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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Celebrating the legacy of Imtiaz Ahmad: Scholar, critic, and inspiration

A fearless sociologist who challenged norms, explored caste in Islam, and inspired the academic community, passed away on Monday.

The world of academia mourns the loss of Imtiaz Ahmad, a distinguished sociologist, author, and former professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), who passed away on Monday. Ahmad’s contributions to social anthropology, sociology, political science, and Islamic studies have left an indelible mark on the scholarly community in India and abroad. With his insightful research and fearless critique of religious fundamentalism and communalism, Ahmad will be remembered as a true inspiration to academics worldwide.

A Life Dedicated to Scholarship

Imtiaz Ahmad’s academic journey began with his graduation and post-graduation studies at Lucknow University. His thirst for knowledge led him to pursue further research at the University of Delhi and the University of Chicago, where he completed his doctoral studies. These formative years laid the foundation for his extensive contributions to the field of social sciences.

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Pioneering Works on Caste in Islam

His seminal work, “Caste and Social Stratification among Muslims in India,” published in 1973, stands as one of his most influential pieces. In this groundbreaking study, he delved into the complex intersection of caste and religious identity within the Muslim community. Ahmad’s research challenged conventional narratives, providing nuanced insights into the social stratification prevalent among Indian Muslims.

Academic Positions and International Collaborations

Imtiaz Ahmad’s expertise earned him prestigious positions at renowned institutions worldwide. As a Senior Research Analyst with the UNESCO Research Centre and a lecturer at Delhi College under Delhi University, he made significant contributions to the field. Additionally, Ahmad held visiting professorships at the University of Missouri, Institute of Higher Studies in Paris, York University’s Institute of Refugee Studies in Canada, and the International University of People’s Initiatives in Peace in Roverato, Italy.

Recognition and Awards

His scholarly achievements garnered recognition and accolades throughout his career. He was honored with the Pandit Jagpal Krishna Gold Medal by Lucknow University in 1960 for his outstanding academic prowess. In 1967-1968, Ahmad received the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, enabling him to conduct research at the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. He was also a Fellow at the South Asia Centre at the University of Chicago and a Senior Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Sciences in New Delhi.

A Legacy of Intellectual Courage

Imtiaz Ahmad’s work epitomized intellectual fearlessness, as he fearlessly criticized religious fundamentalism and communalism. His research and writings shed light on various social issues, challenging prevailing stereotypes and promoting understanding of India’s composite culture. Ahmad’s commitment to scholarship and his dedication to the pursuit of knowledge continue to inspire academics and researchers worldwide.

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The passing of Imtiaz Ahmad leaves a void in the field of sociology and social anthropology. His groundbreaking research on caste in Islam and his unwavering commitment to exploring complex social issues have left an indelible legacy. Ahmad’s contributions have shaped academic discourse and deepened our understanding of society. As we remember his remarkable life and achievements, we pay tribute to an eminent sociologist whose work will continue to inspire generations of scholars and social thinkers to come. Imtiaz Ahmad’s intellectual courage and commitment to truth will forever be cherished within the academic community.