NOTES & REFERENCES
1. J.N. Sarkar, Fall of the Mughal Empire, I, 234.
2. The Cambridge History of India, IV, 416.
3. The Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir, who was in Delhi at this time, and had connections with s several Hindu and Muslim nobles says in Dhikr-i Mir that Shah ’AJam was reluctant to go, and ”pleaded ill health” but had to accompan;y the Mrathas.
4. J.N. Sarkar, op. cit., HI, 56.
5. Tara Chand, History of the Freedom Movement in India, I, 65.
6. A.L.H. Pollier, Shah Alam [I and His Court, p. 62. He, however, excepts ”Love of woman and of pleasure.”
7. H.W.C. Davis, Raleigh Lecture (for 1926), p. 6.
8. P. M. Sykes, History of Persia, II, 397.
9. Hill, Bengal in 1756-57, in, 328.
10. K.M. Panikkar, A Survey of Indian History, p. 282.
11. Ibid., pp. 241-45.
12. P. Woodruff, The Men Who Ruled India-The Founders, p. 100.
13. Panikkar, op. cit., p. 246.
14. Woodruff, op. cit., pp. 105-06.
15. The original Kalhora capital was Khudadad (in Larkana District) in Upper Sind.
16. Sorley, Shah Abdul LatifofBhit, p. 31.
17. Ibid., pp. 31-32.
18. The Cambridge History of India, IV, 438.
19. As Khushwant Singh remarks: ”Abdali was the bitterest antagonist of the Sikhs and paradoxically their greatest benefactor. His repeated incursions destroyed Mughal administration in the Punjab and at Panipat he dealt a crippling blow to the Maratha pretensions in the north. Thus he created a power vacuum in the Punjab which was filled by the Sikhs” (A History of the Sikhs, I, 167.
20. Sarkar, op. cit., II, 497.
21. M. Baqir, Lahore, Past and Present, p. 200; also see Latif History of the Punjab, p. 288.
22. Tipu Sultan has been the subject of a detailed study by Mohibul Hasan, who has exonerated him from charges of intolerance. See also Dr Saletone on Tipu’s policy towards non-Muslims: Medieval India Quarterly Vol. 1. Part 2.
THE TWILIGHT OF THE MUGHALS
The” Twilight of the Mughals (1803-1858). We conclude our account of the Muslim civilisation in the Indo-Pak subcontinent with the exile of the last Mughal Emperor from Delhi in 1858, and not with the British assumption of overlordship of Delhi in 1803. This is partly because even in
1803 large areas of the subcontinent were outside the control of the East India Company, and partly because the Company retained, in some respects the legal fiction of Mughal sovereignty till 1857. At Delhi the Mughal ruler received all the courtesies of a king. The company paid him large sums. These have been designated as a pension, but it was consistently claimed on the Mughal king’s behalf that they were the ”tribute paid by the Company by virtue of past arrangements and treaties; that the company was administering territories for him, as the Marathas had in constitutional theory done before the Company; that the Company’s authority was derived from his farmans in so far as it was covered by the farmans, and was mere illegal usurpation in so far as it was not so covered”. Of course, these claims were, against the background of actual military situation, mere ”pretensions,” but legally and constitutionally the Delhi house had never been set aside from the position they had occupied when they granted the Diwani to the Company in 1765. The Mughal ruler was designated Shahinshah and later Badshah in official correspondence. He continued to bestow titles of honour until
1828, when the Company ceased to recognise such titles except
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 520
when bestowed on the immediate descendants of the Mughal king. Coins continued to be issued in his name until 1835.
The British attitude towards the Mughals was the result of a careful and cool appreciation of the prevailing political conditions. Commenting on this, Sir William Hunter wrote in
”The admirable moderation of the East India Company’s servants, and their determination to let the Mohammadan power expire by slow natural decay without hastening its death at a single moment, averted this danger. India passed from a Country of Islam into a Country of the Enemy by absolutely imperceptible gradations. After many years, study of the Imperial and District Archives, I find myself unable to place my finger on any given year or decade of years as that in which the change was effected.”1
The policy underlying this process can be understood,but it also underlines the difficulty of determining the date for closing the Mughal period in 1803. Many careful historians have, therefore, terminated it with the exile of Bahadur Shah from Delhi and have called the period of the weakness of royal authority as the ”Twilight of the Mughals.”
Akbar Shah II (1806-1837) and Bahadur Shah II (1837-
1858). After the defeat of Sindhia by Lord Lake, the blind king, Shah Alam, came under British protection. Outwardly, there was no change in his status. The arrangements made by Lake and the attitude adopted by him towards the Mughal king may be judged by the tenor of his communications to Shah ’Alam: ”I am cordially disposed to render Your Majesty every demonstration of my loyalty and attachment and I consider it to be a distinguished honour, as it is a peculiar privilege to execute Your Majesty’s commands.”2 A high title was conferred on Lord Lake by the Mughal Emperor, and to all appearance the British representative was stepping into the shoes of Sindhia. Special arrangements were made for the administration of Delhi, where Muslim Law was to be
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
administered in criminal matters. ”Within the walls of the Red Fort the king retained his ruling powers. The inhabitants of the fort bazar were his direct subjects, and the members of the imperial family or salatin, who lived within enjoyed diplomatic immunity. The etiquette of the court was maintained, the sonorous titles and the language of the Great Mughals continued, and the Resident attended the Durbar in the Diwan-i Khas regularly as a suitor. He dismounted like any other courtier at the Naqar Khana, and was conducted on foot through the Lai Purdah to the imperial presence where he stood respectfully like the rest.”3
The arrangements introduced by Lake were maintained during Shah ’Alam’s lifetime. The first British agent, Sir David Ochterlony, was a courteous and courtly diplomat and was succeeded by the equally considerate Setton. Shah ’Alam died on 18 November 1806, and difficulties arose with his successor, Akbar II. With the consolidation of the British power, a tendency grew to treat the Mughal King more and more as a pensioner of the East India Company, while he insisted on the privileges accorded at the time of the British conquest of Delhi. The differences between Akbar Shah and the Company came to a head when a meeting between Lord Hastings, the Governor-General, and the King could not be held because ”Akbar insisted that Hastings should appear as a subject and present the usual nazr”. The King also would not agree to allow the Governor-General a chair on the same level as his own at the time of the interview. Hastings refused to have a meeting on these terms, and, soon thereafter, an attempt was made to curtail the Mughal King’s privileges. The ruler of Oudh (hitherto called Wazir) and the Nizam of Hyderabad were encouraged to adopt royal titles. While the Nizam declined to do so out of regard for the Mughal King, the Nawab Wazir of Oudh accepted the suggestion. To present his case in London, Akbar Shah appointed the celebrated Bengali reformer, Ram Mohan Roy, who was planning a visit to England, as the Mughal envoy to the court of St. James, and conferred on him
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 522
the title of Raja. This visit took place in 1829, and Raja Ram Mohan Roy submitted an ably drafted memorial on behalf of the Mughal ruler, but he died soon after, and nothing came out of his mission.
Akbar Shah died in 1837, and was succeeded by Bahadur Shah II, who also refused to give up the claims put forward by his father. The East India Company, however, gradually curtailed his powers and privileges, and, in 1856, when his heir apparent died, the claims of the next surviving son were recognised on condition that the title of Bahadur Shah’s successor would only be Prince or Shahzadah and not Badshah or King.
Whatever may have been the disputes between the King and the Company, there is no doubt that materially the position of the Mughal ruler improved with the British occupation of Delhi. For one thing, there was peace and order, and the royal family was not exposed to those vicissitudes and uncertainties which it had suffered prior to the reoccupation of Delhi by Sindhia in 1788. There was an improvement in the financial position also. Income from the Khalsah lands increased owing to greater general security. Even with all this, the King’s income did not exceed six lakhs a year, and he had to feed a horde of dependants. The respect and the position which the King enjoyed was, however, out of all proportion to his material resources. The Mughals had learned the art of maintaining dignity and winning respect in most unpropitious circumstances and the tawdry Mughal court became the cultural centre of Muslim India. The court benefited by the return of peace and prosperity to Delhi, which once again began to attract the most distinguished Muslim noblemen, ulema, and men of letters. The Mughal kings also found out new, peaceful pursuits, in which they could maintain their privileged position. Bahadur Shah, for example, started accepting selected disciples. Even more important was his success in making the Red Fort the centre of a distinguished literary life. Already Urdu, spoken within the four walls of the Qal’ah-i Mu’alla
The Twilight of the Mughals
(the Sublime Fort),, was the touchstone of purity and distinction of language. Bahadur Shah made the Fort the meeting place for the most eminent poets and writers. In particular, the great Ghalib, who epitomised in his personality and works the splendour, richness, humanity and wisdom of the Mughal culture, adorned his court, sang verses in his praise and on the age-old themes of love and life, which easily surpassed anything written by the court poets of Akbar and Jahangir.
The importance of the Mughal court, even at this stage, in the cultural life of the country has been summed by Dr. Percival Spear:
”The Mughal Court, so long as it lasted, was the school of manners for Hindustan. From the time of Akbar it had much the same influence upon the Indian manners as the Court of Versailles upon European. Sorely pressed as it was in the eighteenth century by the rough Afghans, the uncouth Marathas and the rustic Jats, its influence revived with the new tranquillity of the early nineteenth century. Nawabi Lucknow was an offshoot which maintained and spread its influence farther down country. Another was Hyderabad in the Deccan. From Bengal to the Punjab, and as far as Madura in the south, Mughal etiquette was accepted as the standard of conduct and Persian was the language of diplomats and the polite. Forms of address, the conventions of behaviour and to a large extent ceremonial dress, approximated to the standards of Delhi. Even the Marathas felt its subtle and all-pervading influence, and the Jats were proud to decorate a replica of a Mughal place at Dig with the plunder they had carried from Delhi. At a time when English cultural influence had hardly begun to spread beyond the Presidency towns, such an influence was an invaluable cement to society. The fall of the dynasty was a serious cultural loss, and inaugurated that period of nondescript manners and indefinite conduct from which India suffers today.”
