Islamic Studies Sayyid Ahmad Khan
Sheila McDonough
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195390155-0069


Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817–1898) responded to the collapse of the Mogul Empire in India, following the failed rebellion of 1857, by diverse efforts to revitalize and to reform Muslim intellectual and social life. He made a powerful impact on his community by his insistence that the Indian Muslims must become as well educated as the British. As a descendant of minor aristocrats in the Mogul court and as a historian of Indian Islam, he understood that knowledge and power were linked. The controversies about him are in the areas of religious thought and politics. With respect to religion, he tried to encourage rethinking of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. In political matters, he favored supporting the British and was critical of the Congress Party. He was one of the foremost Muslim modernist thinkers of the 19th century.

Reference Resources

Consult the website South Asian Literature, Colonial Period, Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan for English translations of his work. The website Major Voices: Sayyid Ahmad Khan offers a bibliography for Sayyid Ahmad Khan.

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