[Reader-list] Re: Fwd: the indian ulama and the freedom struggle

Lehar .. lehar_hind at yahoo.com
Mon Nov 10 12:37:51 IST 2003

> fyi..
> a critical but (stangely) ignored chapter of our
> country..
> An al Haqq- I am the Truth
> Mansoor al Hallaj, Sufi saint, 932 AD
> >
> >The Indian ‘Ulama and the Freedom Struggle
> >
> >
> >
> >Yoginder Sikand
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >In popular discourse and journalist writings by
> non-Muslim writers, in the 
> >statements of top government officials and in the
> virulent propaganda of 
> >Hindu fascist groups, madrasas are routinely
> painted as training grounds of 
> >‘anti-national’ ‘terrorists’. It is claimed,
> without offering any 
> >substantiation, that madrasas brainwash their
> students in an undying 
> >hostility towards India. It is also argued that
> many madrasas are today in 
> >league with the Pakistani secret service agency,
> the Inter-Services 
> >Intelligence (ISI), as part of an alleged grand
> pan-Islamist ‘conspiracy’ 
> >to disintegrate India. Such wild claims are
> unabashedly made in the popular 
> >press by writers who might never have even so much
> as stepped inside a 
> >madrasa in their lives. Rebuttals by Muslim leaders
> and by the ‘ulama of 
> >the madrasas generally go ignored.
> >
> >
> >
> >In seeking to challenge the concerted propaganda
> campaign against them 
> >several ‘ulama have written extensively on the
> little-known subject of the 
> >crucial role of the ‘ulama and the madrasas in
> India’s struggle for 
> >freedom. Because most of these writings are in
> Urdu, they have, 
> >unfortunately, a limited circulation and do not
> reach beyond a narrow, 
> >almost entirely Muslim, readership.  A
> dispassionate reading of early 
> >twentieth century Indian history reveals that the
> claims of the ‘ulama of 
> >being deeply involved in the freedom struggle are
> far from fanciful. 
> >Indeed, in contrast to both the Muslim League, on
> the one hand, and Hindu 
> >supremacist groups, on the other, both of whom
> supported British 
> >imperialism in their own ways, large sections of
> the Indian ‘ulama were in 
> >the forefront of the Indian freedom movement. Many
> of them were ardent 
> >advocates of a united India, opposing the
> communalism of both the League 
> >and the Hindu Mahasabha. Unfortunately, this is
> totally ignored in both
> >  popular discourse as well as in Indian history
> textbooks, thus further 
> >reinforcing the widespread image of Muslims as
> ‘traitors’ and ‘enemies’ of 
> >the country.
> >
> >
> >
> >In the fight for freedom, the ‘ulama of Dar
> ul-‘Ulum madrasa at Deoband, 
> >which is today routinely branded as
> ‘ultra-conservative’ and as being 
> >allegedly the nerve centre of ‘terrorism’, appear
> to have played a 
> >pioneering role. Indeed, the Deobandis seem to have
> launched a movement for 
> >a free and united India before the emergence of
> Gandhi as a populist leader 
> >and of the Congress as a mass organisation. In
> 1909, Maulana Mahmud 
> >ul-Hasan, head of the Deoband madrasa, set up the
> Jami‘at ul-Ansar, an 
> >association of old boys of Deoband, and deputed one
> of his most trusted 
> >students, a Sikh convert to Islam, Maulana
> ‘Obaidullah Sindhi (1872-1944), 
> >to head it. In 1915, Mahmud ul-Hasan directed
> Sindhi to head for 
> >Afghanistan, where he set up a provisional
> government of free India, along 
> >with several Indian Hindu and Muslim
> revolutionaries associated with the 
> >Ghadr Party and the Congress. Meanwhile, in 1916,
> in order to mobilize 
> >Turkish support for his programme of an independent
> India, Mahmud
> >  ul-Hasan left for the Hijaz. However, Arab
> nationalists opposed to 
> >Ottoman rule betrayed him to the British, who then
> arrested him and some of 
> >his associates in Mecca and imprisoned them in
> Malta. Soon after his 
> >release, he issued a fatwa supporting the
> Non-Cooperation movement of the 
> >Congress, appealing to Muslims to wholeheartedly
> participate in it. The 
> >fatwa was later endorsed by almost 500 ‘ulama.
> Shortly after, Madani issued 
> >another fatwa, declaring it sinful for Muslims to
> work for the British 
> >government.
> >
> >
> >
> >  Shortly after, with the end of the First World
> War, the Khilafat movement 
> >was launched in India in order to preserve the
> Ottoman Caliphate from 
> >attack by the victorious allies and to prevent the
> holy cities of Mecca and 
> >Medina from falling under European control. The
> Khilafat movement provided 
> >a new lease of life to the ‘ulama, who had been, by
> this time, increasingly 
> >marginalized by western-educated Muslims as leaders
> of the community. An 
> >influential section of the Deobandis, fiercely
> opposed to what they saw as 
> >the ‘secular’, ‘irreligious’ and ‘pro-British’
> Jinnah and the Muslim 
> >League, willingly joined hands with Gandhi, whose
> use of religious appeals 
> >they could easily identify with. These ‘ulama
> rightly sensed that 
> >‘modernist’ Muslims, and those, such as many in the
> League, who employed 
> >Islam simply as a tool for their own secular
> interests, were a major 
> >challenge to their own authority, while Gandhi’s
> willingness to work with 
> >them and indeed to accept them as representatives
> of
> >  Islam, would strengthen their own claims to speak
> for the Muslim 
> >community as a whole.
> >
> >
> >
> >In 1919 a group of ‘ulama, mostly Deobandis, set up
> the Jami‘at ul-‘Ulama-i 
> >Hind (‘The Union of the ‘Ulama of India’). The
> immediate reason for the 
> >formation of the Jami‘at was to protect the Ottoman
> Caliphate from the 
> >threat of dismemberment at the hands of rival
> European powers, particularly 
> >the British. Jami‘at leaders insisted that the
> Caliphate was an integral 
> >part of Islam, linking Muslims living all over the
> world as members of a 
> >universal ummah. They exhorted Muslims to actively
> struggle for 
> >safeguarding the Caliphate, appealing to them to
> sacrifice their all for 
> >what they described as a central pillar of the
> faith. Some even went to the 
> >extent of declaring India under the British to be a
> dar ul-harb, calling 
> >for Muslims in government service to quit their
> jobs and appealing to 
> >Muslims in general to migrate to Afghanistan.
> Khilafat committees were set 
> >up all over the country, organized by ‘ulama in
> collaboration with modern 
> >educated Muslims, thus helping bring about a
> >  temporary reconciliation between the two. Taking
> advantage of the growing 
> >anti-British sentiment among the ‘ulama, Gandhi and
> other senior Congress 
> >leaders jumped onto the Khilafat bandwagon, much to
> the dismay of Jinnah as 
=== message truncated ===

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