Devotional Islam & Politics in British India – Ahmed Riza Khan and his Movement 1870 – 1920

February 24, 2006

…ideological differences between the Barelwis and Deobandis are likely to have been exacerbated and exploited by the Raj, in keeping with a policy of divide and rule. The term ‘wahhabi’ was originally applied by the British to the armed struggle of Sayyid Ahmed Shahid, who had declared a jihad (initially against the oppressive Sikh rulers of the Punjab) and was killed by British forces in 1831. The British in India then labelled every subsequent movement for Muslim freedom and regeneration as a wahhabi conspiracy, including the disturbances in the Bengal forty years later. By the end of the century, in Ahmed Reza’s time, it had become a convenient label to demonise Muslim groups and to conjure images of fanaticism and political unrest.

So in the coded loyalist language of the day, the term wahhabism applied to challenges to British hegemony in India. It bore little connection to the followers of Ibn Abd al Wahhab (died 1792). In any case these muwahidoon (unitarians) were a small raiding party in the Nejd at the turn of the nineteenth century with more immediate concerns than the possibility of exporting their revolution. Maulana Ahmed Riza’s confrontational fatwa of 1906 unwittingly or wittingly adopted a vocabulary favoured by the British for the advancement of their own divide and rule policy. [read the entire article]

2 Responses to “Devotional Islam & Politics in British India – Ahmed Riza Khan and his Movement 1870 – 1920”

  1. talkislam Says:

    awesome site you’ve got going, keep it up!

  2. Harith Says:

    Very interesting article. Go Nadwa and Deoband

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