LAHORE: The History and Pakistan Studies Department at Forman Christian College University (FCCU) held a national conference to commemorate the bicentennial of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan on Monday.
The main focus of the conference was to reconsider, analyse and bring forth the blurred contours of history of the nineteenth century India, in order to contextualise Sir Syed’s vision and efforts in providing a direction to the despairing Muslims.
The participating speakers were Dr Tariq Rehman, Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chawla, Dr Javed Haider Syed, Dr Farooq Ahmad Dar, Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi, Dr Robina Yasmin, Raza Naeem and Fauzia Farooq. The session chairs were Dr Noel Khokar, Dr Saeed Shafqat and Dr Arfa Sayeda Zehra.
An overarching selection of the aspects of Sir Syed’s vision and contributions were addressed with intellectual depth and philosophical dimensions. The focus ranged from education for Muslim men and women, religious thoughts, comparative religion, social constructs, political power, modernity and modernisation and its relevance to contemporary concerns and challenges.
The speakers lamented that Sir Syed had not received the kind of attention that he deserves as the pioneer of Muslim cause, culture and renaissance of the Muslims of South Asia. Sir Syed still remains to be understood in the right perspective. He stands out among others for his acceptance of modernity and all that it entailed politically, socially and culturally, to let the Muslims come out of their slumber, harness their identity and prepare themselves for the threats and opportunities ahead in British India, a colonial India.
In the first Session, Dr Rasul Bukhsh Rais spoke on Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Muslim modernism. Raza Naeem spoke on: ‘A modern Muslim in Pre-modern Age’ and Dr Ajmal Abbas Magsi on Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and his pluralistic vision.
In the second session, Dr Tariq Rehman spoke on Sir Syed’s interpretation of jihad while Dr Muhammad Iqbal Chawala highlighted Sir Syed’s religious thoughts at its legacy.
The third session started off with Dr Javed Haider Syed’s speech: ‘The Most Misunderstood Muslim Leader’ followed by Dr Farooq Ahmed Dar who spoke on ‘The Politics of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and its impact on the Muslim Community in South Asia’. It ended with Dr Rubina Yasmin’s talk on ‘Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and Women Education’.
The conference was well attended with faculty and students not only from FCCU but also from other universities in the area.
FCCU Social Sciences Executive Dean Dr Noel Khokhar delivered the inaugural address and was emphatic in pronouncing the need of the time to make Sir Syed’s vision as the guideline for today’s withered society. The conference was shaped and steered by the conference chair, Dr Sikandar Hayat, head of the department. Dr Umber Bin Ibad was the conference coordinator looking after the organisational and administrative details.