The Case of Darul Uloom Deoband, Pashtuns and Jihad — II

The Jihadi movements in the frontier area made the British intelligence believe that the militancy is slowly coming down to a fine art. At that time the British intelligence was unsure about the hand-in-glove cooperation between the frontier tribes and Darul Uloom Deoband,  but they did believe that the fanatics from the sub-continent were actively supporting the militancy in the frontier region against the British power.

Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni writes again in his book  Tehreek Reshmi Rumal that we (Daruloom Deoband) would assist the frontier tribes and supply them with all the crucial information to keep them at advantage and step ahead of British. Madni further writes that the Pashtun mullas were the best men upon whom the spirit of nationalism and religion was easy to be invoked.

Interestingly, those people who did not agree with the Jihad of the frontier tribes in the frontier region saw their houses burnt down at the hands of Jihadist on account of rejecting the holy insurgency. Maulana Barkatullah, a known anti-colonialist  would ardently support such practices. While the proclamation of Jihad against the British was obtained from the Ottoman commander commander in-chief in Hejaz (present day KSA), it was noted that Obaidullah Sindhi himself wanted to become the Home Minister of India whereas Maulana Barkatullah wanted Premiership once the British were gone from the sub-continent.

At that moment, Maulana Mehmud ul Hasan sent a letter addressing all his students in frontier region, ordering them to pledge their support to Haji Turangzai in the Jihad against the British. On the otherside, Haji Turangazi went on to consult with the Afghan emir about when the final attack should be made on British. The notable Mullahs from different tribes involved in the Jihad against the British at that time were Mullah Mehmud Akhunzada, Mullah Abdul Halim and Mullah Sayed Akbar from Afridi tribe; Mullah Babra in Bajur; Mullah Sandaki in Swat; and Mullah Chaknawar and Haji Turangzai in Mohmand. All these Mullahs were fearsome and resolute against the British colonials. They, and other Mullahs, were responsible for mobilising and organising the Mujahids in Mehsud, Mohmand and other upper Kohisatni tribes of Pashtuns.

Thousands of Rupees, tens of horses and hundreds of rifles were provided to the frontiner Mujahideens from the Darul Uloom Deoband to fight against the British; on the other hands, thousnads of Kabuli Rupees and other material support were provided to the Mujahideen from Afghanistan. At every moment the Darul Uloom Deoband kept on providing motivational support to the Mujahjideen in frontiner region who were now almost up in arms against the British and ready to wage a massive Jihad against them any moment.

In the meanwhile, when the frontier tribes gained material strength against the British, Obaidullah Sindhi, including other Ulemas from Darul Uloom Deoband, travelled to Afghanistan with the objective of securing more financial and material support from Afghanistan Emir and mobilise the Afghan youth to fight for Turkey against the British.

During the year 1916, the top echelon of Mujahideen devised a plan against the British — both in sub-continent and Turkey — which was supposed to be presented to the Ottoman vizir. All hell broke loose on the Jihadi movement when the letters that contained all the plans against the British and were sent to Ottomans were intercepted by the CID. Those letters were written on silk in order to avoid the eyes of British intelligence. This was how this whole moment later came to be known as “Tehreek-e-Reshmi Rumal”.

After the letters on silk were caught by the British, many of the people were charged by the British for treason. They included Mullahs from Darul Uloom Deoband; Maulana Madhni, Mehmud and Maulana Mohammad were transported to prison camp in Malta by the orders of British colonialist on account of high treason.

Despite after that, the frontier tribes maintained strong links with the Darul Uloom Deoband and kept sending their kids to study there. This connection between the frontier tribes and the Deobands can still be found today, and which seems to be as strong today as it was then; or perhaps have grown more stronger with the passage of time.

An Analysis Of The Different Theories Of The Origins Of Pashtoons, by Dr Hanif Khalil & Javed Iqbal

An Analysis of the different theories of the origins of Pashtoons, by Dr Hanif Khalil & Javed Iqbal

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The Case of Darul Uloom Deoband, Pashtuns and Jihad — I

At the beginning of 20th century Muslims of India started to struggle to consolidate the Indian Muslim identity. Darul Uloom Deoband played a conspicuous role as mentioned in Barbara Metcalf’s study “Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900”. Jamaluddin al-Afghani’s (1839 – 1897) work, a Persian religious and political philosopher, started to gain popularity in India. The idea of pan-Islamism as a universal identity of Muslim was promoted through the works of al-Afghani in the sub-continent  and it gained momentum especially in the year 1910, writes Ira Lapidus in his book “A History of Islamic Societies”. Because the colonial repression was faced by many Muslim countries at that time the idea of pan-Islamism as a rescue ideology from the colonialism easily penetrated more in the Muslim society of sub-continent. The Chancellor at Darul Uloom Deobad, Maulana Mahmudul Hasan, mobilised a movement in year 1914 to liberate the sub-continent from the British. It wasn’t just a movement but it was more to it which invoked upon Pashtuns a new spirit of religionism, not that they weren’t already under the influence of it.

Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni, who was a senior scholar at the Darul Uloom Deoband, describes this Jihadi movement as “Reshmi Rumal Movement” in his book Tehreek Reshmi Rumal. Ubaid Ullah Sindhi (1872 – 1944), a Sikh who converted to Islam, and became a part of Darul Uloom Deoband, who worked under the Chancellor Maulana Manudul Hasan, writes in one of his essays “Shah Waliullah Aur unki Siyasi Tareekh” that the movement was founded on the ideals of Shah Waliullah and its aim was to achieve the political and religious agenda on the lines of Shah’s ideologies; this belief was in some way different than the predominant motives of Darul Uloom Deoband.

The band of Pashtuns mobilised to fight against the British were called “Jamaat e Mujahideen” or the religious warriors. Darul Uloom Deoband procured the funds and disbursed it to the Pashtuns. Printing presses were setup during this time in the sub-continent. Darul Uloom Deoband struggled to recruit more and more youth to wage a Jihad against the British. As for Pashtuns and Balochs a plan was devised. The Kohistan (upper Swat) was tasked to join the Turkish army against the British in order to weaken the British position there on the frontline and make them focus rather on the First World War where British were engaged against the Turkish than the sub-continent. On the other hand, the Mohmands and Mehsuds (Waziristan) were given the task to wage Jihad on the British forces in Peshawar; Kalat and Makran tribes of Balochistan were to wage Jihad on British forces in Karachi; the Ghaznis (Afghanistan) were to wage Jihad in Quetta. This was the plan of Darul Uloom Deoband to use and mobilise the Pashtuns and Balochs against the British on the name of Jihad.

Such a Jihad by Pashtuns against the British was not any thing new. Between 1893 and 1897, Hadda Mulla’s Jihad against the British also focused on the preservation of Pashtun’s culture, religion and their independence. This Jihad was different than the Jihad against British as the one earlier in time had no supervision of Darul Uloom Deoband, whereas this time the Darul Uloom Deoband fully sponsored the Jihad against the British and provided the Pashtuns with funds, munition and all the support required in insurgency that they needed.

It is noted that the links between the Pashtun tribes and Darul Uloom Deoband wasn’t newly established. The first interaction between the Pashtun tribes and Darul Uloom Deoband happeneed when a Pashtun freedom fighter Fazal Wahid, more commonly known as Haji Sahab of Turangzai of Charsadda, joined the Darul Uloom Deoband and got his madarsah education from there, and later with the Ulemas from Darul Uloom Deoband he went on to perform  the Hajj. It is said that he got his extreme inspiration of Darul Uloom Deoband’s ideologies during the journey.

Hussain Ahmed Madni , the Shaikh ul Islam, from Darul Uloom Deoband strongly believed that violence was necesasry to remove the British from the sub-continent. And for violence there was apparently a need to raise an army of Mujahideen. Naqsh-q-Hayat, the autobiography of Hussain Ahmed Madni “Naqsh-e-Hayat” describes the use of force against the British and termed it Jihad. Madni also argued that Gandhi, Nehru, Ali brothers (Maulana Muhammad Ali & Maulana Shaukat Ali), Dr Ansari and Maulana Bari — all were against colonialist. However, while Gandhi was strictly against the violence it cannot be put aside by the Pashtuns for militancy in a larger historical picture had always been the prerogative of the frontier tribes.

Considering the Pashtuns as the experienced militants, the Maulana Mahmud believed they were the best recruits for the anti-colonialism cause.

More on the case of Darul Uloom Deoband, Pashtuns and Jihad in the next write up.

Different Narrations On The History of Pashtuns

An English historian and linguist writes that, Jews were known to be quite a “stubborn” race. He, however, rejects the notion that Pashtuns were the lost tribe (Benjamin tribe) of Israel based on the assumption that why would the Jews prefer a wandering life in mountainous country (Afghanistan) rather than Kingdom of Heaven (Israel). Nonetheless, he raises the idea that maybe because the Persian King Cyrus the Great who reigned in 500 BC, and was known to have a habit of transporting people here and there, transported those extensively “stubborn” and troublesome Jews far from Israel to the plains of Persia now known as Afghanistan. And from there rose the Pashtuns. (Refernece: The Pathans: 550 B.C.-A.D. 1957. Pages: 24-27)

This theory of Pashtuns stemming from the Benjamin tribe of Israel has directly come from the research book entitled “Makhzan-e-Afghani” which was written by Niamat Ullah Harvi in 1612 AD who was a scholar at Jahangir court. Many orientalists, both eastern and western, have quoted and critically evaluated this research. Besides its acceptance, Sir Percy Sykes in his book “The History of Afghanistan” was against this theory for instance. Another English orientalist George Tate was against this theory too in his book “The Kingdom of Afghanistan”. 

If anything, there is another book that I don’t remember now, but I have read it, does, however, argue that in all the claims being made by different races about being one of the lost tribes of Israel, apparently the Pashtuns have the strongest ‘claim’.

