Darul-Uloom in the Fight for Freedom
The political history of Darul-Uloom Deoband, should be reckoned to have begun nine or ten years prior to the establishment of Darul-Uloom. In 1857 (A.H. 1274), with the determination to free India from the English yoke, the elders of Darul-Uloom, particularly the Shaikh (spiritual guide) of the group, Hazrat Haji Imdadullah Muhajir-e-Makki, 42, and his favourite disciples.Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi, 25, and Maulana Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi, 29, and some other respectable men, as a dernier ressart, appealed to arms with great derring-do, an event which makes the first-ever page of the history of Darul-Uloom. In a gathering at Thana Bhavan the famous historical.
"Though defeat had been incurred in the field of battle, the group's concept of freedom had not been annihilated. At that time, observing the English domination and their uncommon power, an august man had remarked in the mosque of Chhatta : 'The English have stabilised (lit., clawed deeply) their position firmly; let us see how they are uprooted'. At this Maulana Muhammad Yaqoob Nanautavi, the first principal of Darul-Uloom, Deoband, who was a relative, disciple and one of the favourite companions, said in a very awesome manner; 'what are you thinking of the time in not far off when India will be rolled up like a mat. We will sleep at night under their government and will wake up in the morning under another administration'".
The Ulama of Deoband, with resoluteness and trust in Allah, have always been not only in the foremost rank of those who have struggled in the movement for the independence of India but they have also frequently been in the lead of this movement for independence; and if it is seen more thoughtfully and justly, they were the first persons, the pioneers, who initiated this idea. The warmth, vigour and catholicity which was created in this movement in fact is indebted to them. Most of these gentlemen raised the banner of revolt against the English government, fought face to face with the English army and many of them passed a good part of their lives in jail. The fact is that the history of the independence movement of India is so mixed up with the history of the Ulama and religious personalities that it is now difficult to separate one from the other. Political decline had reduced Muslims to a state of helplessness and misery, distraction and anxiety; by the establishment of Darul-Uloom, Deoband, they received equanimity, composure and stability.
In 1333HD. 1913AD., Hazrat Nanautavi's well-guided pupil, Maulana Mahmood Hasan Shaikhul-Hind prepared a scheme of stirring a revolution against the British Government which has been called "Silken Letters" in the report of the Rowlatt Committee. But by chance this scheme of Silken Letters miscarried and the Shaikhul-Hind, along with his accomplices', Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, Maulana Ozair Gul and others were arrested and kept under detention in the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea for a number of years; and the Shaikhul-Hind's disciples, Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi and Maulana Mansoor Ansari had to pass a very long time of their lives in exile.
In 1338/1920, after his release from Malta, the Shaikhul-Hind joined the jami'atul-Ulama which his disciples had founded in 1337/1919 to give a fillip to the independence movement. The jami'atul-Ulama shoulder to shoulder with the Indian National Congress, serpent its force in awakening the country politically and socially. Maulana Sayyid Husain Ahmad Madani, Maulana Mufti Kifayatullah Dehlavi, Maulana Sayyid Fakhrud-Deen Ahmad, and later on, Maulana Hifzur-Rahman, Maulana Mufti Ateequr-Rahman Usmani, Maulana Minnatullah Rahmani, Maulana Habibur-Rahman Ludhyanvi, Maulana Sayyid Muhammad Miyan Deobandi and many other Ulama of Deoband not only remained in the forefront of the movements for the freedom of the country but they have also been the cause of coming into being of several other movements and have consequently suffered the hardships of imprisonment and jail.
In 1345/1926, the gentlemen who sowed the seeds of complete independence for Indian in the meeting of the Jami'atul-Ulama-e-Hind at Calcutta were the graduates of Darul-Uloom, Deoband, only; and then they reiterated it in 1346/1927 in the meeting at Peshawar.
It should be made clear here that the Indian National Congress had declared complete independence three years later in its session at Lahore.
Abdul-Gaffar khan, during his visit to India in 1389|1969, addressing the students of Darul-Uloom, had said:-
"I have had relation with Darul-Uloom since the time the Shaikhul-Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan was alive. Sitting here we used to make plans for the independence movement as to how we might drive away the English from this country and how we could make India free from the yoke of slavery of the English. This institution has made great efforts for the freedom of this country".
It is stated in the magazine 'Ilm wa Agahi of Government National College, Karachi, as under:-
"Darul-Uloom Deoband, is not merely an old-type institution of Islamic ; it is, rather, the name of a glorious movement for the revivification of Islam and the stability of the community. Darul-Uloom, Deoband, was a centre of revolution and political, training. It nurtured such a body of such a body of self-sacrificing soldiers of Islam and sympathisers of the community who themselves wept in the grief of the community and also made others weep; who themselves tossed about restlessly for the restitution of the Muslims' dignity and caused others also to toss about. They themselves sacrificed their lives for the attainment of respectable life and also taught the lesson of self-sacrifice and self-denial to others. They shattered the Muslims' intellectual stagnation, they broke up the spell of the British imperialism, and, grappling with the contemporary tyrannical powers, dispelled fear and anxiety from the minds of the country. Not only this; they kindled the candle of freedom in the political wilderness of Aligarh, extricated from the baseness of ideal, created the sense of the superficiality of objective, and in that assembly where the law of muteness was in force, where tongues were chopped off on talking and where sentinels were set on the minds, they blew the trumpet of revolution, and rescuing a large body of young men from the squalor of toadayis life appointed them on the post of guidance in the struggle for the independence of the country. It is a historical fact that the political awakening that was created in Aligarh in the beginning of the twentieth century was indebted to Deoband and some other revolutionary movements in the country, and the revolutionary freedom-lovers who rose up there were the products of the grace from the spring of thought of Deoband.
"The elders of Deoband took more and more part in the struggle for the independence of the country; they suffered all the troubles of this path and came out successful in every test, After the establishment of Darul-Uloom the period of participation in national politics begins with Hazrat Shaikh al-Hind.Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi has acknowledged the Shaikh al-Hinds life to be a separate epoch of the Waliyullahian movement. The caravan of resolute men prepared under the leadership of the Shaikh al-Hind included Maulana Ubaydullah Sindhi, Maulana Muhammad Mian Mansoor Ansari, Maulana Fazl-e Rabbi (member Hai'at-e Tamizia, Afghanistan), Maulana Sayfur-Rahman Kabuli, Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Karachwi, Mfti Kifayatullah Dehelvi, Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani, Maulana Ahmed Ali Lahori and many other great ones. Even today, from India to Pakistan, the graduates of Darul-Uloom Deoband, are guiding the country and the community in the field of politics. The leaders of the movement for Pakistan derived benefit from the course adopted in certain matters by an illustrious religious divine of Deoband, viz., Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi, while Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was himself among the leaders of the movement for Pakistan and he, with his best scholarly capacities, tried to make the Muslim League firm and steady in the ideal of Islamic state. Then, after the establishment of Pakistan, the Indian leaders of Deoband guided the Indian Muslims in utterly adverse circumstances and helped keep up their spirits high; and in Pakistan the august men of his order took up the gauntlet of reconstruction and service to the country and the community with a new determination and guided the community with their capacities and abilities in every walk of life in Pakistan.