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The Role of Ulema in 1857 Revolution PDF Print E-mail

Some Prominent Ulema of 1857 Revolt.
( By Allama Yaseen Akhtar MIsbahi)
(Founder Darul Qalam Delhi)

The Revolutionary Voice

As India was a great country in the past, so it maintains its greatness and significance in today’s world. Its fertility (wealth) and natural resources (metals and minerals) stand surety for the prosperity and comfort of its inhabitants. This country has produced great personalities, and nurtured prominent accomplished persons. Many Rivers are flowing in the heart of this vast country like veins in the human body. There are high mountains surrounded by the ranges of tall trees and green fields.

This is a picture of ancient India, which has immensely been changed by modern India, consisting of dense and diverse population. Various kinds of inventions different instruments, products, and machines have transformed India. Each and every aspect of industry, commerce, economy and society is an index and milestone of how fast life undergoes radical changes occurring in the 21st century. 

After all, each and every aspect of  ancient and modern India, which consists of simplicity and grace, truth and pragmatism, a pretty mixture of public wishes and ambitions and reflects the multi-coloured spectrum of the welfare and progress of the country and the nation, is attractive and favourite one for us all.


The English fixed their eyes at prosperity and wealth of India and their own commercial interests and opportunities, when the Mughal government was at the zenith. They set up their commercial centers (factories) at Surat (Gujarat) and Hugly (Bengal); began to extend their plans and show themselves in their true colours. They also hemmed to Dutch and the Portuguese in and began to fleece Indian trade and economy.

They clutched the agricultural system, education, trade, religions, and cultures of India in their claws and finding the circumstances favourable to their interests; they developed a lust for government and power. Having grabbed the states of the Nawabs and the Rajas, they headed towards Delhi. The battles in Plassey (1757), in Buxur (1764), in Ruhelkhand (1774), in Srirangapattam (1799) are the glaring examples of their aggression and lust for territorial aggrandizement. They entrapped Oudh and Ruhelkhand (1801), Bundelkhand and Delhi (1803) through their cunning and shrewd agreements and practically established their government all over India.

The sequence of the events and the speedy occupation of India were enough to enrage the Indians. The surging storm of public discontent kept brewing every where in the years of the first half of the nineteenth century. The English kept suppressing them through their strategies and might and crushing every public initiative through their conspiracy and aggression. But in the fifties of this century, the situation went out of control and the English sensed a great menace/ threat to their power. Hence, Dalhousie had said that constumacy and rebellion might rise up like steam and vapour. The people who looked innocent, harmless and timid might get involved in more oppression and violence than all other wars just the day when they were engraged. (Fraser: British India, p.273, quoted in Taarikh-i-jang-i-Azadi-i-Hind 1857, by Khurshid Mustafa Rizvi, Raza Library Rampur, U.P., First edition, 1421/2000)  

In 1856, the English introduced new cartridges and trained the Indian soldiers at Dam Dam, (Calcutta), Ambala, and Sialkot Contonments. In 1857, these cartridges were introduced everywhere. On January 22, 1857, the Indian soldiers at Dam Dam objected to their use, saying that the cartridges, prepared with the fat of Pigs and cows, hurt their religious sentiments. The same happened at Ranipur, Barrackpore (Calcutta) and Barhaampur (Murshidabad). But the English officers paid no heed to these protests. On 29th march, 1857, Mangal Pandey flew into rage at Ghazipur (in eastern U.P) and shot an English sergeant dead. As a penalty for this offence, he was hanged to death.

On 1st, May (1857), the Indian soldiers in Lucknow refused to touch the cartridges. Discontent spread in other religions of Oudh also. On 24th April, eighty five Indian soldiers at Meerut refused to bite the cartridges and English officers, in a fit of anger, sentenced them to imprisonment for ten years. These eighty five soldiers were humiliated and disgraced at the parade ground (Meerut); their vardis (uniforms) were torn, and they were put in handcuffs and irons. Then they were sent to jail. When the other Indian soldiers went their homes and to the markets, the women taunted them, saying, “You are not men. Put on these bangles and give your arms to us. We will set our Indian soldiers free.”

As the Indian soldiers were already restless with anger, they flew into rage when they heard the women taunting. On 10th  May, they revolted at Meerut, and set their companions free. They began to catch the English and kill them. They set out from Meerut and reached Delhi. Here, they met Bahadur shah zafar and proclaimed him as the emperor. Here too, they killed the English. The rebels of Delhi too joined them and the Indians and the English were fighting against each other everywhere.

These events did not happen all of a sudden. The causes had already been created. Mr. S.M. Ghosh, the secretary Freedom History Board, says in a speech delivered on 16th September, 1953.

“We come to know from the information provided that it was not a sudden or isolated event but the leaders all over the country had united to free the country. This was the first organized attempt to drive the foreign rulers. The purpose behind the movement was to free the country and form an autonomous government wherein Bahadur Shah would be the sovereign ruler. (Taarikh-i-jang-iAzadi 1857,p.49, by Khurshid Mustafa Rizvi)

P.C. Joshi Writes:

“ The Meerut rebels rushed to Delhi, the age-old capital of India. They entered it through Delhi Gate. Without any serious oppositions, besiegned the last Mughal, Bahadur Shahs”Zafar” and proclaimed him the Shahensha-e-Hindustan.” (Inqilab 1857, p.38, (third edition)) edited by P.C. Joshi, National council for Promotion of Urdu, New Delhi, also available in English)

Quoting history books, P.C. Joshi further writes;

“ Bahadur Shah was declared Shahenshah-e-Hind on 11th may 1857. But in truth he was reduced to a mere nonentity in the first week of July-that is towards the close of the first phase of the Revolt. The rebels of Delhi issued a Parwanah, after the arrival of General Bakht Khan, outlining the structure of the new state. Bahadur shah was again formally proclaimed the Emperor of India, but the real executive power was vested in the court of Administration. The court was to administer the state, maintain peace and order, collect land revenue from the sub-divisions and raise loans from the Mahajans, defend the realm and prosecute the wars. The Emperor had promised the court that “in reference to you no representation of any party whatever will be heeded; and in all such orders as may emanate from your way interfere.” (Inqilab 1857, p.45, (third edition)) edited by P.C. Joshi, National council for Promotion of Urdu, New Delhi, also available in English)

“ A similar court of Administration was set up in Lucknow. Like the Delhi rebels, the Lucknow insurgents crowned Brijis Qadr, a natural son of the ex-king of Oudh. On his elevation to the throne, or rather on his being created Nawab Vazir of Oudh-for his authority was subordinated to that of the Emperor of Delhi-his mother and Mammu Khan enjoyed power that was checked only by the caprice of the troups to whom their elevation was due. (Inqilab 1857, p.50, (third edition)) edited by P.C. Joshi, National council for Promotion of Urdu, New Delhi, also available in English)

Dr. Majumdar sums up his research in the following words:

“ The outbreak of 1857 would surely go down in history as the first great and direct challenge to the British rule, on an extensive scale. As such it inspired the genuine national movement for the freedom of India from the British yoke which started half a century later. The memory of 1857-58 sustained the later movement, infused courage into the hearts of its fighters, furnished a historical basis for the movement, and gave it a moral stimulus, the value of which it is impossible to exaggerate. The memory of the Revolt of 1857, distorted but hallowed with sanctity, perhaps did more damage to the cause of British rule in India than the Revolt itself.” (Inqilab 1857, p.140, (third edition)) edited by P.C. Joshi, National council for Promotion of Urdu, New Delhi, also available in English)

The Muslims and the Hindus were equally complaining against the highhandedness and oppression of the English. The English were fleecing this agricultural country and enriching England and they were particularly rendering Bengal pauper and destitute. This exploitation had reached to such an extent that the Indians began to bear a grudge against them. It was the habit of the English to humiliate and disgrace the Indian Nawabs, Rajas, Zamindars, Businessmen and gentry. When they tried to interfere in their (Indians) religious affairs, their patience knew no bounds. This resulted in the Revolt of 1857 wherein the Muslims as well as the Hindus equally participated. One the one side, the Muslim leaders like Bahadur shah Zafar, General Bakht Khan Ruhella, Prince Firoz Shah, Begum Hazrat Mahal, General Azimullah Khan Kanpuri, Nawab Tafazzul Husain, Nawab Majduddin alias Majju Khan Moradabadi, Nawab Mahmood Khan Bijnori were mentally and practically spending their energies to make this Revolt a successful one, on the other, Nana, the Peshwa, Tantia Tope. Rani Lakshamibai, Ram Kunwar sing, Raja Nahir Singh, Rao Tula Ram were offering their sacrifices. However this is also a fact that the Muslims were more excited and they sacrificed their lives and property more than the other. Therefore, they fell victims to the cruel oppression of the English. During the revolt of 1857, the Ulama as a religious duty, issued the fatwa of  jihad against the English; practically participated in the war; encouraged the Mujahideen and led the revolutionary insurgents. The most prominent among them was Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi who in compliance with the order of his Peer-o-Murshid (Spiritual mentor) was leading a campaign against the English.

The names of other leading Ulama who played a pivotal roles in the revolt of 1857 are as follows: Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, Allama Fazle Haq Khairabadi, Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni, Maulana Kifayat Ali Kafi Moradabadi, Maulana wahhajjuddin Moradabadi, Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi, Moulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi, Maulana Dr. Wazir Khan Akkarabadi, and Maulana Imam Baksh  Sahbai Dehlavi. According to books dealing with the revolt, around fifteen thousand Ulama were martyred during the War of Independence in 1857.

The above mentioned Ulama were ideologically and practically inspired, in one way or the other, by the following Ulama who were their predecessors also.

Hazrat Shah Waliullah Muhaddith Dehlavi (d.1176/1762) (2) Hazrat  Mirza Mazhar Jaan-i-Jaanan Mujaddidi Dehlavi (d.1195/1781) (3) Hazrat shah Abdul Aziz Muhaddith Dehlavi (d.1239/1824) (4) Hazrat Qazi Sana’ullah Panipati (d.1225/1810) (5) Hazrat shah Rafiuddin Muhaddith Dehlwi (d.1233/1818) (6) Hazrat Mufti Iwaz Barelwi (d.1236/1821) (7) Hazrat Mufti Sharfuddin Rampur (d.1268/1852)

One hundred and fifty years of the revolt of  1857 are going to complete in 2007. The whole country is remembering the War of Independence in 1857 which is a practical war in the true sense of the words. All Indians are paying glowing tributes to their  intrepid and daring warriors. On this historical occasion, this booklet containing a brief introduction of these Ulama, whose memory gives freshness, energy and fervour to our spirits, is being presented.

Mufti Sadruddin Azurda Dehlavi

Mufti Sadruddin Azurda Dehlavi (1204/1789-1285/1768) was an accomplished Alim of Delhi whose ancestry is traced back to his Kashmiri forefathers. He had received education from Hazrat Shah Abdul Aziz, the Muhaddith of Delhi ( 1239/1824) and Maulana Fazle Imam Farooqi Khairabadi ( d. 1244/1829). He was the Sadr Amin of Delhi from 1827 to 1846 and Sadrus Sudoor from 1846 to 1857. Being a Sadrus Sudoor of Delhi under the English government was the highest post for a Muslim Alim. His house was the meeting-palace for Ulama, scholars, poets and literary figures Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1315/1898) in his “ Aasaarus Sanaadid” ( P 524), considers him as an all round accomplished Alim (possessing all the characteristics of an Alim of his age) . Hakim Abdul Hai Rae Barelwi (1341/1922), the former Nazim (manager) of Nadwatul Ulama, writes: “ Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, who came of a great noble family, was the pride of India, and had no match in scholarly accomplishments and excellence.” ( Gul-i Ra’na, P 227, Azamgadh)

The Ulama issued the fatwas of Jihad against the English at several places and several times. One such fatwa, published in the Akhbaaruz Zafar, a Delhi newspaper on 26th July 1857.
Bore Mufti Sadruddin Azurda’s signature. These newspaper are preserved in the National Archives, in Delhi. During the Revolt, Mufti Sadruddin Azurda kept visiting Bahadur Shah Zafar in the Red Fort and the Revolutionary Mujahideen came to his house for instructions and consultations. ( Roznamchah Munshi Jiwan Lal, Delhi and Roznamchah of Abdul Latif, Delhi)

Shahjahan, the Mughal emperor, had built a madrasa “ Darul Baqa” in the sooth of the Shahjahani Masjid which was rendered desolate and deserted by the vagaries of time. Mufti Sadruddin Azurda acquired this madrasa from Bahadur Shah Zafar and started teaching there. (Sir Syed Ahmed khan, Aasaarus Sanaadid p.283)

Maulana Abul Kalam Azad’s father, Maulana Khairuddin Dehlavi and his grandfather, Shaikh Mohammad Hadi Dehalvi were Azurda’s disciples. In the same way, the list           
of Azurda’s disciples includes Mufti Sa’dullah Moradabadi, Maulana Faizul Hasan Saharanpuri, Yusuf Ali Khan (the Nawab of Rampur), Nawab Ziauddin Khan Nayyar, Nawab Mustafa Khan Shaifta, Maulvi Sami’ullah Dehlavi, Maulvi Faqeer Mohammad Jahlami, Maulana Khasim Nanotvi and Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi, and the last two being the leaders of the Deobandi Ulama. Azurda wrote several books. He wrote fine poems in urdu, besides Arabic and Persian.

When the English got the upper hands in the revolt of 1857, a case was filed against him and he was tried in a court fro rebellion. After suffering imprisonment and a great deal of pleading, he was acquitted. However, a large part of his property was confiscated. He also lost about 3lakh books. He had collected in his personnel library. Some of them were very important and rare.

The English had turned the Jamia Masjid into a stable after the failure of the revolt. Mufti Azurda, along with the dignitaries of the city, made constant efforts for its evacuation and restoration. Consequently, the English according to an agreement evacuated the Masjid in November 1863. (Mufti Intezamullah Shihabi, Ghadar Ke Chand Ulama, p.48, Delhi). The collection of Ghalib’s Letters (Makaateeb-i-Ghalib) too mentions the evacuation of the Masjid.

A memorable deed, performed by Mufti Azurda, was these that he gave a letter to Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi (d.1274/1858) and sent him to Agra in 1846 where the latters formed the “ Majlis-i-Ulama” (The council of Ulama) and launched the campaign of purging India of the English. These Ulama Fought bravely against them at different fronts. Mufti Azurda was 81 when he breathed his last in Delhi on 24th Rabi’ul Awwal 1285/ 16th July 1868 and he was buried in Chirag Delhi.

Allama Fazle Haq Khairadabadi

Allama Fazle Haq Khairadabadi (1212/1791-1278/1861) was the son of Allama Fazle Imam Farooqi Khairadabadi (d.1244/1829), the Sadrus Sudoor of Delhi.  Allama Fazle Haq received his education in Islamic Sciences from Shah Abdul Qadir (d. 1230/1815) and Shah Abdul Aziz, the Muhaddith of Delhi (1239/1824) and in rational sciences from his father. At the age of 13, he completed his education and engaged himself in teaching. Then, he took up service with the government in 1815.

When, at the invitation of Faiz Mohammed Khan, the Nawab of Jhajjar (Punjab), he was leaving Delhi for Jhajjar, Bahadur Shah Zafar, expressing his deep sorrow and grief, gave him a Doshaalah (an embroidered Shawl/ a double folded shawl) and, with tearful eyes, saw him off. He also said. “ Since you are ready to leave, I have no choice but approve of your departure. But, Allah Knows well that it is extremely difficult for me to utter the word ‘Good-Bye’.” (Yaad Gaar-e-Ghalib, Dehli)

After his stay at Jhajjar, he was employed at Alwar, Tonk and Rampur. Then he went to Lucknow and became the Sadrus Sudoor and Mohtamim-i-Huzoor-i-Tehsil (official in charge of a tehsil). He was also a Sar-rishtadar (magistrate) in Delhi also. He held a post at Saharanpur too. He wrote some very important books. He also produced disciples who latter on became well known scholars of their age.

There was a fast friendship among Mufti Sadruddin Azurda Dehlavi, Allama Fazle Haq Khairadabadi, and Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. It was Allama’s advice and selection that helped Ghalib arrange his ‘Diwan-i-Ghalib’. According to Mohammed Husain Azad, this is the very version which the readers hold dear these days. (Aab-i-Hayat, Delhi) the houses of Allama Fazle Haq Khairabadi and Mufti Sadruddin Azurda were the meeting places of the Ulama, Poets, and literary figures.

When the revolt broke out in 1857, he came from Alwar to Delhi several times and met Bahadur Shah Zafar. This continued since May. Then, when General Bakht Khan, along with his fourteen thousand soldiers, came for Bareilly to Delhi, according to Munshi Zaka’ullah of Delhi, Allama delivered a speech in front of the Ulama in the Jamia Masjid after the Friday prayer. He put fourth an istifta (query seeking legal advice on a point of religious importance) before the Ulama the fatwa (legal advice/ opinion ) was signed by Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, Maulvi Abdul Qadir, Qazi Faizullah Dehlavi, Maulana Faiz Ahmed Badayuni, Dr. Maulvi Wazir Khan Akbarabadi, Syed Mubaraksha Rampuri as soon as these fatwa was published disturbance and tumult intensified throughout the country. Some ninety thousand soldiers gathered in delhi. (Zak’ullah, Taarikh-i-‘Urooj-i-Saltanat-i-Englishiah, Delhi)

When the English regained their control over Delhi, Allama Fazle Haq left Delhi and went to Awadh. A case was filed against him in 1859. He was tried to in a court for rebellion and was sentenced to imprisonment in Kaala Paani (Andaman Nicobar). He himself defended his case and declared in the court that it was he who had issued the fatwa of jihad and stuck to his stand. Maulana Abdul Haq (1244/1828-1316/1898), the son of Allama Fazle Haq, was the principal of Madrasa Alia in Calcutta. W.W. Hunter writes about him: He (Abdul Haq) is the son of the rebel Alim whom the government has sentenced to imprisonment in the Kaala Paani (Andaman Nicobar) and whose library was confiscated and brought to Calcutta. (W.W. Hunter, Hamare Hindustani Mussalamaan,[Urdu] p.203, Delhi)

Maulana Abdul Shahid Shervani of Aligarh, the biographer of Allama and translator of his famous book ‘ Al-Sauratul Hindia’ (the Indian Mutiny) writes, “ Maulana Abdul Haq Khairabadi had made his last will that he should be informed in his grave when the English would leave the country. Therefore, Syed Najmul Hasan Rizvi, along with a big crowd, visited the grave in the Dargaah-i-Makhdoomiah, at Khairabad in Sitapur and read the Fatiha after Milaad Shareef. (Muqadimmah (Introduction to) Zubadatul Hikmah, p.12, Aligarh, 1949) Allamah Fazle Haq Passed away in Andaman Nicobar (Kaala Paani) in 1861 and was buried over there.

Maulana Ahmaddullah Shah Madrasi

Dilawar jang Maulana Ahmaddullah Shah Madrasi (1204/1787-1274/1858) was the son of Mohammad Ali, who was the Nawab of Chinyapattam (?) in the district of poornamalli (?) in south India. He was also the advisor and companion of Sultan Tipu. When Maulana Madrasi, along with his disciples and devotees, went out, a band would  beat a Naqqarah/ Danka (drum). That is why he was also called Naqqarah Shah/ Danka Shah.

In the prime of his youth, he was inclined to saintly life and mystcism. For practicing austerity and asceticism, he left his house and after visiting Hyderabad and Madras, he traveled to England. He also went to Egypt and Hijaz. After performing Hajj  and Ziyarat, he came back to India via Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan.
He practiced austerity and asceticism and performed chillah (retired for forty days into mystic seclussion) at Bikaner and Sambher for about twelve years. Then, he went to Jaipur and became the murid (mystic disciple) Mir Qurban Ali Shah who granted him the Khilafah (spiritual Succession). From there, he went to Tonk where some people objected to his Mahfil-isima (gathering for listening to  Mystical Music). He felt very disgusted with their remarks and left for Gawaliar. There he met mehrab Shah Qalandar Gawaliari who granted him the Khilafah (spiritual Succession and permission) and ordered him to free India from the slavery of the English. Thus he left Gawaliar for Delhi in around 1846.
In Delhi, he met the leading Ulama and Mashaikh and discussed with them the situation prevailing in the city. Mufti Sadruddin Azurda expressed his opinion and advised him to go to Agra which, in his Opinion, Would be the best ground to make better and effective preparations for such a campaign. Mufti Azurda also wrote a recommendation letter to Mufti In’amullah, the government advocate. (He (Mufti In’amullah) was born at Gopa Mau, Hardoi and died at Agra in 1275/1859)

After he reached Agra, he met prominent scholars and leading personalities there. His influence increased day by day. He formed the Majlis-i-Ulama (Council of Ulama) to unite and organize them. These Ulama, later on, proved helping hands to him, Maulana Madrasi also visited the Meerut, Patna, Calcutta etc. besides Delhi and Agra and thus widened the scope of this campaign against the English. Syed Khurshid Mustafa Rizvi writes: “ Maulana Ahmaddullah shah tops the list of leaders who prepared the whole country for the Revolt of 1857.” He visited different parts of the country and intisgated the people for the Revolt.’ Malleson writes that no doubt, the leader behind this conspiracy was the Maulvi (Ahmadullah) and this conspiracy had spread all over India …….. I (Malleson) think that it was he who was the brain behind the revolt. During his journeys, he introduced a scheme which is known as the ‘chapati Scheme’. (Taarikh-i-Jang-i-Azadi-i-Azad-i-Hind 1857, p.205, Raza Library Rampur).

Maulana Madrasi fought pitched battles against the English at Lucknow, Faizabad, Shahjahanpur. At last, Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi, Prince Firoz Shah, General Bakht, Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni and Dr. Wazir Khan Akabarabadi had formed their own government at Mohammadi (Shahjahanpur). But due to the betrayal of Raja Baldeo Singh, Madrasi failed in his venture and was martyred in 1858. the English gave Baldeo Singh Fifty thousand rupees in reward. Professor Mohammad Ayyub Qadri Badayuni (Karachi) Writes: “ The Martyrdom of Shah Ahmadullah put an end to the war of  independence not only in Ruhelkhand But in the whole country also.” (Jang-i-Azadi-i-Hind 1857, p. 303, Karachi)

The English historian G.W. Forest writes that it is very important to mention that he was a Maulvi for being a practicing alim, a Sufi for his spiritual power and a soldier and commander for his military skills. (History of the Indian Mutiny).

