Abrar was speaking at the release of his latest Urdu work on Sir Syed titled 'Sir Syed Aur Unke Maasreen' (Sir Syed and His Contemporaries). Photograph: (Reuters)
Sir Syed was for ban on cow slaughter, exhorted Muslims to give up eating beef keeping Hindu sentiments in mind
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, was in favour of banning cow slaughter, and personally stopped a cow from being sacrificed at the University hostel on the occasion of Eid, says prominent Urdu writer Rahat Abrar.
Sir Syed felt that Muslims should give up cow meat to maintain peace with Hindus, said Abrar, who is director of the Urdu Academy at AMU, while addressing a gathering at the ongoing bicentenary birth celebrations of the AMU founder.
Abrar quoted Sir Syed's views from an article he had penned, "If prohibition of cow sacrifice can bring peace and friendship among the Hindus and the Muslims, it would be wrong on the part of the Muslims not to relinquish this right."
Abrar was speaking at the release of his latest Urdu work on Sir Syed titled 'Sir Syed Aur Unke Maasreen' (Sir Syed and His Contemporaries).
Abrar said there is a recorded incident where Sir Syed came to know that some students had purchased a cow for offering sacrifice on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha. This was during the early days of AMU when it was known as MAO College. Cow sacrifice was then prevalent all over the country, Abrar said.
Sir Syed, who was very upset by this, rushed to the hostel where the cow was kept and prevented the animal from being sacrificed, Abrar said.
Beef was never served in any of the AMU hostels under Sir Syed's watch and non-vegetarian students were served buffalo meat.
Abrar, who has authored three books on the Aligarh Movement, pointed out that his present work was in a way different from traditional biographies of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan because it probes Sir Syed's relationship with some of the most prominent Hindu social leaders of his time.
Most historians have not touched upon Sir Syed's close association with Hindu social reformers like Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Raja Ram Mohan Roy who was behind the ban on Sati, Sir Surendranath Banerjee, Lala Lajpat Rai, Raja Shiv Prasad of Banaras, Bhartendu Harishchandra and Raja Shambhu Narayan.
Abrar quoted a letter from Lala Lajpat Rai, who informed Sir Syed that "his father considered Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as a 19th-century prophet".
Abrar said Sir Syed published an article in Aligarh Institute Gazette in 1897 lauding the efforts of the Muslims of Bareilly who voluntarily gave up cow slaughter on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha in deference to the sentiments of the Hindus.
Abrar said that contrary to some of the critics of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of the AMU never lost any opportunity to his last days in promoting India's pluralistic ethos.
He did so despite the fact that he was sorely disappointed after the outbreak of the bitter Hindi-Urdu controversy in the United Provinces in the late 1860s.
(WION with agency inputs)