General Bakht Khan

Hero of the Lost War

Translation series of “Heroes of 1857”, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode VIII (First Ed., 1949)

“Conflict with the Ghazees before Bareilly, scene from the Indian Mutiny. Engraving from 1858, Engraver Unknown Photo by D Walker”

The French philosopher Voltaire wrote: “Injustice in the end produces independence”. Bakht Khan Rohilla died to prove this truth.

An imaginary sketch of Bakht Khan

Early Education, Grooming and Employment
The people of Nawab families in the ancient times besides being highly educated also had absolute expertise in the military arts. Bakht Khan was also not exempted from this. The estate of Sultanpur was given to him by Nawab of Awadh. First, it was insufficient for the needs of his family. Second his high ambition and mercurial nature was not a best-fit for this peaceful life. So in order to make up he joined British army and soon was promoted to a prominent position. Under Mr. Seal he performed such acts of valour during the Afghanistan war that he was appointed as the senior most officer of the artillery battery. All Hindustani artillery men were under his command. This battery was quite famous owing to its performance. As a show of honor an arch like Crown of Flowers was also mounted on these Canons. General Bakht had worked with this Battery in Jalalabad as well. After returning from Afghanistan he was sent to Neemuch garrison and was posted as a Subedar. Hence Bakht Khan was a senior officer of Artillery and in the camp of British Battalion many people considered him very vigilant and wise.

Leadership of General Bakht Khan
Maulvi Azeem Ullah Khan was an employee at the Missionary school in Kanpur Garrison. Due to his aptitude he was expert in English, French and Persian. In those days he was appointed as an English tutor to Nana Saheb by the Englishmen. Nature had gifted this man with a strange heart and mind. As the matter of learning and teaching was wrecked.  The foresight of the teacher and his disciples started to prepare a scheme to wage war against the Britishers. According to the pre-decided plan, Azeem Ullah Khan and Baba Saheb started on a journey to Europe to gain external sympathies. Azeem Ullah came back to Hindustan via Russia. Both of them sat down in the hotels of Europe to suggest a date of the rebellion and the map of War. Therefore, the first man who started the rebellion was Mangal Pandey who was convicted to be hanged on April 8th 1857. The movement started with the sacrifice of Mangal Pandey. 

The distribution of the Chapatis (local baked loaf of bread) played a prominent role in initiating the Rebellion at several places in parallel. There was no village, district or city where these Chapatis  had not reached. All English writers had a unanimous opinion that distribution of these Chapatis greatly aided the spread and the progress of rebellion. The account “History of Hindustan’s Rebellion’’ wrote: “It is obvious that no other act seems appropriate than this, to gather and unite all the Muslims for a special deed, enabling them to contribute as much as their hearts wished.” The same author explained in his lecture, “Maulvi Ahmad Ullah sahib himself used to distribute pieces of bread and lotus flowers.

Nawab era in Rohilkhand
When the fire of turbulence flared, Bakht Khan, who later became famous with the nom de guerre of General, left for his ancestral home in Bareilly.  After reaching there he elevated Khan Bahadur who was grandson of Hafiz Rahmat Khan and was very brave and influential within his family as ruler. The Rohilla nation had a special distinction or vantage in Rohilkhand owing to their extraordinary acts of valour. Wealth and rule had ended but remaining bravery and valour of Afghan lineage were put into use at that time. Therefore Maulvi Zaka Ullah penned, “In those districts where rebellion erupted was lesser than the rebellion of Rohilkhand ’’. Bareilly which remained the capital city of Hafiz Rahmat Khan for some time was declared the epicenter of the struggle of General Bakht Khan. Zaheer Dehlvi wrote that’, “Across Bareilly there is a gathering of fugitives and all Chieftains for example Nana Rao, Feroz Shah etc are there. 30,000 men of Rampur were employed in Bareilly and people of Rampur ‘s attire is like one who has a piece or roll of cloth turban tied on the head which has lace stitched on it. Half of the turban is tied to the head and the other half is hanging below the saddle of the horse and four pistols are clipped on the back also sporting two edged swords. Riding horses and they gallop around the city. About 50,000 strong contingent was in Bareilly. Till the time General Sahib stayed in Bareilly, Khan Bahadur Khan remained his right hand man. Therefore some credit goes to Bakht Khan because of the peace and prosperity  which was available to masses during the Nawab era.  Anees Fatima, the author heard from a female elder of family whose mother told her eye witness events that during this era there were innumerable number of weddings and other events took place and there was no disruption. Everything was available cheap and in abundance. There was no mention of shortage. Except Rohilkhand, there was intense hysteria across the country. The travails of General Bakht ‘s journey from Bareilly to Delhi was shrouded in secrecy’’.

