Jihad Movement (Tehreek Mujahideen) is considered a milestone in the history of subcontinent. This movement was not only for the revival of Jihad for the destruction of British rule in India but also for the purification of Muslim Society.
Founder of Jihad Movement
Syed Ahmed Barailvi the founder of this movement was the inheritor of the mantle of Shah Abdul Aziz. He was born on October 24, 1786 in a respectable family of Rai Barily.
Beginning of Career
From the very beginning he had an inclination of becoming a solider rather than endeavoring to become renowned scholar or mystic as did his predecessors. Syed Abmed began his career as a Sawar in the service of Nawab Amir Khan, the ruler of Tonk in 1810. During his service Syed Ahmed learnt military discipline and strategy which made him a great military commander in the years to come.
Beginning of The Discipleship of Shah Abdul Aziz
Syed Ahmed left the service when Amir Khan refused to fight after Tonk fell to the British. Tonk was declared as Dar-ul-harb by Shah Abdul Aziz and Syed Ahmed could no longer serve there and returned to Delhi by walking 318 miles from Lucknow to Delhi. By now Syed Ahmed had decided to come under the discipleship of Shah Abdul Aziz. In 1807 he took the oath of allegiance (baia) at the hands of Shah Abdul Aziz and entered the fold of Naqshbandia, Qadriya and Chistiya sufi order.
Syed Ahmed as a Preacher
Syed Ahmed Barailvi was greatly impressed by the preaching and doctrines of Shah Wali Ullah and was staunch disciple of his son Shah Abdul Aziz. In 1818, Syed Ahmed wrote Sirat-i-Mustaqim. In this project his two distinguished disciples, Shah Ismail Shaheed and Maulana Abdul Haye, assisted him in the preparation of the book. The work is an excellent summary of the philosophies, doctrines and reforms of Shah Wali Ullah which he had expressed in a number of his famous books. At this moment Syed Ahmed switched over to the public preaching. He proved a great success, as a preacher, in spite of the lesser rhetoric in his sermons.
Beginning of Jihad Movement
Syed Ahmed was extremely dismayed to see the decline of the Muslims in their religious and ideological commitments. He earnestly desired to see the restoration of the supremacy of Islam in India. The purpose of his life and struggle was not confined to the spread of Islam by preaching only, but he believed in taking practical steps for this purpose. The main objective before Syed Ahmed was the establishment of a state which was based on Islamic principles. In 1823, he started Jihad Movement.
Preparation for Jihad against Sikhs
In the time of Syed Ahmed Punjab was ruled by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh who was regarded as an autocratic and tyrannical King. The Muslims heavily suffered under his tyrannical rule and were denied liberty and freedom to perform and practice their religion. The N.W.F.P. had also fallen to the Sikh domination and was included in the Sikh regime. The holy places of the Muslims i.e. mosques shrines were turned into temples and stables, by the Sikh regime. Azan was forbidden and the religious practices of the Muslims were interrupted frequently.
Syed Ahmed did not confine himself to Delhi but also visited the neighbouring places. During one of his visits to Rampur, some Afghans complained to him about the wide scale persecution of the Muslims by the Sikh regime Syed Ahmed decided to launch his Jihad movement against the Sikh regime on his return from Haj. Syed. Ahmed left for Makkah in 1821 along with Maulana Ismail Shaheed, Maulana Abdul Haye and a large number of followers and admirers to perform Haj. Syed Ahmed performed haj and remained absent for nearly two years. They returned to Delhi and the preparation for Jihad against the Sikhs began.
Objectives of Jihad Movement
Following were the objectives of Jihad Movement:
1. Establishment of Islamic Rule in the Sub-Continent and end of Sikh Rule. 2. Reformation of Muslim Society.
3. Restoration of Jihad.
4. Advice of Simple Ways of Living
5. End of Innovations in Islam
6. Struggle against the Conspiracies of Christian Missionaries.
Declaration of Jihad
Syed Ahmed believed that if Punjab and N.W.F.P were liberated of the Sikh domination, the Muslims would regain their old position. He, therefore, picked up Punjab to begin his Jihad movement against the Sikhs and selected N.W.F.P. to begin his operation for the elimination of the non-Islamic forces. He directed Maulana Ismail and Maulana Abdul Haye to march with a party of six thousand followers from Rai Baraily. He himself set out via other parts of Punjab and Delhi to muster support for his movement. Syed Ahmed invited the people to join him in Jihad against the un-Islamic regime to save the Muslims of the Sikh domination.
Establishment of War Headquarter
Syed Sahib reached Nowshera in December, 1826 and established his headquarter. He sent a message to the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh to embrace Islam or be ready to face the Muajahideen in the battle-field. Ranjit Singh turned down the offer scornfully and expressed a high degree of disdain for Islam and the Muslims.
