Central National Muhamedan Association

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Central National Muhamedan Association was a political organisation founded by syed ameer ali in Calcutta in 1877. Ameer Ali was the first Muslim leader to visualise the need of such a political organisation since he believed that efforts directed through an organisation were more effective than that originating from an individual leader.

The Muslims of Bengal had been lagging behind their Hindu neighbours in every respect. They lacked in western education and were dominated and, in some cases, oppressed by Hindu landlords and moneylenders. Prevailing political organisations, such as the India Association, the Indian National Congress etc were Hindu dominated and as such could not serve the interest of his co-religionists. So he set up this Association to look into the interests of the Muslims. He wanted to inculcate a sense of loyalty among Muslims to remove the suspicion of the British Government towards them. He cherished cordial relations with other communities of the country.

The Association aimed at achieving the goals of well being of the Muslims through lawful means. The revival of moral values and to promote awareness about the intellectual heritage of Muslims for their regeneration was its solemn objectives. The Association endeavoured to rouse the Muslims from their slumber by giving them modern education.

Starting with only 200 members, the Central National Muhamedan Association had about 600 members in its 5th year. Due to his tireless efforts Ameer Ali succeeded in opening about 50 branches in Bengal, Bihar, Bombay, the United Provinces, Punjab, and even in London. Members of the association usually came from the educated middle class. Persons in government services could also become members of the association. The association was ready to co-operate with any political organisation for the interests of Muslims.

The Association played an important role in the modernisation of Muslims and in arousing their political consciousness. With this end in view, the Association arranged meetings, intellectual exchanges and annual conferences. The Association used to draw attention of the Government to the rights and problems of Muslims through newspapers and public meetings. Under the banner of this association, Syed Ameer Ali submitted memorandums and went on deputation to the authorities, and accorded reception to Governor Generals and Lt Governors. The Association was mainly concerned with the education and the political development of the Muslims. The publication of a write-up on the problems of Muslim education in 1881 was a remarkable work of the Association. Under his leadership, the Association submitted a statement to the hunter commission in 1882 to point out that Muslims had abandoned their previous hatred for English education and were willing to receive education, but that their abject poverty was the most crucial hurdle in their way.

On behalf of the Association, Syed Ameer Ali submitted in 1882 the memorandum, entitled 'A cry from the Indian Muhamedans'. The memorandum submitted that Muslims were loyal to the British authority, but were unhappy about their miserable conditions. They were deprived of employment opportunities and as such were denied respectable positions in society. The Association finally succeeded in its efforts. Due to its persistent pressures, the Government adopted a Resolution on Muslim Education in 1885. Syed Ameer Ali regarded this resolution as the Magna Carta of the Muslims.

The Central National Muhamedan Association opposed surendranath banerje when he fought for holding the ICS Examinations simultaneously in England and in India and pleaded for retaining the nomination system. The Association urged the appointment of a large number of Muslims, extension of the Executive Council, and right to enfranchise. A separate electoral system was demanded for Muslim in local bodies. The movement of the association under Syed Ameer Ali became fruitful when the Indian Council Act, 1892, was passed, ensuring safeguards for different interest groups.

Ameer Ali was the life-long secretary of the Association. It was the only political organisation to represent the Muslim community prior to the foundation of the muslim league in 1906. Under his able leadership, the Association worked for the all-round development of Muslims. It convinced Muslims to avoid the policy of isolation and, instead, to follow the policy of active participation. Under the banner of the Central National Muhamedan Association, Syed Ameer Ali paved the way for the renaissance and modernisation of Muslims. When he left India for London in 1904 the Association became weak and subsequently declined. [Md Abdul Khaleque]