SYED AMEER ALI  1849 1928

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BiographyPolitical and Social ReformSyed Ameer Ali's The Spirit Of Islam. Syed Ameer Ali was born in Orissa on 6 April 1849. He is the fourth of five sons of Syed Saadat Ali. He was a great Indian Muslim jurist of Bengali descent, political leader, and author of a number of influential books on Muslim history and the modern development of Islam. He made enormous contributions to the Law of India, particularly Muslim Personal Law, as well as the development of Islamic political philosop9455

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SYED AMEER ALI 1849 1928

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1. SYED AMEER ALI (1849–1928) Presented by Nor Adriena Amiz Abdul Mutalib Nooriimah Ahmad Termizi Naheed Azhari Nik Liyana Fathi Edited by Dr. Md. Mahmudul Hasan International Islamic University Malaysia 2010

3. Syed Ameer Ali was born in Orissa on 6 April 1849. He is the fourth of five sons of Syed Saadat Ali. He was a great Indian Muslim jurist of Bengali descent, political leader, and author of a number of influential books on Muslim history and the modern development of Islam. He made enormous contributions to the Law of India, particularly Muslim Personal Law, as well as the development of Islamic political philosophy. Also, he was a signatory to the 1906 Qur’an Petition and founding-member of the All India Muslim League, and was a contemporary of Muhammad Iqbal. Syed Ameer Ali traced his lineage through the eighth Imam, Ali Al-Raza, to Muhammad. His forefathers are known to have held office under Shah Abbas II of Persia and taken part in Nadir Shah's arrival in India. His ancestors finally settled in the subcontinent. When his grandfather died, his father was brought up and educated by his maternal uncle. His father eventually moved to Calcutta with his family. Ameer Ali’s family took advantage of the educational facilities provided during the British colonial period.

4. Early education Syed Ameer Ali was brought up in a religious atmosphere. At a time when many Muslim families were reluctant to make use of British government educational facilities, Syed Saadat Ali, who had many English friends, took advantage of the new opportunities for his sons. So, since childhood, Ameer Ali had read a good deal of English Literature. He had his schooling in the Hoogly College. With the assistance of his British teachers and supported by several competitive scholarships, he achieved outstanding examination results, graduating from Calcutta University in 1867. He obtained MA with Honours in History and the LLB in 1869. He then began legal practice in Calcutta. By this point he was already one of the few outstanding Muslim achievers of his generation. Influences Principal Mr. Robert Thwaytes (his teacher) and Syed Karamat Ali (a esteemed Muslim personality) are the two great men who influenced him a lot in his education and works.  

5. Higher education in England He lived in London between 1869 and 1873 and made contacts with the elite of the city. He had contacts with almost all the administrators concerned with India and with leading English liberals such as John Bright and the Fewcetts, Henry (1831–1898) and his wife, Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929). In 1873, he resumed his legal practice at Calcutta High Court on his return to India. The year after, he was elected a Fellow of Calcutta University and appointed a Lecturer in Islamic Law at the Presidency College. In 1878, he was appointed a member of the Bengal Legislative Council. In 1880, he revisited England for one year. In 1883, he was nominated to the membership of the Governor General Council. In 1881, he became a Professor of Law at Calcutta University. In 1890, he became a judge in the Calcutta High Court. In 1877, he founded the National Muhamedan Association in Calcutta. The Association played an important role in the modernisation of Muslims and in creating a political consciousness among them. Then, in 1908, he established the London Muslim League, an independent body and not a branch of All India Muslim League. In 1909, he became the first Indian to sit as a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and became entitled to be addressed as The Rt Hon. In 1910, he established the first masjid in London. In doing so he formally co-established the London Mosque Fund, alongside a group of prominent British Muslims, to finance the building of a masjid in London. In 1904, he retired and decided to settle down in England. He died in Sussex on August 4, 1928.

