Ahmad Khan, Sir Sayyid

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Ahmad Khan, Sir Sayyid (1817–98). Often known simply as Sir Sayyid, founder of Islamic Indian modernism and an educational reformer. Sir Sayyid's greatness lies in restoring Muslim confidence and bringing them into the modern age through a practical programme of social and educational reform. He recognized the weakness of Indian Muslims and the futility of armed insurrection against strong British rule (e.g. the failure of the Indian Mutiny, 1857). The only course of action for him was to recognize British rule and raise the standard of the Muslims by working from within. His establishment of a Muslim college at Aligarh (1875) modelled on the lines of Cambridge and Oxford, provoked violent reaction from al-Afghānī, the Shīa, and the orthodox ʿulamā. His two major works Essays on the life of Mohammed (1870) and a Quranic commentary (1880–95) were attempts to demythologize the Qurʾān, and to offer psychological and naturalistic interpretations of Islam. He also, unusually, wrote a Bible commentary, Tabyīn al-kalām.

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Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan

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