by Deep Biswas
(First Published: Jan 23, 2018.)
Syed Mir Afsar Ali, popularly known as Titumir, has been eulogized in school text books, in Bengali folk lore and literature as the mythical hero who united the peasants to overthrow the oppressive Zamindari regime, which was in coalition with the nefarious British government. He has colleges, university dormitories, commemorative stamps and even naval bases named after him in Bangladesh. Many historians (mostly left inclined ones) and modern day literary masters (e.g. Mahashweta Devi) consider him a heroic leader, a pioneer of the peasant revolution in India and a great freedom fighter for India. BBC has even named Titu Mir as one of “20 Greatest Bengalis”.
But is there something that they’re not telling you? Or are we disregarding what’s written between the lines? Let’s start from the very beginning and you can decide for yourself if Titumir is the hero they say he was, or was he one of the first terrorists of Bengal.
Report by John Russell Colvin
Not much textual material is available about Titumir, which makes it easier for some historians and writers to make up their own version of Titumir. Just like the semi-real mythical figures by the names of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad; the Titu Mir we come to learn of is mostly a fictional folk legend. One of the most reliable sources of learning about the real Titu Mir is from John Russell Colvin’s reports. Colvin was a British Civil Servant posted in India. He was the Lieutenant-Governor of the North-West Provinces. He was appointed to make a report on Titumir.
Colvin’s report states:
“This man had begun life as a small cultivator. It was whispered that he had been the leader of a robber gang. He drifted in course of time to Calcutta, where he became a wrestler. Thence he passed into the service of one of the large landed proprietors, who kept each in his pay a retinue of swashbucklers. The business of these bullies was to break each other’s heads over their masters’ disputes, whenever a boundary question or the right to a plot of land had passed beyond the power of argument. This occupation brought Titu Mian (Titumir), who was an expert at it, within the four walls of one of the Company’s jails. The experience seems to have led to a distaste for engaging in other people’s quarrels. On his release, he took the ship to Mecca, where salvation awaited him. For Sayyid Ahmad met him; made him a disciple, and sent him back an Apostle to India. He preached the Wahabi tenets to the north and east of Calcutta. Many adhered to the Apostle; some doubted; others made a scoff of him. But Apostles are not to be lightly scoffed at. Titu Mian, though now enlisted in the service of a divine master, had not forgotten the cunning of the right hand which had been once raised in earthly interests.”
As we can clearly see from the report, Titumir comes from a violent and criminal background. Let’s see how it all began.
Titu Mir was born in 1782 (14 Magh, 1188 as per the Bengali Calendar, 25-29 January) in Chandpur village (controversially Haiderpur village) in Basirhat, West Bengal. Though Titu Mir was born in India, his not so distant ancestor Saiyid Shahadat Ali hailed from Arabia, who came to Bengal to preach Islam. Shahadat’s son Saiyid Abdullah was appointed the chief ‘qazi’ of Jafarpur by the Mughal Emperor of that time and was bestowed the title ‘Mir Insaaf’. Thenceforth the descendents of Shahadat Ali kept both the titles “Mir” and “Saiyid” in their names as hereditary titles. Shahadat Ali claimed to be a descendant of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, the first Imam of Shia Islam (632 CE-661 CE) and the fourth Caliph (Rashidun Caliphate) of Islam (656 CE- 661 CE). So preaching Islam and converting the native population pretty much ran in the family with Titu Mian.
Titu Mir was educated first in a village Maktab and then in a Madrassa. He was a scholar (hafiz) of the Qur’an and Hadiths. He learnt three languages e.g. Bengali, Arabic and Persian. Though he was initially a farmer/cultivator, he had become a robber and later a swashbuckler (a ruffian or a bully) or a ‘lathial’ working under a Zamindar. Practicing of this profession even led him to the Company’s prison. After being released from prison he went to Mecca (1822) and came in to contact with the Saudi Wahhabis. Coincidentally Sayyid Ahmad Khan of Rae Bareilly/Barelvi (a pioneer of Wahhabism in India, propounder of Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya movement) was visiting Mecca as well and the two made acquaintance. 5 years later (1827), he came back to Bengal as an apostle and began preaching Wahhabism to the Bengali farmers. (Sayyid Khan’s stay in Mecca lasted for only 3 months, however, Titu stayed there till 1827. No information is available on Titu’s whereabouts in Mecca. May or may not be a mistake in dating.)