6. Political Ideas & Social Reform He was a prodigious writer. His writings at that time stressed the need for Muslims to come to terms with some of the changes caused by colonization and Westernization. He fought to save the Muslim community from social evils. He was deeply involved in numerous political and social reform activities. He discussed the problems of Indian Muslims with the Secretary of State for India. He provided solutions to political problems confronting Muslims in India at that time.

7. He urged Muslims to organize themselves educationally to regain their rightful place in India. He regarded education as the key to achieve that. He called upon his followers to devote their energy and attention to popularizing English education among Muslims. He contributed to the Aligarh Movement.

8. Aligarh Movement It was led by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan. It was aimed to educate the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent after the foiled and first war of independence of 1857. Its most significant achievement was the establishment of Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College in Aligarh, which later became Aligarh Muslim University.

9. Ameer Ali served the interests of Indian Muslim morally and materially. He formed the National Mohammedan Association to combat the educational backwardness of the Muslim community. He quotes the Qur’an and Hadith in Chapter XI of the Spirit of Islam to establish the importance of education in Islam.

10. Feminist He emphatically talks about the need for social change, particularly concerning the position of women. He rejects the idea of purdah that relegates women to the four walls of the house. According to him, the purdah system crippled the Muslim community as it prevented well-educated women from contributing to society.

11. He wanted Muslim women to embrace western education. He was different from Sayyid Ahmad Khan who worked for men’s education only. Similarities between Syed Ameer Ali & Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain: Both struggled to establish women’s right through the Islamic framework. Both were against the strict Indian purdah. Both highlighted the importance of education for Muslim women.

12. Memoirs and Other Writings of Syed Ameer Ali Edited by Syed Razi Wasti Delhi, 1968

13. “He was versatile both in writing and speech… [but]… much of what he wrote has been unknown or unavailable.” This publication is an attempt to collect his works for the general reader. It consists of TWO volumes: Memoirs, articles, and letters to The Times—mostly on socio-political problems of contemporary India during his time. His writings on Islam, Islamic History and Islamic culture.

14. Syed Ameer Ali: An Outstanding South Asian Writer in English “His wonderful command of English rendered him a formidable opponent, while his keen perception made him quickly see the gaps in his adversary’s armor. He argued like a practiced fencer wielding a light and elegant rapier against the clumsy blows of a heavy broadsword. He was rarely betrayed into sarcasm…. ” Ernest H. Griffin

15. “The Unrest in India—It’s Meaning” Nationalism vs. foreign domination. The English influences (through language, education, facilities, etc.) create solidarity amongst sections indirectly. The English language in India has become the language of modern democracy to those keen on English education and influences.

16. Quotes “What is needed is a consistent policy based on a true understanding of the causes of the unrest.” “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource in the nation to which he belongs.” “Strong nationalistic feeling… [if] wisely directed, might become great means to the people.” “We know that when justice is on the alert, the mischief-maker lies low; the moment its watchfulness is relaxed, his machinations begin again.”

17. Personal Views Every nation faces the time where nationalism is the means to predicament and unrest. Nationalism can be negative or positive based on the way government directs it, the same goes with foreign influences. Justice and good conduct are the basis of political and social solidarity.

19. Part One The life of the Prophet Muhammad Chapter 1: The Life and Ministry of the Prophet Chapter 2: The Hegira Chapter 3: The Prophet as Medina Chapter 4: Hostility of the Koreish and the Jews Chapter 5: The Invasion of Medina Chapter 6: The Prophet’s Clemency Chapter 7: The Diffusion of the Faith Chapter 8: The Year of Deputations Chapter 9: Fulfillment of the Prophet’s Work Chapter 10: The Apostolical Succession

