Founder of the Aligarh Muslim University, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, batted for a ban on cow slaughter and personally stopped the sacrifice of a cow at the University hostel on the occasion of Eid, according to prominent Urdu writer Rahat Abrar. The educationist felt that Muslims should give up cow slaughter to maintain peace with Hindus, said Abrar, who is presently Director of the Urdu Academy, AMU, while addressing a gathering at the ongoing bicentenary birth celebrations of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in the University.
Abrar said that in an article on this subject, Sir Syed had written, “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”.
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Abrar was speaking at the release of his latest Urdu work on Sir Syed titled “Sir Syed Aur Unke Ma’asreen” (Sir Syed and His Contemporaries).
Abrar said there is a recorded incident according to which during the early days of MAO College (previous name of AMU) when cow sacrifice was prevalent all over the country, Sir Syed came to learn that some students had purchased a cow for the purpose of sacrifice on the occasion of Eid-ul-Adha.
Sir Syed was very upset on receiving this news and personally rushed to the hostel where the cow had been kept. He immediately took possession of the cow and did not allow the animal to be sacrificed, Abrar said.
Abrar said that from the days of Sir Syed beef has never been served in any of the AMU hostels and the staple diet of non-vegetarian students has been 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.
Abrar said that most historians have not touched upon Sir Syed’s close association with Swami Dayanand Saraswati, Arya Samaj founder, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Sir Surendranath Banerjee, Lala Lajpat Rai, Raja Shiv Prasad of Banaras, Bhartendu Harishchandra and Raja Shambhu Narayan.
Abrar quoted a letter of Lala Lajpat Rai, who informed Sir Syed that “his father considered Sir Syed Ahmad Khan as a nineteenth century prophet”.
Abrar said that in 1897, Sir Syed published an article in Aligarh Institute Gazette of June 12 lauding the efforts of 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 till his last days for 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.