Legacy of struggle against British Imperialism
Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, though formally launched in 1919, was inheritor of a rich legacy dating back to early 18th century when noted scholar and expert on Hadith of his time, Shah Waliullah of Delhi led a revolution to change the whole system by drawing attention of people to the depredations of European imperialism and colonialism as well as degeneration and corruption among oriental rulers.
During 1808 to 1915, the Ulama (Islamic Scholars) of his legacy fought organized battles against the mighty British for the freedom of the country. His son Shah Abdul Aziz Dehlawi issued an edict against the British government: “Our country has been enslaved and to free it from the foreign power’s yoke is the duty of everyone”. This fatwa (edict) gave impetus to the prominent Ulamas like Haji Imdadullah Mohajir Makki and his close disciples Maulana Qasim Nanotavi, Maulana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi and Hafiz Zamin Shaheed etc for waging armed battles against imperialist powers.
Ulama, the main target of British oppression
After the defeat of 1857 revolt, Ulama were the main target of the British oppression. Maulvi and rebel had become synonymous in their eyes. Of the 200,000 people martyred during the revolt 51,200 were Ulamas. Edward Timus himself admitted that in Delhi alone 500 Ulamas were hanged. Between 1864 and 1871 there were five major sedition cases against the Ulama which are known as “the Wahabi Cases” and the “Ambala Conspiracy Case”. In all these cases the accused were either sentenced to death or to life imprisonment.
Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind a step forward from armed resistance to Non-violent struggle:
The Ulamas started their struggle with armed resistance, but repeated failure in such attempts motivated them to revise their approach and adopt a new strategy. Particularly the failure of Silk Letter conspiracy in 1916 and arrest of 222 Ulamas, prominent amongst them, Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hassan and his disciple Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani, along with Maulana Obaidullah Sindhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and others forced them to restructure their strategy for resistance opting for non-violent struggle for freedom with the support and cooperation of their fellow countrymen.
Herald of new era in freedom struggle and Birth of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind
In November 1919, the revolutionary Ulama under the leadership of Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmood Hasan, on the occasion of the Khilafat conference held at Delhi, resolved to constitute a new organization for carrying on non-violent freedom struggle in cooperation with fellow countrymen. The organization was designated as ‘Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind’. Mufti-e-Azam, Maulana Kifayatullah was elected as the first President. The establishment of the organization was a decisive turning point in their revolutionary movement. They gave up armed struggle and chose non-violent struggle and adopted non-co-operation. That strategy eventually led to freedom of the country.
Role in Pre-Independence India
The first conference of the Jamiat was held at Amritsar on December 28, 1919 chaired by Maulana Abdul Bari of Farangi Mahal to lodge protest against the continued imprisonment of Shaikhul Hind and Maulana Azad.
The resolution of Non-cooperation adopted at the Allahabad conference in June 1920. The movement was formally launched on August 31, 1920.
Fatwa of Non-cooperation:
On July 19, 1920 Shaikhul Hind issued a fatwa in favour of non-cooperation which was reconfirmed by 500 Ulamas. The leaders and workers of Khilafat committee and the congress went into struggle against imperialism armed with this fatwa. The British Govt. seized it.
Foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia:
On October 29, 1920 Shaikhul Hind laid the foundation of Jamia Millia Islamia.
Imprisonment of Jamiat Leaders:
At the Karachi Khilafat conference in July 1921, the call of non-cooperation given by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani caused his imprisonment along with Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Maulana Shaukat Ali, Dr. Kitchlew and Jagatguru Shnkar Acharya.
Boycott of foreign goods:
Resolution of boycott of foreign goods was passed by Jamiat conference in Nov. 1921 under the leadership of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.
- Relief to Mopillas of Malabar
- Boycott of Assemblies (December 1922)
- Call for complete independence by Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani (January 1924)
- Jamiat was the first to declare boycott of the Simon Commission (December 1927)
- Participation in all parties conference at Lucknow and rejection of Nehru Report (1928)
- Cooperation with congress (Amroha conference, May 1930)
- Civil Disobedience Movement where four prominent leaders of Jamiat were imprisoned (1930)
- Opposition to the infamous Sharda Act for it interference in Muslim Personal Law.
Composite nationalism and theory of territorial Nationhood:
Maulana Syed Hussain Ahmad Madani advocated the idea of composite nationalism and joint struggle of all religious communities against the British and justified inter-communal unity and cooperation on the basis of the Quran and the Hadith. At a time when ideas of religion-based nationalism were being advocated by the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League. Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani advanced “the theory of territorial national hood” saying that it is “not necessary that a nation, to be a nation, should share the same religion and culture”. Now a day he said, “nations are made by homelands.”
Maulana Madani and the Ulama like him have been described by Peter Haardy as representing “a sea change in the kind of assumptions Ulama were wont to make about the nature of solidarity of the Islamic community.”
Declaration of non-cooperation in the war effort (World War II, 1939-45).
Call for Complete Independence:
In the Jamiat Ulama Moradabad conference held at Bachhraon (April 23-25, 1940) Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani raised the question of Indian independence. As a result, he was arrested and imprisoned in Naini Jail.
Quit India movement:
On August 5, 1942 Jamiat gave a call to the British to quit India. Thereafter on August 9 the Bombay session of the Congress passed the famous Quit India resolution which led to the arrest and incarceration of the Congress and the Jamiat leaders.
Opposition to the idea of Pakistan:
After 1942, Jamiat Ulama resolutely opposed the idea of Pakistan and its leaders especially Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani were victims of Muslim League violence.
In 1945 at the 14th conference the Jamiat passed its alternative formula for partition.