Sayyid Ahmad Khan

Sayyid Ahmad Khan

 

Born Oct. 7, 1817, in Delhi; died 1898. Public figure, religious reformer, and founder of the Muslim enlightenment movement in India.

Ahmad Khan came from a Muslim aristocratic feudal family. His efforts in the cause of enlightenment were centered chiefly on the weekly journal Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (Social Reform), which he founded in 1870, and the Muslim Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, which he founded in 1878. The basis of his ideology, which was progressive for its day, was the doctrine of “self-help”—man’s service for the social good and “national solidarity.” He criticized reactionary feudal institutions and called upon Muslims to familiarize themselves with European culture. He urged the modernization of Islam and religious tolerance. While criticizing certain aspects of British colonial policy, however, Ahmad Khan retained his loyalty to the British authorities. He shared the illusions of part of the intelligentsia of British India that colonial domination was inevitable and necessary for a certain period of time. He laid the foundations for the Muslim communal movement, first in the area of enlightenment and later in the realm of politics.

Ahmad Khan’s ideology combined features of progressive enlightenment with religious-communal aspects. Its internal contradictions reflected the contradictory nature of the Muslim communal movement and the ambiguous position of the Muslim bourgeoisie in colonial India. These ambiguities also showed how the Muslim intelligentsia, which emerged in the second half of the 19th century, was tied to the feudal landowning class.

REFERENCES

Gordon-Polonskaia, L. R. Musul’manskie techeniia ν obshchestvennoi mysli Indii i Pakistana. Moscow, 1963.
Iurevich, L. I. “Said Akhmad-khan i zarozhdenie musul’manskogo obshchinnogo dvizheniia ν Indii.” Uch. zap. Tikhookeanskogo in-ta AN SSSR, 1949, vol.2.
Sukhochev, A. S. Ot dastana k romanu. Moscow, 1971.
Graham, G. F. The Life and Work of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. London, 1885.
Hafeez Malik. Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan. Washington, D.C., 1963.
Nizami, K. A. Sayyid Ahmad Khan. [Delhi] 1966.
Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan: A Selected Bibliography. Aligarh, 1971.
Dar, B. A. Religious Thought of Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Lahore, 1957.

L. R. POLONSKAIA

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In the Indian subcontinent, Sayyid Ahmad Khan started to write a modernistic scientific tafsir in 1879, but it was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1898.
The main focus of attention in this article is on the person of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, (1) one of the greatest Muslim educationists, writers and reformers during British rule, considering his historically decisive role in shaping Muslim destiny in the Subcontinent up to independence, namely the creation of an independent Muslim state, Pakistan.
H is fierce criticism was also extended to Sayyid Ahmad Khan and the Aligarh movement in India.
Mawdudi rejected the modernists such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan and Ameer Ali, who, according to him, "allowed themselves to be seduced by the values of an alien system of life." [47] Mawdudi's was a vision that sought to establish hukumat-i Ilahi (divine rule) in human society just as it exists in the natural world.
Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d.1898) went on record to say that "the word of God as expounded in the Qur'an, cannot be contradictory to the work of God." As the words of God are unchanging, so are the works of God and the laws of nature.
These movements, the usulis amongst the Shi'ites(46) (which became dominant at the end of the Eighteenth Century), and those movements associated with Sayyid Ahmad Khan,(47) al-Afgani,(48) Mohammed Abduh,(49) Qasim Amin,(50) Mohammed Iqbal(51) and Taha Husayn,(52) are thus seen as evidence of resistance to pressure of European thought on backward Seventh Century Islamic theory.(53)