Marriage & Joint Effort With Ulamai-e-Deoband

In 1912 my parents found a bride for me and my marriage took place. In 1913 my son, Ghani, was born.

In those days the people in our province did not know much about meetings and demonstrations. And even if the thought had occurred t anyone, nobody would have dared to organize either for the fear of the government. But one day, in 1913, we saw big posters, and announcements of the Muslim League meeting in Agra which was to be presided over by Sir Ibrahim Rehmatullah. Sir Aga Khan and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad were also to take part and address the meeting. I was very keen to attend this meeting. Along with a few friends, I went to Agra. We heard the presidential address and the lectures by Sir Aga Khan and Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad. We found the meeting extremely interesting and instructive.

From Agra I went to Delhi, where I spent a few days with a nephew of Maulvi Faz’l-ul Rehman. While I was there I fell Ill. So I returned home.

In 1914 I received a letter from Sheikh-ul Hasan requesting me to fo to Deoband immediately. Maulvi Faz’l Mohammed, Maulvi Faz’l Rabi and I left at once. In Deoband we found the Maulvi Saheb of Degar also waiting for us.

We spent several hours discussing the question that was uppermost in our mind: the freedom of India. We considered the possibility of opening a centre from where we could work and start the struggle for independence.

There had been a supposedly strong center of crusaders in the independent territories of Boner. In actual fact these crusaders had no strength and the people who ran the centre were useless. They did not make any propaganda, or did any work at all. They were only a small group. They used to receive money from India with which they used to enjoy themselves.

There was one rich man among them, one Naghmat Ullah. He was hand in glove with one of the top officers in the secret police, whose name was short. There were, in fact, quite a few spies in this group.

These people had originally come form the plains of India to fight against the Sikhs. After their leaders, Sayyid Ahmed Saheb and Sayyid Ishmail Saheb shaheed, had lost their lives in the fight, the rest of them had gone to Boner and settled down in this independent district.

When the people in India found out the true state of affairs, and realized that these crusaders were of no use at all, it was felt that a new centre should be established. After long discussions we decided that I and Faz’l Mohammed Saheb should go to Bajaur and Select a safe and suitable place to start a center. Maulvi Ubeid Sindhi was to come and inspect the place we selected and give his final approval.

A few days later Maulvi Faz’l Mohammed and I secretly left for Bajaur. We took the train at Takhtbai and got down at Dargai. From there we took a Tonga. When we reached to entrance into Malakand, we became a little worried, for we saw that police guards had been posted there. They were questioning and searching everyone, whether on foot or driving, and if there was the slightest suspicion on anyone, he was arrested.

It was not easy to conceal my height and appearance, and, sitting in the back of the Tonga, I was nervously wondering how I would be able to Pass the police unnoticed. All That I could do was to wrap myself in my chaddar.[1]

The Tonga had to stop when we came to the police post, and one of the guards approached to see who was inside. It was evening and was getting dark. My companion had got down the Tonga.

The Tonga driver discreetly said, “Sir, there is nobody in the Tonga.”

The guard, however, wanted to see for himself and he approached the Tonga. He looked me up and down, and they told the Tonga driver to go ahead. I was greatly relieved.

We drove on as far as Bukhail, where we got down. It was very late by now and we spent the night in the village.

Very early the next morning, when the first call to prayer rang out over the village, we set out on our journery. We were crossing over the Chakdara Bridge when we found that there was a police post too, but we got past without any difficulty. We walked all the day. In the evening we came to the bank of a river. Faz’l Mohammed’s village was on the opposite bank. It was winter and the river was almost dry, so we were able to walk across and reach the village. We were very hungry and tired and as soon as we had taken our food we fell asleep and had a long night’s rest, which we badly needed.

The next Faz’l Mohammed stayed behind to wait for Ubeid-Ullah Sindhi but he asked his cousin to accompany me. The two of us started for Bajaur. We were now in the district of Dir. We first went to the house of the Mullah Saheb of Ada, only to find that he had passed away. But one of his Sheikhs was there, who was a very fine man. He showed us Ada Saheb’s bedroom and dining room. This was a very small but very beautiful place in the mountain and nobody else lived there, expect the sheikh. He had a small house and he kept honeybees too.

We spent the night with the Sheikh and in the morning we took leave of him and went to Kotki. There were two Khans in Kotki, Zaghrawar Khan and Zirawar Khan. They were both very goof men. Whenever the British made a raid, they always took part in the counter-attacks.