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 524
Dr. Spear goes on to say:
”Thirdly, the Court under Bahadur Shah was a cultural influence of great value. With the royal patronage it became the centre of the second Delhi period of Urdu literature, whose brightest star was the great Ghalib. By its patronage it kept alive the Delhi school of painting which produced at least two painters of merit in Raja Jivan Ram and Husain Nazir. It was the natural centre of all the arts and crafts. By its influence it encouraged all these tastes in the jeisured classes. Art in India has always ended upon aristocratic patronage. The end of the court involved a break in cultural as was as political tradition, and ushered the garish period of utility into Indian life when education came to mean some knowledge of English, and culture foreign imitations. The Court of Delhi, faded though it was, had more in it than the tinsel of Khillats or the honorifics of shuqas. It was the last refuge of traditional culture whose tragedy it was largely to perish at the hands of political passion and misplaced alien benevolence.”4
Such was the respect enjoyed by Mughal King amongst native population, that there was no dissenting voice when in
1857 the soldiers of the Bengal army rose in rebellion against the East India Company in the name of the titular, feeble and aged Bahadur Shah.
The House of Oudh. Sa’adat ’Ali, who became the Nawab Wazir of Oudh on 21 January 1798, had to bear the brunt of Wellesley’s expansionist policy and was forced to cede one-half of his territory to the East India Company, but he made a grim determination to reorganise his administration and effect economies. He was singularly successful in this, and before his death he had paid all the debts he inherited and created a reserve of fourteen crores of rupees in the treasury. Irwin calls him ”the friend of the ryot” and considers him the ablest and most enlightened native ruler then living. Sa’adat ’Ali’s tenure of office gave a new lease of life to Oudh, and he adorned Lucknow with many new building. He died in 1814, and was succeeded by Ghazi-ud-din who, at the instigation of Lord
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
Hastinjgg, took the royal title in 1819. This proved singularly inauspSicious. It added little to Ghazi-ud-din’s authority, and only imcreased his expenses. He drew heavily on the treasures left bv* Sa’adat ’Ali, but his son Nasir-ud-din Haidar, who succee-*«ded him in 1827, proved even a bigger spendthrift and is ”usual^My depicted as more debased and disreputable than any of his predecessors”. Before he died, in 1837, the treasury was almost- empty. His successors tried to effect economies but he died Lin 1842. He was succeeded by Amjad ’Ali Shah, who was of a dfceeply religious disposition. From the beginning, Oudh rulers were Shi’ah but until the days of Amjad ’Ali Shah ”in agree ranent with the empire practice the only Mufti, or authority on la^v*^, was Sunni, and all cases were decided by Sunni law. Amjac±3 Ali appointed a Shi’ah Mufti and introduced Shia law in his temrrritory, except in cases where both parties were Sunnis or one vi^as a Sunni and the other a Hindu.”5 This arrangement lasted till the annexation of Oudh-i.e. for less than fifteen years. Amjad ’Ali was fortunate in the choice of his Shi’ah Mufti..,, who was known for his piety, scholarship and uprigfcitness, but the administrative weakness of the regime contlr-lued and was really inherent in the basic position, under whichni the British Resident had all the real power, but no respo -visibility. Amjad ’Ali died in 1847, and was succeeded by Wajlc3 ’Ali, .who filled his idle moments by devotion to music and chancing. Oudh rulers had from the beginning been great patro ans of Urdu poetry, and from Amjad ’Ali’s days Mart^iiyyah (elegy) attained great perfection. Wajid ’AH was force--d to abdicate in February 1856, when Oudh was annexed by tr~ie East India Company. He was interned near Calcutta whenr «”e he maintained a large establishment including a zoo and troupwes of musicians who introduced Oudh music in Bengal. Hed iedin!887.
Cultural Importance of Lucknow. An important deveTMopment of the eighteenth century, which has left its impo- ess on the course of Muslim civilisation in Hind-Pakistan, was the rise of Lucknow as a great cultural centre. To some
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 526
extent it was the heir of the older cultural centres of Badaun and Jaunpur, and could draw on a rich and fertile hinterland, which was the heart of Aryavarta. The influence of the old Hindu centres of religion, music, dancing and philosophy-like Benares, Kanauj and Ajodhya-has also been seen in its cultural pattern, and Dr Radha Kumud Mukkerji6 of Lucknow University has traced the ancestry of Lucknow culture to the days of Raja Janak of Ajodhya. These were, however, remote and indirect influences. The rise of modern Lucknow was due to its becoming the capital of the Nawab Wazirs of Oudh, who were patrons of art and letters and made a sustained effort to turn their capital into another Delhi. The weakening of the Mughal capital and the successive raids of Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah Abdali and the Marathas in the eighteenth century which drove poets, scholars, and artisans from Delhi to Lucknow, facilitated their task.
In course of time Lucknow developed its own style and cultural pattern, but originally it was an offshoot of the Mughal cultural centre of Delhi. The first two Nawab Wazirs of Oudh, their principal nobles, poets, scholars, artists and artisans had migrated from the Mughal capital, and naturally the basis of the new cultural tradition was that of the Mughal Delhi. The Mughal cultural pattern with which the founders of the Lucknow tradition were familiar was not of the days of Akbar or Aurangzeb, but of Muhammad Shah. The vigour and discipline of earlier days was gone. On the other hand, music and dancing were the rage of Muhammad Shah’s Delhi and these arts engaged Wajid AH Shah, and his courtiers even to a greater extent than was the case at the Mughal capital. The growing contacts with the West also encouraged this, and one of the interesting developments at Lucknow was beginning of Urdu opera with the Indar Sabha of Amanat first produced about 1847-1853.
Cultural trends in Lucknow mainly followed Delhi, but there were important and even fundamental differences. Delhi, apart from being the seat of Muslim government, has also
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
a great spiritual centre, and even in the dismal eightee JKL ith century was the residence of Shah Wali Allah and his fan- 7m. ily. This was not the position in Lucknow. Of course, the gre=£..55at Farangi Mahal madrassah and the course of studies known as; Dars-i Nizamiyyah belong to Lucknow, and many
learnedBL and venerable ulema adorned the city, but their influent. «c^:es were scholastic, intellectual and theological rather than sj--L^aniritual. The fact that under Dars-i Nizamiyyah very little afzn-Htention was paid to Tafsir and Hadith, to say nothing of the ’ul*ac-~im-i batini (spiritual sciences), accentuated these trends. More s^aMtettention was paid to the form than to the substance. At Luckncrzra»w , concentrated efforts were made to make the student proficl .mrr- -».pt in grammar, logic yn&fiqh, while Tafsir, Hadith and ’Ulutn - ../ batini became the speciality of Shah Wali Allah’s school at Delhi (and later of Deoband). Indifference to sufism
and uf JK-im-i batini at Lucknow may have been due to the fact that hc”~?-- re the court followed the tradition of the Safavid Iran, which abhorred sufism, and in this respect differed from the
more catholic Shi’ah tradition of Uch, Multan, etc., in
Pakists^aMum, but it was also due to the local atmosphere. Hindu learnir~ HML. g at Kanauj and Benares, and Muslim learning at Jaunpi_3»L- r, Azamgarh and other centres of Purab was biased towarc3B. s formal subjects and ma’qulat, and Lucknow zined this tradition.
1 IBUhis fundamental approach manifested itself in various forms-,.. ~~7 but it is most clearly visible in the differing features of the Luu- ’wcckmow and Delhi schools of Urdu literature and language.
coord ing to Graham Bailey:
” IZOBZLu cknow poetry reflected the court. It gave itself up to externwuu .sal things, such as outward ornament, rather than beauty ofthoi«BL__iHight. It developed rules for language and idiom, restricted poetic- licence and laid down laws for prosody and figure of speed! - mu, especially similes and metaphors. Vigour of style and depth of thought counted for little, verbal accuracy and
idiom =ssatic use of words were the ideal. Delhi was less careful about ””words and gave more attention to thought and subject.”8
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 528
With the annexation of Oudh, the court’s patronage came to an end, but the fact that, owing to Sir Henry Lawrence’s policy, the ta’aluqdars and big zamindars of Oudh, many of whom were Muslims, were maintained in their privileges led to the continuance of the cultural influences of Lucknow long after Wajid ’Ali Shah had been exiled to Calcutta. The emphasis on the formalities of court etiquette, purity of language and appropriate enunciation became a permanent feature of the Lucknow culture, and added a distinct strand to the Indo-Muslim civilisation.
Punjab, North-West Frontier, Sind and Baluchistan. With the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the Sikhs had become powerful in the eastern and central Punjab. Towards the end of the eighteenth century their organisation consisted of a loose federation of twelve Misals or unions, and the chiefs of different Misals were independent of each other. Ranjit Singh, who came into prominence in 1799 during the invasion of Shah Zaman, resolved to reduce the Misals to submission, and established a monarchy. He was a shrewd ruler. In 1809, he signed a treaty with the British under which he agreed not to interfere with the Sikh States south of Sutlej, which came under British protection, while he was to exercise suzerainty over the area on the other side of the river. He turned his attention westwards, so that by 1824 he was supreme in the Punjab and most of Kashmir, Peshawar and Multan.
