Sayyid Ahmad Khan

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


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Sukhochev, A. S. Ot dastana k romanu. Moscow, 1971.
Graham, G. F. The Life and Work of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. London, 1885.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
'October 17 is the birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (Muslim scholar in British India), the day the international science conference will be held,' he told a press conference in Islamabad.
Addressing a ceremony in this regard, Sir Syed University Chancellor Jawaid Anwar said that the university is an ideological university based on the doctrines of the great visionary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan as his system of education was based on tolerance, coexistence and character building in addition to personal grooming.
Vali Uddin, Chancellor of Sir Syed University, Jawaid Anwar said that Sir Syed University is an ideological university based on the doctrines of the great visionary Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, said a statement on Thursday.
ISLAMABAD -- The federal government Friday decided to organize an International Science Conference on October 17, the birth date of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
Gen Hayat said the two-nation theory presented by father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan and other eldAers remained valid till today because Hindus and Muslims were like riverbanks which could not meet each other.
Addressing a summit, the Minister stated that the ideology of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan needs to be followed to meet the challenges of modern times.
Dubbing him as the Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of Kashmir and true follower of Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal, President Masood urged the youth of Azad Kashmir to familiarise themselves with the various aspects of the life of Khan Sahib and play their role in the ongoing Kashmir Liberation struggle for progress and prosperity of Azad Kashmir.
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He said that Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was the first Muslim leader who convinced the Muslims of the sub-continent to give up their old approach and keep pace with the changing times.
Over 350 alumni and AMU well-wishers gathered for the evening to remember and appreciate achievements of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. AMUAAQ Vice-President Sarwar Mirza welcomed the guests while President Jawed Ahmad gave the welcome address including a brief about Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
Today marks the 200th birth anniversary of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Indian reformer, visionary and father of modern Indian education.
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan not only created awareness among the Muslims of Sub-continent about the significance of modern, scientific education, but he also advocated their case in front of the British Empire in a strong manner.