Reflecting on the Contribution of Muslim Women and Men to India’s Freedom Movement

Muslim Freedom Fighters

Without the representation of the role that Indian Muslims played in it, the history of the Indian national movement would be incomplete.

Indian Muslims played Great Role in India’s freedom on August 15, 1947

The long struggle that culminated in India’s freedom on August 15, 1947 saw the contributions and sacrifices of men and women from all classes and communities. Without the representation of the role that Indian Muslims played in the Indian national movement, the history of that movement would be incomplete.
Since the middle of the 18th century, the Battle of Palashi (Plassey), which took place on June 23, 1757, demonstrates the significance, role, and uprising of Indians against British imperialists.

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah

Nawab Siraj Ud-Daulah was the first person to wake up Indian rulers and tell them to fight the British

Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah was the first person to wake up Indian rulers and tell them to fight the British. He, on the other hand, lost the battle and was executed at 24 years old.

Hyder Ali,the ruler of Mysore, and his son Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan:The Tiger of Mysore was also known as Fatah Ali

Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, and his son Tipu Sultan led India’s first freedom struggle against the British in the 1780s and 1790s. In 1799, Lord Wellesley killed Tipu Sultan during the fourth Anglo-Mysore war.

Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan

Ashfaq Ullah Khan and His Glorious Last Words

Muhammad Ashfaq Ullah Khan of Shahjehanpur, who in order to cripple the government, conspired to steal from the British Treasury at Kakori (Lucknow) and asked for his will before his death: Only the wish that someone would add some soil from my homeland to my winding sheet remains.

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan with Mahatma Gandhi

Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, also known as “Frontier Gandhi,” was one of the main reasons why the British left India. He became a Mahatma Gandhi follower and was dubbed “Frontier Gandhi.”

Jawaharlal Nehru with Abdul Ghaffar Khan at Wana during his visit to North West Frontier Province in October 1946

Ghaffar Khan met Gandhi and became a politician in 1919 during the agitation over the Rowlatt Acts, which allowed political dissidents to be interned without being tried. He became a member of the Khilafat movement the following year.

Barkatullah and Syed Rehmat Shah

Maulvi Barkatullah (July 7, 1854-September 27, 1927)

Maulana Barkatullah and Syed Rehmat Shah of Ghadar Party sacrificed their lives.

Maulana Barkatullah was the one who toured Great Britain, Europe, Japan and America, in addition to the Soviet Union in connection with the struggle against British imperialism. He was among those few ulema who travelled to Moscow in May 1919, just a short period after the Bolshevik Revolution; he saw the conditions there with his own eyes, and met Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders. During his stay in Moscow, he said during an interview  with the Izvestia newspaper:

The United States Of India News Paper Article about Maulana Barkatullah

“I am not a communist or a socialist, but right now my political program includes throwing the British out of Asia. I am a staunch enemy of European capitalism in Asia. Therefore, there is complete compromise between myself and the communists over these objectives and we are allies on this field. I do not know what shape the future events will take, but what I can definitely say is that the famous appeal of the Soviet government of Russia, in which the people of all nations have been requested to rise up and conduct jihad against capitalists, has greatly influenced us, and what we like more than that is that the Soviet Union has revealed all the secret agreements (between Russia and Great Britain) whose objective was to enslave other nations, especially the Eastern nations. Not only this, but the Soviet Union has unilaterally cancelled all such agreements. Russia accepts the principle of equality and evenness between all small and great nations. The ideas of the Bolsheviks, which we call socialism, are also making a place in the hearts of the common Indian people.”

During his stay in Moscow, Maulana Barkatullah said during an interview  with the Izvestia newspaper:

Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay

Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay who ultimately sacrificed his life for the cause of Independence.

Umar Subhani, an industrialist and a millionaire of Bombay who, then, presented a blank cheque to Gandhiji for Congress expenses and who ultimately sacrificed his life for the cause of Independence.

Maulana Hasrat Mohani

Maulana Hasrat Mohani With Dr.Ambedkar

Maulana Hasrat Mohani, with his poetry, infused zeal of freedom in young hearts. In the series ‘Azadi Ke Gumnaam Sipahi’, today is the story of one such poet who gave the slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad’. Sadly, today they are lost somewhere in the pages of history. We are talking about the fearless soldier of freedom, Maulana Hasrat Mohani.

