By Usha Sanyal
Introduces the mythical chief of the good 20th-century Sunni circulation.
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Additional info for Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi: in the path of the prophet
Among Muslims, such families (known by the title “Sayyids”) enjoy high status by virtue of their ancestry. Thereafter he left for central India, where he served as a cavalryman for one Amir Khan who worked for the Marathas. In 1818, this Amir Khan was “forced to come to terms with the British who [awarded] him the principality of Tonk and styled him a nawwab” (Metcalf, 1982: 54). Sayyid Ahmad then returned to Delhi the second time, now as a religious reformer determined to bring about greater observance of the shari‘a.
Although this attempt at bridge-building was not very successful, Shah Wali Ullah’s achievements in other respects – his emphasis on hadith studies, his scholarly output as an ‘alim, and his high attainments as a sufi – were remarkable. Particularly important was his role in renewal of the law, as demonstrated by his emphasis on ijtihad. In the following century, his work was continued by his four sons, especially Shah ‘Abd ul-Aziz, whom the Ahl-e Sunnat regarded as the Renewer of the thirteenth Islamic century.
The concept of intercession and mediation between man and God were thus also denied. Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s reformist ideas were intimately connected with the political context of late nineteenth-century British India. He came from a family which had been associated with Mughal rule, and he keenly felt the loss of that rule. In his view, Muslims had lost out to the British because they had failed to keep up with the scientific progress of the West and had allowed their practice of the faith to lapse as well.
Ahmad Riza Khan Barelwi: in the path of the prophet by Usha Sanyal