This much is in the lines. Now let’s look at what’s between the lines.
Titumir is known as the father of Wahhabi (Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya) movement in Bengal. Wahhabism is considered to be one of the prime causes of terrorism throughout the world today, both by non-Islamic and Islamic scholars. Even the most staunch Sunni Islamic fundamentalists consider Wahhabism to be a barbaric and demonic sect of Islam and shun its practices. Though some people consider it to be the purest form of monotheism, in reality, Wahhabism is an “ultraconservative”, “puritanical” “vile” sect which was adopted in Islam for the sole purpose of power usurpation by the Arabs. Wahhabism promotes extreme misogyny, militantism, extremism, violent intolerance against non-Muslims, atheists and even moderate Muslims. It makes a very distorted interpretation of the Koran and post the 1970s, after the great oil purge in Arabia, Wahhabi Islamists have been spreading a distorted version of the Koran throughout the world which promotes Arab nationalism among non-Arabs and provokes Muslims to be hateful towards non-Muslims. Currently the Wahhabi preachers are funded by the Saudi Arabian government with billions of Dinars that comes from oil export revenue. Though this using of oil money for religious outreach phenomena is a relatively recent one, Wahhabism has always been an aggressive sect in Islam. Most people who find Sunni Islam to be conservative and violent, have no idea what a crazed Wahhabi maniac is capable of! Now with that being said, let’s look at what Titumir did as the pioneer of the Wahhabi movement in Bengal.
After coming back from Mecca(1827), Titumir began organizing the Muslim peasants of his native village. Left historians and others are often quoted saying that Titumir organized both Hindu and Muslim peasants. Titumir was a benevolent leader of the peasants in Bengal, irregardless of their religion. This is far from the truth. First of all, he could care less about peasants, had he cared at all!
We’ve read in Colvin’s report that he was a ‘lathial’ or a ruffian/swashbuckler who worked under a zamindar. (He belonged to a ‘peyada’ or martial family.) Do you know what skills these ‘lathials’ or ruffians possessed? The sole purpose of these swashbucklers was extortion! Yes extortion (formally known as tax collection back then) from the peasants. Their job was to beat the taxes out of them and give that money to the Zamindars, also crack open whichever head the zamindar pointed to. So let’s put the ‘humanitarian’, peasant sympathizing logic about Titu Mir aside for now. No doubt the Zamindars were evil and oppressive but no less were his henchmen especially Titu. Yes, a person may change with time and become a different person altogether but then again, let’s not disregard the fact that Titumir was a convicted criminal who was not arrested for being involved in India’s freedom struggle but for being a swashbuckler who smashed people’s heads on command of the Zamindar.
So now let’s look at the so-called ‘secular’ side of Titumir. Some scholars say that it is an absolutely arbitrary claim that Titumir organized the peasants irregardless of their religion.
First of all, it’s necessary to know that the British used the term ‘Wahhabism’ as a common denominator for all Islamic fundamentalist movements including Salafism, Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya, Faraidi, Fariazi, Taaiyuni, Ahl-i-Hadith, the movement of Shah Waliullahi, Fulaniand Sannusiyah (North Africa), Paduri (Indonesia), Muhammadiyah (Indonesia) and Wahhabism of Arabia itself. “Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya” basically means the way of Muhammad. And his way simply meant to war against non-Muslims. The Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya movement was thought to be Sayyid Ahmad Khan’s version of Wahhabism. In any case all these movements were all very similar, where the restoration of Islamic dominance in the political field and Islamic ways in the society was focused upon. In short if Wahhabism is the book, Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya was a chapter, which had gained much mileage and popularity in Uttar Pradesh due to Sayyid Ahmad’s work.
If Titu was indeed the secular peasant leader that he was, why did he make Islam or Wahhabism a rallying call?