Grave of Khan Bahadur Khan, pic source: Tawarikh Khwani
Tomb, Hafiz Rahmat Khan, Pic Source: Tawarikh Khwani

Departure to seek an audience with the King and custodianship of Delhi
But the King in Delhi,  for whose revival this bluster was arranged, was idling away in peace. King reached to a phase in life where a person’s energy and nerve dwindles hence he had became increasingly weak and incapacitated. From the times of Shah Alam, the kind of life Royals of Mughal family were spending  under the sovereign of the Company (EIC), it was anticipated that this “Token’’ rule may end with him. Fort’s importance was that of a mausoleum and King was the grave’s custodian covered under a shade of poetic and Sufism. Whenever he got free from greetings, duties, sainthood and disciples, he indulged in  poetic recitals. A little bit of idling, Company’s soft view was sufficient. Interpretation of King’s royal hobbies can be surmised in following two couplets of Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II.

صبح اُٹھ جام سے گزرتی ہے
شب دل آرام سے گزرتی ہے
عاقبت کی خبر خُدا جانے
اب تورات آرام سے گزرتی ہے
Trans: Morning raises with glass of wine
While heart rests away in peace
Only God knows about the fate
For now it whiles away in peace

yā mujhe afsar-e-shāhāna banāyā hotā
yā mirā taaj gadāyāna banāyā hotā

You should have made me the chief of Kings
Instead you should made my crown of mendicants
The last Mughal monarch who was a great poet, scholar and Sufi himself in completely different attire. A painting from British Museum c 1850

As for the princes, among them Mirza Mughal was a bit energetic and emotional person. But the conspiracies hatched by Zeenat Mahal  and the entrapment’s laid down to install Prince Jawan Bakht on the throne and everyone’s eyes were fixated on this. Therefore Mirza Mughal also could not save himself from this and he got so stuck that unbeknownst to all the enemy was standing at the doorstep and nobody knew what was happening. This precarious condition of Delhi prompted General Bakht Khan to depart from Bareilly to Delhi. Nana Rao’s (Nana Sahib) brother accompanied him. On route he went past Budaun and came to Farrukhabad. He elicited consent for assistance from Raja’s and Landholders of all the places in their route to Delhi. Zaheer Dehlvi wrote that, “General Bakht Khan entered Delhi on July 2nd along with 14,000 irregular recruits, few Canons, three regiments of riders and several hundred thousands of rupees of cash in hand. Handkerchief tied on head, bilbo hanging by the neck, later it was revealed that this was General from Bareilly. He was sporting a pumpkin dress and I took him as just another of the native soldiers’’. In his book , “Red Year’’ Mitchell Edwards included a precious memoir of Sayyid Mubarak Shah, the warden of Delhi (during Rebellion) in which the arrival of General Bakht Khan in Delhi and details of his extraordinary struggle was recorded. This daily register (of Mubarak Shah)  gives out solid evidence of the treacherous ways of Hakeem Ahsan Ullah Khan and Begum Zeenat Mahal. But the diligence with which General Bakht Khan fulfilled his mission even the adversaries applauded him ! The King granted him the title of “Farzand’’ (Son). Besides this he gifted an expensive shield and sword. He issued a proclamation across the city that all Platoon officers shall visit the General for seeking instructions. Khairat Ali was appointed as Secretary. Due to his maintenance of discipline there was a constant increase in the numbers of the Rebel army.

Reinforcement proceedings to Delhi, c 1857

Fight with Englishmen
On 9th July 1857, Bakht Khan attacked the British Army with a battalion of 10,000 men and snatched “Tees Hazari’’ ground. Horses,Weapons and a lot of goods were salvaged from the battleground. Maulvi Zaka Ullah penned, “In the court on 29th July , General Bakht came as the caretaker in place of the King. The King made him de-facto head of all the Army and City. General mimicked the Commander-in-Chief. Saw today’s magazine, instructed to stack the goods in the proper manner. Between Lal Duggi and Jamia Masjid (Grand Mosque Delhi) he inspected the parade of thousands of soldiers. The tax of Salt and sugar was waived so that poor people do not suffer. Moreover, he stated that if any Prince tried to rob the city then he would have his nose cut off’’. 

