AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Elucidating the Word: Sayyid Aḥmad Khān (1817-1898), revelation, and coherence

by Charles Magee Ramsey

Institution: University of Birmingham
Department: School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, Department of Theology and Religion, Islamic Studies
Year: 2015
Keywords: BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
Record ID: 1406297
Full text PDF: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5914/


Sayyid Aḥmad Khān (1817-1898) was a prominent religious reformer and educationist in pre-partition India. One of his least understood works is \(Tabyīn\) \(al-kalām\) \(fī\) \(tafsīr\) \(al-taurāt\) \(wa\) \(‘i-injīl\) \(‘alā\) \(millat\) \(al-Islām\) (\(The\) \(Elucidation\) \(of\) \(the\) \(Word\) \(in\) \(Commentary\) \(of\) \(the\) \(Torah\) \(and\) \(Gospel\) \(According\) \(to\) \(the\) \(Religion\) \(of\) \(Islam\)), or as the author simply termed it: ‘The Mohomedan Commentary on the Holy Bible’ (1860-1865). In this dissertation I examine \(Tabyīn\) along with other principle works in the original Urdu to enquire: how did Sayyid Aḥmad conceptualize revelation in the Bible? I argue that he employed a systematic paradigm to categorize all prophetic revelation, the identification of which opens the way for a clearer understanding of our author’s attitude towards the Bible. In this light, \(Tabyīn\) emerges as a prototypical example intended to demonstrate that prophetic texts share greater consonance than dissonance if universal principles are applied to regulate interpretation. Sayyid Aḥmad’s view of the coherence of all revelation, natural and prophetic, allowed for a reverent but critical juxtaposition of the Bible with Islam’s primary textual sources as initiated in \(Tabyīn\), and continued in his final exegetical work, \(Tafsīr\) \(al-Qur’ān\).