Syed Irfan Habib (born 1953) is an Indian historian of science and a public intellectual. He held the Abul Kalam Azad Chair at the National University for Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi during 2009-2016. Before joining NUEPA, he was a scientist at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), New Delhi.
Habib’s intellectual collaboration with Dhruv Raina has initiated the publication of a series of articles and books on social history of science in India. For the last ten years, Habib has been writing and speaking about Islam and the decline of critical imagination. A book reflecting on this issue was published in 2012 called Jihad or Ijtihad,wherein he explores the critical traditions of Islamic scholarship in South Asia. An intellectual biography of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad locating him in the present day global Islamic context is forthcoming.
Habib’s work on Bhagat Singh and his comrades (To Make the Deaf Hear: Ideology and Programme of Bhagat Singh and His Comrades, 2007)established Bhagat Singh as a revolutionary ideologue of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association. Until a few years ago[when?] he was remembered only as a martyr, while Habib’s reading of Bhagat Singh’s original writings and archival sources presented him as a thinker. K.N. Panikkar in his review of the book underscores this by stating, “Irfan Habib’s account is a meticulously documented and analytical work which takes particular care to portray the political and intellectual evolution of Bhagat Singh as a revolutionary. The focus of this work is not on events, but on the ideological processes which enabled Bhagat Singh to espouse a revolutionary philosophy and a programme of political action”.