“Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was in no way Pro-British.” Agree or Disagree, and Answer with Arguments.

“Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was in no Way Pro-British.” Agree or Disagree, and Answer with Arguments.

CSS 2015 Solved Pakistan Affairs Past Papers | “Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was in no Way Pro-British.” Agree or Disagree, and Answer with Arguments.

The following question of CSS Pakistan Affairs 2015 is solved by Naseer Ahmad under the supervision of Miss Nirmal Hasni on the guided pattern of Sir Syed Kazim Ali, which he taught to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.


1- Introduction

2- A cursory glance at Sir Syed’s life

3- Arguments  advocating that Sir Syed was in no way pro-British

  • ✓His notable writings: “Essay on the Causes of the Indian Revolt” and “The Loyal Mohammadans of India”
  • ✓The foundation of the Scientific Society (1864)
  • ✓Khutbat-e-Ahmadiya (1870): Response to “Life of Mahomet”
  • ✓The foundation of MAO College, Aligarh (1877)
  • ✓Aloofness from politics for the time being
  • ✓Loyalty to the British Administration

4- Critical analysis

5- Conclusion

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Answer to the Question


Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a visionary and trailblazing figure of the 19th Century, is often misunderstood as a pro-British due to his pragmatic approach towards engaging with the colonial rulers and the Western education system. However, a deeper exploration of his life, beliefs, and contributions reveals a more upbeat perspective. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s efforts were primarily directed towards the upliftment and empowerment of his fellow countrymen, particularly the Muslim community. A pamphlet titled “Essay on the Causes of the Indian Revolt” (1858); “Khutbat-e-Ahmadiya” (1870) as a response to “ Life of Mahomet” by Sir William Muir, a Scottish Orientalist; and above all, his three terse phrases to Muslims: loyalty to the British, devotion to education, and aloofness from politics for the time being clearly validate that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was in no way a pro- British. Rather, he did all these yeoman’s services dwelling in the lion’s den, which indicates being part of the British administration. Thus, it is imperative to dispel such kind of misconceptions and superficial analyses of such a great benefactor of the Muslim world.

“Sir Syed was the product of those circumstances when one empire had gone into oblivion, and another had come into existence. He was like a link which connects glorious parts with uncertain future.”     

An Excerpt from Jamil Ahmed’s Book: 100 Great Muslims
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A cursory glance at Sir Syed Ahmad Khan life

Before exploring the arguments, a cursory glance at Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s life is necessary to understand the scenario more analytically. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was a prominent 19th-century Indian reformer with a visionary intellect. He was born in Delhi when the Mughal Empire was on the verge of collapse; he witnessed the social, cultural, and political transformations of his time. He was a profound supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity until the 1867 Urdu-Hindi Controversy. He felt that the Muslims were in dire need of heading to lead their lives according to their own culture and traditions; otherwise, they would be crippled by the bestial conduct of the Hindus. The Hindus were not only showing hostility towards Muslims but were also ingraining malicious misunderstandings, such as political disloyalty, social conservatism, and religious bigotry, in the hearts of the British officials against the Muslim community. On the ground of these challenges, the reformist girded up his loins to remove the misunderstandings and to establish a strong nexus between the Muslims and the British. He continued his struggle till his last breath and finally paid the debt of nature in 1898.

Arguments advocating that Sir Syed was in no way pro-British

1- His notable and truth-exploring pamphlets

By the 1850s, the British had left no stone unturned in torturing the Indians politically, socially, economically, and psychologically. Thus, they were compelled to fight against the perennial atrocities of the apathetic British in the name of the War of Independence. This was an inclusive initiative under the aegis of Bahadur Shah Zafar to dismantle and subjugate the invaders. Unfortunately, the wind blew against them, and they once again came under the claws of the British hegemony. No doubt, it was a nationwide war; however, the blind British blamed only the Muslims as the cause of the revolt. Here comes the mesmerizing leadership of Syed, who penned his major writings “The Loyal Muhammadans of India” and “ Essay on the Causes of Indian Revolt“, where he tried his level best to mitigate the rumours and attributed the Mutiny to British ignorance of the Indian mind. This was a brave thing to do in that dark hour of biasness and vindictiveness.

