The Wahabi Movement was not a Struggle for Independence but a Declaration of War Against Infidel India
The most accomplished custodians of the combined legacy of the worst excesses of Islamic tyranny in India are our Marxists, now wearing the garb of Left Liberals. The service they have rendered to this cause surpasses even the most prolific and learned Mullah, Maulvi or Imam. The reach of the Muslim clergy is largely limited to its own clergy while the reach and influence of our Left Liberals is truly pan Indian thanks to their entrenched institutional and media hegemony. If Mohandas Gandhi halal-ed the Hindu psyche with his Sarvdharma Samabhava poison, the Left-Liberals upheld the “glory” of Islamic “culture” and transformed barbarians into saints, the latest being St. Tipu Sultan. But after Muslim political power was extinguished, our Left Liberals had to alter this script: in place of saints, they had to manufacture Muslim freedom fighters especially after the second half of the 19th century.
The epochal modern Indian Renaissance was the spiritual, cultural, and scholarly precursor of the actual freedom struggle, overwhelmingly drawing inspiration from the best of Sanatana traditions. Equally, the actual freedom struggle itself was largely Hindu in character, inspiration, and implementation. The picture on the other side is perhaps the best proof of this fact. From the very start, the serial subterfuges emanating from the gang of the super-elite Ashrafs in close collaboration with their fanatical clergy falls into these broad categories:
Intrigues, plots, and insurrections aimed at restoring the Mughal rule using every vile ruse and resources at their command
A craven and tactical alignment with the now-dominant British to snatch whatever crumbs they could until the time was ripe to overthrow them
Sabotaging the ongoing freedom struggle launched by Hindus using a combination of chicanery, sweet-talking and unprovoked violence against them
This is whitewashed by the Left Liberal distorians as the great Muslim “contribution” to the Indian freedom struggle.
One such whitewashing is applying the varnish of patriotism over a truly ugly chapter in the post-Mughal Muslim history of India: the sordid Jihad committed by the Wahabis. One Left Liberal version of this chapter goes so far as to say that this Wahabi Jihad was actually the First War of Indian Independence. As usual, the truth is the exact opposite.
Death of Syed Ahmad Barelvi
Our story begins with the death of the super-bigot, Syed Ahmad Barelvi, widely credited as the founder of the Wahabi “movement” in India. He was the grand-disciple of the ultra-fanatic, Shah Waliullah, and followed his footsteps loyally. As we’ve seen, Syed Ahmad Barelvi’s twin obsessions included an inveterate hatred against the “long-haired infidels, the Sikhs,” and the “infidel Christians, the British.” He declared that the entire India controlled by the Sikh Empire, the British, and various “infidel Hindu” dynasties had now become Dar-ul-Harb, a war zone. Therefore, every true-blooded Muslim had to either migrate out or launch a war to drive out these hated infidels. He set the example for this launch by starting the Wahabi “movement,” and marshalled support by writing fanaticism-dipped letters to the Prince Kamran of Herat, Amir Nasrullah of Bukhara and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Of them, the Nizam’s brother became his most devoted disciple and sent him men and money.
Syed Ahmad also set up various Khalifas throughout India, a vast network of fanatics headed by members of the Islamic clergy and other prominent men from the community.
However, the Sikh army smashed Syed Ahmad in its maiden encounter with him, beheaded him and scattered his ashes in Balakot.
But the Khalifas he had established proved more enduring.
After Maharaja Ranjit Singh died in 1839, Ahmad’s Khalifas captured large parts of the region to the left of the Sindhu river. This was the beginning of what we can call the first phase of the Wahabi “movement.” The British quickly woke up to this threat and quelled the Wahabis in 1847 and wrested back the region.
In the second phase, we notice an outright fanatic named Inayat Ali, the Khalifa of Patna. He made fervent preparations for a “final Jihad” against the infidel British and circulated letters to his other fanatical comrades-in-arms in other Khalifas. Those Muslims who did not want to actively participate in a military conquest were urged to infiltrate the government’s administration and fight using them state machinery. Meerut, Bareily, Delhi, and many districts of Bihar and Bengal became hotbeds of this brewing war.
