Role of Muslims in India’s Freedom Movement
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
1. Role of Muslims in India’s Freedom Movement
The history of Indian national movement would be incomplete and biased without the presentation of the actual role of Indian Muslims in it.
Many historians tried to prove that Indian Muslim leaders preached the gospel of separation right from the Revolt of 1857 to the day of independence in 1947, and the Muslim antagonism to the Freedom Movement dates back to its beginning itself and that Religion can never allow a true Muslim to adopt India as his motherland.
There is also a propaganda that this tendency was ultimately the reason for partition of the country in 1947 and the ideology of separatism has influenced the Muslim masses so intensely that they were not satisfied by the concessions granted to them by the majority community which resulted in fresh demands for a separate homeland.
This propaganda has been resulted in the campaign of hatred against the Muslims.
After the attainment of independence it was hoped that our intellectuals would say good-bye to the British historiography of infusing communal politics and sowing the seeds of dissension between the two communities in India and usher in the golden age of freedom.
No adequate coverage
But contrary to the expectations, the role of Indian Muslims in the national movement has not been given adequate coverage in the press or books. It has either been sidetracked or referred to here and there by scholars. Instead of factual and secular historiography it has been communalized.
The contribution of Muslim revolutionaries, poets and writers is not known today. Similarly scarcely is known about the contribution of Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan of Shahjehanpur who conspired and looted the British treasury at Kakori (Lucknow) to cripple the administration and who, when asked for his last will, before execution, desired: No desire is left except one that some one may put a little soil of my motherland in my winding sheet.
Likewise present generation of students do not know about Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, a great nationalist who had passed 45 years of his 95 years of life in jail for the freedom of India; Barakatullah of Bhopal, one of the founders of the Ghadar party who created a network of anti-British organization and who died penniless in Germany in l927; Syed Rahmat Shah of the Ghadar party who worked as an underground revolutionary in France and was hanged for his part in unsuccessful Ghadar uprising in 1915; Ali Ahmad Siddiqui of Faizabad (UP) who planned the Indian Mutiny in Malaya and Burma along with Syed Mujtaba Hussain of Jaunpur and who was hanged In 1917; Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay who presented a blank check to Gandhiji for congress expenses and who ultimately gave his life for the cause of independence, Muhammad Basheer, Khuda Bux, A. Zakaria, Zafar Hasan, Allah Nawaz, Abdul Aziz and tens of thousands of revolutionaries are ignored.
There is no doubt about that the Muslims have contributed massively to the national movement. Their struggle started since the advent of British rule in India. In the annals of archives Qaiser-ul-Tawarikh mentioned that the number of Muslims executed only in Delhi during 1857-58 was 27,000, not to speak of those killed in the general massacre. This shows the great sacrifices they made for the emancipation of their country from British rule.
In all the national uprisings from Sanyasi Movement to independence, the files of the Home Department are replete with their immense sacrifices that finally led to the withdrawal of British from India in 1947. What surprises one is the thing that even during the celebration of 50 years of Independence, their role was not properly taken care of by the press which led the All-India Milli Council, a body of Muslims to launch a Karavan-e-Azadi Rally, one from Srirangapatnam where the mausoleum of Tipu Sultan is located and the other from Silchar (Assam) to educate people about the role of Muslims in the country s freedom struggle.
What further pains one is the fate of Sultan Tipu s epitaph, put on the memorable place where he fell fighting with the British in defense of his metropolis his country which had been made a cricket wicket by the youngsters for their cricket practice during the World Cup 1999. No one, not even the local administration prevented this. This shows the ignorance of Indians of their greatest patriots who laid their lives for India s freedom.
There is no dearth of books on the Indian National Movement but only passing references have been made in them about the role of Muslims. So much so that in her book entitled Women In India s Freedom Movement Manmohan Kaur makes reference to only Begum Hazrat Mahel and Bi-Amma out of the hundreds of women who fought the battle of freedom with their men folk against the British Raj.
Several monographs in which Santimay Ray s Freedom Movement and Indian Muslims or P.N. Chopra s Role of Indian Muslims in the Struggle for Freedom; Kamta Chaubey s Muslims and Freedom Movement in India and a few regional studies like Muzaffar Imam s Role of Muslims in the National Movement and Hasan Imam s Indian National Movement regarding the role of Muslims have been published.
But the subject is wide and needs a comprehensive study. Such a study is essential to help eradicating prejudices and many misconceptions against the Muslims grown in the absence of fair historiography.
