Reflections on Shibli Nomani

Shibli Nomani believed that obtaining modern education, acquiring scientific knowledge and making one’s presence felt in every walk of life, be in social, economic, cultural and political, was important.

Shibli Nomani

By Sayeeda Begum

Shibli Nomani (1857-1914) was an original thinker, a prolific writer, a pathfinder and educational reformer. The canvas of his work was wide, which included writing and teaching on new lines. In brief, he was an institution by himself. Although he was not an English-educated person, he appreciated the efforts of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, worked with him for a period and departed from him to create his own institutions elsewhere in the United Province. He appreciated Western methods of advanced research and writing and encouraged his students and others with the same. His main objective was to bring the Indian mind closer to modern education, science and research.
Realise the Spirit of Islam
Shibli was an erudite scholar and was among the first Indian writers to study the Urdu language using critical methods while approaching the Islamic past, which was otherwise eulogization. He concentrated on the spread of education, learning and publication of several academic works. This was an inestimable service rendered to the Urdu-knowing world of his day. The critical attitude of Shibli towards acquisition of knowledge led him to the conviction that Muslims had to become modern in their thinking process by opening their minds and understand how science and learning had advanced in other countries. He was in favour of translation into Urdu of classics of European thought so that modern knowledge should be made available to Indians, particularly Muslims. He wanted the community to realise the spirit of Islam and not be satisfied by mere fulfilling the ritual aspects of the religion.
Shibli advocated a change of attitude from reclusiveness to active involvement to appropriately face the contemporary context. He believed that obtaining modern education, acquiring scientific knowledge and making one’s presence felt in every walk of life, be in social, economic, cultural and political, was important. The name ‘National College’ he gave to the institution he set up at Azamgarh speaks volumes for itself.
(Sayeeda Begum is a research scholar from Al Ameen K M Fareed Research Center, affiliated to Tumkur University, Tumkur)

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