The second phase fired its first salvo in 1853. Inayat Ali now had the support of the Akhond of Swat and the Sayyids of Sittana. He launched an open war against Jahandad Kha, the British vassal at Amb. However, the British effortlessly shattered it. One of Inayat’s commanders, Karam Ali was chopped into pieces, Inayat Ali himself had to flee with great difficulty. This marks the end of the second phase of the Wahabi “movement.”
The third phase begins with Inayat Ali’s renewed efforts. He realized that his motley band of Jihadis was no match for the trained British military. And so, he began to give them hardcore military training.
Three or four years later, he dispatched Mirza Muhammad on an expedition, which was indeed successful. The Wahabi force captured several villages in Nawakela and Sheikhjahana. But the British soon recouped and threw them out. However, by now the Wahabis had become quite a force to reckon with. One of the main reasons was the selfsame Khalifa network that Syed Ahmad Barelvi had established. No matter the defeats, this network supplied the Wahabis with men, money, and material.
In 1857, Inayat Ali launched a surprise night attack on Lt. Horne, an Assistant Commissioner at Sheikhjahana and completely devastated him and plundered the entire place and returned with a substantial booty. Inayat Ali was flushed with success and it was only a matter of time before the infidel British would be thrown out.
Fate had other plans.
The First War of Indian Independence broke out in the same year and thoroughly unsettled all his plans.
When the Wahabis noticed the speed, ferocity, and sweep of the war against the British, they stuck to their founding charter: they stood completely aloof from it because it was eminently haram to cooperate with the infidel Hindus. They also went a step further by issuing a formal Proclamation “inviting all Mahomedans in India to arm and fight for their religion.” Next, they published a Fatwa “declaring that it was the duty of all Mahomedans to make religious war, and that otherwise their families…would be destroyed and ruined.”
The most important base of the Wahabis was Sittana from where they ravaged the surrounding regions, plundering, burning, pillaging and killing. Between 1850 – 1863, the British sent about twenty expeditions to crush them. The total military force dispatched during this period numbered up to 60,000. Prominent Wahabi fanatics included Maqsud Ali, Vilayat Ali, and Abdullah (Vilayat Ali’s son). In October 1863, a formidable unit led by Neville Chamberlain (not to be confused with the British Prime Minister), was crushed by the Wahabis at the Ambeyla Pass. Next, the Wahabis directly began capturing British pickets and outposts and inflicted heavy losses in the territory controlled by the British.
The Wahabis had now become a festering wound and the British Government in Punjab said in a note, “these fanatics are no harmless or powerless religionists; they are a permanent source of danger to our rule in India.”
It was time to cut the root itself. As we noted earlier, the spectacular and repeated successes of the Wahabis was because the Khalifa network of Muslims in mainland India supplied them with money, men, and material. This source had to be burnt for good. Accordingly, the British launched a massive manhunt of prominent Wahabi leaders across India and arrested most of its masterminds. The trials at Ambala, Patna, Malda, and Rajmahal yielded a great harvest. These Wahabi leaders were transported for life.
With that, the Wahabi movement was completely crushed in 1870.
However, in the highly secularized history of the 1857 war of independence, the selfsame Wahabis are painted as having waged the first war of Independence.
From the start, the Wahabis regarded their revolt as a struggle for Muslim independence. It was an all-out Jihad for the restoration of a pure Islamic rule in India as evidenced by the letters of Syed Ahmad Barelvi and the numerous pamphlets and other material by his followers. The underlying impulse of the Wahabi “movement” was Islamic, not Indian, its ultimate goal was to establish Dar-ul-Islam throughout India.
Unlike the Hindus of today, the Hindus back then clearly saw through the Wahabi perfidy and studiously kept away from them. As R.C. Majumdar notes, “the revolutionary spirit of the Wahabis did not leave any trace behind and its memory did not inspire any anti-British movement…in the twentieth century.”
Guess who was the latter-day inheritor of the bigoted Wahabi impulse germinated by Shah Waliullah and put in practice by Barelvi? His name is Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the patron saint of the secularist wet dream.
For a brilliant discussion of the truly bigoted character of the Wahabi “movement,” the interested reader is referred to Sri H.V. Seshadri’s definitive work, The Tragic Story of Partition.
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