Pioneering Apologetic Rationalism in the Sub-Continent: Syed Ahmad Khan and Syed Ameer Ali


  • Dr Humaira Ahmad Associate Professor, Department of Islamic Thought and Civilization, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan


Islamic Modernism has been a dominant and effective discourse in the Muslim world since the arrival of modernity. It is multi-dimensional, encompassing rationalists, nationalists and even socialists. Apologetic rationalism is one of the early dimensions developed primarily as a response to the onslaught of modern scientific theories and the scientific method which seemed to threaten the Islamic way of life, thought and belief system. While taking a defensive and apologetic position, Muslim apologetics tried to prove the superiority of Islam on all other creeds and religions by declaring natural laws to be in sync with Islam, and all scientific discoveries and inventions as continuation of the scientific and rationalistic spirit endorsed by all the prophets and the Qur’ān. Secondly, all apologetics elevated the persona of Prophet Muḥammad PBUH and tried to prove that he was a true leader in the modern sense of the term and was undoubtedly progressive and enlightened. In the sub-continent, this effort was led by two towering pioneers: Sir Syed Aḥmad Khan and Syed Ameer Ali. This article is an insight into the apologetics of these two influential pioneers and Muslim Modernists. Sir Syed’s name is heralded is one of the foremost modernists whose efforts in construction of new ilm al kalam led him towards a controversial and heterodox position. Sayyid Ameer Ali, a jurist and trained through western education, produced the influential apologetic work on Islamic history and Prophet Muḥammad (PBUH). 




How to Cite

Dr Humaira Ahmad. (2022). Pioneering Apologetic Rationalism in the Sub-Continent: Syed Ahmad Khan and Syed Ameer Ali. Nuqtah Journal of Theological Studies, 2(2), 203–223. Retrieved from