By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the nice 20th-century Sunni stream.
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Additional info for Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World)
Sayyid Ahmad did his best to reassure Muslim parents that their children would not be taught radical ideas by hiring some of his fiercest critics as professors in the religious studies department. Consequently the program of religious education at MAO College, while reformist in the Deobandi sense, appears to have been uncontroversial. 044 10/12/2004 5:11 PM Page 45 THE MUSLIM RESPONSE 45 name started by the Nadwat al-‘Ulama in Lucknow in the 1890s. It shared with them a sense that Islamic education needed reform in order to be meaningful in the late nineteenth century.
He was also critical of much of the hadith literature, dismissing it as being inauthentic. Like the Ahl-e Hadith, he denied the legitimacy of the four Sunni law schools, looking to the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet for guidance. On the power of personal prayer (dua) to change one’s ultimate fate, he believed that God “is pleased with such prayer and accepts it as He accepts any other form of service. Performance of this prayer brings about in man’s heart patience and firmness” (Troll, 1978: 182).
His espousal of jurisprudential eclecticism combined with consultation of Qur’an and hadis clearly enhanced the responsibility of the ‘ulama for interpreting the Law to their followers” (Metcalf, 1982: 38). It is important to note, however, that this obligation was limited to the learned, the khawass, to the exclusion of the ordinary (‘amm) believer. Most Muslims, including most ‘ulama, were urged to follow Hanafi law exclusively; only a few were encouraged to engage in ijtihad along the lines indicated.
Ahmad Riza Khan (Makers of the Muslim World) by Usha Sanyal