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.

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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.

Offers Made By Jinnah to Sikhs


An excerpt from the book “Punjab — Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed” by Dr. Ishtiaq Ahmed.

This essay highlights the efforts of Jinnah to persuade the Sikhs to not call for the partition of the Punjab.

Dr. Ahmed writes:

In several interviews with informed Pakistanis, I was told that Jinnah offered very generous terms to the Sikhs to dissuade them not to demand the partition of the Punjab if India was partitioned. This claim is amply corroborated by the article “I remember Jinnah’s offer of Sikh state” by the late Maharaja of Patiala published in The Tribune of 19 July 1959. Apparently Lord Mountbatten was also present as were Liaquat Ali Khan and his wife. Some of the extracts are given below:

“We had a drink and went in to dine. The talks started, and offers were made by Mr Jinnah for practically everything under the sun if I would agree to his plan. There were two aspects. One was based on the idea of a Rajasthan and the other one for separate Sikh state — Punjab minus one or two districts in the south. I had prolonged talks with Master Tara Singh, Giani Kartar Singh and other Sikh leaders, and all the negotiations on behalf of the Sikhs were within my knowledge. Indeed, in some ways I had quite a deal to do with them. I told Mr. Jinnah that I could not accept either of his two proposals, and told him a lot of what was on my mind. Liaquat Ali Khan and Begum Liaquat Ali Khan, and told him a lot of what was on my mind. Liaquat Ali and Begum Liaquat Ali were most charming to me, and went out of their way to offer, on behalf of the Muslim League, everything conceivable. I was to be Head of this new Sikh State, the same as in Patiala. The Sikhs were to have their own army and so on.

All these things sounded most attractive, but I could not accept them as being practical, and neither could I in the mood I was in, change my conviction. The talk lasted till past midnight. Lord Mountbatten was a patient listener, occasionally taking part. He eventually said that perhaps Mr Jinnah and I could meet again at some convenient date.”

There was another meeting of Jinnah with some notable Sikh leaders like Maharaja of Patiala, Hardit Singh, Master Tara Singh and Giani Kartar Singh. Hardit Sing recalls:

“Jinnah started by saying that he was very anxious to have the Sikhs agree to Pakistan and he was prepared to give them everything that they wanted, if they could accept Pakistan. I said to him, “Mr Jinnah you are being very generous, but we would like to know exactly what our position will be.” Jinnah retorted, saying “you will have a Government, you will have a Parliament and you will have Defence forces, what part will the Sikhs have in all these.” He further said, “are you familiar with what happened in Egypt? I will deal with the Sikhs as Zaghlul Pasha dealt with the Copts (the Christian minority) when Egypt became independent.” He then went on to tell us the story. According to Jinnah, the Copts when they first met Zaghlul Pasha put forward some demands. After listening to them he advised them to go back, think the whole thing over and come to see him again with a paper incorporating all their demands. They did this. Zaghlul Pasha took the paper from them and without reading it wrote on it “I agree.” Mr Jinnah added, “That is what I will do with the Sikhs.”

Hardit Singh further recalls, “this put us in an awkward position. We were determined not to accept Pakistan under any circumstances and here was the Muslim Leader offering us everything. What to do?”

Then I had an inspiration and I said, “Mr Jinnah, you are being very generous. But supposing, God forbid, you are no longer there when the time comes to implement your promise?”

“His reply was astounding”. He said, “My friend, my word in Pakistan will be like the word of God. No one will go back on it.”

Hardit recalls, “there was nothing to be said after this and the meeting ended.”