Muslim Reform Movements

There was a sense of loss of power among educated and elite Muslims of India. This happened mainly because of-

  • Transfer of power from Mughals to British, and
  • Replacement of Persian by English as the language of employment and advancement in the new bureaucracy.

Farazis Movement

  • It arose among the peasants of early 19th century Bengal, it advocated return to pure Islam .
  • They followed the teachings of Shah Walliullah of Delhi (1703-63) who had, a century earlier, talked about regaining purity of Islam and objected to infiltration of non-Islamic customs among Muslims.
  • Founding leader of the Farazis, Shariat Ullah (1781-1839) preached religious purification and advocated return to the faraiz, i.e. obligatory duties of Islam. He also preached tawhid or monotheism .
  • Another movement which arose among Muslims of Bengal was the Tariqah-i-Muhammadiyah under the leadership of Titu Mir who was initiated by Sayyid Ahmad Barelwi . This movement also talked about return to past purity .
  • Another movement which was more concerned about the decline in power of the ulema class (Muslim priestly class) arose at Deoband in the United Provinces.
  • Delhi School of Islamic Thought was derived from the Delhi College (currently Zakir Husain College) which had begun imparting a parallel education – Islamic as well as English.
  • Beginning 1830s, the college helped to foster a modern consciousness in the Muslim community .
  • The revolt of 1857 and consequent crackdown by the British forces ended this intellectual excitement. However, the urge for modernization could easily be felt among a section of Muslims.

Wahabi Movement

  • The spread of Christianity and the Western culture were viewed as a threat to Islam. They resisted English education and remained aloof from Western influences.
  • In 1932, Gandhiji founded the Harijan Sevak Sangh.
  • Ambedkar founded the Scheduled Castes Federation.
  • It was introduced in India by Syed Ahmed of Rae Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.
  • The Wahabi movement aimed at the purification of Islam and to return to the simplicity of religion .
  • In India the Wahibis did not restrict to religious reforms only. Rather, they aimed at the replacement of the British rule by the rule of the true believers & it took the nature of the political revolt

Sayyid Ahmad Khan

  • He propagated modern education as the most important path for improvement in the condition of Indian Muslims & called for the study of European science and technology .
  • He pointed out that there was no fundamental contradiction between Quran and Natural Science and the new circumstances demanded dissemination of English language within an Islamic context .
  • He founded the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College at Aligarh in 1875 which went on to become the most important seminary for modern higher education among Muslims.
  • At the elementary level, students followed the standard government curriculum in a carefully constructed Islamic environment. In 1878, the college classes were also started and non-Muslims were also enrolled.
  • In 1886, Sayyid Ahmad Khan founded the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental Educational Conference .
  • The Muslim graduates of Aligarh who numbered 220 during 1882-1902, provided lot of excitement to the Muslim intellectual world and in due course of time provided an able and modern leadership to the community.

The Deoband School

  • The orthodox section among the Muslim ulema organised the Deoband Moovement. It was a revivalist movement whose twin objectives were:
  1. i) To propagate among the Muslims the pure teachings of the Koran and the Hadis &
  2. ii) To keep alive the spirit of jihad against the foreign rulers .
  • The new Deoband leader Mahmud-ul-Hasan (1851-1920) sought to impart a political and intellectual content to the religious ideas of the school.
  • The liberal interpretation of Islam created a political awakening among its followers.

Ahmadiya Movement

  • It was founded by Mirza Ghulam Ahamad of Qadiyan (1839-1908) in 1889, who began his work as a defender of Islam against the polemics of the Arya Samaj and the Christian missionaries.
  • In 1889, he claimed to be Masih and Mahdi and later also to be an incarnation of the Hindu god Krishna and Jesus, returned to earth.
  • The Ahmadiya movement based itself, like the Brahmo Samaj, on the principles of at universal religion of all humanity.
  • Ghulam Ahmad was greatly influenced by western liberalism theosophy, and the religious reform movements of the Hindus .
  • The Ahmadiyas opposed Jihad or sacred war against non-Muslims and stressed fraternal relations among all people.
  • The movement spread western liberal education among Indian Muslims and started a network of schools and colleges for that purpose.

Ahrar Movement

  • Founded in 1910, under the leadership of Maulana Muhammad Ali, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Hasan Imam, Maulana Zafar Ali Khar and Mazhar-ul-Haq
  • Opposed the loyalist policies of the Aligarh movement.
  • Moved by modern ideas of self-government its members advocated active participation in the nationalist movement.