Ulama of Deoband – Part 1


In 1601, an East India company trade delegation under the leadership of Vasco da Gama anchored at Bombay Harbour. They requested the government of that time for assistance. They promised to improve trade links with India by exporting Indian goods back to the British market and to then reinvest the profits back to India. The Mogul king of that time, Ahmad Shah Abdali was very short-sighted and failed to understand the policies of the English. He provided this trade delegation with a number of concessions. By 1701, a hundred years later, a number of territories were already under British rule.

The British came to India in 1601 and Shah Waliyullah Rahmatullahi Alayh, was born in 1702. By 1740, Shah Waliyullah Rahmatullahi Alayh realized that the British had already seized control of four main territories. When Shah Waliyullah witnessed the British seizing authority from all four sides, he, for the very first time, translated the Qur’an into Persian. He realized that if Islamic knowledge was not propagated, the British government will continue consolidating its rule over India. In 1762, after the demise of Shah Walyullah, Shah ‘Abdul Aziz succeeded his father and for the first time in history planted the seeds of antagonism against the British. He was the first person to pass a fatwa on the validity of jihad against the British and their supporters in India. Due to the fatwa, Fatah ‘AIi Sultan Tippu accompanied by his army eventually fought four battles in Mysore.

Sultan Tippu himself engaged in physical combat against the enemy. He was martyred in 1792 while fighting alone right up to the very end. This mujahid was martyred at the fort of Mysore whilst his chief general, Mir Sadiq betrayed him for 22 000 acres of land by the British.

During the rule of Raja Ranjit Singh over Punjab, he initiated a spell of tyranny and oppression against the Muslims. He transformed the courtyard of the Shahi Masjid into a stable. His aggression did not even spare the honour of women. Eventually, news of this tyranny reached Ray Bareli. In Ray Bareli there lived a pious servant by the name of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid. When Sayyid Shahid heard of this, he made an appeal to the Muslims to submit their names for jihad. He informed all his disciples that jihad against Rajah Ranjit Singh has become obligatory upon them. Finally in 1826, together with 750 mujahidln and 10 000 disciples, he set out from Ray Bareli. This force treaded its way through the mountain passes of Khaybar and Julan and finally landed in Peshawar in their very first attack. They continued advancing and on the 1st of May 1831, they landed on the mountains of Balakot and set up camp that night on the mountain. One of the local villages betrayed the mujahidln to the Rajah’s forces who launched an attack at night from the rear of the mountain. On the 5th of May, whilst Sayyid Ahmad Shahid was in sajdah in tahajjud salah, he was beheaded by the enemy. On the same day, his vicegerent, Shah Ismail Shahid (the grandson of Shah Waliyullah) took command and went on fighting for the next four days. When a Sikh verbally abused Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, Shah Ismail retorted, “By Allah, I will not die till I have beheaded you”.

When Shah Ismail was attacked by the enemy, his head got severed and fell to the ground. In spite of him being decapitated, he miraculously still held onto his sword and ran after that enemy who spoke ill of Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. From a distance of about a furlong (approx. 200m,) he hurled his sword on the enemy. The sword found its way through the enemy’s body and he fell to the ground. Thereafter, Shah Ismail Shahid also fell to the ground. 450 mujdhidln were also martyred. Only about a 100 mujahidln returned. After 1831, when the ‘ulema’ realized that the British government was getting more and more fortified in the country, they called up a number of meetings first. Many warriors gathered from all parts of the country and many decisive battles were fought against the British. This continued for some time.


“he ‘ulema’ of Deoband have been chosen as the protectors of every aspect of Allah’s Deen in the recent past. May Allah bless us with the ability to follow their footsteps and accomplish their mission of bringing Islam alive in the entire world! Amin.”