Shan Muhammad’s book
Aligarh University professor Shan Muhammad s book Muslims and India s Freedom Movement that he dedicated to those who suffered for the cause of India s Independence, is a marvelous work in this regard. It was Institute of Objective Studies, New Delhi, which extended due encouragement to bring this work in its present shape. This project was to be released on the 50th anniversary of our independence but got released last year.
An objective study of the national movement reveals that Muslims have never been wanting in nationalist upsurge. Shoulder to shoulder they have fought with the other communities for the Independence of India. No single political party could have driver the British and it was with the indefatigable struggle of all that the British were forced to quit. The Faraizi and the Wahhabi Movements had disturbed the pace of British plan in the initial stages of its expansion in India. These movements may rightly be called as the most organized struggle to oust the British. The Wahhabis with their network all over India obstructed the smooth sailing of the British and fought gallantly against them. It is in this sense that they are said to be the early fighters for India s freedom. They resisted their fresh masters, gave them a befitting reply and convinced them that their stay in India was momentary.
It is a pity that their role in the struggle for freedom has not been adequately presented in the national history. What is more surprising is the fact that the role and contribution of Muslim women in the war of independence and the subsequent movement have been totally ignored by the historians.
Along with their counterparts they fought gallantly and suffered heavily. In the revolt of 1857 Asghari Begum (mother of Qazi Abdur Rahim, the revolutionary of Thana Bhawan, Muzaffarnagar) fought the British and was burnt alive when defeated. Similarly Habiba and Rahimi who obstructed the advance of English forces were caught and hanged. It is estimated that about 225 Muslim women gave their lives in the revolt.
The history of the national movement would be incomplete without mentioning the services of Abadi Begum (mother of Maulana Muhammad Ali), Amjadi Begum (wife of Maulana Muhammad Ali), Nishat-un-Nisa (Begum Hasrat Mohani), Saadat Bano Kitchlew (wife of Dr Saifuddin Kichlew), Begum Khursheed Khwaja (wife of M.A. Khwaja), Zulekha Begum (wife of Maulana Azad), Khadeja Begum and Khursheed Sahiba of frontier, Mehr Taj (daughter of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan), Zubaida Begum Daoodi (wife of Shafi Daoodi, the reputed nationalist of Bihar), Kaneez Sajida Begum (Bihar), Muneera Begum (wife of Maulana Mazhar-ul-Haq), Asmat Ara Begum Sughra Khatoon (Lucknow), Amina Tyabji (wife of Abbas Tyabji), Begum Sakina Luqmani (wife of Dr Luqmani and daughter of Badruddin Tyabji), Rehana Tyabji, (daughter of Abbas Tyabji), Hamida Tyabji (granddaughter of Shamsuddin Tyabji), Fatima Taib Ali, Safia Saad Khan, Shafaat-un-Nisa Bibi (wife of Maulana Habib-ur-Rahman, Ludhiana), Kulsoom Siyani (wife of Dr Jan Muhammad Siyani, nephew of Rahmtoo They participated in all the political movements from partition of Bengal to the partition of India with Congress banners in their hands. They were imprisoned, fined, baton-charged and suffered for a cause. Their life story itself is a part of the national movement, which cannot be denied and obliterated.
The Collected Works of Gandhi speaks of their magnificent contribution to India s struggle for freedom.
By: Ashraf A. Shah – Special to YaHind.Com
2.Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) (1725 – 15 October 1764)
India and Tamil Nadu in particular has actually forgotten one of it’s Main Heroes, Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) (1725 – 15 October 1764). He was born in Panaiyur, Ramanathapuram District of Tamil Nadu in 1725 in a Hindu farming family of Saiva Vellalar caste. Being too restless in his youth, he left his native village, and converted to Islam. An English captain named Brunton educated Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib), making him a learned man well-versed in several languages.
He had a history similar to that of Tipu Sultan and Veerapandiya Kattabomman. He was amilitary genius and a terror to the british, though in his earlier days he worked for them against the French. But, the british betrayed him eventually and he turned against them and resolved to bring and end to their rule in India. When Veerapandiya Kattabomman and Puli Thevan can be remembered by the people of Tamil Nadu to this day, why not Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) ?