Maulana Faiz Ahmed Badayuni

Maulana Faiz Ahmed Badayuni (b. 1223/1808) received his education under the kind patronage of his maternal uncle, Allama Fazle Rasool Usmani Badayuni (d. 1289-1872). He completed his education when he was only fourteen years old. He was a great and accompalished Alim of his age as well as a very good poet. He was a murid (spiritual disciple) of his maternal grandfather, Shah Abdul Hamid Usmani Badayuni (d. 1233-1820). After teaching at Badayun for a long time, he was appointed a Peshkar (court official) at the Sadr-i-Nizamat of Agra. Then he became an official at the board of Revenue. Sir William Muir, who later on became a military magistrate and lieutenant governor of the United provinces and Agra, had learnt Arabic from him.

He was an active member of the Majlis-i-Ulama (council of Ulama) formed by Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi (d.1274/1858). He acted as an assistant Munazir (debater) in the munazara (polemical religious discussion/ debate) which took place between Maulana Rahmathullah Kairanvi (d.1308/1891) and Pfander, the missionary, on the topic of Islam and Christianity at Agra in 1854. this debate lasted for three days and Pfander, the missionary, having been defeated, fled away to Europe. Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni made a long struggle to evacuate the Jamia Masjid of Agra, a large portion of which was illegally occupied by the people. At last, he achieved success after litigations. The Masjid was evacuated and repaired. He formed a local agency at Agra to look after the management of the Masjid and it gladly took up the responsibility. During the revolt of 1857, he took some of his companions and reached Delhi. Here, he openly participated in the ongoing war of independence. He was the Peshkar for prince Mirz Mughal, the son of Bahadur Shah Zafar for a few days. Then, he went back from delhi with general Bakhta Khan Ruhella after the revolt failed there. The Maulana fought bravely in the battle of kakrala (Badayun) along with General Bakht Khan. The English General, Penny(?) was killed in the battle field. After the retreat, he went to Bareilly where Khan Bahadur Khan, the grand son of Hafiz Rahmat Khan was fighting against the English.

At Lucknow, he stayed with Ahmadullah Shah and fought against the English. From here, he accompanied Maulana Madrasi to Shahjahanpur and when Maulana Madrasi established his government at Mohammadi, he joined his  ministry. After the English had regained control over Shahjahanpur, he escaped to Nepal. No one knows what happened to  him and where he passed away.

Professor Mohammed Ayub Qadri Badayuni (Karachi) writes : “ The Ulama of Badayun took active parts in the war of independence in 1857. Maulana Faiz Ahmed Badayuni, who was a prominent Alim (scholar) of his age, tops the list. He was employed in the central board of revenue. He was great adeeb (litrary figure) of Arabic as well as a poet. During his stay at Agra, he took part in the Munazarah (debate) that took place between Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi and Pfander, the missionary and assisted Maulana Rahmatullah. Then, he heroically participated in the war of independence in 1857. he also went to Delhi. He fought the last battle at Kakrala. The freedom fighters such as Dr. Wazir Khan, Prince Firoz Shah were also there. The famous English General penny (?) was killed. (Encyclopedia of Badayun, p.26, vol.2, Karachi)

Maulana Syed Kifayat Ali Kafi Moradabadi

Maulana Syed Kifayat Ali Kafi Moradabadi (d.1274/1858) was an accompalished Alim, experienced Tabib (physician) and a great poet. Maulana Kafi learnt Hadith from Shah Abu Sa’eed Mujaddidi Rampuri (d.1250/1835) and learnt poetry from the famous poet, Zaki Moradabadi (1281-1864) who was the disciple of Imam Bakhsh Nasikh. He performed Hajj and Ziyarat and  wrote “ Tajammul-i-Darbar-i- Rahmat” as a memorial.

He has written several books e.g. Tarjmah-i-shamail-iTrimizi (poetry), Majmuah-i-Chahal Hadith (poetry) with explainary notes, Khayabaan-i- Firdaus, Bahar-i-Khuld, Naseem-i-Jannat, Maulood-i-bahar, Jazbah-i-Ishq, Diwan-i-Ishq, paying tribute to Na’tiah Sha’eri, (poems in praise of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)and love for the Holy Prophet (sallal laahu alaihi wa sallam)

 Imam Ahmed Raza Barelwi (d. 1281/1921) writes:

“The world smells sweet because of the fragrance of my mouth,
Here, the sweet songs do not mingle with the bitter ones.
Kafi is the sultan of the Na’t Goyan (poets who writes in praise of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)) Allah Willing, I will be the Wazir-i-Azam (Prime minister)).”

He issued, in Moradabad, a fatwa justifying jihad against the English, the copies of which were sent to other places. He himself went to Aonla, publicized his fatwa and persuaded and excited the people for jihad. Then, he reached Bareilly, consulted Khan Bahadur Khan, the grandson of hafiz Rahmat Khan Ruhella and returned to Moradabad. When a government was formed at Moradabad under the leadership of Nawab Majduddin Khan, alias Majju Khan, Maulana Kafi was appointed as the Sadr Amin. According to the District Gazette, Moradabad, the Muslims, driven by their religious zeal and enthusiasm, revolt against the English in the whole district.

