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Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

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Expressions of loyalty to British rule

1. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (died 1898)

  1. He wrote as follows about the British government:

    "Muslims were living in peace under their government. In no way could they undertake jihad against the government."

    (Asbab Baghawat-i Hind, i.e. `Causes of the Indian Mutiny', p. 105)

  2. Regarding the famous Aligarh Muslim college (founded by Sir Syed) and those who were associated with it, it is noted in a history research work:

    "The British found Aligarh men easy to deal with. They granted the school substantial patronage for secular instruction and served as visitors, chief guests, patrons, and --- most importantly --- faculty members. Lord Lytton himself laid the foundation stone of the college in 1877, and guests of such stature were frequent at the school. They tended to see the school as the mark of the end of Muslim opposition to their rule, the end of obscurantism"

    (Islamic Revival in British India, by Dr Barbara Daly Metcalf, p. 328)

  3. It is also written in the same book about Sir Syed:

    "Gradually he became convinced that British rule was long to stay, and that those Muslims aligned with it would be both true to their religion and prosperous. He had to convince his fellow Muslims of the truth of this position…To the British he had to show that the Muslims were both loyal and important to the stability of their rule... His efforts --- if not his religious thought --- were to be welcomed by many Muslims of his day." (p. 319)

2. Maulavi Chiragh Ali

Commenting on Maulavi Chiragh Ali's famous English work entitled Jihad, the Pakistani historian S. M. Ikram writes in his book about the history of Islam in India as follows:
"In the book Jihad, Maulavi Chiragh Ali has proved that all the wars of the Holy Prophet were defensive, and jihad is only permitted in self-defence. Today many Muslims do not agree with this view. However, when expressing opinion on this book, we must firstly bear in mind the solid, scholarly and religious arguments upon which he based his claim, and secondly we must survey the circumstances of the times when this book was written. ... Thousands of Muslims were losing their lives due to being under the influence of the commonly-prevalent concept of jihad. As a result, on the one hand many sincere men were following a path which was entirely to their loss, and on the other hand the [British] government was becoming aliented with the Muslims. By writing this book, the Maulavi sahib showed a way which was in the Muslims' interests. Those who disagree with his views should remember that according to Islamic teachings the mutual differences of the Ulama, based on sincerely-held views, are a source of mercy."

(Mauj-i Kausar, published 1962, p. 167)


3. Deputy Nazir Ahmad (died 1912)

He was a famous religious scholar, social reformer, and a pioneer of Urdu literature whose novels are today a basic part of the educational curriculum.
  • Regarding his views, it is recorded:

    "In that age of great tribulations, among the persons who interpreted jihad as abrogated and who declared the British to be the `holders of authority' in terms of the Quranic verse `Obey God and obey the Messenger and the holders of authority from among you', is included the name of the famous writer Deputy Nazir Ahmad. ... In his translation of the Quran he was the first to proclaim the British to be `holders of authority', and obedience to them to be implicit in the obedience of God and the Messenger. ... See Dastan-i Tarikh in Urdu by Hamid Hasan Qadiri, page 98."

    (Book Ata-ullah Shah Bukhari by the well-known journalist Shorash Kashmiri, p. 135)

  • It is said about him in a history research work:

    "He mocked those who aped British dress and manners. Still he enthusiastically embraced British rule, writing at length during the 1870s to deny the legitimacy of jihad."

    (Islamic Revival in British India, by Dr Barbara Daly Metcalf, p. 332)


4. Maulavi Sayyid Nazir Husain of Delhi (died 1902)

He was the top-most theologian of the Ahl-i Hadith sect.
  • In a fatwa, he wrote about India under British rule as follows:

    "Since the criterion of jihad is absent from this land, to conduct jihad here would be a means of destruction and a sin." (Fatawa Naziriyya, vol. iv, p. 472)
  • It is recorded in a journal of his Ahl-i Hadith sect, Isha`at as-Sunna edited by Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi, that when Maulavi Nazir Husain went to Makka for the Pilgrimage, he took with him a letter of introduction from the British commissioner of Delhi. The journal reproduced this letter in order to refute allegations against the Ahl-i Hadith of disloyalty to the British government. It is given below, as printed in English in the original journal:

    "Maulavi Nazir Husain is a leading Maulavi in Delhi who in difficult times has proved his loyalty to the British government and in his pilgrimage to Mecca I hope any British Officer whose help or protection he may need will afford it to him as he most fully deserves it.
    (Signed) J.D. Tremlett, B.C.S.
    Commissioner and Supdt. Delhi Division
    August 10th 1883."