The Palayakkarars had an understanding with the british due to which they saved their respective kingdoms from british annexation. To add more damage, the Nawab of Arcot, Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah who was a traitor to the Indians and a close ally of the british, also connived with the british and brought about the end of Tipu Sultan, Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) and other prominent Kings in south India, inorder to retain power.When Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) took over rule of Madurai region, Madurai Meenakshiamman Temple which was in dire straits, with the temple lands occupied and plundered by hoodlums; looting and dacoity rampant in countryside. Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) immediately restored the lands back to the Temple, and by the spring of 1759 he began by teaching the Kallans a good lesson. Cutting avenues through the woods, he shot them down without mercy as they fled, or executed as malefactors any who were taken prisoners. He brought the rest of the countryside to order, and soon had by various methods all the Palayakkarars under control and made himself extremely powerful. He also renovated the tanks, lakes and forts which were in a dilapidated state.
Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah in connivance with the british also resorted to character assassination of Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) to the extent that even to this day his just rule of Madurai region and his heroic battles against the british and his eventual martyrdom have been hidden from a majority of the people of Tamil Nadu.
When the british captured him and attempted to hang him, they could not hang him to death during the first two attempts. Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) was a yoga practicioner and he controlled his breath perfectly. Before the third attempt to hang him, the british warned him that his people will be tortured and at this Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) fearing massacre of his people, eventually let himself be hung to death.
The Nawab of Arcot and the british were so scared of him that they cut his lifeless body to many pieces and buried each part in a different place. They were scared that he might rise from the dead and return to haunt them. His Head went to Trichy, arms to Palayamkottai, legs to Tanjore and Travancore for public viewing and at Periyakulam town near Madurai, to instill caution and fear, and later buried there. The remaining body was buried at Madurai.
At the time of his death, Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib) had a son, who must have been 2 or 3 years old. Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib)’s wife Maasa and the little boy vanished from history after the hanging. They might have escaped to Tirunelveli (Alwarthirunagar) or Travancore.
The descendants of Baba Sahib, Muhammed Yusuf Khan(Marutha Nayagam Pillai/Khan Sahib)‘s physician, live around Krishnan Koil in Virudhunagar District. They still practice native medicine and bone-setting.
Article sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marudhanayagam_Pillai
The British purposely alienated Muslims from Hindus. V.D. Mahajan writes: “In 1843, Lord Ellenborough declared the entire Muslim community to be disloyal and recommended the policy of favouring the Hindus. (We must note that fanatic Hindutva organisations still speak the language of Ellenborough). After 1858, men like John Lawrence advocated the policy of straining the relations between the Hindus and the Muslims. The policy of the government gave a death blow to Muslims; it was specially stated in the government advertisements that only Hindus were eligible and others. (Advanced History of India, P.308).
The British even today play the same trick to alienate Muslims from the mainstream and thereby halt Islamic growth, as Anti-Muslim groups of West and East are testing different styles of the same fascist pattern. Starting from accusing Muslims of orthodoxy and fanaticism, these anti-social groups have put blames of terrorist blasts on Muslims for the crimes committed by men owing allegiance to R.S.S. and its numerous allies in the country and abroad, including Zionists. The World Trade Centre issue and Bombay blasts are tricks by anti-social elements to halt Islamic growth or slow down the speed of Islamic trend. Recently, Jack Straw, former British Home Secretary has delivered an irresponsible remark that Muslims are aiming at Whites for conversion, especially Hindu and Sikh girls. In Islam there is no merit for colour, and so, it is not a point to counter.
Fanatic Hindutvawadis supported the British against Muslims and they repeated the British anti-Muslim stand. Researches have proved that all the propaganda were false. Regarding Mappilla freedom fighters of Malabar in Kerala, the British spread false statements of their being anti-Hindu. In fact, Muslims fought against the Hindus who helped the British against freedom fighters – both Hindus and Muslims. Muslim peasants and agriculturists agitated against the British for their inhuman laws and taxation policies. When the freedom movement reached a critical stage after World War I, Mappillas joined Congress freedom fighters. However, few persons joined the British, and freedom fighters turned against them. They included both Hindus and Muslims. Muslim freedom fighters attacked Muslims who supported the British along with Hindus. It was not communal at all.
Dr. Beni Prasad, W.C. Smith, and A.R. Desai opine that “the rise and growth of Muslim communalism was due to Hindu revivalism. Some Congress leaders put too much emphasis on the Hindu heroes of the past and thereby alienated the Muslims. In particular, the names of Tilak, B.C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Aurobindo Ghose are mentioned.” (Advanced History of India, P.313).
