SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Modern Muslim Thinkers of South Asia

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year

With the abolition of the Mughal Empire by the British EIC in 1857 and the establishment of direct colonial rule, Muslim intellectual elites were forced to position themselves within the significantly changed framework. “Modernity”, as a conceptual term to denote the incisive developments in almost all societal fields, became the epitomé of the new situation, against which Muslim intellectual elites needed to reconsider their own tradition. The responses were manifold, ranging from an almost uncritical embrace of the values of “Modernity” to outright rejection, which could even take a militant turn.

In this course, based mainly on primary readings in English translation, select protagonists of these processes will be discussed, while paying close attention to the changing social and political circumstances, in order to understand better their respective viewpoints. The timeframe is stretched well beyond the era of direct colonial rule in the subcontinent, reaching as far as the present times, in which the diverse societal developments in the various national states in South Asia have led to the emergence of distinct national discourses which, however, do all relate to varying extent to the universal vision of a community of believers united in a single faith.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the course a student should be able to:

  • discuss the historical and cultural contexts in which South Asian Muslim intellectual elites engaged in analyses of Modern Western thought
  • differentiate between different approaches of Muslim intellectual elites to Modern Western thought
  • acknowledge the different degrees of the influence of Modern Western thought on various conceptions of South Asian Muslim intellectual elites
  • acknowledge the creative handling of the Islamic intellectual traditions by South Asian Muslim intellectual elites
  • analyse critically primary source material in the field of Modern Islamic thought
  • present orally an introduction and critical discussion of different problems relating to the field to an audience within a given time frame
  • consolidate skills in academic writing in view of the upcoming MA dissertation


One hour lecture,  one hour seminar/tutorial

Method of assessment

One essay (4500-5000 words ) (40% ), one essay (4500-5000 words ) (50% ), 1 oral presentation (10%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules