Role of Ulema and Mashaikh in Freedom Movement

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The Ulama and Mashaikh of the Indo-Pak subcontinent played an active role in promoting the Pakistan Movement. The Ulama’s tradition of participation in politics is very old. The Ulama belong to Chishtia, Qadria, Naqshbandia, and Soharwardia, and their followers actively supported the two-nation theory, which led to the Pakistan Resolution.

The prominent names among them are Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani, Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Maulana Muhammad Ibrahim Sialkoti, Pir Ghulam Mujadid Sirhandi, Amin-ul-Hasanat (Pir Sahib of Manki Sharif), Pir Sahib of Zakori Sharif, Pir Jamaat Ali Shah, Maulana Sanaullah Amratsari, Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Ghangohi, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotavi, Haji Zaman Ali Shaheed, and many others.

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In fact, the foundation stone of the Pakistan Movement was laid by Hazrat Mujadid Alaf Sani, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhandi, who did not hesitate to confront the British royal authority and put his life at stake to light the torch for the regeneration of Islamic spirit. It was kept alive, after the death of Aurangzeb Alamgir, by the movement started by Shah Waliullah. In the first half of the 19th century, Shah Abdul Aziz intensified it and made it widespread. Later, Shah Ismail Shaheed and Syed Ahmad Shaheed converted it into the Jehad Movement for the establishment of an Islamic state in the sub-continent.

They fought against the Sikh ruler of the Punjab and were martyred while fighting in the valley of Balakot in the quest to establish the Will of God. After the war of 1857, some of the Ulama established religious institutions for religious teaching, so that they could prepare the younger generation to protect the cause of the faith. Some of the Ulama had started an underground movement for the political and national awakening of the Muslims. In October 1945, at Calcutta, Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam was formed, which proved to be a big landmark in the struggle for the establishment of Pakistan.

Due to the participation of Ulama in the Movement, the objectives of the Pakistan Movement became clearer and their followers joined it for the achievement of Pakistan. With the passage of time, some more Ulama decided to join Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam, and its branches were established all over the country. Mufti Muhammad Shafi joined Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam and became a member of the central working committee. He went all out in support of the Pakistan Movement.

Mufti Muhammad Shafi started a movement with a pen in favor of Pakistan and wrote a number of pamphlets and issued a Fatwa (religious decree). He had the conviction that the establishment of Pakistan was inevitable. Besides contributing through his writing, he made extensive tours of the sub-continent to motivate the Muslims in favor of Pakistan. His speeches and statements took the Muslims by storm everywhere he went. His great efforts to counter influence in NWFP on the eve of the referendum of 1947 are unforgettable. In the election of 1945-46, AIML had a very tough time in NWFP, where the “Khan Brothers” were in power in the province.

The Congress won the election in NWFP and succeeded in forming the provincial government led by Dr. Khan Sahib. At the time of the partition of the subcontinent, a referendum was held in NWFP. The Ulema and Mashaikhs put their whole weight and force in support of the League. The Quaid-i-Azam specially sent Allama Shabbir Ahmed Usmani to NWFP to support the League. He, along with Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Pir Sahib of Manki Sharif, and Pir Sahib of Zakori Sharif, intensified activities in support of the Muslim League.

They made a strong tour of the province and tribal areas to mobilize the support of the Muslim masses for Pakistan. Their earnest efforts succeeded in paving the way for the victory of the League.

Maulana Zafar Ahmed Usmani: Another referendum of the same type was to be held in Sylhet Bengal, which was under the personal influence of Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madni, who usually spent the month of Ramzan in Sylhet. This area was, in fact, under the personal influence of pro-Congress Ulema. Their influence could only be countered through Ulema of the same stature and size.

