The establishment of Aligarh College was the crowning of his work and it is by that work that his name will always be reverenced amongst Mohammadans and, indeed, by Indians of other creeds. Syed Ahmad Khan had set out to achieve the following objectives:-
To protect Islam from the onslaught of Christian missionaries and to prove that it was the one true religion; To remove the bitter enmity which had arisen between the Muslim and the British for religious or political reasons and to establish friendly relations between them; To reinterpret the teaching of Islam and bring them in harmony with Modern Science and Philosophy so that educated Muslims while holding on to their religion, might take a rational and enlightened view of life and meet the demands of the new age; To persuade Muslims to learn the English language and Western sciences so that they might secure a substantial share in the administration of the country. To maintain Urdu along with English as an associate official language and to develop it through translations and original writings”. Sir Syed Ahmad’s services to his community may be summarized in three phrases; “loyalty to the British, devotion to education, aloofness from politics”. He preached and practiced loyalty to the British rule. From his speeches, writings and letters, it is not difficult to read his mind. In order to bolster up the morale of Muslims, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan took a number of measures that aimed at the cultural renaissance, social regeneration and the political rehabiliation of the Muslims in the sub-continent.
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, during the early phase of his public career, believed in a United India but when the Urdu-Hindi Controversy and Hindu prejudices against Muslims rose in tempo, he began to express views indicating his belief in the Two-Nation Theory. Hindu leaders of Benares proposed that “the Urdu language written in Persian Script should be discontinued in Government courts and should be replaced by the Hindi language written in Devanagri script”. It was the first occasion, says the well-known Urdu biographer of Syed Ahmad (Hali) “when he (Syed Ahmad) felt that it was now impossible for Hindus and Muslims to progress as a single nation and for anyone to work for both of them simultaneously. He firmly believed that the crying need of the movement for his community was not their participation in politics but a comprehensive plan of education to fit them for life in a changing world.
The need for stress on education can be gleaned from the fact that in 1872 “out of three hundred students on the rolls of the Hoogly College [which was maintained by the East-India Company out of the income of a Moslem Educational Trust] only three were Moslems”. Syed Ahmad believed that Muslims were backward educationally and economically and were far behind the Hindus in every respect. There could be no co-operation between them in political struggle unless they were on a footing of equality. He therefore, worked ceaselessly to divert Muslim energies into literary rather than political activities. Syed Ahmad was a great admirer of Turkey. He was perhaps the first Indian to don a Turkish cap – the Fez and make it part of student uniform in Aligarh. He constantly published articles on Turkey in his Tahzib-ul-Akhlaq. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan died in 1898 and was buried at Aligarh in the College Compound.