There is an impression that, owing to the collapse of the ’Mughal rule in the area, Ranjit Singh was able to extend his sway rapidly and without much opposition. This is not correct. The weakening of the imperial authority in the Punjab had led tc the rise of a large number of local principalities, many of which were in Muslim hands and offered stout resistance to the Sikhs. The Chathas of Rasul Nagar, the Khweshgi Afghans of Qasur and the Nawabs of Multan were only a few of these. Qasur became an important political and cultural centre in the eighteenth century. The famous Punjabi poet Bullhe Shah and Sufi ’Inayat Shah flourished here during this period, and, in
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
spite of the repeated Sikh attacks, the city held its own. In
1807, however, Qutb-ud-din Khan, the last chieftain, was forced to give way before Ranjit Singh and to retire to his property at Mamdot beyond the Sutlej, which was outsides Ranjit Singh’s zone. The Sikhs first appeared before Multan in
1771, and thereafter the city was constantly threatened, but for long Ranjit Singh’s efforts failed and he did not attain his object till June 1818, when the aged Nawab Muzaffar Khan fell fighting bravely along with his sons at the gate of the fort.
The history of the Muslim Punjab from the decline of the Mughal Empire to the British occupation in 1849, is yet to be written, but a brief enumeration of the Muslim principalities which Ranjit Singh had to subdue before becoming a master of the area will be of interest. It shows that practically the entire area which became West Punjab on 14 August 1947 was under Muslim domination at the end of the eighteenth century. Ranjit Singh inherited Gujranwala in 1792, but Lahore was conferred on him by Shah Zaman in 1799. He paid early attention to Qasur, but, as stated earlier, it remained with the Pathan chiefs till 1807. In the meanwhile Ranjit Singh took over Pindi Bhattian, and Chiniot from their Muslim chiefs. In the winter of 1803-4, he subdued Ahmad Khan Siyal of Jhang and the zamindars of Uch. In 1809, he entered into a treaty with the East India Company under which chiefs east of Sutlej came under the protection of the Company, while Ranjit Singh was given a free hand to the west of the river. He took full advantage of this position and in 1810 took over Khushab and Sahiwal from Muslim chiefs. Daska and Mangla were occupied in the same year. In 1818, Multan was occupied and Kashmir was annexed in 1819. In 1820, the Sikhs ousted the Nawab of Dera Ghazi Khan. Next year the large estate of Mankera, which included important towns like Leiah, Bhakkar and Dera Ismail Khan, was conquered. In 1822, Ranjit Singh modernised the army with the help of European officers and felt strong enough to invade the Pathan areas.
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 530
Ranjit Singh’s conquest of the north-western areas was even more difficult. Timur Shah, son of Ahmad Shah Durrani, died in 1793, leaving twenty sons and thirteen daughters. There was bitter fighting between his sons, Shah Zaman, Shah Shuja’ and Shah Mahmud. At this time Path Khan Barakza’i, the wazir of the Durrani ruler, and his brothers had gained great influence, and ultimately Shah Mahmud ascended the throne with the help of Path Khan. The latter, however, became, for all practical purposes, the real ruler of Kabul. This was resented by Mahmud. Things came to a head when during Path Khan’s visit to Herat, his younger brother Dost Muhammad Khan, with the help of a Sikh chief, forced Shah Mahmud’s son Kamran to open the local treasury. They ”effected their purpose without a nice regard for the person of a royal lady, on whom hands were laid too eagerly”.9 In anger, Shah Mahmud and Kamran had Path Khan assassinated. This led to retaliation by Path Khan’s brothers. Mahmud was driven out, the Durrani dynasty founded by Ahmad Shah Abdali was extinguished and Dost Muhammad Khan became the ruler of Kabul.
Path Khan, as the wazir of the Durranis, had placed his brother in charge of many key areas. Muhammad A’zam was in charge of Kashmir and Yar Muhammad governed Peshawar. In
1815, Ranjit Singh tried to take Kashmir from A’zam but failed. When, after Path Khan’s murder, A’zam rushed to Kabul with his best troops from Kashmir, Ranjit Singh got his opportunity and in 1819 secured Kashmir, thus terminating sixty-seven years of Durrani rule in that area. He also went as far as Peshawar, but the governor successfully resisted him. In the meanwhile Ranjit Singh built a fort at Khairabad, opposite Attock. In 1822, Yar Muhammad came to an understanding with Ranjit Singh, but A’zam disapproved of it, and, in March
1823, the fateful battle of Nowshera was fought between Sikhs and Afghans. A’zam had the support of the lashkars of Yusufza’i and Khartak tribesmen who had gathered under the leadership of a well-known Pir Sayyid Akbar Shah of the
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
family of Haji Pir Baba of Baner. The mujahidin fought bravely and Phula Singh, the principal Akali leader, was slain, but A’zam took no real part in the battle and soon retired. The mujahidin suffered great losses from the Sikh artillery, but next morning they were ready to resume the struggle under Sayyid Akbar. A’zam had, however, already left, and the victory rested with Ranjit Singh’s forces. As Caroe remarks: ”Azem, broken in heart but without a wound, died shortly after the battle. His record in this fight lives after him. No Yusufzai, Afridi or Khattak is anxious to rely on the word of a Muhammadzai Sardar, for it is doubtful if he will be there on the day.”10
Dost Muhammad succeeded to his position in Kabul, while Yar Muhammad retained Peshawar. With Yar Muhammad there were his three brothers, including the eldest Sultan Muhammad, who were collectively known as Sardaran-iPeshawar. After the battle of Nowshera, Ranjit Singh advanced to Peshawar, slaying and plundering as he went. He did terrible damage to property and human life. According to Caroe, the fact ”that Peshawar contains no architectural monuments of any value is due mainly to the devastations of
1823”.u Ranjit Singh, however, did not stay at Peshawar and, after accepting Yar Muhammad’s submission, returned to Lahore. He had now brought Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu and the Derajat under his sway, and, although no resistance was offered by the Sardaran-i Peshawar, the tribesmen under Sayyid Akbar Shah, who soon joined hands with Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi, decided to fight the Sikhs.
Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi arrived in this area in December
1826 and the tribesmen, who suffered grievously from the raids and depredations of Hari Singh Nalwa and Sikh armies, gathered around him. The Sikhs had established a strong force at Akora under the command of Ranjit Singh’s cousin General Budh Singh. Sayyid Ahmad’s first battle with the Sikhs was a well-planned night assault. It was a great success, and the Sikhs suffered heavy losses. They were so demoralised that
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 532
Budh Singh decided to withdraw from Akora. This was very heartening and Sayyid Ahmad was now joined by many Pathan chiefs. He was able to extract an agreement from Yar Muhammad, the governor of Peshawar, to respect the territories of Yusufza’is and exempt them from revenuecollecting raids. The Sikhs, however, brought pressure on Yar Muhammad, who attempted to have the Sayyid poisoned. In
1829, Yar Muhammad was killed in an encounter with the mujahidln, but a Sikh force under the French general Ventura saved Peshawar, which passed under Sultan Muhammad Khan. Sayyid Ahmad now crossed the river into Hazara Hills and attacked the Sikh forces under Hari Singh and another French general Allard, but was repulsed. His assault on Peshawar was, however, successful. The Barakza’i governor was defeated and, late in the summer of 1830, Peshawar was occupied for two months by Sayyid Ahmad and his mujahidin.
The Sayyid’s success was partly due to the co-operation of Sayyid Akbar Shah of Sithana who, in spite of his high position and acknowledged leadership in tribal warfare, had readily enrolled himself under the newcomer’s banner. Soon, however, difficulties arose, not between the two respected religious leaders, but between the ulema accompanying Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi and the tribal chiefs. After the conquest of Peshawar, Sayyid Ahmad tried to introduce an Islamic system of government, which cut across the influence of the tribal chiefs. He also introduced social reforms, which were unpopular with the local population. The extremism of some of his followers enhanced the leader’s difficulties, basically due to the hostility of the Sikhs and their Barakza’i allies. In November 1830, the Sayyid had to relinquish Peshawar in favour of Sultan Muhammad on the promised payment of. a fixed tribute. The biggest blow to him, however, came when his deputies in Yusufza’i villages were murdered by the tribesmen themselves. As Khushwant Singh says: ”Darbar (i.e. Ranjit Singh’s) agents exploited the growing feeling of resentment and bribed some leaders to turn against Sayyid
The Twilight of the Mughals
Ahmad and murder the Hindustanis.” Sayyid Ahmad, accompanied by a few faithful companions, left for Hazara, where, after a few months of desultory warfare, he was surprised by a Sikh contingent and, in May 1831, fell a martyr at Balakot, a small town in the subdivision of Mansehra in the district of Hazara.
Sultan Muhammad Khan had done his utmost to conciliate Ranjit Singh, even at the expense of his brother Amir Dost Muhammad Khan, but Ranjit Singh knew what he wanted. He gave ”the crafty Sardar and his brothers considerable jagirs both in Peshawar and Kohat,”12 but turned his suzerainty over Sultan Muhammad at Peshawar into an actual occupation. In May 1834, Peshawar was formally annexed to the Sikh dominion and Hari Singh Nalwa became the first Sikh governor.
Ranjit Singh was even planning the occupation of Afghanistan and for this purpose a strong fort was built at Jamrud at the mouth of the Khyber Pass. Now even Amir Dost Muhammad Khan had to intervene and the famous battle of Jamrud was fought in April 1837. Dost Muhammad had to withdraw, but the Sikh general Hari Singh fell in the battle. He was succeeded at first by Teja Singh and later by the Italian general Avitablile who ruled Peshawar from 1838 to 1842 with unparalleled ruthlessness.
These areas remained under Sikhs until the British replaced them in 1849. The British took over the area without much trouble as the harted of the Sikhs ”was accompanied by contempt for Durranis,13 such as Sultan Muhammad Khan and other Peshawar Sardars who had for their own convenience played the Sikh game.” Sayyid Akbar Shah and his family, however, kept the fire burning. He gave shelter to those followers of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi who survived the disaster at Balakot or later arrived at his fort at Sithana, which in later years became the great centre of the anti-British struggle.
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 534
When the news of the Sikh defeat in the First Sikh War (1845-46) was received on the frontier, there was a general rising against them, and Diwan Mulraj had to evacuate the Sikh troops in April 1846. After this, the tribesmen assembled together and elected Sayyid Akbar Shah as their ruler and Ghulam Khan Tarin as his Wazir. They revived the old land administration prevalent before the Sikh occupation. This period is known as ”Lundi Musulmani”14 in the history of Hazara district. Under the treaty of Lahore, Hazara was handed over to Maharaja Gulab Singh, along with Kashmir, but the tribesmen refused to accept his rule and Gulab Singh surrendered the area to Lahore Darabar and obtained Jammu in exchange.
Between the first and the second Sikh wars, a British Resident had been appointed at Lahore and picked British officers were posted in Hazara, Kohat and Bannu. In 1849, even the reduced Sikh dominion came to an end and the new British government of the Punjab became directly responsible for the area.
Baluchistan remained outside Sikh influence. The Mughals controlled this area from Qandhar, so long as that stronghold remained in their possession. Thereafter, the area was controlled from Sibi, which was under the viceroy of Multan. According to the family history of the former Brohi rulers of Qalat, their Khanate was established in the eleventh/seventeenth century, but their position must have been that of tribal chiefs, who rendered loyal service to the Mughal viceroys of Multan--e.g. Prince Mu’iz-ud-din, grandson of Aurangzeb. The Khanate of Qalat was consolidated by Nasir Khan I, who was on the gaddi for forty to fifty years (circa
1750-1794. In 1839, the Brohi principality came under British influence, which steadily increased. In course of time Quetta became a major cantonment and replaced Qandhar as the seond gateway to the Indian subcontinent.
Sind. Mir Path ’Ali had firmly established Talpur rule in the former Sind area before his death in 1801. His family
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
continued to rule the area without opposition, from their three headquarters of Khairpur, Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas. In
1824, they obtained peaceful possession of Shikarpur, the last place to remain under Afghan suzerainty. Talpur rule, however, soon came to an end as the British decided that a suitable time had arrived for the annexation of Sind. The treaties of friendship with the East India Company (concluded in 1809 and 1820) had given no valid excuse for interference, but the Mirs were forced to give way before the expansionist policy of the Company. Hyderabad Mirs had agreed to accept a Resident in 1839, and a British force was sent to Sind and the Mirs were forced to sign a treaty, providing for the location of a British force in Sind, part of the expenses of which were to be defrayed by the Mirs. Matters might have been pushed further even at this stage but the East India Company was about to embark on the disastrous campaign in Afghanistan, and it was thought inadvisable to bring matters to a head in Sind about the same time. In 1842, British troops retreated from Afghanistan and soon thereafter Sir Charles Napier confronted Hyderabad Mirs with new conditions which obviously could not be accepted by them. They were asked to cede to British in perpetuity ”the towns of Karachi, Thatta, Sukkur, Bhakkar and Rohri, with a strip of land on each side of the Indus” and to transfer to the Bahawlpur chief ”the whole track of Khairpur territory, from Rohri to Sabzalkot”. The helpless Mirs1 army at Miani on 17 February 1843 where the British were victorious. Napier’s action was severely criticised even in England, but Sind was annexed by the British.
Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz (d. 1824). Whatever may have been the Muslim sentimental regard for the ancient ruling family at Delhi, and whatever may be the size and splendour of the principalities of Oudh, Hyderabad and Sind, there is no doubt that the centre of gravity had shifted by the first half of the nineteenth century. The political metropolis of the Indo-Pak subcontinent was Calcutta, and so far as the Muslim people were concerned, their intellectual and spiritual leadership was
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 536
in the hands of the family of Shah wall Allah. Shah Wali Allah was no longer alive, and the person to whom Muslims all over the subcontinent turned for guidance in those trying times was Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz, his son and successor. It would be interesting to quote Justice O’Kinealy about the importance and outlook of Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz. He wrote in the course of an article in the Calcutta Review (1870):
”At this time Shah Abdul ’Aziz was admitted to be the most learned theologian in India. His fame had spread for beyond Hindustan, and the Arabian writers gave him the title of ’The Sun of India’. He exercised, and even now exercises, vast influence over the Muhammadans of India. His decisions on abstruse points of theology are still acknowledged as almost infallible and his name, which would be a tower of strength to any party, has been claimed as that of a supporter of their respective views both by Wahabis and Sunnis. His legal opinions are quoted by both parties to sustain their position, but, on the whole, he appears not to have countenanced extremed views on either side, and to have been a liberal conservative (if such a term may be used). . . Towards the English Government, considering the time in which he Hved, he was somewhat liberal. He recognized the propriety of learning English and taking service with the conquerors, which is in advance of the opinion of the time prevailing among many Muhammadans of the present day.”15
Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz, who died in 1824, was a true successor to his father-wise, learned, liberal, realistic and progressive-but he was essentially a scholar and writer, and the most important Islamic movement of the period was headed, not by him, but by a disciple of his. Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi, who led this movement, was not only a disciple of Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz, but his two leading lieutenants were a nephew and a son-in-law of Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz and the contribution of Shah Wali Allah’s family to his efforts was so overwhelming that some writers (for example, Mualana Maududi) have considered his movement merely a continuation of Shah Wali
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
Allah’s work.16 There is considerable force in this and in any event the spiritual basis of the movement was provided by Shah Wali Allah’s writings, but Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi made his own contribution with his remarkable organising ability, practical experience of men and affairs, great mystic powers and knowledge of military matters without which it would have been impossible to organise such a broadbased movement.
Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi (1786-1831). Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi was born in Rai Bareli in 1786. He began life as a sowar in the service of Nawab Amir Khan, who later founded the State of Tonk. When the Nawab came to terms with the British in
1806, Sayyid Ahmad gave up military service and went to Delhi to study under Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz. He did not distinguish himself in book learning but his spiritual powers and organising ability greatly impressed those in his teacher’s inner circle. Sayyid Ahmad’s reputation greatly increased when Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz’s nephew Shah Isma’il and son-in-law, Maulvi ’Abd al-Hayy, became his disciples. Both of them were distinguished scholars and their example was followed by many others. In 1818, with the help of his two learned disciples, Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi wrote Sirat-i Mustaqim, which is an authentic expression of his viewpoint, and, apart from the mystical portion relating to Tariqah-i Muhammadiyyah is largely a summary of the reforms which Shah Wali Allah had urged in his numerous writings. About this time, Sayyid Ahmad started to preach in public, and, although his language was free from rhetoric and he used simple homespun words and images, he was a great success as a preacher.
Sayyid Ahmad’s activities were not confined to Delhi. He visited important places in the neighbourhood, and it was during a visit to Rampur that some Afghans complained to him against the Sikh persecution of Muslims, and he expressed a desire to conduct a holy war against them. He, however, knew that war required elaborate preparation and in any case he wished to perform Hajj before undertaking \hejihad. He left Delhi after celebrating. Id al-Fitr at Rai Bareli (where in his
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 538
own family he set an example of unpopular and unusual widow remarriage). After this he left for Calcutta. In addition to Shah Isma’il and Maulvi ’Abd al-Hayy, Sayyid Ahmad was accompanied by a large number of admirers, and his journey was a great success. The party visited Allahabad, Benares and many other centres on the way. There was a long stay at Patna where so many people became Sayyid Ahmad’s disciples that he nominated four Khalifahs or spiritual vicegerents and a high priest to look after them. The stay in Calcutta extended over three months, and the masses flocked to him in such numbers that at times Sayyid Ahmad was unable to go through the ceremony of initiation by separate laying on of hands, and his turban used to be spread out to be held by prospective disciples at the time of taking the oath of initiation. In due course the party left by sea for Jeddah and reached Mecca. Here they performed the Hajj, met the ulema from other Muslim countries, and got an opportunity to know more about the Wahabis, who were in control of the Hijaz, shortly before their arrival.
After an absence of nearly three years, the party returned to Delhi-again, via Calcutta-and preparations for the jihad against Sikhs were started. The jihad which was begun towards the end of 1825 was originally successful, as stated earlier, and at one time Sayyid Ahmad’s supporters were able to occupy Peshawar and enforce the laws of the Shari’ah in the conquered territory. The success was, however, shortlived and ultimately Sayyid Ahmad lost his life in a battle near Balakot on 7 May
Sayyid Ahmad’s military efforts ended in disaster and many of his distinguished companions, including Shah Isma’il, died on the battlefield, but his meteoric career left a lasting impression in distant corners of the subcontinent. For one thing, the scene of his activities on the Afghan frontier continued to attract mujahids, who gave considerable trouble to Sikhs and latgr to British. The effect of his activities in the eastern part* Avas even more far-reaching. During his leisurely
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
trip to Calcutta and long sojourn in that city, he had enrolled a number of disciples-many of them from distant areas in what is now Bangladesh-who continued his work after him, and themselves became centres of religious activity and enrolled other disciples. Some of them joined him in the jihad on the frontier and many continued to send men and money to the mujahids who kept up the struggle till the second half of the nineteenth century. But perhaps even more important was the extension of Shah Wali Allah’s reform movement, through these disciples, to areas which had been cut off from Delhi for generations, and were now brought closer to the spiritual centres of Muslim India. Even on the frontier the work of the mujahids did not come to an end with the disaster of Balakot. After Sayyid Ahmad’s death his principal disciples met at Delhi and selected Maulvi Nasir-ud-din, son in-law of Shah Muhammad Ishaq, the principal successor of Shah ’Abd al’Aziz, to lead the mujahids. He proceeded to the Pathan area via Sind and it was under his leadership that on the invitation of the Sayyids of Sithana, the mujahidin moved and settled there. When Dost Muhammad Khan, Amir of Kabul, proclaimed a jihad to fight the triple alliance of the Sikhs, the British and Shah Shuja, Maulvi Nasir-ud-din joined him and the mujahids suffered heavily in the battle of Ghazni (July
1839). Maulvi Nasir-ud-din died shortly thereafter, and leadership of the movement was now taken over by Maulvi Wilayat ’Ali (d. 1852) and Maulvi ’Inayat ’Ali (d. 1858) of Patna. The mujahids took advantage of confusion in the Sikhs’ affairs after the death of Ranjit Singh, and conquered Balakot, but his success was shortlived, as soon the British occupied the territory. A mujahid colony continued near Sithana even after that, but its importance belongs to a later period.
Muslim Revival in Bengal. Islam had been spread in Bengal by sufi missionaries in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but, thereafter, there had been a vigorous Hindu revival under the Vaishnava leaders which not only infused a new religious life among Hindus and converted Assam and
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 540
neighbouring hill areas to Hinduism, but ako, through literary and other channels of expression, influenced Muslim society. The stream of Muslim missionaries to the area had dried up, and not only was there a general ignorance of Islam amongst the masses, but a local variety of popular religion, thinly veiling Hindu beliefs and practices, seemed to be growing up. As the Travels of Mirza I’tisam-ud-din Khan show, Bengal Muslims, who were informed about religion, were steadfast in their observance of Islamic injunctions, but in distant villages isolated by rivulets and streams, there were serious obstacles to the spread of Islamic knowledge.
The nineteenth century, however, saw a new movement of Islamic revival in Bengal and an end of its spiritual isolation. Largely, this was the work of local reformers and scholars, who took advantage of the new conditions and the facilities of steamship travel to Arabia. ”The first person who stirred his countrymen by resuscitating the dormant spirit of their faith” was Haji Shari’at Allah, who was born in 1781 in the village of Shamail (of Madaripur subdivision now in Faridpur district) which has long since been washed away by the Padma. He received his early education at Calcutta and Murshidabad, and about 1799 left for Hijaz with his teacher Maulanan Basharat ’Ali. He returned in 1818, after a prolonged stay in holy places. While he was in Arabia, he was influenced by Wahabi doctrines preached by Shaikh Muhammad ’Abd al Wahab, and he began to teach some of them on his return to the people of his native district. He denounced the superstitious and corrupt beliefs which had been developed by long contact with Hindus. He was opposed to the prevalent procedure of sufi initiation, and replaced the expressions piri muridi, which suggested a complete submission, by the relationship between ustad (teacher) and shagird (pupil). He discontinued the laying on of hands customary at the time of initiation, but required from his disciples ”taubah” or repentance for past sins and a resolution to lead a righteous and godly life in the future. As a matter of fact, although his followers are generally known as ”Fara’idis”
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
on account of their insistence that everyone must perform the fara’id-rsl iigjjious obligations or the obligations imposed by God and urn e Prophet-they prefer to call themselves ”Tawbar” or ”Tawbar-i+Muslims”. Haji Shari’at Allah lived a life of piety, and, with h»»te sincerity and exemplary life won the confidence of the peopa»le, ”who venerated him as a father able to advise them in seat.s««ons of adversity and give consolation in times of affliction”.1 ”^ He became the centre of a great spiritual revival, but this dicSI not suit the members of the ruling classes. The local zamin -d-ars (mostly non-Muslim) ”where alarmed at the spread of flBhrne new creed, which bound the Muhammadan peasantry ass one man,” and started harassing Haji Shari’at Allah with *±Ji e usual lawsuits and disputes. Ultimately he was driven from JNajabari, in the district of Dacca, where he had settled on ht. is return from Arabia, and returned to his birthplace, *wvjitiere he continued his ministry till his death in
Even mu o :re influential was his son Muhsin-ud-din Ahmad (properly kt-iCDwn as Dudu Miyan) whose name became a household w -o jrd in the districts of Faridpur, Pabna, Bakarganj Dacca and NBTo* akhali. He was born in 1819, and visited Arabia at an early a^gg^. On his return he took up the leadership of the movement stsai-ted by his father. He partitioned East Bengal into circles, and eap»pointed a Khalifah to took after his followers in each circle. C_J«nder him the movement became the spearhead of the resistances of the Muslim peasantry of East Bengal against Hindu landlo arcds and European indigo planters. ”It was against the levying cofr illegal cesses by landlords that Dudu Miyan made his mca-sit determined stand. That a Muhammadan ryot should be obBEigged to contribute towards the decoration of the image of D«L_ir~ga, or towards the support of any of the idolatrous ritess of his Hindu landlord, were intolerable acts of oppression.”1^ ””The landlords and indigo planters retaliated with their usual tacr=tiiLcs--false or genuine criminal cases and lawsuits. Dudu Miyan vwas harassed all his life, and was repeatedly in jail on varioi iss- charges. He died on 24 September 1862 at
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 542
Dacca and was buried in the backyard of his Dacca residence (137 Bansal Road) where his grave still stands.
Another important local leader of the peasantry was Mir Nasir ’Ali, generally known as Titu Mir. He did not belong to the group headed by Haji Shari’at Allah and Dudu Miyan, but they all had similar religious and socio-economic objectives. He was a well-known wrestler of Calcutta, and came under the influence of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi either in that city or in Mecca, which he visited as an attendant of a member of the royal family of Delhi. After his return, he started to preach to the poorer classes in the districts of Jessore and Nadiya in Central Bengal, ”among whom he established the sect known as Maulvis”. The chief object of this movement was the rejection of all Hindu rites, and naturally the Hindu landlords had no sympathy with the new organisation. Cases against the Maulvis were lodged in the Zamindari courts, where fines were levied. A zamindar who earned notoriety in this connection was Kishan Rai, zamindar of Purnea, who imposed a tax of Rs
2.50 upon each of his tenants professing to be a Wahabi. ”As a general rule the Wahabis do not shave; hence they called this new impost the Beard Tax.”19 This tax was collected in Purnea proper, but attempts to collect it in a near village caused a riot in which some houses were plundered and a mosque burnt. Ultimately, this turned into a conflict between the government and Titu Miyan’s followers, against whom a strong military contingent had to be sent, and a pitched action was fought on
18 November 1831. Titu Mir fell in action, 250 of the followers were jailed and the movement died down in course of time.
The doctrines which were preached by Haji Shari’at Allah and Dudu Miyan for some forty years brought permanent changes in the spiritual life of Bengal, but the influence of their group gradually declined. Apart from the conflict with landlords and authorities, Dudu Miyan’s policy brought his group in conflict with other Muslims. ”He tried to compel all Muhammadan ryots to join his sect, and on refusal caused them
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
to be beaten, excommunicated from the society of the faithful and their crops destroyed.”
The main dispute between the Fara’idis and the ordinary Muslims was about the Friday prayers. Ordinary Muslims attach great importance to the ceremonial observance of these prayers, while the Fara’idis held that India, having come under the rule of the Christians, was a Dar al-Harb, and Friday prayers were unlawful there. This led to acrimonious controversies, and the Fara’idis started treating Muslims who did not share their point of view as kafirs, ”They do not salute persons of another sect, and do not go to their mosques, but have even defiled many belonging to the Sunnis by throwing impurities upon the pulpit, so that neither preaching nor Friday prayers can be held in them.”20 The Fara’idis usually prayed in their own ”Jama’at Ghar,”21 and not in the Muslim mosques. This opened up great schismatic possibilities, which were countered by the orthodox religious leaders, especially by Maulvi Karamat ’Ali who called them ”Kharijis,” and now the ”Fara’idis” have gradually merged into the main Muslim community.
Other religious leaders whose influence was the greatest in what is now Bangladesh and who were mainly responsible for relinking Muslim Bengal with the main spiritual centres of the subcontinent were four disciples of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi. Amongst them Maulvi Imam-ud-din was born at Hajipur in the Sudaram subdivision of Bengal, and completed his education under Shah ’Abd al-’Aziz at Delhi. He became a disciple of Sayyid Ahmed Brelvi at Lucknow in 1824 and thereafter never left him till his last day. He was with him at Calcutta (where he brought at large number of people from his own village for initiation at the hands of the Sayyid), during the journey to Arabia, and later during the jihad on the frontier. Sayyid Ahmad thought very highly of him, and used to send his new disciples for further spiritual training to him. He studied Sirat al-Mustaqim under Sayyid Ahmad himself, and many admirers
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 544
of the latter (including Nawab Wazir al-DauIah of Tonk and Maulvi Karamat ’Ali Jaunpuri) studied the book under him.
Maulvi Imam-ud-din’s brother lost his life at Balakot, but he himself returned to Bengal after the disaster, and carried on his work of reform and religious regeneration in Noakhali district. He was so successful in his mission that the author of the District Gazetteer of Noakhali writes about the Muslims of that district: ”Formerly it is said that the Muhammadans kept to many of their old Hindu customs, but about the middle of the last century they came under the influence of a reforming priest, Maulvi Imam-ud-din, and are now, almost to a man,22 Faraizi.”23 According to the tradition in Bangladesh, Maulvi Imam-ud-din left towards the end of his life for Hijaz, and at sea died during the return journey. According to some other accounts, he may have died at Tonk, where the Nawab had collected the family and surviving leading disciples of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi, Another prominent disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi, who hailed from what is now Bangladesh and ultimately returned there, was Sufi Nur Muhammad, who made Cittagong his centre of work.
There were many feature common between the reforms preached by Shah Wali Allah and the Wahabis, but there were also profound differences. Shah Wali Allah opposed extremism of all kinds (even puritanical), practised and permitted tasawwuf, and was more a ”forward-looking” reformer than a revivalist.