So either the apparent Hindu peasants in his army had already been converted (possibly by force) or they were being used as vanguards (they are like pawns in chess, often used as guinea pigs to test the enemy’s strength) for Titumir’s Wahhabi army. Another logic that’ll justify this claim is that in Wahhabism, a non-Muslim cannot fight alongside a Muslim.
One would have reasons to believe that he used to his advantage his fearsome and criminal reputation as a bully or a ruffian to scare the poor peasants enough so that they’ll fight for him.
Now let’s take a look at Titumir’s methods. His methods of preaching focuses on segregation. Previous to Wahhabism, Islam in India was somewhat liberal about integrating local animist and pagan customs, which made everyone’s life easier. Because most Indian Muslims were converts from Hinduism or other indigenous religions of India and they could not shun their forefathers’ customs and traditions so easily. For example…
But Wahhabism is about maintaining ‘purity’ of Islam. It’s a matter Arab prestige. Hence everything else, that is deemed un-Islamic must be done away with. (Wahhabism.is also staunchly against several popular Sunni practices like the ‘veneration of saints’. They’ve destroyed many ancient Islamic monuments, tombs e.g. the tomb of Fatimah and even the grave of Muhammad’s mother Aminah in 1998. They are extremely iconoclastic and destroy any object human’s worship as it is Shirk, a gateway to polytheism.) Titumir is known to have instigated the Muslims against the ‘Kuffars’ who practice ‘Shirk’ and ‘Bidah’. Titu Mir, following Wahhabi traditions not only advised his followers to refrain from Shirk (idolatry, polytheism, pantheism etc.) and Bid’ah/Bidat (innovation, a new idea involving Godhood/theology). He advised them (especially the peasants and weavers) to follow the Islamic way of life.
Zamindars taxed Muslims: A Blatant Lie!
Titu Mir is glorified as a rebel who fought against the oppressive Zamindari regime, but no one ever discusses his real motives behind fighting the Zamindars. Left historians trying to antagonize the entire Hindu community, have fabricated the documents and distorted the facts to make it seem like the Hindu community is communal by nature and what Titumir did was justified. The Zamindars, no doubt oppressive, did impose unfair taxes on the peasants, but it was not for Muslims only.
In “Origins of Muslim Consciousness in India: A World System Perspective”, the writer Syed Nesar Ahmad claims that the Zamindars had full backing of the British in fixing rents. In his own words, “Faraidi teachings also included injunctions against paying cesses that, they claimed, the landlords demanded illegally. Since Shariat Allah began preaching in 1818, these cesses, which were first imposed in 1793, must have still been imposed after 1818. Many of these cesses were for Hindu religious purposes (Khan, 1965:iii). The taxes the zamindars imposed included levies for the celebration of Hindu rites and for offering worship to the Hindu goddesses (Wise, 1883:24). Similarly, Hindu landlords imposed restrictions, such as prohibiting cow slaughter (thus violating Muslim religious rights, within areas of their zamindari (estates). These actions on the part of the Hindu zamindars indicate their need to create a distance between Hindus and Muslims. This could reflect an attempt on the part of the Hindu landlords both to divide the ranks of the peasantry, which consisted mostly of Muslim and low-caste Hindus, and to exclude enterprising Muslims from seizing any of the limited opportunities available for entrepreneurship. On their part, the Faraidi leaders also tried to create a chasm between Hindus and Muslims by insisting that their followers eschew Hindu customs and manners, including Hindu dress.”
So yes, the zamindars did impose a cess or tax on the peasants and the general population which included the Muslims as well, but these cess or taxes included levies for celebrating Hindu festivals e.g. Durga Puja etc. This can be called a way of forcefully collecting donations for religious festivities of a certain community, which as unjust as it may be, is not the same as imposing religious taxes (like the Jizya) on a certain community for belonging to a faith different from the rulers’. The zamindars did not impose taxes on the Muslims for being Muslim or for keeping a beard or for praying in a Masjid. This is typical Leftist-Islamist historic approach wherein they always try to undermine the Islamic atrocities committed on Hindus by claiming that the Hindus did the same or would have done the same were they in power. But this is untrue. The taxes that were imposed on the general peasant population (that included Muslims and Hindus) cannot be equated with the Jizya.
