IMO News Service
Aligarh: “Sir Syed was a true modernist in his approach who throughout his life worked for the promotion of inter-faith understanding amongst followers of various faiths”, said Prof Akhtarul Wasey, President, Maulana Azad University, Jodhpur, while addressing the inaugural session of the two-day national seminar on “Sir Syed’s Contribution to the National Integration and Inter-religious Understanding”, organized by Sir Syed Academy, Aligarh Muslim University. The seminar was held on May 7-8, 2018.
Prof Wasey said that Sir Syed took religious affinity, tolerance and mutual understanding as his cherished mission to promote amongst Indians. Sir Syed even participated frequently in interactive sessions with seers, scholars and religious heads of different faiths, added Prof Wasey.
Having said that “Sir Syed’s idea of a nation was based on a wider geographical mass which included all its inhabitants with no distinction on the basis of religion, caste or race”, Prof Wasey strongly contested the perception that Sir Syed’s notion of Qaum related to Muslims only.
He urged people to shun emotionality and instead adopt a rational approach to create an atmosphere for all-involving dialogue and understanding.
In his presidential remarks, Prof Tabassum Shahab, Pro-Vice Chancellor, AMU, said that intolerance is a serious threat to the idea of coexistence and people must work for building a mutually respected society. He said that Sir Syed was an ardent advocate of large hearted tolerance, pure morality and free enquiry and this spirit remains to be the foundation of the Aligarh Muslim University.
Prof Shahab stressed that Sir Syed’s vision included the ideals of ‘maximum good for maximum number’ and he throughout his life worked for the general good of society. He even introduced several bills in the Viceroy’s Legislative Council, including the bill for Small Pox Vaccination.
In his keynote address, Prof Abdur Raheem Kidwai, Director, K A Nizami Centre for Quranic Studies and UGC Human Resource Development Centre said that Sir Syed was much ahead of his time and he laid the foundation of inter-faith dialogue in 1850s.
Mentioning that Sir Syed published two books including a “Commentary on the Holy Bible” and “A Treatise on Eating Meals with the People of Books”, Prof Kidwai said that Sir Syed wrote extensively in his periodicals, Aligarh Institute Gazette and the Tahzibul Akhlaq to promote love and affection in society and denouncing all kinds of prejudice and intolerance.
Highlighting the theme of the seminar, Prof Syed Ali Amir, Chairman, Department of Community Medicine said that Sir Syed stood by his belief and never gave up despite strong criticism from some quarters. Instead, he often took initiative to create opportunity for exchange of ideas with his critics.
Dr Devesh Arya from University of Delhi affirmed that Sir Syed was one of the most prominent social reformers of nineteenth century India and his contributions in nation building are vast. He had a very good relations with Swami Dayanand Saraswati and other Hindu seers of his time.
Dr Rahat Abrar, Director, Urdu Academy, AMU, said that Sir Syed had great influence on Hindu organizations and DAV movement too bore an inspiration from Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.
Prof Saud Alam Qasmi, former Dean, Faculty of Theology pointed out that Sir Syed left us with his legacy of inter-faith understanding and we must indulge in opening windows of communication and dialogue with others.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Prof Ali Mohammad Naqvi, Director, Sir Syed Academy said that Sir Syed repeatedly said that Hindus and Muslims made one nation, yet some forces were hell bent on his image assassination.
Quoting extensively from the writings of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Prof Naqvi said that Sir Syed never displayed bias against any community and always pursued their common good by every means. It is great injustice to paint him and this historical institution in poor light.
Dr Shariq Aqueel conducted the programme while Dr Syed Hussain Haider proposed a vote of thanks.