Syed Ahmed began his Jihad against the Sikhs by challenging the army at Akora on 21st December 1826. The Sikhs had gathered a strong force at Akora under General Budh Singh. The fight at Akora was a night assault when nearly 900 Muslims pounced on the sleeping Sikhs. It was a successful mission and heavy loss was inflicted on the Sikhs. Budh Singh being extremely demoralized decided to withdraw from Akora.
In 1827 the Mujahideen fought second battle at Hazro which too was a great success. This success encouraged the Mujahideens and they became poised to fight for Islam.
Establishment of Islamic Khilafat
The astonishing success of the Mujahideen in two encounters gave immense popularity to the Jihad movement. People gathered in large number around Syed Sahib. Many pathan chiefs joined Syed Sahib and took an oath of allegiance at the hands of Syed Ahmed on January 11, 1827 and accepted him as Amir-ul-Momineen. Yar Muhammad the Governor of Peshawar also joined Syed Ahmed in his movement along with other prominent pathan leaders like Pir Hakrnan Khan.
Gradually the number of the Muslim forces rose to 80,000. The establishment of Islamic system of Government greatly reduced the influence of the tribal Chiefs. He also introduced social reforms and asked the local people to abandon their old customs and life patterns. He urged them to adopt Islamic way of life and be refrained from taking intoxicants. This Khilafat remained for four years.
From 1827 to 1831, the Mujahideen started gorilla activities against Sikhs and inflicted great losses upon them.
Sikh Conspiracy against Syed Sahib
The Jihad movement went through the early stages of struggle with amazing success. At this time a conspiracy was hatched against the Jihad movement. Sardar Yar Muhammad was bribed to betray Syed Sahib and join the Sikhs against Mujahideen. The Sikhs brought pressure on Yar Muhammad Khan who tried to poison Syed Ahmed which he survived. In 1829 Yar Muhammad was killed in an encounter against the Mujahideen.
Occupation of Peshawar
Syed Ahmed set out for Kashrnir and Peshawar. The Sikhs under the French General Ventura saved Peshawar and handed it over to Sultan Muhammad Khan the brother of Yar Muhammad Khan. Syed Ahmed reached Hazara Hills and attacked the Sikh forces under Man Singh and General Allard. This assault was repulsed. However, Syed Ahmed made another assault on Peshawar which was successful. Sultan Muhammad Khan, who was fighting against the Mujahideen was arrested and pardoned by Syed Ahmed. Syed Ahmed occupied Peshawar in 1830. In November, 1831, after nearly two months of occupation of Peshawar, Syed Ahmed withdrew from Peshawar in favour of Sultan Muhammad Khan who promised to pay a fixed amount to the Mujahideen as tribute.
Balakot Fight and Martyrdom of Syed Ahmed
After relinquishing Peshawar, Syed Ahmed shifted to Balakot and began his movement from Rajauri in 1831. Balakot is a small town in the Mansehra division and falls in the Hazara district. The Mujahideen were attacked by the Sikh army under the command of General Sher Singh. A fierce battle was fought between the Sikhs and the Muslims. The Mujahideen fought bravely but could not stand the much stronger and superior forces. The Muslims were defeated in the battle in which Syed Ahmed Shaheed, Shah Ismail Shaheed and many other followers of Syed Sahib laid their lives and died as martyrs while fighting for the cause of Islam.
With the death of Syed Ahmed the Jihad movement could not be carried out with the old enthusiasm. The Jihad movement did not die after defeat at Balakot. Some of his disciples struggled to continue the movement and were successful to a certain extent. But the movement extremely lacked in organized leadership after Syed’s death and, therefore could not be conducted for a long time.
Causes of Failure
Although Jihad Movement was a sincere effort for the restoration of Islamic glory in the Sub-Continent yet it met with failure for the following reasons:
1. Lack of proper training of Mujahideen
2. Lack of funds and Equipment
3. Well equipped and large Sikh Army
4. Deceit of Pathan Chiefs
5. Local Controversies on Implementation of Tax after the Establishment of Khilafat 6. Sikh Conspiracies and Secret Opposition of The British
7. Lack of Leadership after the Martyrdom of Syed Ahmed and Shah Ismail
No doubt Jihad Movement remained unsuccessful but it affected the Muslim Mentality on a large scale. Mujahideen fought for the cause of Islam even without proper training and sufficient equipment. Their sacrifices not only inspired the Muslims to think about the renaissance of Islam but also made them aware of the prevailing political situations in the Sub-Continent. In short we can say Tehreek Mujahideen paved the way for the Muslim struggle for freedom.