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Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, KCSI [1] (also Sayyid Ahmad Khan) (Urdu: ??? ???? ??? ) (October 17, 1817 – March 27, 1898), commonly known as Sir Syed,[2] was an Indian educator and politician, and an Islamic reformer and modernist. [3][4] Sir Syed pioneered modern education for the Muslim community in India by founding the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College, which later developed into the Aligarh Muslim University.

His work gave rise to a new generation of Muslim intellectuals and politicians who composed the Aligarh movement to secure the political future of Muslims of India. In 1842, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II revived upon Syed Ahmad Khan the title of Javad-ud Daulah, conferred upon Syed Ahmad’s grandfather Syed Hadi by Emperor Shah Alam II in about the middle of the eighteenth century. The Emperor added to it the additional title of Arif Jang. The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Syed Ahmad Khan’s incorporation into the nobility of Delhi. 5] Born into Muslim nobility, Sir Syed earned a reputation as a distinguished scholar while working as a jurist for the British East India Company. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857 he remained loyal to the British and was noted for his actions in saving European lives. [3] After the rebellion he penned the booklet Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind (The Causes of the Indian Mutiny) — a daring critique, at the time, of British policies that he blamed for causing the revolt.

Believing that the future of Muslims was threatened by the rigidity of their orthodox outlook, Sir Syed began promoting Western-style scientific education by founding modern schools and journals and organising Muslim intellectuals. Towards this goal, Sir Syed founded the Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in 1875 with the aim of promoting social and economic development of Indian Muslims. One of the most influential Muslim politicians of his time, Sir Syed was suspicious of the Indian independence movement and called upon Muslims to loyally serve the British Raj.

He denounced nationalist organisations such as the Indian National Congress, instead forming organisations to promote Muslim unity and pro-British attitudes and activities. Sir Syed promoted the adoption of Urdu as the lingua franca of all Indian Muslims, and mentored a rising generation of Muslim politicians and intellectuals. Although hailed as a great Muslim leader and social reformer, Sir Syed remains the subject of controversy for his views on Hindu-Muslim issues.