Chapter

Lecture on Islam

Sayyid Ahmad Khan

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Lecture on Islam

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Sayyid Ahmad Khan (North India, 18171898) was the most prominent early leader of the modernization movement among Indian Muslims, noted especially for his advocacy of social and educational reforms. He came from a noble family and was brought up in his grandfather's house, as his father died young. He did not receive a traditional madrasa (seminary) education, but did study the Qur'an in Arabic and Persian classics. As an employee in the British colonial judiciary, he was greatly affected by the failed struggle for independence of 1857. Ahmad Khan became active in analyzing both the causes of the revolt and the reasons for what many perceived as the backwardness of Muslims in scientific and social fields. He concluded that the Muslims needs could be addressed by a program of education that would incorporate both modern subjects and a respect for Islamic values. Therefore, in 1875, he established the Mohammadan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh in North India, offering English-medium higher education. His journal Tahdhib al-Akhlaq (Refinement of Morals) was a showcase of modernist thought, featuring his articles and those of like-minded supporters. Prevalent themes in his writings include demythologized Qur'anic interpretation, presenting the sacred texts as in harmony with science and reason, criticism of hadith (narratives of the Prophet), and calls for renewed ijtihad (religious interpretation). In the passage that follows, Sir Sayyidhe was knighted in 1888 by the British Empirepresented the case for renewed Islamic theology, capable of assuring an appropriately scientific and rational understanding of religious truth.1

Chapter.  10412 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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