Maulvi Imam-ud-din and Sufi Nur Muhammad accompanied Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi during his journeys and Jihad and came back their native province after the disaster at Balakot. Even before this, prior to leaving for Jihad Sayyid Ahmad and his co-workers had made thorough arrangements for the preaching of his doctrines in different parts of Bengal, and for despatch of men and materials from these areas. According to an article in the Calcutta Review (1870), already quoted, ”One Maulvi Karamat Ali of Jaunpur travelled through Chittagong, Noakhali, Dacca, Mymensingh, Faridpur Barisal.
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
Inayat Ali of Patna confined his exertions to middle Bengal and preached in Faridpur, Pahna, Rajshahi, Malda and Bogra. His brother, Walayat Ali, assisted him for a short time in Bengal, but his mission lay chiefly among the people of Central India, Hyderabad and Bombay.”24 In addition, Maulvi Walayat ’Ali, when in Deccan, had sent Maulvi Zain al-Abidin to preach in eastern districts of Bengal, ”and the number of his followers in Sylhet and Dacca testify to his success as a missionary”.
We shall deal separately with Maulvi Karamat ’Ali, but the work of Maulvi ’Inayat ’Ali in Bengal was also most important. He spent more than seven years at one time and three years at another in Central Bengal, and organised many centres of work. He built mosques at a number of places, and oppointed qualified Imams in various mosques. Not only were these Imams responsible for the religious education of the population, but they adjudicated in the disputes of the local Muslim population, and saved them from resort to government courts. Maulvi ’Inayat ’Ali’s centre of work was at Rajshahi, or at Hajipur (in Jessore district) where his family resided. It was due to his great organising ability that Bengal became a major source of recruits for the jihad against the Sikhs, and later against the British.
Maulvi ’Inayat ’Ali was an efficient organiser and his missionary work in Bengal was of great importance, but he was even more deeply interested in jihad and ultimately the Frontier claimed him. The disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi, whose primary interest was in religious education and reform and who devoted a lifetime to the work in Bengal, was Maulvi Karamat ’Ali. He was born at Jaunpur in June 1800, became a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi during his tour of Northern India and was selected by him for work in the eastern provinces. Maulvi Karamat, ’Ali who chose East Bengal as the main field of his activities, was a great organiser and for forty years he moved up and down the elaborate river system of East Bengal with a flotilla of small boats, carrying the message of Islamic regeneration and reform from the Nagaland in the north
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 546
to Sandip and other islands in the Bay of Bengal. His flotilla of country craft was often compared to a travelling college; one boat was for the residence of his family, another was reserved for students and disciples occompanying him, while the third was for dars, lecture and prayers. He repeatedly toured and halted in the districts of Khulna, Jessore, Barisal, Faridupur and Chittagong, but the district in which he worked longest was Noakhali. Through his well-planned and well-organised efforts extending over half a century, Maulvi Karamat ’Ali was able to revitalise Islamic life in East Bengal, and it had been said that one has only to contrast the religious fervour, or social life or even the normal dress and appearance of Muslims of East Bengal and West Bengal to realise the revolution which he brought about in the area in which he worked.
Maulvi Karamat ’Ali ”exhibited remarkable power for the regeneration of Islam all his life, so that at the time of his death there was scarcely a village in Bengal that did not contain some of his disciples”.25 He married in a village in Chittagong district, and except for occasional visits to Jaunpur, spent his entire active life in Bengal. .He is buried in the principal mosque of Rangpur (in Bangladesh) where he died in 1873. After his death his work was carried on by his son and his nephew, and in many parts of East Bengal his influence is alive even today. Comparing him with Keshab. Chandar Sen of the Brahmo Samaj, Beveridge in his masterly study of the District of Bakarganj (Barisal) says: ”From all that I have heard, Karamat Ali, who was a native of Jaunpur, was a man of a very pure and disinterested character, and did much good by preaching sound morality. He has certainly exercised much more influence over the common people than Keshab Chandar Sen, and I should think that he was the truer and more modest man of the two.”26
Maulvi Karamat ’Ali shared with the Farai’di leaders an abhorrence of un-Islamic practices, but he was violently opposed to their rejection of ’Id and Friday prayers in British India, and their treatment of other Muslims as Kafirs. He
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
called them Kharijiyyah and v/rote pamphlets against them. His view was that India was not a dar al-harb, but he argued that even if India had ceased to be dar al-Islam, Muslim should do their utmost to carry on, as far as possible, observances which were followed in dar al-Islam. ”If non-Muslims conquer Muslim lands, observance of Friday prayers and the celebration of two ’Ids was not only lawful but obligatory.” Maulvi Karamat ’Ali was successful as the ulema in Hijaz (where followers of Dudu Miyan went in such large number for the performance of fiajj that the group came to be called Hajis) supported his views regarding ’Id and Friday prayers. The vast majority of Bengal Muslims did not give up Friday prayers or the celebration of ’ids during the British period, but a small group continued to follow Haji Shari’at Allah and they did not offer Friday prayers until after the establishment of Pakistan. Maulvi Karamat ’Ali’s efforts resulted, not only in the spread of Islamic knowledge and a new, vigorous life, but if there was any danger of certain practices different from those in vogue in the rest of Muslim India being adopted in Bengal, that was averted.
The significance of religious revival in Bengal in the nineteenth century is not generally recognised, but those who are aware of developments within the province know its importance. Wise wrote in his study of the Mussulmans of Bengal:
”The Muhammadan revival of the nineteenth century is one of the most momentous events in the modern history of India. The seed, sown by a few untitled men, has borne abundant fruit, and at the present day overshadows the whole of Eastern Bengal.”27
About the characteristics and effects of this revival, the District Gazetteer of Dinajpur has the following entry:
”Of recent years there has been a Muhammadan revival under the auspices of itinerant Mullahs. They travel about the country and preach against idolatry and all practices not sanctioned by the Koran. The result has been that a
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 548
considerable section of the community has joined what is locally called the community of Naya Mussalmans. They are strict in religious observances avoid participation in Hindu religious festivals, and the extravagance in connection with marriages and other ceremonies....The better classes amongst them are particular in the matter of seclusion of women. In dress they effect the cloth worn like a skirt rather than the dhoti worn by other Muhammadans of the district.”
British Expansion (1803-1858). The graph of British expansion in Hind-Pakistan follows a zigzag course, The ultimate goal of British policy-territorial sovereignty-had been indicated in a resolution of the Directors of the East India Company as early as 1688, but progress towards that goal was slow, cautious, and punctuated by long periods of ”masterly inactivity”. This policy was adopted partly to avoid European jealousies and violent local reaction, as also to keep down the cost of territorial expansion. Besides, Britain was a small island and could not initially provide men for the administration of a vast subcontinent, and the long time taken in annexation provided a suitable opportunity for gradually training up the necessary personnel, gaining an intimate knowledge of local problems and evolving a suitable modus operand7.
By the end of Lord Wellesley’s governor-generalship (1805), there was no doubt about who was the master of the subcontinent, and Delhi itself was under British control. But it is typical of the zigzag course of British policy and the alternate predominance of expansionist and commercial-cumeconomical schools of thought, that after all his conquests Lords Wellesley was recalled and Cornwallis was sent out a second time with clear instructions to adhere to a policy of non-intervention. He died within three months of his arrival, but George Barlow who held the office for two years after him (1805-1807) strictly carried out this policy. He was succeeded by Lord Minto, who also annexed no territory, and whose regime was notable for a treaty of friendship with Ranjit Singh (1809). Under Hastings (1813-1823), there were the Gurkha
The Twilight of the Mughals
( Ch. 24
war and the more important third Maratha war (1816-1819). There was the first Burmese war under Amherst, but the long tenure of William Bentinck (1828-1835) was devoted, almost entirely, to administrative reforms and consolidation. Thereafter the pace of expansion quickened once again. The first Afghan war of 1837, fought, in co-operation with Ranjit Singh, to restore Shah Shuja ’to the throne of Kabul, ended in disaster and, although a year later, large British forces were sent to restore British prestige, the original objective, i.e. enthronement of Shah Shuja’, was abandoned. Failing in Afghanistan, the British annexed Sind (1843). In 1839, Ranjit Singh died and, in 1845, the fist Sikh war was fought, resulting in many advantages for the British in the Punjab. The great era of expansions, however, did not begin again till Dalhousie came on the scene in 1848. Soon after his arrival the second Sikh war was fought, leading to the annexation of the Punjab and the north-western areas (1849). Three years later, the second Burmese war was fought, and Burma was annexed. Oudh was annexed in 1856 and Dalhousie developed the ”doctrine of lapse,” under which Hindu widows were refused the right of adoption and the States of rajas dying without natural heirs lapsed to the paramount power. This doctrine was applied to Satara, Jhansi, Nagpur, etc., and these territories were incorporated in the British dominions. Dalhousie also abolished the titles of the Nawab of Karnatak the Raja of Tanjore and the Peshwa, and announced that on the death of Bahadur Shah, the title of his successor would be Prince and not King. There is evidence to show that, but for the happenings of 1857, which led to a reversal of the policy’regard ing native States, Hyderabad would also have been annexed, but overt action by Dalhousie was confined to the transference of the administration of Berar from the Nizam to the British (1853).
Cultural and AdministrativeConsequences oftheBritish Supremacy. Clive, who is regarded as the father of British Empire in the Indo-Pak subcontinent, had no interest in cultural matters, or even in real administrative reform. The position
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 550
changed with Warren Hastings who was deeply interested in Oriental culture and actively patronised Oriental learning. Such was his appreciation of the Muslim literary heritage, as treasured in Hind-Pakistan, that he advocated that a study of Persian might be made a part of the liberal education of an Englishman in the University of Oxford.28 In this he failed, but he was able to attract to the service of the East India Company many gifted people from amongst Hindus and Muslims. Amongst the latter may be mentioned the author of the wellknown history, Siyar al-Muta ’akhirin, who wrote this book for Warren Hastings, Nawab ’Ali Ibrahim, originally Diwan of Mir Qasim and well known for many historical and biographical works, who was appointed Magistrate at Benares, and Munshi Sadr-ud-din, the donor of Buhar library (now incorporated in the National Library, Calcutta). One of Hastings’ memorable actions was the foundation of the Calcutta Madrassah in 1786.
