The speech by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan at the inauguration of Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College (AMU) on 8 January, 1877

(This is the text of the speech Sir Syed Ahmad Khan gave at the public dinner in honour of the foundation of the Mohamedan Anglo-Oriental College, Aligarh, at the Aligarh Institute Hall on 8th January, 1877)

The enthusiasm with which you have drunk my health, fills me with feelings of a mixed nature. I feel obliged to you for the great honour you have done me; I feel sincerely happy that the events of to-day have passed off well, but along with these feelings there is a consciousness that I am neither worthy of the honour you have done me, nor that the success which the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College (later developed into Aligarh Muslim University) has hitherto secured, is due to my exertions to the extent you imagine. But, gentlemen, there is one thing which I admit sincerely, and without any hesitation, and that is, that the College of which the foundation-stone has been laid to-day, has been for many years the main object of my life. Ever since I first began to think of social questions in British India, it struck me with peculiar force that there was a want of genuine sympathy and community of feeling between the two races whom Providence has placed in such close relation in this country. I often asked myself how it was that a century of English rule had not brought the natives of this country closer to those in whose hands Providence had placed the guidance of public affairs. For a whole century and more, you gentlemen, have lived in the country in which we have lived; you have breathed the same air, you have drunk the same water, you have lived upon the same crops as have given nourishment to millions of your Indian fellow subjects. Yet the absence of social intercourse, which is implied by the word friendship, between the English and the natives of this country, has been most deplorable. And whenever I have considered the causes to which this unsatisfactory state of things is due, I have invariably come to .the conclusion that the absence of community of feeling between the two races, was due to the absence of the community of ideas and the community of interests. And, gentlemen, I felt equally certain that so long as this state of things continued, the Mussalmans of India could make no progress under the English rule. It then appeared to me that nothing could remove these obstacles to progress but education. And education, in its fullest sense, has been the object in furthering which I have spent the most earnest moments of my life, and employed the best energies that lay within my humble power. (Applause.) Yes, the college is an outcome to a certain extent of my humble efforts, but there are other handsr whose existence has not only been most valuable but absolutely essential, to the success of .the undertaking. And I feel sure that the honour of the successes due to them, rather than to me. But gentlemen, the personal honour which you have done me to-night assures me of a great fact, and fills me with feelings of a much higher nature than mere personal gratitude. I am assured that you, who upon this occasion represent the British rule, have sympathies with our labours. And to me this assurance is very valuable, and a source of great happiness. At my time of life, it is a great comfort to me to feel that the undertaking which has been for many years, and is now, the sole object of my life, has roused on one hand the energies of my own countrymen, and on the other, it has won the sympathy of our British fellow-subjects, and the support of our rulers; so that when the few years I may still be spared are over, and when I shall be no longer amongst you, the college will still prosper and succeed in educating my countrymen to have the same affection for their country, the same feelings of loyalty for the British rule, the same appreciation of its blessings, the same sincerity of friendship with our British fellow-subjects as have been the ruling feelings of my life. (Cheers.)

Gentlemen, I thank you again for the honour you have done me, and sincerely reciprocate the good wishes you have so kindly expressed this evening. (Loud Cheers.)


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Saquib Salim

Saquib Salim is a well known historian under whose supervision various museums (Red Fort, National Library, IFFI, Jallianwala Bagh etc.) were researched. To his credit Mr. Salim has more than 400 published articles on history, politics, culture and literature in English and Hindi. Before pursuing his research and masters in modern Indian History from JNU, he was an electrical engineering student at AMU. Presently, he works as a freelance/ independent history researcher, writer and manages the website heritagetimes.in

8 thoughts on “The speech by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan at the inauguration of Muhammadan Anglo Oriental College (AMU) on 8 January, 1877

  • October 8, 2020 at 10:03 am
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    The message is quite clear for partition of the country by Sir Syed Ahmad .However it could not take place due to the strong feelings of Nationalism upto 1930 or so .Later it became very clear and the country was partitioned in 1947
    He preferred to be an employee of the East India Company even during Mughal Dynasty upto 1857. and remained faithful to his masters in the British Raj till his death in 1898.
    Butchery of the sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his deportation to Burma did not move him, because of his nearness and pro British love,,as if Britishers would never leave the country ,and rule for ever,
    Truth never hidden for long.,

    Reply
  • October 9, 2020 at 4:25 am
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    More colleges and universities bear his name in Pakistan now after partition of the country in 1947 ,and probably none in India. He whole heartily worked for the British and partition of the country as is quite clear from his address.
    Britishers could not find a better person than him in India to help them in their rule.
    In appreciation of his sincerety .Britishers conferred upon him the title SIR in 1867,so soon. after the end of Mughal Rule in 1857.overhere.I wonder any other Indian would have accepted the title.at all at that time.
    The unity, Hindus and Muslims shown in 1857 was finished for ever.
    However Hindus did participate in contributing money,land on lease, etc in his zeal of spreading modern education in Muslims-a very noble cause, in establishing MAO and later AMU. which was misused in creating Pakistan in1947.

    Reply
  • October 10, 2020 at 3:59 am
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    The present day university should do some soul searching ,
    Why, it is celebrating Sir Syed Day every year.
    It should stop now
    .People can not be befooled any longer.

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  • October 11, 2020 at 2:37 am
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    Sir Syed Ahmad’s message given on the website “Heritage walk
    of AMU” must be removed, from there.
    It does not give the correct picture of him.
    His dead body lying in the amu mosque should be sent to Pakistan.

    Reply
  • October 12, 2020 at 1:38 am
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    While going through the website “Heritage walk of the AMU” I have given certain comments.
    Those comments have not been published so far.
    All should be published with out delay.
    Enough time has passed.

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  • October 12, 2020 at 8:00 am
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    A large number of people, almost 120 ,which includes former Nawabs , Nizams and local Hindu Zamidars have contributed in cash ,land and construction work in the setting up Mohammadan Anglo OrientalCollege (MAO),which later became Aligarh Muslim University(AMU),
    The main campus of the AMU was built on a land procured from the British Govt-the masters .Masters were clever enough to get their names embedded over those buildings-Like STRECHY HALLr ,Not only that the Masters also appointed their own people as Principals,Head Masters,Professors,so that nothing goes wrong against them, and would be in trouble again as faced by them in 1857.
    Names of local Hindu Zamidars are no where, .There contributions should also be acknowledged. What wrong have they committed.,

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  • October 13, 2020 at 12:34 am
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    The university is planning a secomd Time Capsule.
    Please send me complete details about it, to know, what material is going inside the capsule.

    Reply
  • October 14, 2020 at 1:36 am
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    Mohemmadan Anglo Oriental College (AMU) is more or less is analogous to Launching pad.
    Sir Syed Ahmad’s eloquent and impressive speech to the students there and his launching pad ready to take off ,
    God wished something otherwise.He died in 1898.
    Now in 1947, another more clever, sharp and ,brilliant person M.A.Jinnah comes to play the game and played it very well using the same launching pad ,same techniques as used by Sir Syed Ahmad, and achieved Pakistan.
    Had there been no launching pad there ,I wonder, M.A.Jinnah would have ever achieved Pakistan.
    We daily hear the word launching pad used by terrorist on the TV unit.
    What was destined,had happened.
    Consequences of which are painful to narrate. Blood starts oozing out from the heart

    Reply

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