Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan was instrumental in fostering differences between the Hindus & the Muslims. In the initial years he was a staunch nationalist who regarded the two communities as “the two eyes of the beautiful bride that is India”.
The suppression of the Muslims following the Revolt of 1857 convinced Sir Sayyid Khan that the only way to improve the lots of the Muslims was to profess their loyalty to the British Empire.
Accordingly, he wrote a book called, The Loyal Muhammadans of India wherein he defended the Muslims.
In 1864 (Ghazipur, Eastern U.P.), he founded a modern school & scientific society to popularize western sciences among Muslims in India. The society translated works on physical sciences into Urdu, the language of masses in northern India.
He established a school at Aligarh in 1875, on the birth anniversary of Queen Victoria which developed into the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College in 1877, modelled on Cambridge University & was meant primarily for Muslims.
It aimed at spreading–
Modern education among Indian Muslims without weakening their allegiance to Islam.
Social reforms among Muslims relating to purdah, polygamy, widow remarriage.
Women’s education, slavery, divorce etc.
Sir Sayyid wanted to prove that Muslims are loyal not hostile to the British rule. He founded Mohammaden Patriotic Association in 1888.
His loyalty earned him a knighthood in 1888.
The people who supported him were Altaf Hussain Hali, Nazir Ahmad etc.
He started publishing an Urdu Journal – Tahzeeb-ul-Akhlaque.
He wrote two famous books in Urdu- Asbab-i-Baghawat-i-Hind (causes of the revolt of India) & Asar-us-Sanadid (on Delhi’s architecture).
One of the objects of the Aligarh Movement was to prevent the Muslims from joining the Congress which Sir Syed condemned as anti-British and anti-Government.