Hastings took early steps to make accessible in English the basic principles and text-books of Hindu and Muslim law. Learned pandits were invited to Calcutta from different parts of Bengal to make an authoritative compilation of Hindu laws. The pandits compiled the Code in Sanskirt. This was translated into Persian, the court language, under the supervision of one of the pandits, and from the Persian translation an English version was prepared.29 With respect to Islamic Law, Warren Hastings wrote to Lord Mansfield:
”Your Lordship need not be told that this is as comprehensive and as well-defined, as that of most states in Europe, having been formed at a time in which the Arabians were in possession of all the real learning which existed in the western part of this continent. The book which bears the greatest authority among them in India is a digest formed by the Emperor Aurangzeb, and consists of four large folio volumes which are equal to near twelve of ours.”
This was the famous Fatawa-i ’Alamgiri, which, except for a few portions published by Neil Baillie, has not been
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
translated into English. An English version of an earlier textbook Hidayah was, however, published in 1791, by Hamilton.30 Being an English translation of a Persian rendering of the Arabic original, it was hardly satisfactory, but for the time being it served its purpose. The copy of this version in the Bodlean Library of Oxford has a note inscribed on it by Edmund Burke:” There is a great power of mind and a very subtle jurisprudence shown in this work.”31 Later Sir William Jones translated Sir ajiyyah, a book on Muslim law of inheritance, and added a commentary.
In 1794, the Asiatic Society of Bengal was founded by Sir William Jones. The next important cultural step was the foundation in 1800 by Lord Wellesley of Fort William College. Its practical object was to train the officers of the East India Company in languages and customs of the newly conquered country, but it also played a significant role in the cultural history of the country during its brief existence.
The part played by Fort William College in the cultural history of Hind-Pakistan has not been fully grasped. It lay partly in the impetus which it gave, under the enthusiastic guidance of its principal, Dr.Gilchrist, to a systematic study of Hindustani, and in the high literary quality of the works written under its auspices in various Indian languages. Gilchrist himself published an English-Hindustani Dictionary and a Hindustani Grammar, but even more important are the works of the group of competent indigenous writers, whom he was able to attract to his institution. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Urdu poetry had reached a high stage of development, but books in Urdu prose were very few, and with rare exceptions (like the farseeing family of Shah Wali Allah,) serious scholars ignored it. Even the few works which existed contained ornate and highly artificial rhyming variety of prose, which came into vogue for the embellishment of imaginative works and display of rhetorical and literary skill, and had become current during the decay of the Mughal Empire. Prose books written at Calcutta were the work of a number of
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 552
writers, who had their individual styles, but the best amongst them adopted the natural, spoken language of Delhi, and showed that it could give real aesthetic pleasure. Generally a high standard was maintained, and, although the books were written primarily to provide text-books for foreign students, many of them, like Bagh-o Bahar, have become classics of Urdu literature.
It has been claimed that the rise of modern Urdu prose was due to the work done at the Fort William. As A. Yusuf Ali has pointed out, 32 this can be true only in a qualified sense. The excellence of many of the works produced at Calcutta need not be denied, and it is also true that the prose style which ultimately gained currency in Urdu was closer to the pattern adopted at Calcutta than to anything else written so far, but the work of Dr. Gilchrist’s associates was accomplished at a place far removed from the literary currents of Delhi and Lucknow, and did not effect them. There are practically no contemporary references to the books produced in Calcutta, and for more than half a century literary circles in Northern India, which after all was the home of Urdu, either continued to ignore prose or (with the exception of religious writers, who were not influenced by the experiments at Calcutta), continued to follow the models rejected by the writers of Fort William College.
The literary and linguistic activity at Calcutta was not an unmixed blessing for the future of the Indo-Pak subcontinent. The splitting of the common spoken language of Hindus and Muslims of Northern India into two separate languages was the work of Fort William College. Not only was the polite spoken language of Northern India (Urdu-Hindustani) cultivated at the Calcutta institution, but with the help of Lallu Ji Lai and other Sanskritists practically a new language was created in the form of new Hindi. This was not the literary form of the language spoken by Hindus or an evolution of any regional dialect, but a new, artificial language. As Kaye, the historian of Hindi literature says:
The Twilight of the Mughals
\ Ch. 24
”A literary language for Hindi-speaking people, which could commend itself to Hindus was very desirable and the result was produced by taking Urdu and expelling from it words of Persian or Arabic origin, and substituting for it words of Sanskrit or Hindi origin. The Hindi of Lallu Ji Shah was really a new literary dialect.”33
About modern Hindi, Sir George Grierson says:
”It is of modern origin having been introduced under English influence at the commencement of the last (i.e. nineteenth) century. Up till then when a Hindu wrote prose and did not use Urdu, he wrote in his own local dialect, Awadhi, Bundeli, Braj Bhasha or what not. Lallu Lai, under the inspiration of Dr. Gilchrist changed all this by writing the well-known Prem Sagar, a work which was, so far as the prose portions went, practically written in Urdu, with Indo-Aryan words substituted wherever a writer in that form of speech would use Persian ones. It was thus an automatic reversion to the actual vernacular of the Upper Doab. The course of this novel experiment was successful from the start. The subject of the first book written in the attracted the attention of all good Hindus...then, the language filled a want. It gave lingua franca to the Hindu. It enabled men of widely different provinces to converse with each other without recourse to the unclean words (to them) of the Mussalmans.”34
A similar process was adopted in respect of Sanskritisation of Bengali, wherein the Do-Bhashi form current in the eighteenth century35 was discarded, and a highly Sanskritised form adopted.
Some other aspects of the language policy adopted by the East India Company in the beginning of the nineteenth century had equally serious consequences. In 1829, it was announced in an official communication that it was ”the wish and the admitted policy of the British Government to render its own language gradually and eventually the language of public business throughout the country.” A few years later English
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in \ndia & Pakistan 554
replaced Persian. The reason for this can be understood, but the British claim for the cultural unification of the country would have had a more solid basis if, along with English, and indigenous language had been given at least a secondary place. Instead, an entire plethora of vernaculars was encouraged and, instead of one common language Urdu, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Sindhi, etc., all seemed to secure similar attention. Whereas in the past Hindustani was understood in its various forms practically all over the country, and local languages had, apart from ballads and simple verse, no developed prose literature, now the regional languages began to develop literatures of their own. Thus the cultural unity of the country became totally dependent on English, and the seeds of the present language problem of India and Pakistan were sown.
The Muslims of Bengal were particularly hit hard by the
new turn of events. The ”alliance between the head of the
European Baniadom, the English Company and the Marwari
banias”36 had sealed their political fate at the battlefield of
Plassey. The same alliance continued in other spheres. Lords
Cornwalli’s Permanent Settlement (1793), put into operation
through Hindu intermediaries and accompanied by a ruthless
application of the ”Sunset” law, resulted in extinguishing the
proprietary claims of a large number of Muslim landowners
and the creation of Hindu zamindars. Now they were to be
ruined culturally. Not only was Persian replaced by English,
but in regional affairs Bengali was given pride of Place. This
could have been accepted, if the language of the people had
been adopted. But the Bengali which was made current under
the new arrangements was not the language spoken either by
Hindus or Muslims of Bengal. It was a completely artificial
language, containing a preponderance of Sanskrit words, and in
many respects was a new language for the Bengali Muslims
who formed nearly half the population of the province.
Apart from these controversial developments’ the British made important contributions to the social and civic life of the people, particularly of the Hindu community, at this time. In
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
1829, Lord William Bentinck ordered the abolition of Sati. Aurangzeb had issued peremptory orders to stop it, but as the practice was sanctioned by Hindu religion, stray cases continued to occur, especially after the weakening of the Mughal government. The well organised and continuous British administration dealt with the problem more effectively. About the same time successful measures were adopted to root out thugl, which had assumed serious proportions after the break-up of the Mughal Empire.
An increase in the number of printing presses took place about the same time. Sometime before 1778, Charles Wilkins had invented and cast printing types for Persian and Bengali characters. Not only was type printing used for official printing of laws and regulations, and for the work turned out by Fort William College at Calcutta, but also in the great mass of the so-called Wahabi literature, printed in Urdu about 1820-1837, in connection with the movement headed by Sayyid Ahmad Brelvi. But the Muslims preferred good calligraphy to convenience and, instead of developing type printing and making such modifications in letters as would cheapen its cost, they preferred lithography which was introduced into India by
1837, within less than forty years of its invention in Germany. The first lithographic press was set up in Delhi, soon followed by the establishment of another at Lucknow. Lithography proved very popular and soon many printing presses were set up, bringing out a stream of newspapers, pamphlets, government notices and serious literary work.
Improvement in communications was largely the work of Lord Dalhousie. In 1853, a railway line, set up between Bombay and Thana, marked the beginning of the vast railway system of the subcontinent. The telegraph system was introduced in the same year, and, coupled with the reduction in postal charges effected about the same time, provided easy and inexpensive means of communication.