Entered the freedom struggle during his college

He was born on 1 January 1875 in Kasba Mohan of Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh. The real name of Maulana Hasrat Mohani was Syed Fazal-ul-Hasan. Hasrat was his takhallus (a nickname used for poetry or ghazals), which he also used in his poetry. Being born in Mohan, Mohani became associated with Hasrat. Later on he became famous as Hasrat Mohani.

After completing his initial studies, he took admission in Aligarh Muslim University. During the college itself, he jumped into the revolutionary movements and for this reason had to go to jail in 1903. He was even expelled from college but that did not deter his passion for freedom

The power of his pen

After graduation, in the year 1903, he started bringing out a magazine in the name of ‘Urdu-e-Mualla’ from Aligarh. This magazine published against the oppression and wrong policies of British rule. Maulana continued to make people aware of the freedom struggle with his pen with great impunity.

As a result,  he had to go to jail again in 1907. The British had understood the power of his pen. Fearing him, his magazine was closed. He was one of the active members of Congress. He remained with the Congress till the year 1907. After that, Maulana also left the Congress soon after Bal Gangadhar Tilak left the party. He was one of Tilak’s close friends.

Bahadur Shah Zafar

The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was the first to strongly fight for Indian freedom which led to the 1857 independence struggle.

The great Mughal empire had lost much of its influence and territory by the end of the 1700s. When Zafar came to the throne in 1837, his rule extended only to Delhi and its surroundings. But for his subjects, he always remained Badshah – the King.

The British buried him in an unmarked grave to keep his followers away. News of his death took a fortnight to reach India and almost went unnoticed.

Then, for more than 100 years, Zafar faded from memory.

But in recent decades interest in his legacy has been revived.

A 1980s Indian TV serial rekindled memories, and roads bear his name in Delhi and Karachi. Dhaka renamed a park after him.

“Zafar was a remarkable man,” historian William Dalrymple, author of The Last Mughal.

“A calligrapher, notable poet, Sufi pir [spiritual guide], and a man who valued the importance of Hindu-Muslim unity.”

A scene from the batteries on the Delhi Ridge, during the Indian mutiny of 1857-Courtesy:Getty Image
  • Indian soldiers rose up against their British officers in the northern city of Meerut on 10 May. The rebellion spread to Delhi, Agra, Lucknow and Kanpur.
  • Resentment had grown over attempts to impose new reforms, laws, Western values and Christianity.
  • The revolt united thousands of Hindu and Muslim troops who chose then-Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, as their nominal head.
  • British generals deployed Sikh soldiers from Punjab and Pathans from the North-West Frontier Province – Delhi was recaptured by September.
  • Both sides were accused of indiscriminate killings. The rebels killed British women and children. The British were blamed for mass executions of thousands of mutineers and their supporters.
  • The rebellion officially ended by July 1858. In the same year, the East India Company was abolished in favour of direct rule of India by the British government.

Source: Britannica, BBC History

The gates of the mausoleum bear the last emperor’s name

Muslims used Masjids for the freedom struggle. When an Imam was addressing about Indian freedom in a Holy Masjid in Uttar Pradesh, British Army shot all the Muslims in that Masjid

Our Muslim Freedom Fighters go by the name of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, one of India’s greatest freedom fighters. After India gained its independence, he continued to serve the nation; He served India until his final breath. When he was just 16 years old, he took part in India’s independence.

Bakht Khan, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district, played a significant role in the 1857 rebellion. Bakht Khan was an experienced soldier who worked as a subedar in the Army of the East India Company. The rebel forces were commanded by Bakht Khan. The British rulers launched a man hunt as a result of his powerful rebellion activities. He was shot to death by Britishers in May 1859.

Keralan Salt Satyagraha practitioner Mohammad Abdur Rahman received a harsh seven-month sentence. He rallied the Muslim populace against the Muslim League Party’s two-nation theory. On November 23, 1945, he passed away shortly after giving a speech to a public gathering at Kodiyathur.

Enlivened by Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad, Abbas Ali joined the Indian opportunity development in his adolescent subsequent to finishing his schooling.

He enlisted in the Indian Public Armed force (INA) or the ‘Azad Rear Fauj’ and was consequently court-martialled and condemned to death.

Syed Mohammad Sharfuddin Quadri joined the Salt Satyagraha movement in 1930 to support India’s struggle for independence. He was imprisoned in the same cell as Mahatma Gandhi and ably supported him in every struggle.

