Efforts for the Preservation of Religion

The Christian countries of Europe have been rivals of the Muslims from the very beginning. They never considered the idolatrous nations to be their enemies capable of posing danger to Christendom in the field of international politics. But the Muslims did have an international position. They had established their slates not only in Asia but had also ruled over Spain in Europe for 800 years and then for 600 had held sway over Constantinople, which was the capital of eastern Byzantium and other territories under its suzerainty. The real rivals, therefore, of the Christians were only Muslims, who had fought great wars with them in the course of 1400 years, particularly since the Muslims control of Jerusalem and practically since A.D. 1095 when the two great faiths, Islam and Christianity had after centuries of argument, decided to resort to as a world-renowned historian of civilisation says: "To man's ultimate arbitrament the supreme court of war". When all Christendom was aflame with holy fervour as never before as it feverishly prepared for the holy war. On the holy-land of Palestine alone, which was then the bone of contention, as many as thirteen crusades had been fought in which the allied natives of Europe had taken part and had at last been defeated. The Turks had to keep fighting the Christian nations of Europe for 600 years. Christendom was therefore afraid only of the Muslims against whom it was always intriguing and hatching conspiracies to create weakness in Muslim politics so that it might take advantage of it.

So, when the English, in their greed of conquest, landed on the Indian soil, here too they found the banner of Muslim power waving in the air. This too made them consider Muslims as their true rivals and they began to plan to crush them. In the sight of the English the Muslims did not deserve any sympathy. The passions for vengeance created by the events of 1857 had deprived the English of even the human sentiments of justice and equity in respect of the Muslims. Since the Muslims, in the revolt of 1857 and earlier, had been in the forefront of every movement opposing the English, they alone were made the target of wrath after the stabilisation of the English government. Subsequent to the decline and extinction of the Muslim power and the stability of the sway of the East India Company over India, the Christian missions enhanced their activities throughout the country more fervently and enthusiastically, although the preaching activities in India had already begun during the Mughal regime itself. A historian of that era, Khafi Khan has stated: "The Feringhees have mostly established their colonies in the coastal ports. When anyone from amongst their subjects dies, they confiscate his effects and, enslaving his young children, whether they be Hindu or Muslim, christianise them".

The means and methods the English adopted in propagating Christianity had spread prodigious misgivings among the Indians.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century the activities of the Christian missions encompassed the whole country. The aforesaid Charles Grant was instrumental in inducing the British Parliament to incorporate provisions about education and the entry of missionaries in the Charter of 1813. With this permission a floodgate of missions and their schools, collages, hospitals and Bible Societies was opened "to redeem the heathens of India from the darkness in which they dwelt. For this purpose legions after legions of padres began to come to India and crores of rupees began to be spent like water. Besides males, a number of women missionaries were also employed to preach among the Indian women. The people of the untouchable, scheduled castes of India were much affected by the Christian preachers, Besides them some other people also, renouncing their ancestral religions, began to become Christians.

In 1826, Archbishop Heber of the Church of England, after a long missionary tour of India, submitted a report to the Court of Directors of the East India Company to the effect that since its political power had been established in India. And Muslims, Marhattas, Rajputs, Sikhs, all had submitted to their paramountcy. There was no more left any possibility of any row or uproar over the preaching of Christianity, Such reports and statements gave a great fillip to the missionary activities, encouraging the padres' coming to India and their long sojourns here. Christian preachers swarmed everywhere and fanned out in the country, laying a network of preaching activities from cities and towns to villages. These overzealous raissionaries would not rest content with merely the description of the merits and virtues of their religion but, under a pre-planned scheme, used to publish such literature in which the religions of India. Particularly the Islamic teachings and Islamic culture were being derided, and the Prophet of Islam, Muslim monarchs and saints were insulted and affronted. The purpose of these people behind this derision and detraction most probably was that since the Muslims after their political decline and debacle had been deprived of their inherent courage, high-minded-ness and lofty vision. If the virtues and merits of Christianity and the (supposed) defects and shortcomings of there own religion and history were presented before them on this occasion. They would very possibly apostatise and would adopt Christianity and thus the English would get a chance to rule over India permanently and complacently.

In A. D. 1834/A. H. 1250, the famous preacher of the Church of England, Dr. C. G. Fonder came to India. He was a cleric of German stock and had proficiency in speaking and writing both the Arabic and Persian languages. In A. D. 1835/A. H. 1251 he published a book in Persian entitled Mizan ul-Haq in refutation of Islam.' This is the first book in refutation of Islam published in India.

The East India Company whose apparent purpose was trading and the real objective was the preaching of Christianity and the grabbing of political power in India, had gradually begun 1o intermeddle in the political, educational and administrative affairs of the country. With this objective in mind, Bible Societies had been established at many places, the Bible had been translated into all the principal languages of the country. Christian missions had been opened in all the big and small cities and towns of India, and the officials of the Company and the Christian missionaries had made a common cause and were preaching Christianity vigorously. The English people's plan was that somehow the Indians, particularly the Muslims, should be converted to Christianity so that that religious zeal that impelled them to hate and oppose the British might be channelised for stabilising the British government. And thereby the chances of ruling over India peacefully with the flourishing of Christianity might be created.

