Sir Syed Day 2019

A very Happy Sir Syed Day to Aligarians all over the world. For the uninitiated, Sir Syed Day is celebrated every year on 17 October as founder’s day at the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India in remembrance of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. Sir Syed was the founder of The Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College at Aligarh in 1875 which later became Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. Today is his 202nd Birth anniversary.

Sir Syed was one of the architects of modern India. In the words of Maulana Abul Kalaam Azad, First Education Minister of Independent India, Sir Syed was “the morning star of an intellectual revolution in Asia”. It was Sir Syed who encouraged the Indians in general and Muslims in particular to undertake modern education. He encouraged Muslims of India to enthusiastically embrace English language to be able to compete in the modern world. It was this desire of Sir Syed that led him to start a series of measures such as Tahzibul Akhlaq (Mohammedan Social Reformer), The Scientific Society etc. However, the establishment of MAO College was the culmination of his lifelong efforts. As Sir Syed remarked “Sons (of MAO College later Aligarh Muslim University) shall go forth throughout the length and breadth of the land to preach the message of free inquiry, of large hearted tolerance and pure morality”. Later on his followers carried forward his mission and established the Aligarh Muslim University according to his last message “Oh My Dear Children, You have reached a particular stage and remember one thing that when I undertook the task, there was criticism all around against me, abuses were hurled upon me, life had become so difficult for me that I aged before my age, I lost my hairs, my eyesight, but not my vision. My vision never dimmed, my determination never failed, I built this institution for you and I am sure, you will carry the light of this institutions far and wide, darkness will disappear from all around

Today Aligarians all over the world will celebrate the Sir Syed Day by holding commemorative programs all over the world. There will be programs remembering the achievements of Sir Syed. Old boys will share their stories of University. It will be usually followed by dinner. There are Old Boys Associations in every major city of the world. Many of these are doing commendable work in the field of education. For the sake of brevity, I will not mention their names here. However, there is a need to revive the Aligarh Movement in its true spirit. The Old Boys of Aligarh need to introspect at the reasons for the present dismal situation of the community, find solutions and immerse themselves wholeheartedly to alleviate their condition. That would be true tribute to Sir Syed and his mission.

For more details, see:

Saikia, Y & Rahman, M.R (2019, 21 March) The Cambridge Companion to Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Cambridge University Press

Hassan, T. (2014). The Aligarh Movement. New Delhi: Rupa and Company

Zilli, I.A. (n.d.) Aligarh Movement-A Historical Glimpse. Available at: Accessed on 17 October 2019

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