By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi
During the 1857 revolt, India’s top Ulema declared the rebellion for freedom as “Wajib-e-Deeni” (religious obligation). They issued an anti-British fatwa while actively participating in the blood-spattered insurgents. Among the most forgotten Ulema and Maulvis who valiantly campaigned for an independent India were: Maulana Sadruddin Azurda Dehlvi, Maulana Ahmadullah Shah Madrasi, Maulana Fazle Haq Khairabadi, Maulana Kifayat Ali Moradabadi, Maulana Rahmatullah Kairanvi, Imam Bakhsh Sahbai Dehlvi and Maulana Wazir Khan Akbarabadi. These Ulema were imbued in an Indian strain of Islam with a pluralistic and nationalistic ideology originally underpinned by the Sufi mentors such as Mirza Mazhar Jaan-e-Jaanan (1195-1781), Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlvi (1239-1824), Qazi Sana’ullah of Panipat (1225-1810), Shah Rafiuddin Dehlvi (1233-1818) and Mufti Sharfuddin Rampuri (1268-1852). Their exhortation of nationalism called Hubb-ul-Watani (love for the country) was the driving force behind the Ulema’s fierce struggles and sacrifices in the Independence movements from 1857 to 1947. I suffice to reproduce three prominent examples from the Indian Ulema’s traditions and accounts.