The British rule, in a way, served to unify Hindus and Muslims with a commonality of cause: freedom from foreign rule. In Indian National Congress, thousands of Muslims joined and fought for the freedom of India. One must remember that the second president of Indian National Congress was Badruddin Tyabji, a Muslim.
A decade earlier in the revolt of 1847 Bahadur Shah Zaffar, the last of the Mughals and his sons participated but the revolt ended in failure. Bahadur Shah was exiled and his sons beheaded. They too deserve a tribute for laying a spark that would ignite a hundred years later. Blinded and banished to Rangoon, he said that the power of India will one day shake London.
Very few will even be aware of the name of Haji Imdadullah Muhajire Makki who, with his troops fought against the British in May 1857 in the Battle of Shamli. Their ferocious fight inspired Indians to band together and to continue the rebellion.
Even before the Revolt of the 1857, Tipu Sultan was the lone wolf battling the British during the late 1700s until he was martyred. He was the last obstacle to the British in their march towards total hegemony over India. Tipu Sultan inspired the Ulama of Muzzafarnagar who fought under Haji Imdadullah.
In 1808 Nawab Amir Ali Khan and Maharaja Jaswant Rao joined forces to fight against the British and to free the land and they were joined by Syed Ahmad Shaheed, who later on toured the country from 1818 to 1821 to inspire people to fight for independence. Later on, his activities included setting up a base in the Frontier and formation of a nucleus of freedom fighters in 1827.
Let’s not forget them. Ahmad Ullah was an active nationalist and took part in the Jallianwala Baugh uprising where he was shot. He was born in 1884. In 1818 there was another Ahmadullah who served as a deputy Collector but participated in the Wahabi Movement and was arrested in 1857 and was sentenced to death but was later deported to the Andamans where he died in Jain in 1881.
Such activities by noble, patriotic muslims, prior to the watershed year of 1857 that historians mark as the turning point of Indian’s freedom movement, did not go in vain and inspired Ulamas to call for a war against the British. Muslims, under the leadership of the Ulamas, stood staunchly.
There are muslim martyrs whose names we remember. There are also thousands of countless muslim martyrs who remain nameless. Muslims too turned up at the Jallianwala Baugh, only to be massacred. 51200 Ulamas were martyred during the revolt of 1857.
The British hanged 500 Ulama to death, finding them guilty of treason and countless were sentenced to life imprisonment. Rebellion cleric, a Britisher, wrote in his memoir that the real heroes of the 1857 revolt were the Ulamas or Maulvis—muslim leaders who led the community in the fight.
Another worthy person who must be remembered is Maulama Qasmi Nanautwi, founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, an organization that fought for Indian nationalism.
Shaikhul Islam Maulana Mehmood Hasan launched Reshmi Rumal Tehreeq in 1905, an effort to unite Indians against the British. His reward: imprisonment in Malta where he died.
Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan, the Frontier Gandhi is another one to remember as a prominet freedom fighter. In the struggle for freedom, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Ahmed Madani, Maulana Hifzur Rehman and Abbas Tyabji stand tall and do deserve recognition.
There are many more Muslims who faught for the independence of our country. I call upon all to share the information with us so that we can publish it for our readers.