Regarding the resurgence of Islam in the subcontinent’s history, Syed Ahmad Barelvi name is of utmost significance. Syed Ahmad Barelvi continued the aggressive two-pronged campaign to purge Muslim society and undermine British influence in India. His strategy for achieving liberation was focused on violent conflict and resistance to outside, non-Muslim forces.
Syed Ahmed Barailvi, Shah Abdul Aziz’s successor, was born on November 29, 1786, from a renowned Rai Barely family. He was a devoted follower of Shah Abdul Aziz and was highly influenced by the teachings and ideas of Shah WaliUllah. In contrast to his forebears, who sought to become renowned scholars or mystics, he had always tended to become a soldier.
Syed Ahmad Barelvi military career
Syed Ahmed started as a Sawar working for Tonk’s king, Nawab Amir Khan. Syed Ahmed gained military discipline and strategy while serving, which helped him become a successful military leader later on. Syed Ahmed, however, deserted the military when Amir Khan declined to fight after Tonk was defeated by the British. When Shah Abdul Aziz declared Tonk to be Dar-ul-harb, Syed Ahmed was unable to continue serving there and had to travel 318 miles on foot from Lucknow to Delhi.
Syed Ahmed has already decided to follow Shah Abdul Aziz as his disciple. He joined the Naqshbandia, Qadriya, and Chistiyasufi order in 1807 after taking the oath of allegiance (Baia) from Shah Abdul Aziz, he joined the Naqshbandi in 1807 and took the oath of loyalty (baia) from Shah Abdul Aziz.
Syed Ahmed published Sirat-i-Mustaqim in 1818. Shah Ismail Shaheed and Maulana Abdul Haye, two of his illustrious disciples, helped him prepare the book for this endeavour. The text is a superb summation of Shah WaliUllah’s beliefs, teachings, and reforms as they were presented in a number of his well-known writings. Syed Ahmed then began to preach in front of the people. Despite using less sophisticated terminology in his sermons, he still had remarkable success as a preacher.
Preparation of Syed Ahmad Barelvi for Jehad against Sikhs
Syed Ahmed was shocked to discover the Muslims’ waning dedication to their religion and ideologies. He fervently longed for Islam to once again rule supreme in India. He believed that taking action was the best way to disseminate Islam and did not limit his life’s work to simply teaching about it. The formation of a state with Islamic foundations was the primary goal before Syed Ahmed.
when Syed Ahmed was alive Sikh monarch Ranjit Singh, who was considered an arrogant and oppressive dictator, oversaw Punjab. Under his oppressive administration, Muslims suffered greatly and were denied the freedom to practise their religion. The Sikh government also included the NW.F.P. because it had come under their control. The Sikh government converted mosques and other Muslim holy sites into temples and stables. Azan was prohibited, and Muslims’ religious rituals frequently encountered interruptions.
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Syed Ahmed did not limit himself to Delhi; he also travelled to nearby locations. Some Afghans protested to him about the Sikh regime’s widespread mistreatment of Muslims on one of his visits to Ramur. After returning from Haj, Syed Ahmed decided to start the Jehad movement against the Sikh government. To perform the Haj, Syed Ahmed travelled to Makkah I alongside Maulana Ismail Shaheed, Maulana Abdul Haye, and a sizable group of followers and admirers. Syed Ahmed made the haj and then disappeared for almost two years. When they got back to Delhi, the planning for the jihad against the Sikhs got underway.
Syed Ahmed Shaheed declared war against the Sikhs
Syed Ahmed thought that the Muslims will reclaim their former prominence if Punjab and the NWFP were freed from the Sikh rule. Therefore, he chose Punjab as the starting point for his Jehad campaign against the Sikhs and chose the NWFP as the starting point for his campaign to exterminate all non-Islamic forces. He gave the order for Maulana Abdul Haye and Maulana Ismail to lead a group of 6,000 Rai Baraily followers on a march. He headed out to gather support for his movement across other areas of Punjab and Delhi. To free the Muslims from Sikh dominance, Syed Ahmed called on the populace to assist him in jihad against the anti-Islamic government.
