Cementing Ethics with Modernism
an Appraisal of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s Writings
Author(s): Shafey Kidwai
Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) is acclaimed by his admirers as an educationist, social reformer, champion of women’s rights, rationalist, a pioneer in many fields, and a visionary. His detractors, however, brand him as a British stooge, polemicist, anti-democratic and anti-nationalist. In such a scenario, the need for an objective, balanced, yet not uncritical, assessment of Sayyid Khan’s thought and legacy becomes essential.
In 1857, when the armed uprising against the British, considered as India’s First War of Independence, swept across North India, Sayyid Ahmad Khan was forty years old and worked as a judicial official at Bijnor. He remained loyal to the British, and was later commended for saving the lives of British officials. He even had to face the brunt of the freedom fighters’ wrath who burnt down, as an act of retribution, his property in Delhi, worth thirty thousand rupees, a huge amount in 1857.