Muslim Reform Movements
After 1857, the Muslims emerged as a backward nation; they were illiterate and hopelessly ignorant in every walk of life. They were deprived of their basic rights and were neglected in every sphere of life.
In such conditions, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan came forward and tried to help the Muslims come out from such deplorable and miserable conditions. He started a movement in order to give respectable position to Muslims in society as they had in past, this movement is known as Aligarh Movement. The main focus of the Aligarh movement was:
- Loyalty to British Government.
- Modern western education for the Muslims to compete with Hindus.
- To keep away the Muslims from politics.
Sir Syed realized that this miserable and deplorable condition of Muslims was due to the lack of modern education. He took concrete steps for his education plan. Thus, in 1859, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan set up a school for Muslims in Muradabad where English, Persian, Islamiat, Arabic, Urdu were compulsory subjects. In 1862, he established another school for Muslims, which was known as Madrass Ghazipur. Here also English, Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Islamyat were compulsory subjects.
In 1864, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan laid the foundation of a scientific society at Ghazipur. The purpose of this society was to translate the English books into Urdu language. But, later on, in 1866, after his transfer to Aligarh, the main office of the scientific society was also transferred to Aligarh. In 1866, the scientific society issued a journal named as Aligarh Institute Gazette. This journal was published both in Urdu and English languages. The aim of this journal was to wash away the misconception between Muslims and British government and brought them close to each other.
In 1886, Sir Syed set up an organization which is known as Mohammedan Educational Conference, which presented a twelve point programme in western and religious education in English and other languages. In 1866, Sir Syed established British India Association at Aligarh. He also wrote “Loyal Muhammadans of India” in which he recorded a detailed account of the loyal services of the Muslims which they rendered to the British rulers.
Maulana Husain Ahmed Madani, a student of Shiekh-Ul-Hind Maulana Mahmood Ul Hassan, was a religious scholar who supported the Congress’ struggle for a united and secular India where all the communities were equal in the eyes of law.
He said: “All should endeavor jointly for such a democratic government in which Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and Parsis are included. Such a freedom is in accordance with Islam”.
As Indian independence approached in 1947, Maulana Madani stood as a staunch opponent of those calling for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. Instead, he wrote, argued, and campaigned for the position that Muslims could live as observant Muslims in a religiously plural society where they would be full citizens of an independent, secular India.
Maulana Madani opposed Pakistan as someone deeply committed to a Muslim presence in the whole of India. He couched his argument within the framework of modern territorial nationalism, asserting Muslim indigeneity and ties to the land. He thus challenged Hindu “communalists” who marginalized non-Hindus in their vision of Indian nationalism. In this, he also broke with Muslim separatists ready to sever their tie to the larger territory.
A number of nationalist Muslims of Punjab, mainly religious leaders, called themselves “Ahrars” who organized Majlis-i-Ahrar-i-Islam. They were former members of the provincial branch of the All India Khilafat Committee who made the formal announcement after the anti-Muslim Nehru Report in December 1929.
The first Ahrar conference convened on July 31, 1931 declared to achieve independence for the country, make better communal relations among different communities, establish an Islamic system in the country and uplift the Muslim masses to acquire their lost glory of the past.
The Ahrars got popularity within short time due to their exploitation of local issues, with which they could easily arouse sentiments of the people. Some issues were, of course, genuine.
The Muslims of the Punjab area India began to take notice of a Muslim writer from the village of Qadian named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. This man wrote a number of treatises attacking Christianity and Hinduism and in 1880 began an extensive work entitled Barahin-i-Ahmadiyah which defended Islam from the onslaughts of Christian missionaries and the Arya Samaj, a militant Hindu organisation.
This work, published in four volumes, was favourably received by the Muslims and it appeared that a mujaddid, a worthy defender of Islam, had risen.
Parsi Reform Movements
The Parsi Religious Reform Association was founded at Bombay by Furdunji Naoroji and S.S. Bengalee in 1851. They advocated the spread of women�s education. They also wanted to reform their marriage customs. Naoroji published a monthly journal, Jagat Mithra. The momentum gathered through these reformmovements and went a long way in uplifting the entire community. By the middle of the twentieth century most of them were highly placed in various capacities and have made a significant contribution to India�s development.