Moreover, in Sylhet, “The Muslims were faced with a serious handicap, for though” they formed 60.7% of the population, they had only 54.27% of the total electoral role. The AIML choice, to counter the influence of pro-Congress Ulema, fell on Maulana Zafar Ahmed Usmani. Maulana was very popular among the Muslims of Bengal and Assam on account of his learning, piety, and candidness. He toured Sylhet and spent the Holy month of Ramzan explaining the importance and need for Pakistan for the Muslims. He worked hard to organize them and generate support for Pakistan.

Thus, the systematic and organized campaign of the League, in which Maulana Zafar Ahmed Usmani along with other Ulema played a vital role, resulted in a decisive victory. The voting was 239,619 for separation and joining East Bengal and 181,041 against separation.

Pir Jamat Ali Shah: The most prominent name among the Ulema was Pir Jamat Ali Shah, who had millions of followers in the country. He was a staunch supporter of the Aligarh Movement, for which he contributed lakhs of rupees. He attended the All India Sunni Conference held in Benaras on 30th April 1946 and passed the following resolution:

“The session of All India Sunni Conference fully supports the demand for Pakistan and declares that Ulema and Mashaikhs belonging to Ehl-Sunat-Wal-Jamat will make every possible sacrifice for the establishment of an Islamic government. They take it as their responsibility to establish a government according to the Islamic jurisprudence based on the Holy Quran and Sunna.”

Pir Sahib of Manki Sharif: Syed Muhammad Aminul Hassnat, broadly known as Pir of Manki Sharif, is among those who made a great contribution towards the successful journey of the Pakistan Movement.

He rose onto the political arena of NWFP when Red Shirts were overbearing the Pushtoon majority province, as both the British and Congress considered Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan the guru of provincial politics. Apart from adverse conditions in his native province, the Pir of Manki Sharif gained a political constituency, which he effectively used to counter the anti-Pakistan elements in his province through his saintly character and inspirational guidance. Deeply influenced by the Pakistan Resolution by the Muslim League in 1940, Pir Sahib started a campaign to popularize the League ideology in the Congress-dominated province of NWFP.

One of the major contributions of Pir Sahib was the establishment of an organization called ‘Jamiat-ul-Sufia’ to unite the ulama, pirs, and mashaikh for the advancement of the Pakistan Movement. He was a stalwart of Jinnah and the League and devoted all his influence and energies towards the emergence of a new Islamic state for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Jinnah’s visit to Manki Sharif on November 24, 1945, boosted the morale of Pir Sahib and his devoted followers, who played a very active role in the referendum for the vote of Pakistan in NWFP.

Hazrat Ghulam Mujadid Sirhindi was a descendant of Hazrat Mujadid Alf-Sani and a renowned scholar of Islam. He aligned himself with the Quaid-i-Azam in his mission for achieving an independent state for the Muslims and amalgamated his society, “Jamiat-ul-Mashaikh,” with AIML. This organization merged into the AIML on the call of the Quaid-i-Azam.

Shaikh Abdul Majeed Sindhi was a prolific writer who used the sharp shafts of his pen against Hindu moneylenders, Sindhi vederas, and the British. He was a sincere supporter of the Pakistan Movement.

Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni had an active part in the Khilafat Movement. He made a countrywide tour in opposition to the Nehru Report. Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni supported and seconded the Lahore Resolution on behalf of Ulema and Mashaikh. In 1945, he toured NWFP and Punjab in connection with the election campaign in favor of AIML candidates. He also went to Baluchistan and NWFP for the propagation of the Pakistan Movement on the request of Pir Shahib of Manki Sharif. Maulana Abdul Hamid Badayuni met the Nizam of Deccan and persuaded him to have a meeting with the Quaid-i-Azam. In 1946 he performed the duties of the secretary of the delegation of Ulema, which was sent to Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to make the Muslim world aware of the Pakistan Movement.

Khawaja Qamar-ud-Din Sayalvi was an active supporter of the Pakistan Movement and very influential in his region. He firmly stood against Tiwanas who were trying to defeat the AIML candidates in their constituencies. It was due to Khawaja Sahib’s efforts that Muslim League candidates won 100% seats in districts Jhang and Sargodha.

