Khalid Saheb Khan – The Academic Origins Of An Irrelevant Man

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In many books written about Khalid, it is said that he was not “intelligent” when he was in the school. The author in fact says that after graduating, he did not show any aptitude for further studies but was destined to do nothing but join the police force. This could be very true, since the author did not meet Khalid until after he was employed.


The author mentions that Khalid is the son of a middle-class household who had no schooling and who worked as a servant in a good family. It is said that this was his first contact with politics and that he was loved by all. This man then joined the army but ended up disliking the way it was run.

After leaving the army, he studied in Birla Institute of Social Sciences under Professor Bennis. He became interested in knowing more about politics and when he was offered a scholarship to take a PhD in Social Policy at the University of Mumbai, he accepted it. From there he moved to the UK where he joined Queen Mary University of London. He was drawn to the field of political economy of developing countries and found that he had a natural affinity for it.

This was Khalid’s main area of specialization and he had plenty of associates from that university including Harald Penzel and C.D. Nisargadhyay. Khalid soon became a permanent resident of the UK and has returned to India several times.

He joined Sigma Xi of Oxford University after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. He also had his own institute named after him, The Darul Uloom Al-Islamia which in fact exists to this day. There is some disagreement as to whether or not he is still an expert in Islamic studies.

Whatever the case may be, one can appreciate his accomplishments inhuman rights while at the same time recognizing his failings. As a professor of Islamic studies, he made efforts to use principles of secularism to ensure that people are not disenfranchised. He was not a big fan of fundamentalism.

One can only wonder how he would have fared had he been born into a Muslim family in India. Probably he would have made better use of his learning and developed his strengths and weaknesses through his life experiences. Perhaps we will never know.

In the end, while Kamal Sakhbhardhji Sahib is a perfect example of what a successful Indian Muslim can do, we must acknowledge the limitations of his talents. He was not able to reach the heights of his intellectual gifts because of the tremendous imbalances of caste, ethnicity and religion that created barriers to his path. He was able to maintain some degree of status and influence despite these setbacks.

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