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2018 Islamic Studies Conference
Sayyid Ahmad Khan

Sayyid Ahmad Khan: A Bicentennial Celebration

Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was an Indo-Muslim thinker, reformer, and educator. His views and writings on community, religion, politics, and education generated debate and inspired change among generations of South Asian Muslims and across the Islamic world. The philosopher and poet Muhammad Iqbal is just one of the many famous people inspired by the Khan’s transformative thought.

As the only US gathering honoring the bicentennial, the conference seeks to revisit, reassess, and re-conceptualize his legacy. Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s voice is among the more innovative and inspirational voices in formulating new Muslim identities in the Islamic world. But his is also an important voice for the contemporary landscape of America, a space within which multiple minority constituencies, including Muslim-American communities, continue to search for forms of development and empowerment. Last but not least, this one-day conference seeks to explore new modes of identity in the realm of ideas, hermeneutics, activism, philosophy, and theology in the beginning of the twenty-first century—the first two decades of which already have been characterized by much socio-political unrest, eroding norms of religious pluralism, gender and women’s issues, and global environmental challenges.

The conference is sponsored by Bayan Claremont, the Claremont School of Theology, Claremont McKenna College, Pomona College, and Claremont Graduate University.


All events will be held in Albrecht Auditorium, Claremont Graduate University

Saturday, April 7, 2018

9:30 am – 10:30 am
Patrick Mason
Dean, School of Arts & Humanities, and Chair, Religion Department
Claremont Graduate University

Ruqayya Y. Khan
Associate Professor, Department of Religion, and Malas Chair, Islamic Studies
Claremont Graduate University

10:30 am – 12:00 pm
Humanism and Modernism in Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s Thought: His Work in a Comparative Perspective
Khurram Hussain, Assistant Professor, Department of Religion Studies
Lehigh University

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Lunch Break

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
A Contemporary Lens for Assessing Sayyid Ahmad Khan: Society, Education & Gender
Yasmin Saikia, Professor of History, School of Historical, Religious and Philosophical Studies, and Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, Center for Peace and Conflict
Arizona State University

3:30 pm – 3:45 pm
Coffee Break

3:45 pm – 5:15 pm
Progress, Process, and Community: Rethinking Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s Work and Legacy
M. Raisur Rahman, Associate Professor of South Asian History, Department of History
Wake Forest University

5:15 pm – 5:30 pm
Closing Remarks

Speaker Bios

Khurram Hussain, PhD, is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Religion Studies at Lehigh University. He teaches courses on comparative ethics, religion in modernity, philosophy of religion, and modern Islamic thought. He has broad scholarly interests, including but not limited to cross-cultural critique, religious reform, and modern Western philosophy. His first book, The Muslim Question, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. His second project, Islam as Critique, is a comparative analysis of Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s thought and the work of Hannah Arendt, Reinhold Niebuhr and Alasdair MacIntyre, and is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press, London. Hussain, a native of Lahore, Pakistan, received a bachelor’s in religion and physics from Bowdoin College in 1997 and a doctorate in religious studies from Yale University.

M. Raisur Rahman, an associate professor of South Asian History at Wake Forest University, is interested in local, urban, intellectual, and literary histories of modern India and South Asian Islam. He is the author of Locale, Everyday Islam, and Modernity: Qasbah Towns and Muslim Life in Colonial India (Oxford University Press, 2015) and several articles published in refereed journals and edited volumes. Among his current projects is a co-edited volume on Sayyid Ahmad Khan that critically examines his life and contribution as well as his legacy in the context of the 21st century. Rahman holds a PhD in history from the University of Texas at Austin and master’s degrees in philosophy and history from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Yasmin Saikia is professor of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies at the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University. She is an alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, the university originally founded by Sayyid Ahmad Khan. Her research focuses on the histories of memory and identity; women, war, and peace; histories of premodern and contemporary South Asia (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). She is the author of two award-winning books: Fragmented Memory: Struggling to be Tai-Ahom in India (Duke, 2005) and Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971 (Duke 2010). She, along with M. Raisur Rahman, is co-editing a volume on Sayyid Ahmad Khan that takes stock of his life and contributions. Saikia hails from Assam in northeast India and has deep connections with scholars and public in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Turkey.