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India’s freedom struggle and role of Muslims

India’s freedom struggle and role of Muslims
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Dar Shahid Hussain
Muslims came to India from different regions of the world and ruled it for 800 years. As portrayed by different sections of the society, they did not steal anything as British, Dutch and French did. They lived, ruled and developed India to a civilised nation, gave it loads of knowledge in literature, architecture, judicial and political structure and management structure which still is in vogue. The eminent writer of India- Khushwant Singh stated that ‘Indian freedom is written on Muslim’s blood, their participation in freedom struggle was much more than their percentage’.
The Muslims never envisage India as adopted land as they have not come from outside but are the converts to Islam and have deep feeling of belonging to this country and therefore contributed to the cultural, economic, intellectual and spiritual progress throughout the ages. They were at forefront while confronting the British imperialism and sacrificed their lives in liberating it from those clutches. Shoulder to shoulder they fought with the other communities for the Independence of India.
It all started in 1766 when Majnushah (leader of the Fakirs) inflicted series of defeats to the British armies. It was Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah who first awakened Indian rulers and gave a call to oppose the British, but he lost the battle (Plessey, 1757) and was executed at the young age of 24. He was followed by the great Tipu Sultan, who fought bravely but unfortunately was martyred by Lord Wellesley during the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1799.
There was a conspiracy of the Muslims of Banaras (Varanasi) with the help of Hindu chiefs against the British. In 1816, there was an open rebellion at Barely led by Mufti Muhammad Aiwaz (Rohilkand), apparently against the imposition of police tax. Haji Shariatullah in East Bengal started the Faraidhi Movement with the motive of restoration of Muslim rule after driving out the British. The movement gained much acquaintance and strength under his son Dadu Miyan, who became a force to be reckoned with.
In the first half of 19th century, the Wahhabi Movements disturbed the pace of British plans in the initial stages of its expansion. The movement was led by Syed Ahmed Barelvi who appealed all Hindus and Muslims to strive and overthrow the British. Similarly, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, (Frontier Gandhi)- a great nationalist who lived 45 years of his 95-years of life in jail for the freedom of India, Barkatullah and Syed Rehmat Shah of Ghadar Party sacrificed their lives, Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay presented a blank cheque to Gandhiji for Congress expenses and ultimately sacrificed his life for the cause of Independence and Maulana Hasrat Mohani, with his poetry, infused zeal of freedom in young hearts, played their parts in the freedom struggle of India.
The notables like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the youngest person to serve as the President of the Indian National Congress (35 years old), was the icon of Hindu-Muslim unity as well as espousing secularism and socialism, used his pen in the form of journals and magazines in invoking the people of India for the liberation.
The ‘Reshmi Rumaal’ Tehreeq (Movement) was launched in 1905 by Shaikhul Islam, Maulana Mehmood Hasan and Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi to unite all the Indian states against the British. Maulana Mehmood was imprisoned in Malta and Kalapani for the same where he breathed his last.
VD Mahajan (The Nationalist Movement in India) opines: ‘So long as the Khilafat question was alive, it played a progressive role in turning a large number of Muslims hostile to the continuation of British rule in India. The movement made positive contribution to the growth of nationalism’. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (Discovery of India) states that ‘The Revolt of 1857 was a joint venture, but in its suppression Muslims felt strongly, and to some extent rightly, that they were the greatest sufferers’.
The Muslim leaders forgotten and needed to be acknowledged in the freedom movement are- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Maulana Muhammad Ali, Maulana Shuakat Ali, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, Muhammad Barkathulla, Bi Amma (mother of Ali brothers), Badarudeen Tyabji, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. M.A. Ansari, Dr. Safuudin Kichlu, Dr. Basheer Ahmad, Syed Ameer Ali, Dr. Syed Muhammad, Hasrat Mohani, Nawab Abdul Latheef, Altaf Hussain Hali, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi, Syed Ahmad Barielly, Maulana Shibli Numani, Munshi Karamat Ali, Hali, Munshi Zakaullah (Delhi).
To liberate the countrymen from the cultural and educational bondages of the colonial empire, towering centres of learning like Darul Uloom Deoband, Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University were established in the late 19th and early 20th century, which are still counted amongst the leading Indian seminaries.
The role of Muslims in India’s freedom struggle is a glorious episode in the history of India. It represents the valour, sacrifice and patriotism of Indians. Muslims from the earliest stages of Indian freedom movement played pre-dominant role but their sacrifices have not been recognised. Those who shed their blood for the freedom of this motherland are in the dark pages of history today. This is a deliberate attempt to discredit the Muslim leadership and indeed the Muslim masses, in order to spread in the Muslim community a sense of inferiority complex and to push them on a defensive stand.The history of Indian National Movement would be incomplete without the mention of the actual role of Indian Muslims in it.
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])


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