Back to the Qur'an

Muhammad Akram Khan

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Back to the Qur'an

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Muhammad Akram Khan (Bengal-Pakistan, 18681968) was a controversial reformer and journalist. Born near Calcutta, Khan began his higher education at an English-medium school, then transferred to a traditional seminary. He founded and edited numerous Urdu and Bengali journals, and was jailed in the 1920s for writing on anticolonial and pan-Islamic themes in his journal Sebak (The Worshipper). In the 1940s, he was provincial president of the Muslim League, which sought a Muslim homeland in South Asia, and he became national vice-president in 1947 just as the region was being partitioned, whereupon he moved from Calcutta, India, to Dhaka, East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). In addition to journalistic articles, Khan wrote several longer works, including a biography of the Prophet Muhammad and a commentary on the Qur'an. Khan is generally regarded as a modernist, though he was also a member of the Ahl-i-Hadith movement, which some scholars regard as neotraditionalist. He criticized Bengali Muslim scholars as too often guided by superstition and ignorance. Khan recommended reform of Muslim family law in South Asia, arguing that current practices ignored the rights afforded to women in Islam. Similarly, Khan opposed injunctions against music that he considered to be unsupported by the sacred sources. While he affirmed the importance of hadith (narratives of the Prophet) in juristic matters, he did not advocate the methods of jurisprudence of any one school. As demonstrated in the essay presented here, he was hostile toward scholars whose allegiance to a particular school, he argued, instigated sectarian conflicts.1

Chapter.  1170 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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