He was a generous, sincere, and spiritual leader who had devoted his life to the glory of Islam and the Pakistan Movement. 9. Maulana Sanaullah Amratsari: This inveterate opponent of the Ahmadiyya Movement used to appear in debates against the Arya Samaj and Christians in the 1920s and 30s and represented Muslims alongside Maulana Abdul Haq Vidyarthi, a lifelong missionary since 1914. 10. Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang: Nawab Sahib was a gifted orator. Although the sub-continent produced many other excellent orators, he enjoyed an illustrious and distinguished place among them on account of his exceptional mastery over the art of communication.

The two leading political parties of the sub-continent, Congress and Muslim League, in the beginning, confined their activities to British India. But later, when the Congress stretched its activities also in the princely states of India and formed the All-India States Peoples Conference, Nawab Bahadur Yar Jang decided to unite the Muslims of the states on one platform. He established the All-India States Muslim League, which had its headquarters in Nagpur. 11. Raja of Mahmudabad: Raja Amir Ahmad of Mahmudabad, who took up his father’s mission after his death in 1931, was a noteworthy and prosperous leader of the Pakistan movement, who helped the Muslim League financially in adverse circumstances. Jinnah appointed him the President of the Muslim Student Federation that under his tireless and brilliant leadership played a key role in the referendum in NWFP and other general elections.

Raja Sahib provided monetary support to the leading newspaper ‘The Dawn’, which was the exclusive spokesman of the League’s ideology. He also gave financial assistance to Chaudhry Khaliq-uz-Zaman’s daily ‘Tanveer-e-Lucknow’, ‘Humdum’ and Abdul Rauf Abbasi’s ‘Haq’ so as to project and popularize the League manifesto and party program among the Muslim masses. 12. Mian Fazl-i-Husain: Mian Fazl-i-Husain was born on July 14, 1877, in an old, respectable Rajput family. In 1905 he was elected a member of the Managing Committee, and the following year Secretary of the College Committee. His lifelong contribution towards the Muslims’ only institution for higher education, Islamia College, Lahore, cannot be overlooked. In 1917 he became the General Secretary of the new Punjab Muslim League organized by the progressive group and retained that office till 1920.

He vigorously worked for equality of treatment for the Punjab that lagged behind under Minto-Morley Reforms to have only 19% elected members as against 53% in Bengal and 48% in Bombay. He strongly opposed rural-urban division, created by Sir Michael O’ Dyer, the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab. He invited the All-India Muslim League to hold its session at Lahore on 25-26 May 1924. Being presided over by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, this session passed a comprehensive resolution that marked a far-reaching change in the political goal of the Indian Muslims.

Stress was made that “no majority shall be reduced to a minority or even an equality”. This was to ensure that Muslim majorities should remain unaffected in Muslim majority areas. There was also a demand for placing N.W.F.P. in all respects in a position of equality with the other major provinces of India. All the demands were later elaborated and amalgamated into Jinnah’s fourteen points. 13. Sardar Aurangzeb Khan: He started his career as a lawyer in Peshawar. He attended the Round Table Conferences as personal secretary of Sir Sahibzada Abdul Qayum Khan.

Sardar Aurangzeb Khan was also one of those leaders who seconded the resolution that was passed on 23 March 1940. He was elected to the NWFP provincial assembly in 1937. He was a gifted orator, and as the Provincial Muslim League leader, he played a prominent role in the reorganization of the Muslim League in NWFP. The Muslim League was first launched in 1912 by Ghazi Ali Abbas Bukhari but did not take firm roots among the people. On 25 May 1943, Sardar Aurangzeb Khan was able to form a ministry, with Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar as his Finance Minister. He campaigned door-to-door to convey the message of the League and worked hard during the NWFP referendum.

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