The Islamic rulers who ruled from the 7th to the 19th century, were way more ruthless than these puny Zamindars when it came to extortion. Is it not justified in Islam to impose religious taxes (Jizya) on non-Muslims living in Islamic lands?
Throughout history, the Islamic rulers (with a few exceptions of course like Akbar the Great) have imposed Jizya on non-Muslims (Dhimmis) not just in the sub-continent, but across the world. They have imposed Zakat on Muslims and Kharaj on agricultural land. (Kharaj was initially synonymous with Jizyah which later became a separate per head tax) Islamic rulers had also imposed a tax or religious tithe on Muslim landowners called Ushr, which interestingly was much lower than the Kharaj.
So was Titu fighting the unfair taxes by the Hindu Zamindars? Or, was he fighting to collect those taxes for Islamic domination?
Islamism is never the solution to anything. It is bigger problem to an already existing problem. If zamindars were a problem, a ruffian cum criminal turned Wahhabi preacher/Islamic zealot was an even bigger threat.
Going back to the passage from Nesar Ahmed’s book, he says the zamindars imposed restrictions on cow slaughter which were “violating Muslim religious rights”! I personally don’t agree with this assumption. Because no Islamic scholar in the world has yet produced any references from authentic Islamic scriptures, which justifies the popular claim that prohibiting cow slaughter violates Islamic religious rights. Cow slaughter has got nothing to do with Islam. (If it was up to me I’d say slaughter of any kind has got nothing to do with God! But that’d be preaching morality on my behalf.) Nowhere in the Koran does it say one has to sacrifice a cow particularly. It can be a goat as well. So why would prohibiting cow slaughter be against Islamic rights? The author is assuming that the prohibition of cow slaughter was done with the sole intention of creating a conflict between Hindus and Muslims without producing solid evidence to justify his claim. Because a riot would do the zamindar no good. It’d only make his life harder, which was pretty easy otherwise, beating the taxes out of subjects. The cow slaughtering ritual actually goes back to pre-Islamic times. Certain tribal groups and lower caste Hindus (who are now a part and percentage of the group of peoples collectively known as scheduled castes and scheduled tribes), practiced the slaughtering and consuming of old cows and bulls. (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of India, R.K.Singh) Many of these tribes and castes later converted to Islam but did not give up this practice. Defending this practice from an Wahhabi point of view doesn’t make sense because Wahhabism is about the “purity of Islam”; so why defend or fight to preserve a ritual that is produced due to an amalgamation with a non-Islamic, non-Arab culture?
Titu Mir wasn’t fighting for the peasants of all creeds as the leftist-Islamist historians claim, he was nothing more than an Islamic Zealot, of Arabic descent (more specifically of the Caliph Ali’s descent) fighting for re-establishing Islamic dominance in the Indian subcontinent, which was at that time ruled by the British.
I will yet again point to Syed Nesar Ahmed’s book “Origins of Muslim Consciousness in India: A World System Perspective” as a solidification of this statement. Nesar Ahmed writes, “The Faraidis were not the only fundamentalist group that arose in the 1820’s in response to the crisis of the time. Titu Mir’s short-lived movement (1827-1831) also touched the lives of thousands.Titu Mir’s social and religious program, like those of the other fundamentalist groups of his time, created an intense and distinct Muslim consciousness. The stress on puritanism, the banning of all non-Islamic rites and adopting a distinct appearance by his injunctions to grow beards and to wear dhoti (commonly worn in Bengal) without passing one end between the legs (which the Hindus did) solidified the identity of these fundamentalist followers as Muslims.”
