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Feb 2009


The Muslim rule was established in India in 1206 AD after the defeat of Prithviraj Chauhan at the hands of Muhammad Ghori in the last decade of the 12th century. Thereafter, until 1857, there was always a Sultan/Badshah on the throne of Delhi. The Muslim rule formally ended with the deportation of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah to Rangoon in 1858. The 1857 mutiny was the last attempt by Muslims to regain control of India. Since Muslims were at the core of the rebellion, the British rulers brought in a number of rules and regulations that effectively deprived the Muslim elite of their power and wealth.

In the wake of their political decline, the Muslim leaders launched diverse movements to regain control of the country. Despite their diversity, all movements, in one way or the other, contributed to the development and emergence of Muslim Separatism. Foremost among these are : the Mujahidin, the Aligarh and the Khilafat movements.

Shah Waliullah (1703 - 1763) set the tradition in Indian Islam of emphasising the issues on which the Ummah agreed. The dialogue within the community was within the confines of Islamic postulates and the language was religious. The Waliullah religio-political movement had sought to enthrone pristine Islam. In its political aspects, the movement was represented by two major events: (i) Shah Waliullah's invitation to Ahmad Shah Abdali to organise an expedition to India to stem the rising tide of Maratha supremacy and (ii) Shah Abdul Aziz's (1746-1824) fatwa about British India being a dar al-harb. It is well known that the defeat of Marathas at the third battle of Panipat in 1761 gave a fresh lease of life of one hundred years to Muslim rule in India. It needs to be noted that both the invitation to Abdali and fatwa stemmed from the realisation that Islam could not flourish under non-Muslim domination and that political supremacy of he Muslim was a must.

The Mujahidin movement (1820-1863) founded by Sayyid Ahmad Shahid of Rae Bareily was an offshoot of the Waliullah movement. The movement emphasised religious revival and Jihad (holy war). Initially the Jihad was launched against the Sikhs who were ruling Punjab, Kashmir and the Frontier. Sayyid Ahmad Shahid's first choice of war against the Sikhs was very much in the tradition of Indian Islam's defence against indigenous hostility says Dr. Aziz Ahmad in his well known work Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment.

Despite its failure, the movement strengthened the Waliullah tradition of Indo-Muslim resistance to the concentration of power in non-Muslim hands, adds Dr. Aziz Ahmad. It helped to keep alive the spirit of Jihad against non-Muslims and internalised the dar al-Islam and dar al-harb dichotomy in the social consciousness of the Muslim masses says Professor Mujahid. These urges eventually helped to create a passionate urge for the establishment of dar al-Islam in the subcontinent.

The Aligarh movement : Modern education and unquestioning loyalty to the British rulers were considered as the remedy to the community's backwardness. In keeping with this promise Sir Syed Ahmad Khan felt that India occupied an intermediate position between dar al-Islam and dar al-harb. Syed Ahmad Khan considered Muslims and Hindus as two separate nations. He considered the Indian National Congress as primarily an Hindu organisation. In any scheme of constitutional reforms, therefore, the interest of the Muslims could not be secured. Accordingly, he advised Muslims not to join the Indian National Congress. �Aligarh was the cradle of the feeling of nationalism among the Muslims because it kept alive the idea of a well-integrated Muslim community in the subcontinent� says Professor I.H. Qureshi in The Muslim Community of the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent. 

Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was the first modern Muslim who effectively propagated the two-nation theory. Separate electorate demanded by eminent Mussalmans in their Addresses to Viceroy Lord Minto in 1906 was the logical outcome of the two-nation theory formulated by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan.

The Khilafat movement was essentially a pan-Islamic movement. The aim of the movement was to preserve the hegemony of the Turkish Sultan and Caliph on the Sunni population of the world. Pan-Islamism had sought to work through local nationalism in Muslim countries since 1880's. Sayyid Jamal al-Din Afghani, in the 19th century was a pioneer of pan-Islam. The khilafat leaders had given a call for hijrat from India which had become dar al-harb in the eyes of these leaders. The intellectual and ideological orientation was provided by eminent Muslim leaders like Muhammad Ali, Maulana Azad, Hazrat Mohani, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Maulana Abdul Bari and M.H. Kidwai. The movement had the ultimate effect of intensifying the Muslims' loyalty to Islam. It had significantly contributed to the demand for separate homeland for Muslims.


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