Bacha Khan’s Islah-ul-Afaghina & Alternate Education System

I was well aware that the illiteracy and the ignorance of my people could only lead them to ruin and destruction. Therefore my first task, as I saw it, would be to try to eliminate illiteracy.

No help was expected from the mullahs. So a few friends and I got together to discuss what could be done light the lamp of knowledge in the dark world of ignorance our people were living in. We found a great and valuable helper in Haji Saheb of Tarangzai[1].

The Haji Saheb was a real patriot and a great saint. Under his guardianship we founded a dar-ul-ilm, a college, in Gadar, of which Maulvi Taj Mohammed became the in charge. He was assisted by Maulvi faz'l Mohammed Rabi and Maulvi Faz'l Mohammed Makhfi.

In 1910, I and Maulvi Abdul Aziz opened a national Islamic school in Utmanzai. Through our continued efforts many school were opened all over the province. Large numbers of students were admitted and people began to take more and more interest in education.

At the time Zafar Ali Khan's newspaper Ramindar and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad's Al Hilal and other Papers like Medina were beginning to gain great popularity, and we also subscribed to them.

We not only read them avidly ourselves, but also read them out to others. In those days people were not in the habit of reading newspapers, but as we told them about the papers and read them out to them, people became more and more interested.

The Police and the G.I.D knew and blacklisted the names of all subscribers to Al Hilal.

Several boys from our province were studying at Deoband and Maulvi Faz'l Rabi himself had been educated at Deoband. Therefore we used to go there off and on.

The Principal of the education institution at Deoband, Mohammed-ul Hasan Saheb was a great scholar. We were soon on very friendly terms with him, because his heart was full of sympathy and love for his country and people, and we too were full of patriotic fervor. His main concern was how to free our country from the foreign slavery and this thought was uppermost in our own minds too.

Through him we also met Maulana Ubeid-ullah Sindhi[2] and were able to exchange thoughts and ideas with him. At that time the Maulana Saheb was lecturing on the Holy Quran to young English-educated students at Fatehpuri. He used to give Rs. 50 to every student who passed B.A examination. For, he reasoned, "how can these young people who are getting an English education ever develop any lover for their country and their religion, or feel emotionally committed to their people and their faith, unless they learn about their religion?" Maulana Saheb's intentions were laudable and he worked at his project with unflagging zeal and devotion, but, alas, he was bit successful.

The saddest thing of all was that one of the Maulana's best pupils, over whose education he had taken great pains and spent a great deal of time, turned out to be a spy and an informer. For the sake of a few miserable coins he used to report to the Government on everything that had been discussed in class.

Just think! If the educated youths of a country become so money-minded, if in their greed and avarice they can sink so low that they are willing to betray their country and their faith for a few copper coins, how can one ever hope to instill in their hearts a passionate love for their country and a burning desire for service?

The reason why the Muslims ruined themselves was that they began to love wealth and possessions. When these thing became important, and they become worshippers of Mammon instead of God, they lost their honour, their dignity and sank into ignominy.

In Fatehpuri I also met Maulvi Saif-ul Rahman, and I got to know him quite well. He was from our district, but he been a professor at the Arabic College at Fatehpuri for a long time.

In those days the British had succeeded in frightening people who lived in constant fear of the Government repression. But we managed to go to Deoband occasionally, and secretly, for discussions and consultations with friends and colleagues there.

[1] Haji Saheb's main interest was in social reforms. He wanted to see outdated and useless traditions disappear. He wanted to found Islamic schools and struggled to achieve this. The British arrested him but when they saw how angry this made his followers, they released him. To be able to fight the British he left his own district and fought for the freedom of the country till the end of this life. An Englishman said of him: "To have let Haji Saheb of Tarangzai slip through our fingers was the first and the greatest blunder we made in India."

[2] Maulana Ubeid Ullah Sindhi was a great revolutionary leader. During the British rule he spent most of his time organizing revolutionary groups. He spent the last years of his life In Lahore, and even in his old age he remained young at heart.

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