    (Isha`at as-Sunna, vol. vi, no. 10, October 1883, p. 294)


5. Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan of Bhopal

He was an eminent Ahl-i Hadith religious scholar as well as political leader, who died around the time that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad came to public prominence. He wrote a famous book entitled Tarjuman-i Wahhabiyyat on the subject of Muslim loyalty to British rule of India.
  • Regarding his contribution to this subject, Dr. Barbara Daly Metcalf writes in her research work:

    "After the Mutiny [of 1857]…some among the British still feared that Muslims would once again resort to open warfare, as they had done in the 1830s. Those who did saw the Ahl-i Hadith as the heirs of the jihad tradition and singled out Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan as its exponent… But far from fomenting jihad, he had written Tarjuman-i Wahhabiyyat to prove that the Ahl-i Hadith were loyal. He quoted Lord Northbrook's testimonial to Muslim loyalty. He pointed out that Bhopal had aided the British in the war in Egypt. He cited, as did all the writers on this subject, the obligation of Muslims to accept a ruler who had provided security and with whom one had made an agreement."
    (Islamic Revival in British India, p 279)
  • Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan himself wrote in this book Tarjuman-i Wahhabiyyat as follows:

    1. "This book has been written to inform the British government that no Muslim subject of India and the Indian states bears malice towards this great power."
      (Edition published in Lahore, 1895, page 4)
    2. "Be concerned about those people who are ignorant of their religious teachings, in that they wish to efface the British government, and to end the current peace and tranquility by disorder under the name of jihad. This is sheer stupidity and foolishness."
      (page 7)
    3. "During the mutiny [of 1857], some rajas and so-called nawabs and men of means interfered in the peace and calm of India under the name of jihad, and they fanned the flames of battle till their disorder and hostility reached such a level that women and children, who cannot be killed under any law, were thoughtlessly slaughtered … If anyone lets loose such mischief today, he would also be the same kind of trouble-maker, and from beginning to end he would stain the name of Islam."
      (page 15)

  • Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan then mentions how another Ahl-i Hadith leader, Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi, obtained fatwas from a large number of Muslim religious leaders all over India affirming loyalty to British rule:

    "In 1875, Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi…gave the reply that jihad and religious war against the British government of India, against the authority which has granted religious freedom, is forbidden by and contrary to the law of Islam, and those people who take up weapons against the British government of India, or against any sovereign who has granted religious freedom, and wish to conduct religious jihad, are all rebels and deservant of punishment. Then Maulavi Muhammad Husain, in support of his claim and reply, sent his ruling to all the Ulama of Punjab and other parts of India, and well-publicised it. He obtained the seals and signatures of approval of all the Ulama of Punjab and India in support of the ruling that the taking up of arms by Indian Muslims, and jihad against the British government of India, was opposed to the Sunna and the faith of the believers in One God."
    (Tarjuman-i Wahhabiyyat, page 61)

    This same Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi, some years later, opposed Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and had him denounced as a heretic due to his claim of being the Promised Messiah. So we see that even the most bitter opponents of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad among the Muslim Ulama, such as Maulavi Muhammad Husain Batalvi, held exactly the same position as he did on the question of the Muslim attitude to British rule of India.


6. Deobandi leaders and theologians

The Deoband religious school, founded in 1867, represents a very different sectarian tendency within Sunni Islam from the Ahl-i Hadith referred to above (muqallid as opposed to ghair muqallid). The founders and early leaders of this movement too renounced jihad against British rule of India, and displayed loyalty to the government.
  • Rashid Ahmad Gangohi, a very famous Deoband theologian, wrote:

    "As I have in fact been obedient to the government, the false accusation [of disloyalty] could not do me the slightest harm. But even if I were to be executed, the government is the master and can do what it likes."

    (Tazkira Rashidiyya, by Muhammad Ashiq Ilahi, vol. i, p. 80. See weekly Al-I`tisam, 2 October 1970, p. 7)

  • In her book Islamic Revival in British India, 1860-1900 (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982), Dr Barbara Daly Metcalf writes as follows about Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and the Deobandis:

    "The Deobandis made sure that they conformed in every way to a posture of loyalty. Rashid Ahmad, for this reason, refused to accept a grant of 5000 Rupees a year from the Shah of Afghanistan for fear that a political link might be suspected. And the school celebrated ceremonial occasions like coronations with appropriate pomp, and observed times of crises, like Queen Victoria's last illness, with fitting prayers and messages."
    (pages 154-155)
  • Regarding Maulavi Sami-ullah Khan, a student and associate of Maulavi Mamluk Ali, it is written:

    "On 16 September 1884 Maulavi Sami-ullah Khan went on a political mission to Egypt to strenghten British interests in that country, and there he did harm to Jamal-ud-Din Afghani's Pan-Islamic movement. In recognition of his services, he received the title C.M.G."

    (The book Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanotavi by Muhammad Ayub Qadiri, p. 184. See weekly Al-I`tisam, 2 October 1970, p. 6)


7. Anjuman Himayat-i Islam

This was a famous Muslim association of Lahore, founded in 1885, which represented a cross-section of Muslim opinion. It announced in an official statement:
"In return for the bounties of the government, it is our duty to remain loyal subjects of the government forever. The Muslims have a double advantage in this. They fulfil their obligations as subjects, and they have Divine reward for it as well because God has taught us in the Quran: `Obey God and the holders of authority from among you'. May God long preserve such a government over us, in whose shade we had so much rest, and may He always keep us obedient to it."

(Published report of the Anjuman Himayat-i-Islam, 1903)