In short, on the one hand, missionary activities of the padres were current, mission schools were being opened in which facilities for acquiring education were being provided, and the officials of the Company were on their back. Providing all sorts of help and support and, on the other, above every thing else was the lure of government services. The scheme of the Company was such that by making the inhabitants of India, particularly the Muslims, indigent and ignorant, for which all sorts of proper and 1mproper means were being employed. And by luring them to the acquisition of services, they should be constrained to receive education in Mission Schools, which were considered then the greatest means for the preaching of Christianity. But the greatest stumbling block in this path was the sciences of the Muslims and their love for it. To obviate this the said education scheme VV'CIS devised in AD 1835/ A.H. 1251 the spirit of which. According to Lord Macaulay, was to create a class of persons who would be "Indians in blood and colour, but English in lasts in opinions, in morals, and in intellects".

 This second weapon of English education and English culture no doubt proved more successful than the former. It is obvious that this scheme of the Company was a very noxious and deadly weapon for the Muslims' religious life, communal traditions and arts and sciences that they could never bring them selves round to accepting under any circumstance. And while they had not yet thought out a solution for maintaining their religious life and communal consciousness, the upheaval of 1857 occurred whose unsparing ravages and horrible consequences had terrorised hearts, benumbed brains and withered souls. The whole community was over- clouded with inertia, insensibility and despondency. The monarchical and ruling power and glory, wealth and pomp had been finished and the Muslims had been altogether deprived of the means of livelihood. Indecent habits were taking root in them day by day and the entire community was falling into the abyss of ruination and destruction. Disinclination towards education and alienation from religion were increasing daily; the consciousness of their own strength and position was dying out. The padres' preaching activities had made conditions more perplexing and the time was not far off when the old generation of the Ulema educated in the former seminaries would have gradually vanished.

These were the circumstances under which our thinkers and savants had to perceive that with political decay and debacle and deprivation of sovereignty, the Muslims' learning, religion and communal life too would soon fall into serious jeopardy. They were not unaware of this decision of history that whenever a people have conquered a country and have gained political domination and sway over its inhabitants. The influences and characteristics of the victors do not remain confined to the bodies of the vanquished but go deeper, subjugating the heart and mind. Learning and thought of latter also with the inevitable result that the vanquished not only bid adieu to their national customs, national ethos and national thought and practice. But in accordance with the axiom "the people follow their kings religion", and due to the continuous process of attraction and assimilation for a long time, they at last begin to hate their own traditions, values, thought and practice. And then imitation and blind following and conformance to the victorious nation become a source of pride for them.

In the 600-year-old history of the Muslims in India this was the most dreadful, delicate and dangerous time. At such a delicate and dangerous time when the fortune's wheel had brought about a very ruinous state of affairs for the Muslim community, the most important need of the time for the protection and survival of the Muslims was the palingenseis of religious values and establishment of religious schools.

 It has been a great characteristic of our Ulema and Shaikhs that from religious, academic and jurisprudentially propositions to any branch of culture, social life, politics and civilisation, they never let the skirt of the Islamic Shari'ah slip from their hands. They never laid down arms before the rival powers in any corner. The nineteenth century A. D. was a great challenge to the beliefs, thoughts and views of the Muslims. Western arts and sciences and European culture were engulfing the whole world like a great deluge. The lamp of the Mughal sultanate in India had been snuffed out. The lustre and glitter of modem science and technology had dazzled the eyes and overawed the minds. But the noble Ulema continuously remained engaged in facing this challenge. On the one hand they prepared such a defensive fortification by establishing seminaries everywhere in the country that it secured the Muslims to a great extent from the consequences of their political defeat. And on the other Maulana Rahmatullah Keranvi, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautavi, Maulana Abul Mansoor and Dr. Wazir Khan, etc. put up a vigorous fight with full courage and intrepidity against the onslaught of the Christian missionaries. And did not let their preachers dream of converting the Muslims of India to Christianity come true.

The methods of propagating Christianity adopted by the Christian missionaries in those days can be divided into four categories.

1.Mission schools in which the official language of the Government (English) was taught. The teaching of the Bible was compulsory in every such school. It is needless to point out that education is the greatest means of propagating any religion. The thought and mind of students who, due to young age and inexperience, are simple-minded and innocent of religious information can be diverted from their ancestral traditions and values. And can be easily impressed through education, and one's own thoughts and views can be implanted and indurate in their raw, malleable and receptive hearts and minds. It had become a common belief in those days that by reading English children used to bid adieu to their own religion and become "Kristan" (i.e., Christian). Hence the Muslims particularly refrained from admitting their children to mission schools and opposed the English education tooth and nail. Khwaja Ghulam Al-Hasany Panipati has stated: "Khwaja Altaf Husain Hali told my mother about me: Send him to Delhi so that living with me he may acquire English education'. My mother refused saying: 'by giving him English education t don't want to make him materialist and irreligious"?

