (1885). (W. L.-W.)