Seminar/Conference/Workshop of the Department
Topic:- Commemorating Syed Ahmad Khan: A Historian, Intellectual and Man of Reason
Schedule to be held:- 29th-31st January, 2018
Commemorating Syed Ahmad Khan: A Historian, Intellectual and Man of Reason
29th-31st January, 2018
Syed Ahmad Khan (17th Oct., 1817-27 March, 1898) is known as an Educationalist, Philosopher and a Reformer a permanent figure of Indiaâ??s Nineteenth Century Renaissance. A strong supporter of modern scientific learning, he established Mohmmadan-Anglo Oriental (MAO) College which in 1920, by an Act of the Central Legislature was transformed into a Central University.
Apart from being a thinker and reformer, Syed Ahmad Khan was also a person who contributed much to the understanding of Indian History and Archaeology. As an intellectual his earliest important works were in the realm of History and Archaeology. His Asarur Sanadid (1985) was the first survey of monuments attempted in Persian or Urdu language, and is still regarded as an important source for the archaeology of Delhi. He edited Abul Fazlâ??s Ain-i Akbari, Baraniâ??s famous history Tarikh-i Firoz Shahi and Jahangirâ??s memoirs, within the period 1855-64. Having been a person who was in the service of the British and witness to the great revolt of 1857, he was perhaps, the only Indian whose narrative of his experiences were written and printed in 1858, and also a very perceptive discussion of the causes of the Revolt. He himself was a sincere supporter of the British government as a modernising force. He addressed himself to the furthering of the cause of progress of Muslims, under the British regime. For this he insisted on modern English education as a necessary opening for service under the British, as well as for general enlightenment. He established the translation Society (later called Scientific Society) for translation of scientific works from English to Urdu and Hindi.
From 1860s onwards Syed Ahmad was deeply involved in the problem of adjusting Islam to modern values. For this he had to confront the entire weight to balance tradition. His controversy with Muir over his Life of Mahomet was not really with Muir, but with the traditional Islamic biography of the Prophet. This naturally extended to the meaning of the message of the Quran. His own principle that the World of God must accord with work of God really meant subordinating faith to science. It is not surprising that this Tafsir or Commentary on the Quran aroused such bitter controversy. But Syed Ahmad, to give him credit, renamed steadfast in his position.
His final contribution to education was the establishment of the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College (1875) in the tradition of Ram Mohan Royâ??s cause of modern educate (he also used the term â??Anglo-Orientalâ??). He insisted on the College concentrating on English institution and modern education, a cause that he energetically also undertook in respect of the Allahabad University to which MAO college was affiliated as well as newly founded Punjab University.
Syed Ahmad is known for his opposition to the Indian National Congress, especially by his speeches in 1887 (his knighthood came rather inconveniently at that time!). It is, however, good to remember that he also stuck to the cause of liberty, and refused to support the demand that Government should proceed against the Congress leaders.
For our Seminar we would welcome papers on the following topics, keeping in view our orientation towards History:
Assessments of Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s own specific contributions to History and Archaeology.
The causes and nature of the Rebellion of 1857, especially taking into account of Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s own two works on it.
The European sources of Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s thought, e.g. John Stuart Mill and Henry Maine.
Problems of Islamic history, especially those touched on in Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s writings.
Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s ideological position relative to that of important figures in the Bengal or Indian Renaissance.
The Indian National Congress and its approach to Muslims, in the context of Syed Ahmad Khanâ??s opposition to it.
Syed Ahmad Khan and Hindi-Urdu controversy.
Any aspect of the biography of Syed Ahmad Khan.
This list is suggestive, and the scholars invited can feel free to choose a topic for their contribution which in their view falls within the scope of the Seminar.