From there we went into Salarzai territory and then into Mohmand territory. These were tow independent districts in Bajaur. The people here were very fine Pakhtuns. Unlike other Pakhtun tribes, they had not been influenced by the British at all, neither did they ever accept any money, or allowances, or grants from them. On the contrary, they always joined those who were fighting the British.

We visited almost every village in the whole of this territory. I liked the village of Zagai in the Mohmand territory as a possible choice for our centre, so we stayed there to wait for Maulana Ubeid-Ullah Sindhi. We waited for a few days, but when he did not come, I began to fear that my presence there might arouse the suspicion of the local people, and I decided to perform a chilla.

There was very small room in the mosque. I retired there was still no sign of Ubeid-Ullah, so we left. Faz’l Mohammed’s cousin came with me as far as Malakand and there we took leave of each other.

There was a very small room in the mosque. I retired there and began the chilla. When I had completed it there was still no sign of Ubeid-ullah, so we left. Faz’l Mohammed’s cousin came with me as far as Malakand and there we took leave of each other.

The Political agent at Malakand had created such fear in the hearts of the people there that even the most respected and self-respecting citizens trembled in their shoes when they encountered an Englishman. They used to salaam and bow to the Britishers from a distance in a most humble and degrading manner. And if anyone become so bold as to pass the Englishman without greeting him, he would be arrested and put into “stocks”. “Stocks” is a large wooden frame with holes for the feet and a lid in the top, in which an offender is locked up in a sitting position, his feet sticking out through the holes.

Afraid that this fate might befall me, I left Malakand and went back to Dargai, took a train to Takhtbai, and from there I went to my agricultural farm in Nari village in Mohmand district, where I spent the night. The next day I returned to Utmanzai.

The following morning many people came to welcome me back. That was because, before I left, I had told every body that I was going on a pilgrimage to the shrine of the great Sufi Saint Khwaja Moin-uddin war broke out in Europe, and we had to abandon our plans for a center.

Shaikh Mohammed-ul Hasan went on haj to Mecca. There he was arrested and handed over to the British who put him in prison in Malta, because he was sympathetic to the Turkish Khailfat. Maulvi Ubeid-Ullah Sindhi went to Afghanistan. Maulvi Safi-ul Rehman joined Haji Sahib to Taurangzai and both went to the independent district of Boner. Also with the Haji Saheb went my colleague Taj Mohammed Sahib who was the principal of the Dar-ul-ilm at Gadar, Maulvi faz’l Rabi, Malvi Faz’l Mohammed and Maulvi Abdul Aziz[2]. A little later I also, secretly, went to Boner.

The people of Boner had given the Haji Saheb a beautiful plot of land and they had even brought timber to build for him a house. But the mullahs and the ciders in boner were not very happy at the thought of the Haji arrived the local people had paid a great reverence to him and the felt mullahs they were let down. So they started a slander campaign against the Haji Saheb behind his back. The said “What has he come here for? To wage war against the British, or to feather his own nest?”

The Haji Saheb and his son Badshah Gul were very upset by all this talk, and the Haji Saheb wanted to start the war there and then. I strongly advised him against it. “These people are selfish,” I told him.

“Don’t take any notice of what they say. Just carry on with your work. As for starting a war, the people are not yet ready to face the British. If you start a war now, you will find that they are incompetent and useless. I have a feeling the mullahs want to hand you over to the British.”

But the Haji Saheb did not heed my advice, and a few days after I left he did start a fight against the British. But how could be wage war against the British in Boner?

My warning proved to be correct. An effort was made to capture him and hand him over to the British. Fortunately the Haji Saheb found out the plot in time and managed to get away. He left at midnight for Mohmand.

The British did not want the Pathans to be educated. In fact, they did not like our national schools at all, and they had been looking for an excuse and an opportunity to close them down. Now they had both. Not only in Boner, But in the whole of our province the schools were closed down and all the teachers were arrested and taken to the Habitual Jail in Dera Ismail khan.

The British so much frightened our people that hardly anybody had the courage to speak about our country in terms of admiration or praise, and on the very rare occasions that somebody did, he was almost certain to be put into the prison!

 

[1] Sheet of cloth.

[2] Maulvi Abdul Aziz was so hostile to the British whenever he encountered a Britisher he would close his eyes. The British plotted against him and had him killed at sawat.

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