In December 1829, Syed Sahib arrived in Nowshera and set up his headquarters. He warned Ranjit Singh, the Sikh leader, to convert to Islam or prepare to engage the Mujahideen on the battlefield. Ranjit Singh politely declined the offers and showed extreme contempt for Muslims and Islam.
On December 21, 1826, Syed Ahmed confronted the Sikh army at Akora to start his jihad against the Sikhs. At Akora, the Sikhs had amassed a sizable force led by General Budh Singh. In the battle at Akora, nearly 900 Muslims attacked the dozing Sikhs throughout the night. As a result of the mission’s success and the severe losses suffered by the Sikhs, Budh Singh chose to leave Akora. At Hazro, the Mujahideen engaged in second combat that was also very successful.
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The Mujahideen’s incredible victory in two battles greatly increased the Jihad movement’s appeal. Around Syed Sahih, a sizable crowd had gathered. Syed Ahmed administered the oath of loyalty to numerous Pathan chiefs who joined Syed Sahib. Yar Muhammad, the governor of Peshawar, as well as other well-known Pathan leaders like PirHakman Khan, joined Syed Ahmed in his movement. The Muslim soldiers increased in size over time to 80,000.
With incredible success, the Jehad movement overcame its early obstacles. A plot was being planned at this time to undermine the Jehad movement. Yar Muhammad Khan, who attempted to poison Syed Ahmed but failed, came under pressure from the Sikhs. To betray Syed Sahib and side with the Sikhs against the Mujahideen, Sardar Yar Muhammad was paid. Yar Muhammad was killed in a battle with the Mujahideen in 1829.
Syed Ahmed then left for Peshawar and Kashmir. Peshawar was spared by the Sikhs working for French General Ventura, who then turned it over to Sultan Muhammad Khan, Yar Muhammad Khan’s brother. When Syed Ahmed arrived at Hazara Hills, he attacked the Hari Singh and General Allar-led Sikh soldiers. This attack was turned back. Syed Ahmed, however, launched a successful second attack on Peshawar. Sultan Muhammad Khan, a Mujahideen foe, was detained by Syed Ahmed and afterwards released. Peshawar was ruled by Syed Ahmed in 1830.
Enforcement of Sharia
Syed Ahmed focused on the introduction of Shariat after conquering Peshawar. By this time, a sizable number of Khans and Sardars had pledged their allegiance to Syed Ahmed and bowed to him. Everyone was instructed to swear an oath of Baia at Syed’s hand for the steadfast and uncompromising obedience to the Sharia after a general gathering of Sardars, Khans, and locals. All of Syed Ahmed’s subjects were declared to be under the authority of Syed Ahmed as Caliph. The introduction of the Islamic form of government significantly curtailed tribal chiefs’ power. Additionally, he enacted social changes and urged the locals to give up their outdated traditions and ways of life. He pushed them to convert to Islam.
Syed Ahmed left Peshawar in November 1831, over two months after taking control of the city, in favour of Sultan Muhammad Khan, who pledged to pay a set sum in tribute to the Mujahideen. Syed Ahmed moved to Balakot after giving up Peshawar and started his campaign from Rajauri in 1831. Balakot is a small settlement in the Hazara district of the Mansehra division. The Sikh army, commanded by General Sher Singh, attacked the Mujahideen. Between the Sikhs and the Muslims, there was a bloody conflict.
Despite their gallant efforts, the Mujahideen were unable to defeat the bigger and more powerful army. In the conflict that Syer Ahmed Shaheed participated in, the Muslims lost. In the course of defending Islam, Shah Ismail Shaheed and numerous other followers of Syed Sahib laid down their lives and perished as martyrs. After Syed Ahmed passed away, the Jehad movement was unable to proceed with the same zeal as before.