So clearly Nesar Ahmed thinks Titu Mir was a fundamentalist. Not only that, Ahmed further goes on to state that Titu Mir stressed on puritanism and banning of all non-Islamic rites except the cow slaughter which was not banned by Titu Mir, probably because the cow slaughter issue was being used by Islamic fundamentalists as an excuse of creating conflict and not by the zamindars. The Islamic fundamentalists needed one spark which would start a chain reaction, the cow slaughter issue was one of that. The other being the fact that Titu Mir made an army of peasants, weavers and unemployed people belonging to the lower strata of society, this made it easier for them to first victimize and then play victims themselves. Islamic fundamentalists have been using this method in every country where they’re not the rulers. Since the middle ages till now. Followers of these Islamic fundamentalists have been following these tactics throughout the world, where they land the first blow and then when they get hit back, the play the victims. Take today’s Kashmir for example, young Kashmiri men and women, instigated by Pakistani agents, throw stones at the Indian army, who are merely doing their jobs, patrolling peacefully. When provoked often times the army men lose their patience and hit back. Shooting a civilian is considered a punishable offence in the Indian army, so they don’t use bullets. But one cannot expect the military men to just stand there take it for too lonf! This is all the Pakistanis need, one snap of an army guy hitting a Kashmiri and they now have an image to antagonize India at the United Nations. This same strategy has been used by Left historians and Islamists in India to present distorted perspective of history, where the documentations of the events (their causality) are fabricated and thus the interpretation of the cause and effect changes in the mind of the reader.
Nesar Ahmed also goes on to explain how Titu Mir brought segregation in clothing; by advising his followers to wear the loin cloth in ‘tahband’ style and abandon the ‘dhoti’ style, because the dhoti style (where one end of the cloth is passed between the legs) was overtly Hindu. This was simply a marking method, following he Wahhabi way, which requires the non-Muslims be marked.
Titumir organized about 15000 men and called his army the Mujahids. Who are the Mujahids? They’re the “holy warriors” of Islam. What do they do? They fight to establish Islam. Why is violence necessary when it comes to preaching a religion? Yes, now that is the right question. Religion doesn’t require violence, but Islam does. Because Islam is not just a religion. It is a socio-political system. Islam is a civilisation that believes in usurping other civilisations. The Prophet Muhammad was a political leader himself who waged wars against the non-believers. Especially Wahhabism is all about Arab imperialism and establishing the Islamic law over secular nation-state laws. It is a fight for Arab prestige. In the Arab mind, the Islamic way is nothing but the Arabic way. Arabic is the holy language of Islam and Mecca is the holy land of Islam. Dressing like the Arabs is considered dressing religiously. That’s why when Arabs brutalize people, do public beheadings, play camel jockey, buy sell and keep women in harems – they’re also considered Islamic. Yes, this is not the fault of Islam – but then again, Islam is not an independent entity that can exist with Arab culture with the exception of Sufi, Ibadi and some other tiny minorities like Ahmadiyya etc.
The Battle of Narkelberia
So, after forming his army, Titu Mir proclaimed the Company’s government as illegitimate and that Muslims were the true rulers of the land. Titu Mir’s men declared that henceforward the peasants were to pay rent only to Titu Mir and not to the Zamindars or the Company. Fighting for the peasant’s cause? Not so much. Soon several areas, currently known as districts of 24 Parganas, Nadia and Faridpur came under Titu Mir’s control. His army enforced their demand in all the villages which fell under these districts. The local Zamindars of this areas received ‘Parwanas’ asking then to send ration for Titu Mir’s army. The less powerful zamindars submitted to Titu Mir and some of the powerful ones fleed the place after a series of successful guerilla attacks by Titu Mir’s army using the attack and retreat tactics. (This was reported in the India Gazette.) Among the Hindu zamindars who went in to conflict with Titumir Krishnadev Rai of Purha, Kaliprasanna Mukhopadhyay of Gobardanga, Rajnarayan of Taragonia, Gauri Prasad Chowdhury of Nagpur and Devanath Rai of Gobra-govindpur are noteworthy. Unable to defeat Titu’s vast and well trained army, the Zamindars sought help from the British. It was Kaliprasanna Mukhopadhyay of Gobardanga who first instigated the Kuthial (factor) of Mollahati, Davis, to send his forces against Titu Mir. But Davis’ forces were defeated. Titu tried to play victim by lodging a complaint against the oppressive Zamindars to the East India Company. But no one fell for it. Finally it was Krishnadev Rai who begged the British to help and help arrived by the order of Lord William Bentinck, in the form of 300 native infantry, 100 cavalry and artillery with two cannons, led by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. Titumir’s bamboo castle and primitive weaponry rendered useless against the advanced weaponry of the British and his army finally fell. He was killed in the war along with 50 Mujahids. About 350 Mujahids were captured including their commander, Titu’s nephew Ghulam Masum. Ghulam was given the death sentence and about 140 Mujahids were sent to prison. Some of them were able to flee.
