Syed Ahmad Barelvi
Syed Ahmad Shaheed Barelvi (1786–1831) was an Indian Muslim revivalist and revolutionary leader from Raebareli, a part of the historical United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. The epithet Barelvi, denoting place of origin, deriving from Raebareli. He followed Sunni (Hanafi) ideology, aligned with the teachings of Shah Abdul Aziz, son of Shah Waliullah, and was also a Sufi.
- My real object is the establishment of jihad against the Sikhs of the Punjab and not to stay in the countries of Afghanistan and Yagistan. The long-haired infidels who have seized sovereignty over Punjab are very experienced, clever and deceitful… The ill-natured Sikhs and the ill-fated polytheists have gained control over the Western parts of India from the banks of Indus to the capital city of Delhi.
- Syed Ahmad Barelvi. Letter written to his contemporary Muslim magnates, cited in Qeyamuddin Ahmad, The Wahabi Movement in India, Calcutta, 1966, p. 358
- One should know that jihad is an advantageous and beneficial institution. Mankind derives benefits from its advantages in various ways, just like rain, the advantages of which are imparted upon both plants, animals and men. [Barelvi promised that if Muslims waged jihad, they would receive] the blessings of heaven, [including] timely downpour of rain, abundant vegetation, growth of profits and trade, absence of calamities and pestilences, growth of wealth and presence of men of learning and perfection.
- Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (Mouton Publishers, 1979) 47, Quoted from Spencer, Robert (2018). The history of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.
- Barelvi’s confidence in a jihad against the British collapsed when he surveyed the extent and the magnitude of British power in India. He did the next best under the circumstances, and declared a jihad against the Sikh power in the Punjab, Kashmir and the North-West Frontier. The British on their part welcomed this change and permitted Barelvi to travel towards the border of Afghanistan at a leisurely pace, collecting money and manpower along the way. It was during this journey that Barelvi stayed with or met several Hindu princes, feigned that his fulminations against the Sikhs were a fake, and that he was going out of India in order to establish a base for fighting against the British. It is surmised that some Hindu princes took him at his word, and gave him financial help. To the Muslim princes, however, he told the truth, namely, that he was up against the Sikhs because they “do not allow the call to prayer from mosques and the killing of cows.”
Barelvi set up his base in the North-West Frontier near Afghanistan. The active assistance he expected from the Afghan king did not materialise because that country was in a mess at that time. But the British connived at the constant flow not only of a sizable manpower but also of a lot of finance. Muslim magnates in India were helping him to the hilt. His basic strategy was to conquer Kashmir before launching his major offensive against the Punjab. But he met with very little success in that direction in spite of several attempts. Finally, he met his Waterloo in 1831 when the Sikhs under Kunwar Sher Singh stormed his citadel at Balakot. The great mujahid fell in the very first battle he ever fought. His corpse along with that of his second in command was burnt, and the ashes were scattered in the winds. Muslims hail him as a shahid.
- Goel, S. R. (1995). Muslim separatism: Causes and consequences.