V.D. Mahajan states: “The British policy of ‘divide and rule’ policy was also responsible for the rise and growth of Muslim communalism in the country. The British rulers realised that they could stay on in the country so long as the Hindus and Muslims did not join hands against them. (Advanced History of India, P.314)
Referring to Hindu fanaticism, Pandit Nehru writes: “In the course of my speech I had much to say about communalism, and I denounced it in forcible language, and especially condemned the activities of the Hindu Mahasabha.” (Autobiography, P.483)
In the History of South India by P.N. Chopra, et al, it is written; “It is a mistake to consider that all Muslims of ‘fanatical zone’ [this name given by the British to ridicule Muslim freedom fighters. This is the attitude of Hindutvawadis even today, which shows that they have the same attitude as the British who considered India to be their own property] or outbreak area shared the rebels feelings and were fanatically inclined towards their Hindu neighbours. Even the rebels did not, in every case, indulge in indiscriminate killing of every Hindus who crossed the way” (p.196). The British writer, Winterbotham wrote; “To the house of every large Hindu landlord hasten numbers of his Mappila tenantry to put themselves in evidence and show their loyalty by offering themselves on guards. When one or more members of a family cast their lot with the fanatics, the remaining male members hurry off to their landlords’ house and stay there ‘on guard’ until the disturbance is over.” (Ibid, p.197)
Narrow minded policies of Sardar Patel and V.D. Savarkar alienated Muslims from the mainstream and national movement. However, Muslims fought against the British more vigorously for independent India. Referring to the fanaticism and fascist mind of Hindu Mahasabha (the parent organisation of R.S.S and its several associates) Pandit Nehru writes: “Hindu Mahasabha tries to cover up its extreme narrowness of outlook by using some kind of vague national terminology, though its outlook is more revivalist than progressive. (Discovery of India, P.386)
Pandit Nehru remarks that the heavy hands of British fell on Muslims more than the Hindus, since Muslims were the real enemies of British. The Hindutva terrorists make all kinds of anti-national activity and put blame on Muslims, who are taken into custody with ‘help’ of their associates in the military and police. These terrorists also misuse government machinery for anti-Muslim acts and, thereby, pose a serious threat to development. In his autobiography Pandit Nehru writes: “In recent years Indian Muslims have had repeated shocks, and many of their deeply cherished notions have been shattered.” (P.471)
NATIONAL MOVEMENT AND MUSLIMS
Muslims were patriotic and devoted people, and hence, struggled hard to expel the foreign elements exploiting India. V.D. Mahajan opines: “So long as the Khilafat question was alive, it played a progressive role in turning a large number of Muslims hostile to the continuation of British rule in India. The movement made positive contribution to the growth of nationalism.” (The Nationalist Movement in India, P.349). Pandit Jawaharlal wrote: “The Revolt of 1857 was a joint affair, but in its suppression Muslims felt strongly, and to some extent rightly, that they were the greatest sufferers’. (Discovery of India, P.342). Many Muslims joined hands with Jagdish Subash Chandra Bose and I.N.A, and Abdur Rahman was his close friend and associate.