This was a safeguard of sorts used by the Muslims against the Christian Mission; the Ulema were in the forefront in creating this consciousness among the Muslims.

2.The mission hospitals too ware mode a means of preaching Christianity and efforts were made to impress the patients in these hospitals. This method continues to some extent even now. Hence the allopathic system of medicine was also opposed. The Muslims, for their medical treatment, used to resort mostly to the Unani and Ayurvedic Systems of medicine and herbal therapy. A great advantage obtained from this reaction was that the Unani and the indigenous Systems are still extant in India and are progressing day by day.

3.Consisted in speaking and sermonising, the third method of the Christian Mission consisted in speaking and sermonising in public gatherings and in holding polemical disputations. The Ulema broke lance with the Christian preachers in this field too and with their forceful arguments repulsed the Christian missionaries incessantly so thoroughly that all their schemes were completely demolished. In this connection the names of Delhi, Agra and Shahjahanpur can be particularly mentioned. In 1271/1853, at Agra, the greatest Christian missionary of the time, Dr. C, G. Fonder was so reduced to a nonplus by the incontrovertible academic arguments and clinching objections of Maulana Rahmatullah Keranvi and his colleague, Dr. Wazir Khan, that Exposition of Truth", with its cogent and unarguable arguments and irrefutable proofs, is that soon after its publication in Arabic its translations in six European languages had been published about the same time.

There is no doubt about it that the Muslims in India had been defeated politically by the English but this is also a fact that the eminent Ulema never gave a chance to the Christian padres to succeed in the academic and ideal fields. On every front of the preaching of Christianity they went on defeating the padres without cease, so much so that the Christian missionaries had to restrict the sphere of their feverish activities and had to give up at last that aspect of preaching Christianity. Particularly in which there used to be aggressive attacks on other religions. In short the Darul-Uloom Deoband and its elders protected the religion at a time when its lamp was about to be extinguished; they tried their level best to make a short work of every internal and external mischief and defended Islam in every possible way.

 Besides detective protection there was also need of positive steps at that time, and in this connection the first step was the establishment of religious schools. Accordingly, the Darul-Uloom Deoband was established in 1283/1866. A few months later Madrasah Mazahir-e-Uloom came up in Saharanpur and then such Madaris followed one after another at Thana Bhavan, Muzaffar Nagar, Anbattha, Gulaothi, Meerut, etc., and now their number keeps multiplying day by day. In those crucial and critical days the strategy of the Elias of Deoband, particularly of Hazrat Nanautavi, consisted in the establishment of seminaries only. Wherever he went he tried to establish Madrasahs at Moradabad, Anbatha, Gulaothi, etc. Wherever he had faithful followers he used to insist upon them in letters and personally to found and start Madrasahs. By this persuasion and stimulus a number of Madrasahs were established, as though, in a way, he Hazrat Nanautavi deserves to be called the Founder of Madrasahs in India.

To transmit the correct Islamic beliefs to the rank and file, printing presses were started in which, besides the holy Quran, other religious books too were being printed, some of which were in refutation of Christianity. Through these books that came out of the presses the religious knowledge of the common run of Muslims kept increasing day by day, they not only derived satisfaction from them but also got armed with the well-argued ripostes and squelches to the objections raised by the Christian missions. The Ulema of the Darual-Uloom supplied the Muslims with literature consisting of thousands of books; thus a large number of books on various Islamic topics were published from there. The teaching and publication of Islamic sciences combined raised an insuperable obstacle in the way of the Christian missions and hence those results of the fervent preaching efforts of the missions the padres were desirous of could not ensue.

The force and intrepidity with which, first of all, Hazrat Nanautavi, and then Maulana Murtaza Hasan Chandpuri and Maulana Sanaullah Amritsari from amongst the graduates of the Darul-Uloom Deoband, contended with the preaching of Christianity. And also with the onslaught of Christianity and Arya Samaj which had begun in the last phase of the thirteenth century Hijri, is a glorious exploit in the history of the Darul- Uloom, Deoband.

The great services rendered by Maulana Sayyed Muhammad Anwar Shah Kashmiri, Maulana Murtaza Hasan Chandpuri, Maulana Ahmed Ali Lahori, Maulana Habibur-Rahman Ludhianvi, Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafee Deobandi, Maulana Muhammad ldris Kandhlavi, Maulana Badr Alam Meerathi, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jalandhari, and Qazi Ahsanullah Shahjahanpuri, etc. against Qadianism form a bright chapter in the history of the Darul-Uloom.

Similarly, whenever during the British regime the Government tried to make any law which could have clashed with the Islamic Shari'ah, the Ulema of Deoband opposed it tooth and nail and gave proof of their devotion to duty. On the occasion of the Sarda Act and the Waqf Bill they did not hesitate at all in presenting the Islamic point of view with daring and clarity.