A Lost page from Indian History

May 15, 2020

London: 1921 was a year of great turmoil in the history of the Indian Freedom Movement, coming soon after the British atrocity at Jalianwala Bagh in April 1919.. The British were ruthlessly trying to suppress the Nationalist cause and many activists and leaders started working in a clandestine fashion all over India. Muslims and Hindus had shown a unity that had been hitherto unseen.

Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat Movement and the close relationship between Maulana Abdul Bari and Gandhi had created an unprecedented understanding between Hindus and Muslims. The British Raj had been shaken to its very roots.

Our story taken from the journal of Maulana Shafi Firangi Mahali takes place in the backdrop of this moment.

Maulana Shafi was the son of Molvi Salamat Ullah and nephew of Molvi Inyatullah , two famous brothers and well known personalities of Firangi Mahal and also followers and associates of Maulana Abdul Bari in almost all of his teaching and religious and political activities.

Hujjatul Islam, Maulana Mohd Shafi was not only a mureed of Maulana Abdul Bari and one of his favourite students, he was also someone who would carry out many political and religious instruction of Maulana Abdul Bari. On his request he had gone to Calcutta and Bengal to teach and make speeches at many conferences including Chittagong and Comilla on behalf of Maulana Abdul Bari. He was a brilliant mathematician
and a master of logic and in later life had become part of the staff at Aligarh Muslim University where he eventually passed away.

He was an impeccable debater and logicians .In 1978 when he was in Aligarh , Maulana Abdul Bari’s son, Jamal Mian requested that he should record some of his experiences and views about Maulana Abdul Bari and Maulana Shafi produced a hundred page document on Maulana Abdul Bari. This story is taken from that journal:

“When Jawaharlal Nehrun formed the Kissan Sabha, he was having a very hard time collecting any funds for the organization and workers who were working on its behalf( the reason for this that the Zamindar class was threatened by this and usually , money came from that source) ( This Kissan Sabha and its related activities was mentioned in Maulvi Hayat Ullah Ansari Firangi Mahali’s book,LAHU KE PHOOL( Flowers Of Blood) which is in several parts and has been published.

Jawharlal Nehru approached Chaudhry Khaliquzzaman (a well known political personality) in Lucknow, with his dilemma. Kahliq Saheb said that he should contact Maulana Abdul Bari who might have a solution.

“You and Subash Chandra Bose should try and meet Maulana Abdul Bari through Maulvi Inyatullah and Maulvi Salamat Ullah. I will go and speak to them.”

Therefore Khaliq Saheb came and met my respected Uncle, Maulvi Inayatullah and my father Maulvi Salamatullah and told them what the issue was. and the conversation he had with Nehru and Subash Chandra Bose.

My uncle, Inayatullah suggested it best that my father Salamatullah should broach Maulana Abdul Bari and if he was interested then he would also join them.

Just a day or two after that, Subash Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru, both wearing dhotis and kurtas with a waistcoat on top suddenly appeared in the men’s quarter of Firangi Mahal..

I became busy with arranging tea and other eats for the guests. I did not witness anything that was discussed.

What I discovered later was , that a leader of Kissan Sabha whose name I forget used to come to meet my father often. I and my uncle always found out after he came and went and neither of us witnessed their conversations.

A few months later , Maulana Abdul Bari’s eldest daughter, who was married to Qutub Mian, fell seriously ill and within just eight or ten days, she became critical with the disease. All of us became very anxious till one night she was about to breathe her last.

I and Qutub Mian, Mufti Abdul Hadi, Mufti Abdul Qadir and many women and relatives assembled around her deathbed.

Maulana Abdul Bari was informed . He arrived promptly and continuously kept looking at his watch. After about ten or twelve minutes, he patted Qutub Mian on the back, and asked me to recite Surah Yasin. Then he got up and went out of the room.

(I thought it was that he was overcome with emotion and sorrow and did not want to see his daughter die in front of him). Soon after Maulana left, she passed away.

We all went to the men’s quarter to wait for Maulana’s arrival. We wanted to know if she should be buried the same night or we should wait for the morning.

After about an hour Maulana arrived. He said that the body should be prepared for burial at night and then buried early morning.

And then he turned to my father(Maulvi Salamatullah) and said

” I had to go and see Khaleeq at 1:30 in relation to your work because I had promised the Kissan Sabha leader that at the appointed hour I would meet him near the iron bridge on the river and give him the money. I had gone there. I did not want to break my promise because I did not want a non-Muslim to get the impression that a Muslim could not be trusted with his promise.

You carry on with burial preparations and take the body to Bagh Maulana Anwar( family graveyard). I will come there and say my Fajr prayers there; after that we will bury her. I have to go and meet the man again very early, so if I cannot make it, Mufti Abdul Qadir or Qutub Mian himself should lead the funeral prayers . “

However, Maulana Abdul Bari was able to return in time, and after Fajr prayers, the marhooma(deceased) was buried.”

Many years later, when Jamal Mian met Jawaharlal Nehru after Partition in 1940’s , Nehru was by then, Prime Minister of India and he said to him, “You may not know this, but your father Maulana Abdul Bari helped me greatly when I was involved
with the Kissan movement in UP.”

( Translated by Mahmood Jamal from Maulana Shafi Firangi Mahali’s Memorial on Maulana Abdul Bari.)