Asaf Ali stepped up and fought the legal battles of thousands of freedom fighters to help them get out of jail. Together with Jawaharlal Nehru, he was even imprisoned. He worked tirelessly for India’s independence and participated in the “Quit India Movement.” While serving as India’s representative, Asaf Ali died in Bern (Switzerland) on April 1, 1953. In 1989, a postage stamp was issued in his honor.

Maulana Mazharul Haque was born on December 22, 1886, in the Patna district of Bihar. During the 1897 famine, he was known for helping the needy. He was crucial to the success of the Non-Cooperation, Khilafat, and Champaran Satyagraha movements.

Before his death in January 1930, he donated all of his property to support education. The Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University was established in Patna in April 1988 in his honor.

On March 30, 1919, Dr. Saifuddin Kichloo, known as the “Hero of Jallianwala Bagh,” organized a public meeting to protest the Rowlatt Act during the Indian National Movement. He gave a lecture there criticizing British imperialist rulers. Dr. Kichloo was invited to a meeting by the British government, but they were taken into custody and sent into exile.

Indian political activist Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi was from Bihar. In order to follow Mahatma Gandhi, he quit B.N. College Patna and joined the non-cooperation movement in 1921.

After that, he actively participated in the freedom movement, opposing the Simon Commission and the Bharat Chhoro stirs, breaking the salt law, and participating in the boycott and burning of English clothing and articles.

Indian socialist leader and freedom fighter Yusuf Meher Ali. He was involved in a number of peasant and trade union movements and was the founder of the National Militia, Bombay Youth League, and Congress Socialist Party. He was a part of the Quit India Movement, along with Mahatma Gandhi, for India’s final nationwide campaign for independence from the British Empire.

He also coined the terms “Simon Go Back” and “quit India.” He led the Quit India Movement and participated in the underground movement.

Abid Hasan Safrani, a Hyderabadi who was Netaji’s trusted aide, an INA Major, and later one of the first diplomats of independent India, was from Hyderabad. He came up with the name “Jai Hind.”

Muslim participation was overwhelming in both the Swadeshi Movement and the Non-cooperation Movement. As a form of boycott, the sugar king of the time, Janab Sabusiddiq, closed his business.

The Khoja and Memon communities were the largest business communities at the time, and in support of the boycott, they gave up their prized industries.

Journalists were also used by those fighting for Muslim freedom. Despite being repeatedly prevented by colonial powers, Maulana Azad used his pen against the British.

In point of fact, Maulana Baqar, a Muslim, was the first journalist to be publicly killed for the cause of India’s Freedom Struggle.

Muslim Women Freedom Fighter

Without mentioning Muslim women’s generous contributions, the history of the Indian national movement would be incomplete. The revolt is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of approximately 225 Muslim women.

Since the first half of the 19th century, Muslim revolutionaries have made significant contributions. 27,000 Muslims were executed in Delhi between 1857 and 1858.

Asghari Begum, Qazi Abdur Rahim’s mother and the revolutionary of Thana Bhawan, Muzaffarnagar, fought the British during this revolt and was killed by fire.

The revolt was estimated to have resulted in the deaths of approximately 225 Muslim women.

Begum Hazrat Mahal, the revolutionary Queen of Awadh, was the unheralded hero of the first war of independence. She killed British ruler Sir Henry Lawrence and defeated the British army in the decisive Battle of Chinhat on June 30, 1857.

Bi-Amma is one of hundreds of women who, along with their male relatives, fought the British Raj for freedom.

Abadi Begum (Maulana Muhammad Ali’s mother), Amjadi Begum (Maulana Muhammad Ali’s wife), Amina Tyabji (Abbas Tyabji’s wife), Begum Sakina Luqmani (Dr. Luqmani’s wife and daughter of Badruddin Tyabji), Nishat-un-Nisa (Begum Hasrat Mohani), Saadat Bano Kitchlew Popularly referred to as the “Grand Old Lady” of the Independence Movement, Aruna Asaf Ali.

She is famous for raising the Indian flag during the Quit India Movement at the Gowalia Tank Maidan in Mumbai.

She had gone on a hunger strike in Tihar Jail in 1932 against the mistreatment of political prisoners, and their living conditions had improved.

There are many more such brave individuals who fought alongside members of the country’s other religions for their country.

“Jai Hind” , “Quit India”, “Simon Go Back”, “Inquilab Zindabad”,”Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna, Ab Hamare Dil Mein Hai”, “Saare Jahan Se Achha Hindustan Hamara” the famous patriotic slogans commonly used during the Indian freedom struggle were coined by Muslim freedom fighters.