Syed Ameer Ali

Other names: 

Saiyid Ameer Ali
Sayyid Ameer Ali
Rt Hon Ameer Ali


Pollingfold Manor RH12 3AS
United Kingdom
51° 3' 41.0652" N, 0° 20' 19.644" W
Date of birth: 
06 Apr 1849
City of birth: 
Cuttack, Orissa
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
03 Aug 1928
Location of death: 
Pollingfold Manor, near Rudgwick, Sussex, England
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1869
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1869-73, 1875, 1877, 1879-80, 1884, 1895, 1904-28


London, Sussex.


Syed Ameer Ali was a lawyer, a judge, a political and social reformer, and a scholar of Islam. He wrote a number of books on Islamic law. He first arrived in the UK in 1869 initially to compete for the ICS. He was friends with the Fawcetts and attended female suffrage meetings in 1870. He was called to the Bar through the Inner Temple and returned to India to serve in the Calcutta High Court.

Syed Ameer Ali made frequent returns to Britain after 1873. In 1880 he met James Knowles, editor of The Nineteenth Century, and thereafter wrote a number of articles for the journal. On another visit back to the UK, he married Isabelle Konstam.

Syed Ameer Ali retired in 1904 and settled in the UK. His first task was to launch the London Muslim League (1908) and he took up the issue of Muslim representation. However, he resigned from the Muslim League in 1913 regarding it as too extreme. In 1910, he launched a project to build a mosque in London. And then in 1911 he formed the British Red Crescent Society because the British Red Cross was not helping injured Turks and Arabs in Italian attacks, addressing the need for an independent society to help the sick and wounded irrespective of race or religion. In 1909 he was appointed to the Privy Council, the first Indian member on the Council.

He died on 3 August 1928 at his home, Pollingfold Manor, near Rudgwick, Sussex and was buried in Brockwood Cemetery, Surrey. He had two sons who both studied at Oxford and both eventually retired to settle in Britain with their British wives.


Torick Ameer Ali (son), John Bryce, Henry Fawcett, Millicent Fawcett, Lord Hobhouse, James Knowles (editor of Nineteenth Century), Dadabhai Naoroji, Lord Northbrook, Oscar Wilde.

Involved in events: 
Published works: 

A Critical Examination of the Life and Teachings of Mohammed (London: Williams and Norgate, 1873)

The Ethics of Islam (Calcutta: Thacker & Spink, 1893)

Islam (London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1906)

The Legal Position of Women in Islam (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1912)

The Life and Teachings of Mohammed, or the Spirit of Islam (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1891)

Mahommedan Law (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink, 1892)

Persian Culture (London: Pub. for the [Persia] Society by John Hogg, 1913)

The Personal Law of the Mahommedans (London: W.H. Allen, 1880)

A Short History of the Saracens (London: Macmillan, 1899)

Students’ Handbook of Mahommedan Law (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co., 1892)

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Nineteenth Century; The Nineteenth Century and After

Contemporary Review

Edinburgh Review

Islamic Culture

The Times

Westminster Gazette


‘Speech at London Muslim League Inaugural Meeting’, The Times, 7 May 1908

Civil and Military Gazette

Secondary works: 

Aziz, K. K., Ameer Ali: His Life and Work (Lahore: Publishers United, 1968)

Ansari, Humayun, 'The Infidel Within': Muslims in Britain since 1800 (London: Husrt & Co., 2004)

FitzGerald, S. V., ‘Ameer Ali, Saiyid (1849–1928)’, rev. Roger T. Stearn, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2008) []

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Wasti, Syed Razi (ed.), Memoirs and other Writings of Syed Ameer Ali (Lahore: People’s Publishing House, 1968)

Archive source: 

Private papers in possession of family