In the rise of the separatist tendency along communal lines, Sayyid Ahmad Khan played an important role.
Though a great educationist and social reformer, Sayyid Ahmad Khan became towards the end of his life a conservative in politics.
He laid the foundations of Muslim Communalism when in the 1880s he gave up his earlier view and declared that the political interests of Hindus and the Muslims were not the same but different and even divergent. He also preached complete obedience to British rule.
When the Indian National Congress was founded in 1885, he decided to oppose it and tried to organise along with Raja Shiva Prasad of Varanasi a movement of loyalty to the British rule.
He also began to preach that, since the Hinds formed the larger part of’ the Indian population, they would dominate the Muslims in case of the weakening or with drawal of the British rule. He urged the Muslims not to listen to Badruddin Tyabji’s appeal to them to join the national Congress.
The separatist and loyalist tendencies among a section of the educated Muslims and the big Muslims nawabs and landlords reached a climax in 1905 when the All India Muslim League was founded under the leadership of the Aga Khan, the Nawab of Dhaka, and Nawab Mohsin-ul-Mulk.
Founded as a loyalist, communal and conservative political organisation, the Muslim League made no critique of colonialism, supported the partition of Bengal and demanded special safeguards for the Muslims in government services. Later, with the help of Lord Minto, the Viceroy, it put forward and secured the acceptance of the demand for separate electorates.
Thus, while the National Congress was taking up anti-imperialist economic and political issues, the Muslim League and its reactionary leaders preached that the interests of the Muslims were different from those of the Hindus. Simultaneously, Hindu communalism was also being born and Hindu communal ideas were arising. Many Hindu writers and political workers echoed the ideas and programme of Muslim communalism and the Muslim League.