During Gandhiji’s all India tour gaining support for the movement, many Muslims contributed a lot of money and ornaments. In Kerala, Mappila ladies contributed their gold ornaments during his tour along with Abdur Rahman Sahib, the Congress leader of Kerala. Even Muslim League, formed for Muslim unity, cooperated with Congress and other national movements. The fanatical attitudes of certain anti-Muslims in the Congress party provoked them to think that Muslims are a separate community. In this context, Pandit Nehru states: “It is true that very many Muslims joined the nationalist movement from time to time and played a memorable part, but on the whole, the Muslims remained away from the national mainstream of the national movement.” (Discovery of India, P.314)
Referring to Muslim freedom fighters, Jaswant Singh writes: “In Aligarh and Rohilkhand they (Muslims) were mostly with uprising” (Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence, P.24). He also adds that due to poverty of Bengal Muslims they were not powerful to raise their voice against the British. Jaswant Singh continues; “The Pathans, Rajputs and Bundalas participated with robust vigour in this struggle.” (P.24)
He further writes: “It is true that Mohammedans in many parts of India are ill-disposed towards the British Government and have at various times excited disturbances.” (Ibid., P.25) Jaswant Singh writes that Muslims lost most of their wealth. He points out: “Eighteen fifty seven did though, cause an inevitable shift in the land holding traditions and pattern of the Muslim community; those with a Mughal past losing to a British future.” He continues: “Without doubt Muslims suffered grievously, paying a price for 1857; their sense of honour was outraged, their self-pride broken through economic deprivation, their lifestyle altered permanently.” (Ibid, P.26)
CONTRIBUTION OF MUSLIMS TO FREEDOM MOVEMENT
Famous historian K.R. Qunango states: “A Hindu is content if he himself does not do any injustice to others; whereas a Muslim thinks ‘Insaf’ is the best virtues and it is his duty to intervene for the sake of justice even in matters that do not concern him. There was a time when the Hindu would prefer unskilled Muslim labour to Hindu labour. A Muslim labourer required less supervision than a Hindu, because his inward fear that his pay would not become halal made him work to his normal capacity honestly.” (Historical Essays, P.139)
Ali Jinnah, who is accused of ‘creating Pakistan’, acted for a united India. Michel Edwards writes: “The mistake of many people at that time, and most of the commentators later, was to believe that Jinnah’s main aim was to create a new State of Pakistan when in fact all his actions were negative, directed at preventing an undivided, Congress dominated India.” (The Last Years of British in India, P.108)
At Jalian Wala Bagh, many Muslims lost their life. Dr. Saifudin Kichlu and Dr. Satya Pal were the leaders of the meeting; Dr. Basheer was the chief guest.
Urdu played a very crucial role in the freedom movement. There were many scholars in the Urdu language. Poets, literary scholars, journalists, orators and writers promoted the cause of freedom movement. The publications like Al-Hilal, The Comrade and Al-Balagh were parts of freedom movement. The leaders of Jamiat-ul-Ulama toured every district of Bengal and preached Hindu-Muslim unity and importance of freedom movement. Majlis Ashraful Islam, Khudai Khidmatgar, Shia Political Conference and the like Muslim organisations lent their support to the National movement.
There were many Muslim leaders forgotten by writers. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Shuakat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Barkathulla, Bi Amma (mother of Ali brothers), Badarudeen Tyabji, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. M.A. Ansari, Dr. Siafudeen Kichlu, Dr. Basheer Ahmad, Syed Ameer Ali, Dr. Syed Muhammad, Hazrat Mohani, Nawab Abdul Latheef, Althaf Hussain Hali, Syed Ahmad Sirhindi, Syed Ahmad Barielly, Maulana Shibli Numani, Munshi Karamat Ali, Poet Hali, Munshi Zakaullah (Delhi) were very few names in the history of freedom movement. But, there are many Muslim leaders who were forgotten by our writers. Fanatics say they left India.
Muhammad Barkathullah worked along with Ram Chandra and Bhagat Singh. Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was closely working with Gandhiji and so, he was called Frontier Gandhi. Pandit Nehru writes: “There were many Muslims in the Congress. Their numbers were large and included many able men and the best-known and the most popular Muslim leaders in India were in it.” (Autobiography, P.139)
In his tribute to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Gandhiji writes: “I have had the privilege of being associated with Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in national work since 1920. His nationalism is robust as his faith in Islam.” (Arsh Malsiani, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, P.173, Publication division, Government of India, 1988)
Development of India is at a slow pace due to the partiality of certain fanatic government officials. In military and police departments Muslim representation is very few, even though Muslims fulfil all the conditions of eligibility. Certain fanatics propagate that Muslims do not keep confidence of official secrets. Time has proved that those persons caught for treason are not Muslims at all. No Muslim is a participant in anti-national activity. It should be noted that hardcore fanatics and anti-social elements among the Hindutva rank and file have link to fascists and Zionists.
Development is possible on certain conditions:
(1) Fanatics and communal minded people should be kept from government services, especially military and police services.
(2) Those who involve in furnishing wrong information to government on matters concerning social issues should be barred from entry to public services, as they cannot do justice.
(3) Production should be increased with the help of non-governmental organisations.
(4) Exploitation of national wealth should be contained.
(5) Perfect justice should come on communal issues and equal attitude should be done to all communities.
(6) Government personnel should not be allowed to use double standard. Discrimination should be avoided.
(7) People should be arrested only on valid proof.
