Loyalty of Nadwat-ul-Ulama to British
Their school funded by the British
Their expressed aim: to produce Ulama who would promote loyalty
to British rule
The Nadwah is a famous institution of Muslim theologians, founded in 1891.
One of its best-known personalities today is its Rector and high official
Sayyid Abul Hasan Ali Nadawi, whose books against
the Ahmadiyya Movement are widespread in the world, accusing Hazrat Mirza
Ghulam Ahmad of being sponsored by the British government. Yet when we
study the history of Nadwat-ul-Ulama itself, we learn:
"Nadwah also fostered relations with the [British] government,
for, in a colonial society, any ambitious leadership required its support.
After a period of intense suspicion because of their presumed Pan-Islamic
sentiments, the government agreed to patronize secular learning at the
school, contributed land for its fine building on
the banks of the Gumti in Lucknow, and, in 1908, sent the lieutenant
governor himself to lay the foundation stone."
The journal An-Nadwah itself recorded:
(Islamic Revival in British India, by Dr Barbara Daly Metcalf,
"The honourable Lieutenant Governor
[Sir John Hewitt] agreed to lay the foundation stone of the Darul
Uloom [school] of Nadwat-ul-Ulama. This ceremony was held
on 28 November 1908."
It also said regarding the British government:
(An-Nadwah, December 1908, vol. v, no. 10, pages 1-2)
"Although the Nadwah has nothing to do with politics,
its real aim is to produce enlightened Ulama, and it is an essential
duty of such Ulama to be familiar with the blessings of the government's
rule, and to spread feelings of loyalty in the country."
The proceedings of the ceremony at which the foundation stone of the school
building was laid were compiled by Maulana Shibli Numani, Secretary of
the school and a renowned historian of Islam, and published in the Nadwah's
Reports. We give below some extracts from the welcome address presented
to Sir John Hewitt:
(An-Nadwah, July 1908, p. 1)
"We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for honouring
the Muslims generally, and members of the Nadwah particularly, by consenting
to lay the foundation stone of Darul-Uloom, Nadwah, with your own hand.
We are sure that all Muslims of India will be grateful to you for the
encouragement you have given us on this occasion, because no part of
India is without the well-wishers of Nadwah. By laying the foundation
stone of a religious institute, your honour has set yet
another example of the liberality and fair-mindedness which is a distinctive
quality of the English people and the central pillar of British rule.
Replying to this address, Sir John Hewitt noted in particular the following:
"It is certain that our method of education will create a group
which will be more able to resist the rebellious and emotive ideas
of today. This will be a group which will be respectful to elders,
friendly to neighbours, sympathetic to people in general, and loyal
to the government. ...
"We are grateful from the bottom of our hearts for the land
which your honour has granted us. Recently, your
honour bestowed upon us a gift of Rs.500 per month, for which we cannot
sufficiently express our thanks."
(Raudad Darul-Uloom Nadwat-ul-Ulama for 1907 to 1909, pages
24 to 33)
"It was pleasing to hear you expressing
loyalty to the British government in clear words whose meaning
cannot be doubted at all. I am sure that your Nadwah will use its influence
to support the authorities and oppose agitation, disorder and ill-will
against the government."
In a speech made in those days, as reported in a Muslim newspaper, the
President of the school of Nadwat-ul-Ulama said:
"In its short life, the Nadwah has not only made astonishing
progress in attracting the Muslim population of India, but it
has obtained a vote of confidence from the government as well.
"We Muslims, and especially the honourable Ulama, should give
special thanks, with gratitude from our hearts, to Lieutenant Governor
Sir John Hewitt, through whose care and kindness
we obtained a plot of land for our school and the considerable sum
of Rs. 500. I think it advisable that the leaders of Islam,
who have come here from all over India to attend this meeting, should
make a petition, indeed it should now be our duty, that we
should offer all possible assistance to the government in establishing
peace in the country. It should be one of the duties
of our Ulama to urge the Muslims, in sermons, to go along with the
government. I believe that if we do this, we shall be acting
on Islamic teachings, which are better known to many honourable persons
in this meeting than to me."
(Newspaper Paisa, Lahore, 30 May 1910)