Muslim Law Under the British. When after the battle of Buxar, the fugitive Mughal Emperor, Shah ’Alam, conferred
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 556
the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa on the East India Company, thefarman, in its Original form, bound the company to decide cases ”agreeably to the rules of Mahomet and the Laws of the empire”. This clause disappeared from the later versions of the treaty, but it continued for a long time to influence the policy of the Company and the expectations of the people. Till 1857, the Comply was administering vast areas in the name of the titular Mughal sovereign and had begun by administering Islamic Law, except where the practice of the Muslims themselves had been to leave disputes between Hindus to be determined according to their Shastras as interpreted by Hindu pandits. Under the regulation II of 1772, it was laid down that ”in all suits regarding inheritance, successions, marriage, and caste and other religious usages or institutions, the law of the Quran with respect to Muhammadans and those of Shasters with respect to Gentoos (Hindus) shall be invariably adhered to. In case Of courts under the Company’s control dealing with even other categories of cases,
- Muhammadan law officers were attached to all them, original and appellate, civil and criminal, to advise on questions of law”. Sir Roland Wilson, on whom we have relied for this paragraph, continues to say:
”Criminal proceedings in particular were assumed to be governed by the shari’at (irrespective of the religion of the offender) unless and until the Company’s Government should think fit to order otherwise. Not till 1790 was this jurisdiction withdrawn from the Nazim; a^d although from that date the system was gradually Anglicised by successive Regulations, the Muhammadan element di1862, when the Penal Code a>nd the first Code of Criminal Procedure came into force, nor as regards rules of evidence till the passing of the Indian Evidence Act in 1872.”37
Struggle for Independence- (]857-1858). The year 1857 saw a great national rising wh jch convulsed the subcontinent for over two years, and completely changed the course of its history. It has been variously Described as Mutiny or War of
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
Independence. Both designations are open to objection. Ic started as a ”mutiny” of the troops, but large sections of the civil population participated in it and it had the willing or unwilling support of the titular but lawful Mughal monarch. On the other hand, it can hardly be called War of Independence in the accepted sense as it failed and did not lead to the independence of the subcontinent.
The causes of this great upheaval were many-political, social, economic, and religious. The expansion of the area under the direct control of the East India Company, especially during the administration of Lord Dalhousie, had created a general feeling of unrest. The annexation of Oudh, the absorption of Satara and Nagpur, and the possibility of the application of Dalhousie’s policy to all the remaining native states disturbed the old ruling classes. The economic consequences of his policy were also far-reaching. All the principal civil and military appointments under the East India Company came to be reserved for the Europeans, and a large number of well-placed people in the old native administration were thrown out of employment. On the other hand, a largescale confiscation of estates, hitherto held free, had been going on for various reasons, in the territory under the East India Company.
Political, economic and social factors had engendered popular discontent, but the spark that kindled the conflagration was religious. The British government was universally suspected of a design to convert people to Christianity. The question of the future religion of the subcontinent was freely discussed in English magazines and other publications, missionaries occupied a position of privilege, especially in the educational structure of the new government. As Sayyid Ahmad Khan later pointed out in his brilliant Causes of the Indian Revolt, British officers would invite their servants and subordinates and make them listen to the preaching of the Christian missionaries. Canning the new viceroy, was particularly friendly to the Christian religious leaders. In this
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation in India & Pakistan 558
atmosphere of tension, discontent and distrust, were introduced the new greased cartridges, which had been recently imported from Europe. The rumour spread that the grease used in these cartridges came from animal fat~of cows and pigs-which Hindus and Muslims could not touch for religious reasons. At Meerut some troopers of a regiment refused to use these cartridges, and were severely dealt with by their British officers. This brought to a head the pent-up feeling of distrust and hostility. On 10 May 1857, the Third Cavalry regiment at Meerut took the lead, raided the jail, released their comrades who had been imprisoned for refusal to accept the greased cartridges and raised the standard of revolt. They killed their European officers, and, reaching Delhi next morning, proclaimed Bahadur Shah as the Emperor. They attacked the Delhi magazine, but it was blown up by the British officer in charge and only a small quantity of ammunition fell into their hands. The disturbances now spread over the greater part of the subcontinent. In the Punjab, the native soldiers were quickly disarmed and the British officers were not only able to keep the area quiet but by whipping up Sikh animosity against Muslims and promising unlimited loot, were able to enlist a number of enthusiastic Sikh soldiers. In Hyderabad, Sir Salar Jang had prevented any disturbance. Bengal was also quiet, but there were serious disturbances at Cawnpore, where Nana Sahib, the displaced son the last Peshwa, took charge of affairs, Lucknow, where the British officers had to face a prolonged siege, Jhansi, where Lakshmi Bai, the famous Rani of Jhansi, was the leader of the revolt, and also at Kolhapur, Bombay, and the southern Maratha territory. For some time the British lost control of very large area, but the well-armed and well organised British troops gradually brought the situation under control. A siege train arrived before Delhi on 6 September and a week later the Kashmiri Gate was stormed and after six days of well-contested fighting, the city and the fort were captured. Bahadur Shah was arrested, and his three sons were shot by Major Hodson to whom they had surrendered.
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
Perhaps, the most contested fight was at Lucknow, which was relieved by the British troops on 26 September, but was lost again, reconquered and after another loss had to be finally relieved a third time (March 1858).
The struggle at Lucknow was led by Maulvi Ahmad Allah, and the Begum of Oudh. Amongst the Marathas, Nana Sahib, Rani of Jhansi and Tantia Topi were the principal leaders.
The Fate of the Mughal Delhi. The British re-entered Delhi on 20 September 1857, but it was not the end of the agony and uncertainties of the people of the Mughal metropolis. The cruel massacre of British women and children38 had enraged the British officers, and perhaps partly to inspire terror and thereby facilitate reconquest of the unsubdued parts of the subcontinent, a general massacre of the civil population was ordered. According to Mrs. Saunders, the wife of the contemporary commissioner of Delhi, ”of several days after the assault every native that could be found was killed by the soldiers.”39
Women and children were spared but, according to native accounts, many women, who did not flee from the city, drowned themselves by jumping into wells, to escape a worse fate at the hands of the soldiers. Commissioner Saunders himself wrote: ”The troops were completely disorganized and demoralized by the immense amount of plunder which fell into their hand and the quantity of liquor which they managed to discover in the shops of the European merchants of Delhi.”40 The initial massacre, which lasted for some days, was followed by a ”systematic reign of terror,” which, according to a modern British historian, ”lasted for several weeks, but in reality seems to have continued for several months.
The entire population of Delhi which survived the early massacre was driven out of the city. Mrs. Saunders wrote on
25 October: ’Every house in the city was desolated and many of them injured...the inhabitants of this huge place seven miles
Bk. II ] History of Muslim Civilisation.in India & Pakistan 560
round are dying daily of starvation and want of shelter. The Prize Agents are digging for treasure in houses where rich natives are said to have hoards.”41 The entire population of Delhi had to spend that winter either in the open or in hastily prepared shelters, far out of the city. In December a European observer reported that the search and plunder still continued. ”He visited the outlying bands of fugitives from the city and found a very serious share of misery and sickness among the lower orders, the infirm and those with large families.” During these months the city was subjected to a loot and plunder which it had not suffered in its dismal history during the eighteenth century. The massacre of Nadir Shah and plunder by the Marathas, Jasor Afghans continued, at the utmost, for a few days (Nadir’s massacre which has the most evil reputation lasted, according to the Oxford History of India, for nine hours). The looting was in the presence of the owners, who could offer some protection or conceal some property. Now the entire civil population had been driven out of the city, and, in the absence of owners, houses were broken into, floors dug up, and the contents removed or destroyed. Responsible, thoughtful Englishmen, who had not caught the ”vengeance” fever, were greatly distressed at what was happening. Elphinstone, governor of Bombay, wrote to Lawrence, the future governorgeneral: ”After the siege was over, the outrages committed by our troops are simply heart-rending. Wholesale vengeance is being taken without distinction of friend or foe. As regards looting, we have indeed surpassed Nadir Shah (italics ours).”42
Next to suffer were the city buildings. The principal mosques were occupied by the British troops, and there was a general discussion in the Anglo-Indian press regarding their fate. There was a proposal to sell the Grand Mosque of Shah Jahan. Another was to use it as a ”barrack for the main guard of European troops,” as in the opinion of some officers at Delhi could ”never be allowed to remain in the hands of the Muslim population.” Muslims were allowed to use the mosque only after five years. Some parts of the Fathpuri Masjid, the
The Twilight of the Mughals
[ Ch. 24
second largest in the city, remained in non-Muslim hands till
1875. The beautiful Zinat al-Masajid, built by Aurangzeb’s daughter, was given back to Muslims by Lord Curzon only in the beginning of the twentieth century.
What the royal palace and the Fort suffered was even worse. The palace proper, i.e. the residence of the royal family and other connected buildings were completely razed to the ground. Fergusson, the historian of Indian architecture, says that ”the harem and the private apartments of the palace, covering more than twice the area of the Escurial, or, in fact, of any palace in Europe” and containing gardens, courts and building which to judge by the corresponding structures in the Agra Fort built by the same monarch, ”must have vied with public apartments in richness and beauty” were completely destroyed. ”Not one vestige of them now remains. The whole of the harem courts of the palace were swept off the face of the earth to make way far a hideous British barrack without those who carried out this fearful piece of vandalism, thinking it even worthwhile to make a plan of what they were destroying or preserving any record of the most splendid palace in the world.”43
Public buildings in the fort also suffered. The more important ones were retained, but ”without the courts and corridors connecting them they lose all their meaning and more than half their beauty”. The contents of the palace were, of course, looted, and even structural decorations were dug out. Fergusson continues: ”When we took possession of the palace, every one seems to have looted after the most independent fashion. Among others, a Captain (afterwards Sir) John Jones tore up a great part of platform, but had the happy idea to get his loot set in marble as table-tops.” Some of these table-tops he again sold to the government, presumably to the India Office. ”Two of these he brought home and sold to government for 500, and were placed in the India Museum. No one can doubt that the one with the birds was executed by Florentine,