(8) The media which spread rumours and publish false reports should be banned permanently. (Concluded)
4. Who were some of the noted Muslim freedom fighters in the Indian independence struggle
Ideally, one shouldn’t divide freedom fighters on the basis of their religion. They were all INDIANS. Yet, as you have put it, it is true that the right-winged radical groups try to diminish the contribution of Muslims in India’s struggle for independence. According to their propaganda, every pre-independence era Muslim was only concerned with the creation of a new nation (i.e. Pakistan) which is far from reality. The number of Indians who notably contributed to India’s freedom struggle is a lot more than the right-wingers could ever imagine. Here are a few of them:
- Abul Kalam Azad – he needs no introduction, does he?
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as “Frontier Gandhi”, almost single-handedly led the independence movement in the north-western corners of India. He was referred to as the “one man frontier army” by Lord Mountbatten. He had initiated the Khudai Khidmatgar movement that indulged in non-violent struggle against the British empire on Gandhian principles. He also staunchly opposed the creation of Pakistan.
- Asaf Ali, a noted lawyer, defended Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt in court in their last trial and was also a part of the defence team in the INA trials. He was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly in 1935 and after independence he became India’s first ambassador to the US.
- Ashfaqulla Khan planned and executed the Kakori conspiracy along with Ram Prasad Bismil. He was sentenced to death along with his accomplices for the same.
- Saifuddin Kitchlew was a nationalist leader from Punjab. He is mostly remembered for leading the protest against the draconian Rowlatt Act and it was his arrest that led to the protesters gathering at Jallianwala Bagh and ultimately the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
- Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi was a noted Urdu poet, writer and orator. He vehemently opposed Jinnah‘s Two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan. He founded the All-India Jamhur Muslim League to counter Jinnah’s Muslim League, and served as its first general secretary. He formed the ‘Ajazi Troop’ to promote and train youngsters for freedom struggle. He started the mutthia drive to collect funds for nationalist activities. Under this drive, Ajazi and his followers went door to door urging people to contribute one mutthi (fistful) of donation towards India’s freedom struggle.
- Maulana Mazharul Haque organised the Home Rule movement in Bihar and was its president in 1916. He actively participated in the Champaran Satyagraha along with fellow eminent nationalists Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad for which he was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. Subsequently, when the Non Cooperation and Khilafat Movements were launched, Mazharul Haque gave up his lucrative legal practice and his elected post as member of the Imperial Legislative Council as a mark of protest against the infamous Rowlat Act of 1919. He also started “The Motherland” an English weekly journal (later bi-weekly) which was used to propagate thoughts and ideals of the Non Cooperation Movement.
- Mahmud al-Hasan, also known as Shaykh-ul-Hind, was a Deobandi scholar who organised efforts to start an armed revolution against British rule from both within and outside India. He launched a programme to train volunteers from among his disciples in India and abroad who joined this movement in a large number. He, along with Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, planned the Silk Letter Movement that aimed at freeing India from the British rule by allying with Ottoman Turkey, Imperial Germany, and Afghanistan. However, the plot was uncovered by the police midway and its planners imprisoned.
- Abdul Hafiz Mohamed Barakatullah was one of the founders of the revolutionary Ghadar Party. Later he became the first prime minister of the Provisional Government of Indiaestablished on 1 December 1915 in Kabul with Raja Mahendra Pratap as its president. Barkatullah went to several countries of the world with a mission to rouse politically the Indian community and to seek support for the freedom of India from the famous leaders of the time in those countries.
- Badruddin Tyabji was the first Muslim president of the Indian National Congress. He worked actively for the emancipation of women and co-founded the Bombay Presidency Association on 1885.
- Rafi Ahmed Kidwai was a prominent leader of the Khilafat Movement and a social reformer. He became the Home Minister of UP after the formation of the provincial governments for the first time in 1937. He also became India’s first Minister for Communications after independence.
- Hakim Ajmal Khan was a Unani physician who participated in the Non-co-operation movement, led the Khilafat Movement, and became the fifth Muslim President of the Indian National Congress in 1921. He also founded the Jamia Millia Islamia University along with several other educational institutions.
- Syed Hasan Imam, hailed by many as the finest Indian barrister in British India, led the Khilafat Movement and the Civil Disobedience Movement in Bihar. Among other things, he was a social reformer who worked for the amelioration of the position of women and the depressed classes.
Unfortunately enough, these freedom fighters, for some reasons, do not figure prominently in school history books. Muslims are mostly portrayed as seekers of a separate nation or even as British sympathisers by some. It is a grave insult to all those who devoted their lives towards the cause of their motherland.
Your brother in Islam,
A Shabbir Ahmed