“If the Government acts with justice towards all, irrespective of caste and creed, and abstains from interfering in the religious beliefs and customs of its subjects, there can be no reason for a rebellion.”

Excerpt from the latter pamphlet
2- The Foundation of the Scientific Society

On January 9, 1864, Sir Syed laid the foundation of a translation society called the Scientific Society at Ghazipur, intending to translate scientific books in English and other European languages into Urdu and Hindi. At that time, the Indians, especially Muslims, were not well-acquainted with English, and most of the sources of knowledge were written in this language. It was an instant step to divert people towards education and learning in their own local languages. Having these views, the scholastic mind moved to establish such an amazing and altruistic society.

3- Khutbat-e-Ahmadiya : Response to “Life of Mahomet”

One of the pioneering works of Sir Syed was writing Al-Khutbat Al Ahmadiya, 1870, as a response to the book “Life of Mahomet” by Sir William Muir, a Scottish Orientalist where William had proclaimed derogatory terms against the Holy Prophet (SAW), especially he had refuted the incident of Maraj. It was a commendable approach by Sir Syed, who countered the Scottish in a true sense; unlike other spectators, he did not only condemn but also did something tangible in return.

4- The foundation of MAO College, Aligarh

Besides political and religious services, Sir Syed also played a pioneering role in encouraging Muslims to embrace education. For this purpose, in January 1877, he laid the foundation of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which later became the cradle of knowledge for many Indians. Thus, many important Muslim figures like Maulana Shibli, Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk, Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, etc., remained associated with this college at one time or another.

5- Allegiance to the British Rule

After the War of Independence, the British had become the sole power in India, and the Mughal Empire had reached its ebb. Moreover, the British had become hostile to the Muslims as they blamed Muslims for being the only catalysts of the revolt. Additionally, the Muslims were in a minority in the Subcontinent. In this era of trouble, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan vociferously insisted that Muslims show allegiance to the British ruler, for it was the only option for their survival. Perhaps he was implementing the diplomatic axiom: It is good sometimes to hold the candle to the devil.

6- Aloofness from politics temporarily

Finally, the visionary reformer instructed his fellow Muslims to keep themselves aloof from politics as long as they were not equipped with modern education and societal demeanour. Because he knew that his fellows had no statecraft skills, and politics is an art demanding a veteran and educated mentality for its successful delivery. Most shockingly, the then-Indian Muslims were naïve to politics. Hence, his intellectuality compelled him to instruct Muslims to keep themselves away from this domain; instead, they should embrace education. Eventually, it became his slogan for Muslims: Devote yourself to education; this is your only salvation.

Critical Analysis

Critically, it has been the rule of the world since time immemorial that people who are not in favour of a person’s teaching and scholastic ideas, do find loopholes in them, albeit they are as clear as crystal. The same is the case with Sir Syed Ahmad Khan. He was a true and diligent reformer and was burning the candle on both sides to uplift the crippled, deprived, and stressed Muslims. No doubt, he had joined the British administration as a civil servant; however, it was a dire need of the hour. Had he not joined such a platform, arguably, he would have faced a fence of barbed wire to wipe out the doubts flaming inside the British minds against the Muslims. Eventually, he tried his utmost endeavours to abridge the gap between the two sects dwelling in the lion’s den.


In a nutshell, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is thought, by a handful of minds, as an agent of the British; it is all due to a superficial, bigotry, and one-sided analysis of the scenario. However, intensive and unbiased observation of the yeoman’s services rendered by Sir Syed, such as the pamphlet titled “Essay on the Causes of the Indian Revolt”,; the foundation of Scientific Society; the penning of “Khutbat-e-Ahmadiya”; and above all, the foundation of MAO College, Aligarh, depicts a solid validation that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was in no way pro- British. As a matter of fact, he had left no stone unturned to work for the welfare of his deprived fellow citizens. He was one of the scholars and reformers who were the real benefactors of the Muslim Ummah.

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