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Ahmad Khan, Sir Sayyid

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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Ahmad Khan, Sir Sayyid

Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (sä´yēd äkhmäd´ khän), 1817–98, Indian Muslim educator. His family was long connected with the Mughal court, but he entered the service of the British East India Company. Convinced of the futility of revolt, he remained loyal to the British during the Indian Mutiny and saved the lives of many Europeans. Seeking to revitalize the Muslim community by the introduction of Western ideas, Sayyid Ahmad Khan organized societies for the translation of English works into Urdu and for the teaching of civics to the Indian public. In 1875 he established the Muslim Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh, which later became Aligarh Muslim Univ. He was knighted in 1888. Among his works are Loyal Mohammedans of India (1860–61) and Causes of the Indian Revolt (1873).

See J. M. S. Baljon, Reforms and Religious Ideas of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1949).

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