Sir Syed Ahmad Khan

Ahmad, Irfan. 2012a. “Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.” In G. Böwering, P. Crone, W. Kadi, D. Stewart, and Qasim Zaman (eds). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press: 27–28.

Abstract: There are three main catalogues under which Sayyid Ahmad Khan, or “Sir Sayyid,” as he is known in South Asia, can be classified: as an architect of the Two-Nation Theory, which led to the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan; as a great “modernist” thinker who interpreted Islam in a rational, scientific manner and established a college to foster Western sciences among Muslims; and as a “deviant” or “heretic,” since he emphasized, inter alia, direct recourse to the Qur’an. Broadly, these categories also characterize his roles respectively as a political activist, educator, and theologian. However, it is his image as an architect of the Two-Nation Theory and of “Muslim separatism” that has probably been the most controversial over the decades. All such classifications of Khan, however, reflect more about analysts’ understandings and ideologies than about the figure himself.