Assault Of Delhi Capture Of The Cashmere Gate 14Th September 1857 From The History Of The Indian Mutiny Published 1858 

 Maulvi sahib further added, until Bakht Khan didn’t come to Delhi the news of religious decree to fight was little known. But when Bakht Khan came to Delhi he made a decree written that fight is mandatory on Muslims because if infidels succeeded then they will murder their wives and children. In Jamia Mosque clerics were gathered  and their signatures were taken on this decree. Besides this decree to fight an undertaking was also distributed and oaths from 70-80 soldiers were taken. Mirza Mughal read out this undertaking who pledged that they will fight until the last breath. General Bakht had the liberty to seek an audience with the king whether he was in public or private, there was no restriction. Once on the occasion of Eid ul Azha (sacrificial festival) King sent following couplet to Bakht Khan,

لشکر اعداء الہی آج سارا قتل ہو
گورکھا ، گوجر سے لیکر تا نصاری قتل ہو

Enemy’s horde gets killed today Oh Lord
Gorkha,Gujar to Crusader may get killed

Bakht Khan ordered the movement of two platoons of infantry, five hundred soldiers of battalion along with six canons and arsenal under for Baghpat in order to prevent Englishmen in constructing a bridge. Moreover, a large number of soldiers with ordnance left for Alipur. By early evening there was a rumour that rebels had a major success which caused a lot of zeal and zest among masses. From Delhi to Ajmeri gate there were parades of soldiers. General (Bakht Khan) talked to the soldiers with a lot of affection and conveyed King’s message that whosoever performed well in the battlefield will be given almost one acre of land and an honorary title will be accorded as well. In front of the War Council General Bakht gave a statement that he is making a bunker opposite Kashmiri Gate. In Hindustan wherever there was rebellion the King has given him the responsibility of patronizing and guiding it. Those rebels used to directly get instructions which were accordingly executed. A letter which was sent by General sahib to General Sudhari Singh and Ghaus Muhammad Khan spoke of the greater cause which he led him to rise. He wrote, “Muhammad Bakht Khan Governor Bahadur  and the army in the capital Delhi , its soldiers and officers present their salutations and congratulate you. We are proud  your acts of valour. Your King and the men among us who are trying day and night out to destroy a handful of crusaders. If God ‘s willing the country of Delhi will be cleansed of the invaders’’.

Sudhari Singh answered, “ With God’s grace the kingdom which came into being in Delhi is infancy. God has sent you to raise this Child. Under you there are 5 divisions and every kind of power is in your hands’’.

یہ نغمہ فصل گل ولالہ کا نہیں پابند
بہار ہو کہ خزاں ، لا الہ الا اللہ

These melodious songs are not confined
To time when rose and tulip bloom
Whatever the season of year be
“No God but He’’ must ring till doom

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This is a translation series of Urdu account by Sayyada Anees Fatima titled “Jang-e- Azadi (Awwal)’57 kay Hero” (Trans. Heroes of the First War of Independence). It was first published in 1949 at Aligarh under the aegis of All India Muslim Educational Conference (A movement founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). The author captured the melancholy, conflicts of Indian states with East India company & struggle of 1857 in a vivid story telling style integrated with contextual Persian & Urdu Poetry. The translation & contextualization is done by Sayyad Asad Ali (her grandson) & edited by Saba Saif.

Hagia Sophia – A Brief Timeline

Hagia Sophia (from Greek Αγία Σοφία) means Holy Wisdom.

Construction of church depicted in codex Manasses Chronicle (14th C) Pic Source: Wiki Images
Main (western) façade of Hagia Sophia, seen from courtyard of the madrasa of Mahmud I. Lithograph by Louis Haghe after Gaspard Fossati (1852) Pic Source: Wiki Images

Here is a timeline of this iconic living heritage of world that has served from being a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral – to- A Roman Catholic cathedral –to- An Ottoman mosque –to- A Museum – to finally becoming -A Mosque, since its erection in 537 AD till today. 

If we take its first official consecration as a Cathedral, then it existed during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). At that time it was the largest interior space in the world.  

South-eastern side, seen from the Imperial Gate of the Topkapı Palace, with the Fountain of Ahmed III on the left and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in the distance. Lithograph by Louis Haghe after Gaspard Fossati (1852). Pic Source: Wiki Images

In 360 AD, according to early accounts, the first Hagia Sophia was built on the site of an ancient pagan temple. The church was consecrated on 15 February 360, during the reign of the emperor Constantius II (r. 337–361). 

In June 404 AD, during the riots, this first church was largely burnt down. 

