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Contents: Remembering Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in Bicentenary Year (1817-2017) (Issue 40)

Contents: Remembering Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in Bicentenary Year (1817-2017) (Issue 40)

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Contributors

Contributors

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Guest-Editorial – Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: A plea for de-instutionalised remembrance

By Irfanullah Farooqi
Sir Syed lived no ordinary life. After a certain point in his life, every day marked something new. He was always on the move, experimenting, debating, hesitating, writing, silencing, expressing, concealing, and so on. There could be many more added to this list, acts that are otherwise not in sync with each. Sir Syed brilliantly held these contradictions pretty much during his entire intellectual career.

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Why Sir Syed Ahmad Khan is not a positivist thinker

By Talim Akhtar
The relationship between Syed Ahmad Khan and positivism is extremely complex, and it is a gross error to consider him as a Positivist thinker, despite the fact that he religiously embraced some fundamentals of Positivism.

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Sir Sayyid and his educational mission

By Amir Ali
One of Sir Syed's limitations was his uncritical naturalism and the role of science. This was a typical 19th century understanding that valorized the scientific attitude with a zeal that is today equalled and opposed by horrendously unscientific ideas that increasingly dominate the public discourse. Further, Sir Sayyid’s educational programme was hobbled by an excessive reliance on the employability of the Aligarh graduate, especially in government civil service.

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Revisiting Islaah and Tehzeeb

By Irfanullah Farooqi
In relation to exploring the connections between ideas and their politico-intellectual contexts, I want to critically analyse Sir Syed’s idea of Islaah (reform) and, with respect to ruthless flattening of an otherwise dynamic and forceful idea, I am interested in exploring the politics of repeated reference to Tehzeeb (culture in the sense of refinement). The former is a query situated in the past whereas the latter is rooted in the ongoing.

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Scripting a Democratisation

By Fahad Hashmi
On the eve of his bicentenary, it is also important to look at Sir Syed's theory of modernism and reforms, taking into account the spirit of our age. It needs to be emphasised that critical evaluation of the worldview and initiatives of SAK or any other reformer for that matter, should not be seen as an effort at mudslinging. Notre eminent contemporain, undoubtedly he was!

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Sir Syed’s Old World

By Atul Mishra
At the heart of Sir Syed Ahmad’s ‘politics of not doing politics’ lay the idea that Muslims of Hindustan (upper India) in the late-19th century were better off keeping away from the politics which was then unfolding between the British and the ‘Hindus’, the latter represented institutionally by the Congress.

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Making “modernity” one’s own: A note on Sir Syed’s notion of jadidiyyat

By A K Muneer
At the heart of Sir Syed’s modernization drive was a two-pronged reform agenda: the reform aimed at was both religious and social, although both remained largely unaccomplished. The first saw his desperate attempts to reform Islamic theology in accordance with the modern scientific spirit or the laws of nature. At a larger social level, the sine qua non of Sir Syed’s tahrik was the promotion of English education and of refinement of manners and character-building among the Muslim gentry so that they could qualify for employment within the colonial bureaucracy.

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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (1817-1898): A Modern Muslim in a Pre-Modern Age

By Raza Naeem
While Sir Syed’s thought was politically conservative, it was socially progressive, evolving from a traditional, past-worshipping understanding to a more scientific and rational one. What follows is an attempt at tracing the evolution of Sir Syed’s thought as a modern Muslim in a pre-modern age, examining his thoughts on culture and his debates with his opponents and detractors.

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Revisiting Sir Syed’s Early Religious Writings

By Soheb Niazi
This short essay seeks to make a case for closer examinations of Sir Syed’s early religious writings that reveal continuities rather than emphasize a sharp break in his world view before and after the tumultuous year of 1857. Fissures, inconsistencies, and contradictions exist in Sir Syed’s oeuvre as with any other significant thinker whose writings span over five decades.

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Sir Syed Ahmad Khan: A Search for Social Cohesion outside the Political Arena

By Rizwan Qaiser
It is important to point out that Sir Syed has been a victim of historiographical misrepresentation as he has been perceived to be someone who formulated the ideology of communalism and worked towards its propagation. Such formulations gain salience in view of the fact that he did not think it advisable for Muslims to join the Indian National Congress as he visualized the future of the Muslims of India in seeking a framework of re-conciliation with the British.

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My tribute to Sir Syed: Translation of both editions of ‘Asār-us-Sanadīd’

By Rana Safvi
Translating this book has been a monumental task, as it was the first such book on Delhi’s monuments and history to be written on this scale. Moreover, it has formed the basis of almost every work attempted on Delhi’s monuments in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Through this translation, I am fulfilling a dream of mine to be able to make this book available to all those who are hopelessly in love with Delhi’s history.

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Sir Syed: The Pragmatist of 19th Century India

By Mohammad Sajjad
Sir Syed was definitely evolving from simply a man of taste and refinement to a careful observer and analyst imbibing the spirit of Benthamite Utilitarian pragmatism. This shapes his view on education as a vehicle of well-being and progress of the society in the years to come, particularly after 1857-59. By now he had come to believe in the permanence of British rule in India, which is why he strove to come to terms with it.

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Community as Possibility: Afghani’s Critique of Sir Sayyid

By Mohammad Sayeed
Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan and Jamal al-Din Afghani are two of the most influential thinkers of the 19th century. Both of them left a lasting imprint on trajectories of Islam and its relationship with the West. They both received traditional education but soon realized its limitations vis-a-vis achievements of modern sciences of the West. They both connected rational education and learning with the rise of the West and the decline of the Muslims. They both reinterpreted Islamic theology in the light of modern challenges and both attempted, in their own ways, to reignite a sense of purposefulness among the Muslims.

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Sir Syed, the Project of Rationality, and the Question of Women’s Education

By Shivangini Tandon
On the issue of imparting education to Muslim women, Sir Syed chose to remain within the traditional British utilitarian mould. He was of the view that since there was scarcity of resources to be invested in education, the elite/upper class Muslims or the Ashraf class should be given priority. Moreover, during Syed Ahmad Khan’s time, education was mainly seen as a tool for entry into administrative or government jobs and as women, in those times, were rarely an applicant or interested in such jobs, it was believed that it is male education that should get priority.

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