Rahimtulla M. Sayani

Indian politician

Rahimtulla Mahomed Sayani (5 April 1847 – 6 June 1902), was an Indian politician who served as the President of the Indian National Congress for a term in 1896, succeeding Surendranath Banerjea.


  • A very frank and lucid exposition of the relation between the Hindus and Musalmans, as conceived by the latter, was given by a liberal Muslim leader, R. M. Sayani, in his Presidential Address at the twelfth Indian National Congress, held in Calcutta in 1896. The following extract is a very candid expression of the sentiments which powerfully influenced the Muslim community as a whole throughout the nineteenth century:
    “Before the advent of the British in India, the Musalmans were the rulers of the country. The Musalmans had, therefore, all the advantages appertaining to the ruling class. The sovereigns and the chiefs were their co-religionists, and so were the great landlords and the great officials. The court language was their own. Every place of trust and responsibility, or carrying influence and high emoluments, was by birthright, theirs. The Hindus did occupy some position but the Hindu holder? of position were but the tenants-at-will of the Musalmans. The Musalmans had complete access to the sovereigns and to the chiefs. They could, and did, often eat at the same table with them. They could also, and often did, intermarry. The Hindus stood in awe of them. Enjoyment and influence and all the good things of the world were theirs.. Into the best-regulated kingdoms, however, as into the best-regulated societies and families, misfortunes would intrude and misfortunes did intrude into this happy Musalman Rule. ..By a stroke of misfortune, the Musalmans had to abdicate their position and descend to the level of their Hindu fellow-countrymen. The Hindus who had before stood in awe of their Musalman masters were thus railed a step by the fall of their said masters, and with their former awe dropped their courtesy also. The Musalmans, who are a very sensitive race, naturally resented the treatment and would have nothing to do either with their rulers or with their fellow-subjects. Meanwhile the noble policy of the new rulers of the country introduced English education into the country. The learning of an en¬ tirely unknown and foreign language, of course, required hard application and industry. The Hindus were accustomed to this, as even under the Musalman rule, they had practically to master a foreign tongue, and so easily took to the new education. But the Musalmans had not yet become accustomed to this sort of thing, and were, moreover, not then in a mood to learn, much less to learn anything that required hard work and application, especially as they had to work harder than their former subjects, the Hindus. Moreover, they resented competing with the Hindus, whom they had till recently regarded as their inferiors. The result was that so far as education was concerned, the Musalmans who were once superior to the Hindus now actually became their inferiors. Of course, they grumbled and groaned, but the irony of fate was inexorable. The stern realities of life were stranger than fiction The Musalmans were gradually ousted from their lands, their offices; in fact everything was lost save their honour. The Hindus, from a subservient state, came into the lands, offices and other worldly advantages of their former masters. Their exultation knew no bounds, and they trod upon the heels of their former masters. The Musalmans would have nothing to do with anything in which they might have to come into contact with the Hindus. They were soon reduced to a state of utter poverty. Ignorance and apathy seized hold of them while the fall of their former greatness rankled in their hearts.” (295ff)
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