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Modernist Muslim Thought in the Subcontinent: An Analytical Study in Maulvi Chiragh Alis Rationalism
A careful comparison of Muslim thought in the pre-1857 era and in the post-1857 era commonly discloses many contrasting ideas. The exposure of western knowledge, rational discourses, and western civilization put Muslims in a challenging phase. It was necessary for Muslims to cope with the challenges to register themselves as a separate nation to safeguard their identity. In this regard, many orthodox and modern Muslim scholars tried to re-interpret Islam in different modes. Modern Muslim scholars gave interpretations purely on rational grounds and such rational thinking reformed or revolutionized the religious, political, and social paradigms of Muslims. It is impossible to elaborate the evolution of modernist Muslim thought in the subcontinent by ignoring the works of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan and Chiragh Ali. During the evolution of modernist Muslim thought, it is more important to study the rationalism of Chiragh Ali because he elaborated many ambiguous ideas of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in a candid rational way, and he provided strong foundations for modern interpretations compatible with the dynamic situation of Islam in colonial India. His radicalism paved the path towards the rationalization of Islam in the subcontinent. No doubt, Aziz Ahmad, and Kraemer had already attributed an outstanding radicalism and an incomparable spiritual freedom and courage to Chriagh Ali. But both writes did not argue about the nature of his religious ideas or thoughts as well as they did not map out his rationalistic model of thinking which he deployed to address sensitive Muslim religious issues. It is also necessary to study Chiragh Ali in perspective of socio-religious or socio-political setup of his time which might have affected his thinking process. Still, the role of Maulvi Chiragh Ali in the study of Islamic modernism in India is unidentified. This study is aimed to explore the course of evolution of modernist Muslim thinking and to identify the role, importance, and outcomes of the rationalism of Maulvi Chiragh Ali.
Key Words: Subcontinent, Religious Tradition, Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Rationalism, Modernist Muslim Thought