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Syed Ameer Ali was born on 6th April 1849 at a Bengali village called Chansura. He was the youngest son of his parents. His father was in favor of modern English education and so, Ameer Ali was sent to Hugli College. He passed his Bachelors from Calcutta University in the year 1867 and also received his law degree. In 1869 he joined law profession and won a scholarship for England. Later on his return to India Ameer Ali joined the Calcutta High Court. In 1882 he became a member of the Imperial Legislative Council. In 1890 he became a high court judge and in 1904 after his retirement he went to England where his family resided. His wife was the sister-in-law of Lord Dufferin and so he had contacts in English politics. He was the first Indian who was nominated a member of Privy Council to which he remained a member till his death on 3rd August 1928.
Along with his political efforts and achievements Ameer Ali is famous for his literary works. He was the author of two famous works one of which is the History of Saracens published in 1889 that tells the story of the rise and fall of Saracens. The other work is the Spirit of Islam published in 1891. He also wrote articles mainly countering anti-Muslim articles of a Christian.
But Ameer Ali is mainly known as a political figure. During the days of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan when he was strongly against the Muslim participation in politics Ameer Ali founded a political organization in the year 1878 called National Mohammadan Association at Calcutta. It was later renamed as Central Mohammadan Association when lots of its branches started working all over India. Earlier in 1877 he had discussed the importance of politics in the lives of the Indian Muslims with Sir Syed. He told Sir Syed that the survival of the Muslims as an independent nation in India would not be possible without the establishment and working of their own political organization. That was the major aim of the establishment of Central Mohammadan Association. The rest of the objectives were as under
- Political training of the Muslims
- Safeguarding Muslim interests
- Creation of good feelings among the followers of different faiths in India
After the foundation of that organization, Syed Ameer Ali toured the far flung areas of India and spread the objectives of his party. The most important achievement of that Association was the formation of a memorandum that was submitted to the government of India in 1852. In this memorandum the causes of the Muslim backwardness in India were mentioned that included the exclusion of Muslims from the government jobs, the damage of their educational systems, the elimination of Muslim Law, the discrimination between Hindus and Muslims in all the spheres of life etc. In this memorandum, these demands were put forth for the amelioration of Muslim population of India.
- Efforts should be made to diminish educational backwardness of the Muslims.
- The re-implementation of Persian script replacing Devnagri
- Appointment of Muslim judges to legislate in the light of Mohammadan law
In May 1908, Syed Ameer Ali founded the London branch of All India Muslim League and in a deputation in 1909 led by Syed Ameer Ali to Lord Morely, the then Secretary of State for India, was convinced to grant Muslims separate electorates. In 1920s, during the course of Khilafat Movement, Syed Ameer Ali presented the emotional point of view of the Indian Muslims to the British government.
Ameer Ali is also famous for his social works. He founded a Medical Aid Fund for the Indian Women. With the help of this fund DufferinHospital for the Indian women was founded in Calcutta. He also founded Red Crescent Society to help provide medical facilities to the Arab Muslims during the Balkan wars and 1st World War. He died in the year 1928.