Most recently the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education had approved a textbook (written by Biswajit Bag) which consists of a chapter where it is claimed that Titumir killed several Hindus and vandalised multiple temples. This assertion was challenged by Prof. Gautam Bhadra, who is a renowned Islamic historian and scholar. But funnily enough, Bhadra who described this assertion as “baseless distortion of history”, writes in his book ‘Iman O Nishan (Faith and the Flag) “Titu destroyed one Hindu temple and killed one priest who worked in the temple of a talukdar (tax collector who holds land) Deb Roy. (And) that is not because of any communal reason but because of the nature of his movement, [which was] directed against an irrational tax regime implemented by the land holders.” So Prof.Bhadra’s problem is with the words ‘many’ and ‘several’, he prefers to go with ‘one’. But who can really account for these figures, be it ‘many’ or ‘one’? Who kept the scores? Where the records and reports of these casualties?
Secondly, why deliberately destroy a temple and kill a priest as a protest against irrational tax regime? How are the idols or the bells responsible? Was it really the priest’s doing, the imposition of unfair taxes? Prof. Bhadra in his attempt to justify Titu Mir’s movement as a secular humanitarian one, fails to adhere to the path of reason. Let’s take a look at one of the accepted definitions of terrorism (of course there are many definitions of terrorism) proposed at the G.C.Marshall European Center for Security Studies, by Carsten Bockstette:
“Terrorism is defined as political violence in an asymmetrical conflict that is designed to induce terror and psychic fear (sometimes indiscriminate) through the violent victimization and destruction of noncombatant targets (sometimes iconic symbols).”
According to the former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan,”regardless of the differences between governments on the question of the definition of terrorism, what is clear and what we can all agree on is that any deliberate attack on innocent civilians [or non-combatants], regardless of one’s cause, is unacceptable and fits into the definition of terrorism.”
So does Titu Mir fall in to this category? I’ll leave it up to the readers’ discretion.
Some of the adjectives about Titumir were indeed true. It goes without saying that he was indeed brave to have fought against the advanced British weaponry with mere bamboo sticks from a bamboo castle. His organization skills were no doubt very good. He must have been a good preacher as well to have made an estimated 15000 followers so quickly. But the question remains about his character. The objection is about him being called a peasant leader and a freedom fighter. He was not fighting for India’s freedom or the freedom of Hindus as we can conclude from the writings of Islamic scholars and historians, rather he was fighting to claim back the land for the Muslim rulers. At some point Titu is also noted as claiming that Muslims are the rightful rulers of India/Bengal. He was definitely referring to the Islamic invaders that invaded and occupied Indian territory since Mahmud of Ghazni to Aurangzeb, Bahadur Shah, Siraj-Ud-Daulah etc. None of them were rulers of free India. In fact they were the reason India was not free! The British weren’t the first to invade this land and the most Muslims rulers were not indigenous to this land. Sure some of them were born in India, some of them were even born of Hindu mothers (through matrimonial alliance with Rajputs). But the fact remains, no Indian son of the soil, who converted to Islam ever became a King or Nawab or Sultan or Badshah. Titu Mir doesn’t fall under that category either, if you recall, earlier we discussed the lineage of Titu Mir, which goes back to Saiyid Shahadat Ali, who came from Arabia, to preach Islam and further back to the Caliph Ali, the first Imam of Shia Islam. Titu Mir has been nativised by Left-historians and writers as a Bengali. But it’s not about our beliefs. It’s about what he believed. We’ve already discussed scholarly and Islamic views on his beliefs.
Maybe Titu was looking to become the ruler of Bengal after re-establishing Islamic law in Bengal. If he was truly fighting for the rights of the peasants as some historians put it, why did he force the peasants to pay taxes to him? He wasn’t trying to liberate the peasants, he was giving them a new master. Because if he did really care for the peasants why did he not stop them from sending ration/grains? Instead the peasants kept on giving rations while Titu’s insurgents threatened it out of the Zamindars. He terrorized the Zamindars by issuing Parwanas demanding that they supply ration for Titumir’s army. Some might say that this is old school pressure tactics used by dacoits as well, but it was terrorism nonetheless. The methods of terrorism have been used by variety of people before the term was used by media as a charged up term.