At the same time, Yusuf Ali Khan, the Nawab was in the forefront of supporting and sympathizing and showing loyalty to the English. He attacked upon Moradabad. But when General Bakht Khan, with his army reached Moradabad, the Nawab’s army  fled away. However, the Nawab, assisted by the English, gained control over Moradabad again. The English subjected Nawab Majju Khan to severe and cruel behavior and killed him (martyred him).

Maulana Kafi, through his letters, kept General Bakht Khan aware and well informed of the developments at Moradabad. When the English regained their control over Moradabad on 21st April, 1858, Maulana absconded. But, due to the betrayal of an intelligent agent (spy), he was arrested on 30th April. At that time, the English had formed a commission which settled the cases after a brief and harried trial. The case of the Maulana was referred to the cruel and callous English magistrate. Who very soon pronounced his judgment. (Najmul Ghani Rampuri, Akhbaarus Sanaadid, Rampur)

Mr. John Engleson (?), the Magistrate in Moradabad Commission announced his judgment saying that since this defendant/ respondent accused has revolted against the English government, provoked the masses against a legal/ constitutional government and plundered the city, this act of the accused is an open mutiny against the English government and as a penalty for this, he deserves severe punishment. It was ordered that he should be hanged to death.” (John Engleson (?), 6th may,1858)

All the proceedings of the case were completed within two days. The case was filed on 4th May, the judgment announced on 6th May, and he was hanged on the same day.(Syed Mahboob Hussayin Sabzarwi Moradabadi, Moradabad: (Taarkh-i-jidd-o-juhd-i-Azadi, p.144, Moradabad). At the timed of being hanged he was reciting Na’t Shareef (poems in praise of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wasallam)).

Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi

Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi (1228/1813-1279/1863) was born at Dewa (Bara Banki Awadh) and settled down permanently with his father, Munshi Mohammad Baksh at Kakor (Lucknow), the native village of his maternal grandfather. After acquiring primary education at Dewa and Bara Banki, he went to Rampur for higher studies (to get instructions in different branches of  knowledge). Then, he learnt Hadith from Shah Mohammad Ishaq (d.1262/1848) in Delhi and Maulana Buzurg Ali Marahravi (1262/1848)in Aligarh. Then he was appointed as a Mudarris (teacher) and a Mufti. Among his many students, Mufti Lutfullah Aligarhi, (d.1334/1916), the Sadrus Sudoor for religious affairs in Hyderabad Deccan, was the most famous one. Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi also did a government job. At first, he became a Munsif at Aligarh and then at Phaphund (Etawah). After that became the Sadr Amin at Bareilly. He stayed there for a long time and wrote several books on religious and academic topics. Here, he also formed the “Jalsah-i-Ta’eed-i-Deen-i-Mateen”, an organization, for reformist works and tableegh (propagation and preaching) and published some books. This organization is considered the first reformist one throughout the subcontinent. In the beginning of 1857, he was appointed the Sadrus Sudoor of Agra. He was still preparing for the journey, when the revolt broke out in May. He went to Bareilly and Rampur instead of Agra and supported the revolutionaries rather he patronized them. He extended financial help to the Mujahideen and a fatwa bearing the signature of Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi, and justifying jihad against the English was issued from Bareilly. Professor Mohammad Ayyub Qadri writes: “ Before the revolt, two activists worked for this movement at Bareilly. They were Maulvi Sarfraz Ali and Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi.” (Jang-i-azadi 1857, Karachi)

Mian Abdur Rashid, a columnist in the Nawa-i-Waq Daily, (Lahore) writes: “ He (Mufti Inayat Ahmad) was active under the leadership of Nawab Khan Bahadur Khan Ruhella at Bareilly which was an important centre for the Mujahideen of Azadi. Maulana Raza Ali Khan, the grandfather of Maulana Ahmad Raza Khan, was one of the leaders of the movement. Mufti Inayat Ahmad Kakorvi did not only organize the Mujahideen but also took active part in the battle as assistant of  Nawab Khan Bahadur Khan Ruhella. (Jang-i-Azadi Number: The Tarjuman-i-Ahlus-Sunnah, Karachi, July 1957)

For the fatwa and his participation in the war, the English arrested him. He was tried in court and was sentenced to Kaala Paani where he underwent severe hardship. At he request of an Englishmen, he had translated the “Taqweemul Buldaan” and in returned he was released. He came back to India in1277/1860. Thereafter, he founded a Madrasa (Faiz-i-Aam) in Kanpur and engaged himself in religious and  academic activities. In  Kaala Paani, He wrote Taarikh-i-Habib-i-Illahi” (a biography of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) and “Ilmus Seghah” (a book of Arabic Syntax and etymology) which is still taught in the Madrasas of India. In all, he wrote about two dozen books. After serving at Madrasa Faiz-i-Aam for a while, he set out for Hijaz to perform the Hajj and Ziyarat. It so happened that the ship capsized on the way. Thus he passed away on 17th Shawwal 1279/17th April, 1863 and was drowned in the ocean of Allah’s mercy.

Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi

Payah-i-Haramain (the pillar of the two sanctuaries at Makkah and Madina[?]) Maulana Rahmatullah Usmani Kairanvi (1233/1817-1308/1891), one of the descendants of Kabirul Aulia Makhdoom Jalaluddin Panipat (d.765 A.H) was  a widely known great alim (scholar). Having received his primary education at Kairanah, Muzaffar Nagar (in western uttar pradesh), he went to Madrasa Hayaat in Delhi. Then, he traveled to Lucknow and learnt a few books (of higher studies) from Mufti Sa’dullah Moradabadi (d. 1294/1877), the disciple of Shah Abdul Aziz, the Muhaddith of Delhi and Mufti Sadruddin Azurda Dehlavi. He also learnt few books on Hadith (the traditions of  the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)) from Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi Dehlavi (d.1296/1878)

In the beginning, he taught the students in the Masjid at Kairanah. When the missionary schools and the Christians clergymen accentuated their activities and began raising objections against Islam, he wrote a voluminous books, “ Izaalatul Awhaam” at the order of Shah Abdul Ghani Mujaddidi. This books provided satisfactory answers to all the objections put up by the Christians, particularly those raised by Pfander, the missionary, in his book, “Meezaanul Haq”.

