What motivated the famous North Indian Muslim modernist Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898) and his associates? My new article in “Islamic Law and Society” argues that their goal wasn’t to “democratize” Islamic knowledge by doing away with the traditional edifice of Islamic law. Rather, they attacked emulation (taqlid) because it failed, in their view, to yield reliable, certain knowledge (yaqin). In their quest for certainty, they were inspired both by a scientific worldview and colonial conceptions of law.


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