20. Part Two Different aspects of Islam Chapter 1: The Ideal of Islam Chapter 2: The Religious Spirit of Islam Chapter 3: The Idea of Future Life In Islam Chapter 4: The Church Militant of Islam Chapter 5: The Status of Women in Islam Chapter 6: Bondage in Islam Chapter 7: The Political Spirit of Islam Chapter 8: The Political Divisions and Schisms of Islam Chapter 9: The Literary and Scientific Spirit of Islam Chapter 10: The Rationalistic and Philosophical Spirit of Islam Chapter 11: Idealistic and Mystical Spirit in Islam

21. Introduction Bactria was the original place of the human race. The people migrated to other places due to overcrowding. New races were formed as a result of amalgamation of different tribes. People in Arabia worshipped idols, and that led to the need of religion. The arrival of Muhammad (s.a.w.) was a necessity of religious development. He was sent down to all humankind.

22. The Status of Women in Islam Polygamy Hindus (earliest times), ancient Medes, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Israelites supported polygyny. Israelites also practised polygamy before the time of Moses. There was no limit in number of wives but in later times, the Talmud of Jerusalem restricted the number of wives, granted that the husband is able to maintain the wives properly. As for Persians, religion offered a premium on the plurality of wives. Athenians considered the wives as mere chattel. They can be sold and transferred to others. The men are allowed to have as many wives they want. The Spartans however were not allowed to have more than one wife unless they were under special circumstances. Etruscans considered polygamy as a privileged custom.

23. This was the same case for the Romans. There was no limitation of number of wives. Even some priests married and some were engaged in pre-marital sex. There was no concrete evidence saying that Jesus explicitly forbade polygamy. “The greatest and most reprehensible mistake committed by Christian writers is to suppose that Muhammad either adopted or legalised polygamy.” Muhammad found polygamy practiced, not only among his own people, but among the neighbouring countries. He then reformed institutions that improved the status of women[…]. Polyandry however was practiced by the half Jewish, half Sabean tribes of Yemen. The Prophet Muhammad had great respect for women. He prohibited conditional marriages and at first tacitly allowed temporary marriage and later prohibited it after 3rd year of Hijrah.

24. 2. Prophet’s marriages The Prophet married a number of women and seven of them were Khadijah, whom he married at the age of twenty-five, Aishah (daughter of Abu Bakar), Hafsa, Zainab, Juwairiya, Safiya and Maimunah. Some of them were held captives and prompted Rasullulah to marry them[…]. Most importantly, he married them to unite the warring tribes and bring them to harmony.

25. 3. Divorce Women had no rights to demand a divorce whereas men could do as they liked. Women were considered mere chattels and could be sold by their fathers or husbands. In Roman times, a man could sentence his wife to death in case of poisoning, drinking and substitution of a spurious child. The Prophet was not agreeable with this. He permitted to divorced parties 3 distinct and separate periods where they might reconcile. He also gave women the rights of obtaining a separation on reasonable grounds.

26. 4. Women’s personhood Syed Ameer Ali suggests that women should be entitled to inherit along with her brothers. A woman should not be married without her consent and after marriage, she is still entitled as an individual. There should also be ante-nuptual agreement. A husband is not entitled to his wife’s property or possessions. A wife should be allowed to sue her debtors in open court without having to use her husband’s name.

27. The Literary and Scientific Spirit of Islam Islam had produced many scholars in the field of astrology, mathematics, architecture, sciences, medicine and many more. Baghdad was the cradle of education and many Christian people went to study in Islamic institutions. They were in Baghdad, Cairo and Spain. Spain had received a lot of contributions from the Muslims in terms of culture, food and facilities. Islamic architecture can be seen in Seville, Toledo, Cordova, Granada and Murcia. They had received plants and vegetations like ginger, saffron and myrrh. They were also introduced to staples like rice, sugar and fruits. Apart from that, the Muslims managed to establish culture of silk, the manufacturing of paper and other textile of fabrics, porcelain, earthenware, iron, steel and leather. Music was confined to the slaves of both sexes imported from Syria and Persia but later under the Abbasides and the Spanish Arab kings, music was prominent to the rank of science and recognized as a form of art.

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