A historic Munazarah(debate) between Maulana Kairanvi and Pfander, the missionary, took place at Agra in 1270/1854, in which Maulana Kairanvi, with his substantial arguments, silenced the clergyman. The details of this debate had been published in book form. Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni and Maulana Dr. Maulana Wazir Khan Akbarabadi participated in the debate as his special assistants.

When the revolt of 1857 started, he put up a bold front against the English. Maulana Imdad Sabri Dehlavi writes: “In those days, Naqqarahs (drums) were beaten to assemble the people so that the Mujahideen might be organized and trained. It was also proclaimed that kingdom belonged to Allah and hukm (order), to Maulvi Rahmatullah (Aasaar-i-Rahmat, p.246, Delhi)

Maulvi Rahmatullah enjoyed great/ deep influence upon the intellectuals of Delhi and the princes of the Red Fort and Maintained good rapports with them. Therefore, Maulana Rahmatullah, along with Bahadur Shah Zafar and other Mujahideen, took active part in chalking out plans and guidelines for the war of independence. He also participated in the war. He along with Maulvi Wazir Ahmed Khan Akbarabadi and Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni, participated in waging the war of independence. (Aasaar-i-Rahmat, p.319, Delhi) Munshi Zakaullah writes: first of all, Maulvi Rahmathullah came from Kiraanah to find out what the situation of the jihad was in Delhi. He was an accompalished scholar. (Taarikh-i-‘Urooj-i-Saltanat-i-Englishiyah, p.675,vol.iii, Delhi) It is written in the Roznamchah (dairy) of Abdul Lateef that two hundred people of Najeedabad, under the leadership of Maulvi Rahmatullah, had come to Delhi, waged war and then returned. (Roznamchah –i-Abdul Lateef, p.78, Delhi)

Later on, the English filed a suit against him. They announced that they would award one thousand rupees to a person who would capture Maulana Kairanvi and hand him over to them. Maulana Kairanvi could not be arrested and he secretly migrated to Makkah Mukarramah. His property and holdings at Kairanah were confiscated and then auctioned. In the same way, his property at Panipat too was auctioned.

After he reached Makkah Mukarramah, he established the Madrasa Saulatiah and started teaching there. Haji Imdad Ullah Muhajir Makki and Shiekh Zaini Dahlan Shaf’een Makki supported him there a lot. He traveled to Turkey several times at the invitation of the Sultan of Turkey. At his request, Maulana Kairanvi wrote his magnum opus, “ Izharul Haq” to refute Christanity and silence the clergy men. He passed away at Makkah Mukarrama in 1891 and was buried Jannat-ul-Mu’alla (the grave yard of Makkah)

Maulana Dr. Wazir Khan Akbarabadi

Maulana Dr. Wazir Khan Akbarabadi (d.1289/1873) was from Bihar. After he had received his primary education, his father, Mohammad Nazir Khan sent him to Murshidabad (Bengal) for English education. Then. He was sent to England where he received education in medical science. He also learnt Greek and Hebrew and studied the Injeel (the Gospel) and the Taurah thoroughly and deeply.

He was appointed as assistant surgeon at a hospital in Calcutta after he came back to India. Then, he shifted to Agra. Here, he came in touch with Mufti In’amullah Gopamauvi, the Vakil-i-Sadar. He also assisted Maulana Ahmadullah Madrasi when he formed the Majlis-i-Ulama (the Council of Ulama). Mufti Intezamullah Shihabi writes that it was the influence of the Shah (Ahmadullah Madrasi) Sahab’s company that Dr. Wazir Khan developed  hatred for the English and love for freedom (Ghadar Ke Chand Ulama, p.81, Delhi)

In 1854, the missionary Pfander threw a challenge to the Ulama at Agra for Munazarah (polemical discussion/ debate). After consultation with Majlis-i-Ulama, Dr. Wazir Khan accepted the challenge and sent for his friend, Maulana Kairanvi. The missionary, Pfander fled away after he was defeated at the end of the three day long heated debate. Maulana Kairanvi, on behalf of the Muslims, participated in this debate as the Munazir (debater) while Dr. Wazir Khan and  Maulana Faiz Ahmed Usmani Badayuni were his chief assistants.

Regarding his active involvement in the revolt of  1857 , Mufti Intezamullah Shihabi writes: “Dr. Wazir Khan came out valiantly  and patronized the army of fidayeen (pledged devotees/ warriors). The English confined themselves to the fort. He (Akbarabadi), along with Maulvi Faiz Ahmad Badayuni, reached Delhi. Bahadur Shah held his darbar (court). General Bakht Khan had come from Bareilly. The “war council” had been formed. Dr. (Wazir Khan) sahib too was included into it. General Bakht Khan was the lord governor he took Dr. Wazir Khan with him. Maulvi Faiz Ahmad was appointed the Peshkaar (court official)  of mirza Mughal.” (Ghadar Ke Chand Ulama, p.87, Delhi)

After the failure in Delhi, General Bakht  Khan Ruhella, took Dr. Wazir khan Akbarabadi and Maulana Faiz Ahmad Badayuni along with his army to Lucknow. There he joined Maulana  Ahmadullah Shah  Madrasi and pitted against the English . Then, they all had to leave Lucknow for  Shahjahanpur. When they failed (were defeated) there also, they dispersed and went to Nepal. Maulana Dr. Wazir khan secretly migrated to Makkah, went to Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi and settled over there.