To The Disgruntled PTI Voters

A couple of days back a blog was published on the website of Express Tribune in which the author highlighted his disappointments in Imran Khan and his PTI. The author holds certain beliefs that may well be based on his personal understanding of the PTI’s mode of functioning pre- and post-elections. But then, the disappointment of the respected author appears to be merely the seagull approach with special reference to the practical politics.

PTI has provided Pakistan’s democracy a great deal of profit. The galvanising of masses and bringing the traditional non-voters out to polling station to vote on the election-day was indeed PTI’s biggest achievement. To these millions of people Imran Khan was a Knight in the shining armour. Under this impression most of the supporters of the PTI started wishing for a utopia, while some wished for simple progression in the country; however, a very low percentage of supporters exactly acknowledged that politicking at large is also about being uneconomical with the claims during the campaigning and for the most part about being pragmatic. As brutal as it sounds especially for the utopians it is the only politics that we have known always, probably as far as history of democracy takes us to. There are varieties of choices when it comes to voting a particular political party in elections but knowing that only one of them will ultimately get your vote you narrow down your choices and support and vote a singular party that you think have to offer what you demand. This is how it works.

People voted Imran Khan’s PTI heavily on the same ground, as much that it got the second highest votes in the country. While voting for PTI the people knew very well the angle of approach PTI always has in dealing with the issue of Taliban. And despite that PTI managed to bag second highest votes through its supporters. Now at any moment after the voting a voter thinks that his choice has faltered he is left with the only choice which is to voice his concern and/or suggest a novel way through which he thinks the issue against which he has reservations can be dealt with. The plot thickens, during the former federal government of PPP, the All Parties Conference APC) had decided for a peace talk with the TTP. In addition to that, the so-called leftist parties of Pakistan, the MQM and PPP have lately been found softening their approach towards the issue of dealing with the Taliban menace.

There is something merits mentioning: talking about peace talks or softening one’s approach towards the issue of dealing with TTP, and actually conducting the peace talks and offering the Taliban all that they want are really the two opposite sides of the barricades. Naturally it is absolutely fine to show the fears where PTI could end up giving TTP all that it wants, but at the same time it is equally important to understand that way before PTI looks forward in doing that it would be under the pump of its heavy supporters who are not ready to live under the stings of Taliban at any moment in their lives. Hence, PTI, and for that matter even the PML-N, wouldn’t follow this course and do the mistake. Understandably, in the democratic and political process the mistakes are naturally and unknowingly made. And voices like that of the author of the blog play conspicuous role in getting the attention of the political parties and barring them from conducting the grievous mistakes. However, during all this show there is a pressing need to understand that any undue criticism and wedge politics could hamper the overall democratic process in the country.

Coming towards the empowerment of the youth that the PTI has promised, the PTI actually fulfilled it. More than one-third of the tickets were awarded to those below the age of thirty, whereas eighty per cent of the ticket holders contested the elections for the first time. It is lucid that the supporters of PTI are quite passionate about the youth-factor, but it is equally important to understand that there is no alternative to “experience”. While in real world organisations require “experienced” people for their managerial portfolios, here we are talking about management of the country which similarly demands the people to be of public intellect and experienced under whom the youth are supposed to work and provide the best of their input to sail the political activities of the party smoothly. With time the youth at-present would become the managers and by that time they would have earned enough experience to know how practical politics work.

Let’s get to the PTI and JI alliance in KPK. As undesirable and unpopular the alliance is for many of the disgruntled PTI supporters, including myself, after spending a few minutes crunching numbers it can be hypothesised that had the PTI not formed alliance with the JI in KPK the opportunity to rule the province most likely would have fallen straight in the hands of indisputable self-proclaimed rightists – the JI and JUI-F together with the independent candidates. What would have been more worse for the province: the PTI sitting in opposition while primarily the JI and JUI-F governing the province, or to scrape together the only opportunity PTI got to govern the province and shun the chance for the JI and JUI-F to form its government in the province. The former would have appeared more obnoxious to the presently disgruntled PTI supporters on the national level and the voters on provincial level; with a heavy mandate they would have called PTI for an alliance so that it forms its government in the KPK and gets the only chance it has to prove what it promised. In retrospective, had PTI been interested in the alliance it would have gone for the seat adjustment pre-elections with the JI in KPK which it didn’t. If anything, practical politics is not just as straight as an arrow and the decision of PTI to form coalition with the JI must have come tough for the party.

Let’s cut to the chase. Every political party has the shortcomings and PTI is no exception; it has lately made some challenging decisions that have positive strings attached to it too and only the party has the opportunity to exploit those positive strings in favour of it. PTI, in any case, shares a huge responsibility as of today than probably any other political party because of the fervent slogan of “change” it introduced on the political horizon of Pakistan. One can only hope that the PTI will actually “deliver” what it has promised to the nation. As for today it is too early to have a bone to pick against the newly elected governments, whether the PTI or PML-N.