PR LAHORE - The History and Pakistan Studies Department at the Forman Christian College (A Chartered University) organised 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 the blurred contours of history of the nineteenth century India to contextualize Sir Syed’s vision and efforts to give a direction to despairing Muslims.

The participating speakers were Dr Tariq Rehman, Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Dr Iqbal Chawla, Dr Javed Haider Syed, Dr Farooq Ahmad Dar, Dr Amjad Abbas Magsi, Dr Robina Yasmin, Raza Naeem and Dr Fauzia Farooq. The session chairs were Dr Noel I. Khokar, Dr Saeed Shafqat and Dr Arfa Sayeda Zehra.

An overarching selection of 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 has not received the kind of attention that he deserves as a pioneer of Muslim cause, culture, indeed 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: Relevance to the Contemporary Pakistan, Raza Naeem 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 Iqbal Chawala highlighted Sir Syed’s religious thoughts at its legacy.

The third session started off with Dr Javed Haider Syed’s speech on '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' and ended with Dr Rubina Yasmin's talk on 'Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and women’s education'. The session chairs were Dr Noel I. Khokhar, Dr Arfa Syeda Zahra, and Dr Saeed Shafqat.

The conference was well attended with faculty and students not only from the FC College University but also from some other universities in the area, deeply interested and interactive in the Question/Answer Session.

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 organisational and administrative details.