He set up a matab (clinic) at Makkah Mukarramah and started treating the sick . Once, he had treated the Yamni wife of an Arab Shaikh, Abdullah . The Shaikh  wanted to pay the fee but he refused to the take it. He was deeply touched. The English government in India wrote to the sultan of turkey ,telling him that a runaway culprit was sheltering in Makkah and asking him (the sultan) to hand him over to India. The Sultan of Turkey wrote to sharif Abdullah, the governor of Makkah. Akbarabadi , after  consultation with the governor of Makkah, informed Abdullah Yamani of the situation. He told the governor that there were ten thousand men (members) in his tribe and Dr. Wazir Khan could be handed over to any one only after all of them are killed. The governor conveyed the news to the Sultan who wrote to the Indian government that handing over (deportation of) a culprit under such circumstances was almost impossible. The Indian government  was compelled to keep quiet. Dr. Wazir Khan lived in Makkah Mukarramah for fourteen years. He breathed his last over there in 1873 and was buried at the Jannatul Mu’alla. 

Maulana Wahhajjuddin Moradabadi

Maulana Wahhajjuddin alias Munno Moradabadi (d. 1274/1858) was a great Alim (scholar) and  a wealthy person in the town. Both the elite and the masses held him in high esteem. Besides Arabic, Persian, and Urdu, he knew English also. During the revolt of 1857, he played a prominent role in Moradabad. He, along with a big crowd, raided upon the prison of Moradabad and set all the prisoners free. No sooner did Mr. John Craft Wilson (?) hear this news than he absconded. “ After the first  failure of the Mujahideen in Moradabad, Maulana wahhajjuddin alias Maulvi Munno organized  the masses again, and with few weapons, he took a huge crowd to the jail.”(Muhaarabh-i-Azam, by Munshi Kanhayya Lal)

Maulana Wahhajjuddin took a bold step and went to Rampur to infuse in the hearts of the people  a spirit for jihad and freedom, as the Nawab of Rampur had been loyal to the English. He went around the villages in the countryside and publicized his message of freedom. When prince  Firoz  Shah became his assistant. Both Maulana Syed Kifayat Ali Kafi and  Maulana Wahhajjuddin got together and stirred an Inqilaab(a revolution). Under the leadership of Prince Firoz, he fought  valiantly against the army of the Nawab and the English.
After the failure of the revolt, due to the betrayal of a secret  agent, the English raided upon Maulana Wahhajuddin’s house and martyred hi (shot him dead) within his house.

Maulana Imam Bakhsh Sahbai

Maulana Imam Bakhsh Sahbai Delhi (d. 1273/1857) was the disciple / pupil of Maulana Abdullah Khan Alavi and was a poet  as well as an author who had written several books. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, in his Aasaarus Sanaadid, has lavished praises upon him and said that he was an accompalished scholar and had mastery over many of branches of knowledge (arts and sciences). At the recommendation of the Mufti Sadruddin Azurda, the lieufenant Governor of Delhi appointed him a teacher of Persian in the Delhi College in 1840.There was a close friendship between Mirza Ghalib and Sahbai. Sahbai almost visited the houses of Mufti Azurda and Allama Fazle Haq Khairabadi every day where the scholars and poets got together and held their meetings.

Maulvi Abdul Haq, the Baba-e-Urdu, Writes: “Maulvi Imam Bakhsh Sahbai, the head teacher, was a great adeeb (literary person) of Persian language. He was also a poet and author. His books were prescribed in the syllabus. His books are taught even today. He was held in high esteem in the city.” (Marhoom Dilli Kaalej, p.162, Anjuman Traqqi-e-Urdu, New Delhi)

Maulana Sahbai nurtured anti-English feelings and sympathized with the revolutionaries and the Mujahideen. He attended the meetings held in the Qil’a-i-Mu’alla (the Red fort) and offered his opinions. During the revolt of 1857, once, the English captured Fourteen hundred people and shot them dead at Rajghat on the bank of the Yamuna. Maulana Sahbai was one of them. Twenty one members of his family were killed. When Mufti Sadruddin Azurda heard this sad news, he spontaneously said:
(Why should Azurda not go mad, when Sahbai is killed without any guilt.)




0 #5 waqi 2013-12-24 21:52
when Moradabad recaptured by Britishers and Nawab Majju khan shot dead then the Revolution of Freedom struggle had failed at that time..Nawab Majju khan"s defeat had became the defaet of the all Freedom Fighters..

This is our responsibility to remember the forgotten hero of the India(Nawab Majju)
0 #4 M.A. Azami 2013-12-23 08:48
Respected managment member assalam alaikum
I have gone through the page the role of ulema. So i want to ask that this is the completr history of ulema who have sacrificed their lives for fteedom or is there any name as well who is famous in the fteedom history. Please complete your article so that the muslim ummah can take benifit completely. I hope you will pay attention on my request.
0 #3 KHURRAM 2013-04-05 16:21
+1 #2 MDNURUL ISLAM 2013-04-02 00:15
I Like this article so much. Why the spirit and legacy of the Ulemas- the prominent freedom fighters again British colonial power- is not visible in today's Ulemas?

Md. l Islam
+1 #1 मों. जाकिर हुसैन 2012-10-16 15:39
1857 की जंग-ए-आजादी में इमाम बख्श सहबाई के योगदानों पर मेरी प्रकाशित किताब 1857 और इमाम बख्श सहबाई जो संवेद पत्रिका ने प्रकाशित की है, उसका अध्ययन करना चाहिए। मों.जाकिर हुसैन,

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