I am also not willing to accept the claim that Muslims were always victimized and suffered discrimination under the rule of the Zamindars. Everyone was victimized under the Zamindari regime supported by the Company. Let’s accept the truth as it is. Hindus faced religious discrimination under the Islamic rulers, not Muslims. By claiming that the Hindu Zamindars practiced religious discrimination on Muslims, Leftist-Islamist historians try to justify the religious discrimination present in the very fabric of Islam. The only reason Titu Mir attacked the zamindars is because he wanted to seize their property and become a zamindar.
Some people like Dr.Dasgupta see the Wahhabi Movement as the beginning of an anti-imperialist national struggle. But it is quite the opposite. After his Bamboo fort was complete (October, 1831) and his Mujahids’ military training was done, he declared himself Badshah (King) and declared ‘Jihad’ (holy war) against the Zamindars and the British.
He had formed a military order of sort with his self as the commander, Fakir Mishkeen Shah as the chief adviser. Maizuddin, and his nephew Ghulam Masum as his second in command. They were known as Mujahids and Sardars. Of course they all came from common weavers and peasants and not from royal families, which makes it easier for Left historians to glorify them but Titu Mir’s rebels collected rent from the peasants as has been mentioned before. It was not a rudimentary step In India’s freedom movement, it might be seen as a rebellion for independent statehood at most, as was the case with the Faraidi movement under Shariatullah and his son Dudhu Miyan.
They settled their headquarters in Narkelberia and built a bamboo stockade. It had several quarters for storing food, necessities, arms and stones for attacking the enemy in case of an ambush.
Titu Mir had proclaimed the illegitimacy of the Company’s government and the Muslims were the rightful owners of the empire. The rebels had declared that henceforth they were to receive rent from the peasants and they proceeded from village to village enforcing their demand. The India Gazette reported that. Parwanas were issued to the principal zamindars of the district asking them to send grain for the army. Generally, the smaller zamindars had submitted and supplied the rebels with the necessaries of life, while the bigger zamindars sought safety for themselves and their families by leaving the place.
The Zamindars, without a shadow of a doubt were blood sucking vampires, just like the Company’s indigo plantation managers, but they weren’t communal by nature, rather Titu Mir’s ideology and his modus operandi was that of the modern day terrorist’s. His cause was nothing more than reestablishing Islamic dominance in India.
The Wahhabi movement was fully suppressed in India by the 1870s after it was successfully proven to be a fundamentalist movement and the British government introduced the “sedition law” in the IPC. The newly introduced term sedition meant speech that attempted to “excite disaffection towards the government established by law in India”. One might say that the Wahhabi movement was once the cause of the now infamous sedition law of India.
[This article is part of a larger research, a series of articles on the topic of ‘The Islamic Vision of the Indian Freedom Movement’, copyrighted material, should not be reproduced in any shape or form without author’s permission.]
Link to Facebook Post: https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=399864530469344&id=373017759820688
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Social History of the Muslims of Bangladesh under the British Rule, Dhaka, 1992
Algar, Hamid, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay Islamic Publications International
Natana J. Delong-Bas, Wahhabi Islam: From Revival and Reform to Global Jihad, Oxford University Press
Biswajit Bag, ‘Itihaas O Poribesh’ (History and Environment), WBBSE Text Book Class X, 2017.
The Destruction of Holy Sites in Mecca and Medina By Irfan Ahmed in Islamic Magazine, Issue 1, July 2006
Syed Nesar Ahmed, The Origins of Muslim Consciousness in India: A World System Perspective, Greenwood Press, Jan 1991.
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World
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“Press conference with Kofi Annan & FM Kamal Kharrazi”. Un.org. 26 January 2002. Retrieved 2009-08-10
Bockstette, Carsten (2008), “Jihadist Terrorist Use of Strategic Communication Management Techniques” (PDF)