In 415 AD, a second church on the site was ordered by Theodosius II (r. 401–450), who inaugurated it on 10 October 415. 

In 532 AD, a fire started during the tumult of the Nika Revolt, the second Hagia Sophia too was burnt to the ground on 13–14 January 532.

On 23 February 532 AD, only a few weeks after the destruction of the second basilica, Emperor Justinian I decided to build a third and entirely different basilica. 

In 537 AD, the Justinian and Patriarch Menas, inaugurated the new basilica on 27 December 537 – 5 years and 10 months after the construction had started. 

In 726, the Emperor Leo the Isaurian issued a series of edicts against the veneration of images, ordering the army to destroy all icons inside the church.

In 1203 AD, According to the Greek historian Niketas Choniates during the Fourth Crusade, the emperors Isaac II Angelos and Alexios IV Angelos stripped Hagia Sophia of all the gold ornaments and all the silver oil-lamps in order to pay off the Crusaders who had ousted Alexios III Angelos and helped Isaac return to the throne.

In 1204 AD during the Sack of Constantinople, the church was further ransacked and desecrated by the Crusaders, its altar was smashed into pieces, and a “woman laden with sins” sang and danced on the synthronon. Mules and donkeys were brought into the cathedral’s sanctuary to carry away the valuables. According to Ali ibn al-Asir, the Crusaders massacred some clerics who had surrendered to them.

From 1204-1261 AD, during the Latin occupation of Constantinople (1204–1261) the church became a Roman Catholic cathedral. 

Mosaïques de l’entrée sud-ouest de Sainte-Sophie (Istanbul, Turquie)
The Virgin Mary is standing in the middle, holding the Child Christ on her lap. On her right side stands emperor Justinian I, offering a model of the Hagia Sophia. On her left, emperor Constantine I, presenting a model of the city. Pic Source: Wiki Images

In 1453 AD, the Constantinople fell to the attacking Ottoman forces. On 23 May 1453 AD, when Sultan Muhammad and his entourage entered the church, he ordered that it be converted into a mosque. An Aalim (Islamic cleric) climbed onto the church’s ambo and recited the shahadat.

Mehmed II, Entering Constantinople (1885) Painting by Fausto Zonaro (1854-1929) Wiki Images

The church was in a dilapidated state, with several of its doors fallen from their hinges; Sultan Muhammad ordered a renovation of the building. Sultan attended the first Friday prayer in the mosque on 1 June 1453 . This action marked the official conversion of Aya Sofya became the first imperial mosque of Istanbul.

1462 years after the conquest, Sultan Mehmet established the charity foundation for the development of Hagia Sophia and dedicated 14000 gold coins as an annual income from various sources to the foundation. It is reported that he bought the entire land and entrusted it to the endowment (Waqf ).

Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu is holding an old Ottoman decree (Waqf Deed) signed by Mehmet the conqueror in 1462

From 1478 AD, the Waqf endowments that included 2,360 shops, 1,300 houses, 4 caravanserais, 30 boza shops, and 23 shops of sheep heads and trotters gave their income to the foundation.

In 1849 AD- The restorations were carried out regularly to maintain the large structure from time to time during the Ottoman reign. However The last major restoration was ordered by Sultan Abdu Majid I (r. 1823–1861) and completed by eight hundred workers between 1847 and 1849, under the supervision of the Swiss-Italian architect brothers Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati.

Gaspare Fossati‘s 1852 depiction of the Hagia Sophia, after his and his brother’s renovation. Lithograph by Louis Haghe. Pic Source: Wiki Images
Northern gallery and entrance to the matroneum from the north-west. A lithograph by Gespare Fossati

In 1924 AD, the Caliphate was abolished. In 1925, the turban and fez were banned in Turkey.

A prayer congregation in 1904 at Hagia Sophia , Turkish Archives.

In 1928 AD, To write Turkish alphabets in Arabic was prohibited to be replaced with the Latin alphabet. The Hijab was looked down on and discouraged. Ulama were detained. Madrasahs were closed down. Sufi zawiyas and awliya were targeted.

In 1932 AD, the new regime prohibited the Azan from being called out in Arabic and it was replaced with a Turkish translation – this continued for 18 more years.

In 1935 AD, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum after it had been established as a Masjid for almost 500 years. 

In 1991 AD while use of the complex as a place of worship (mosque or church) was strictly prohibited, the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a pavilion in the museum complex (Ayasofya Müzesi Hünkar Kasrı’nda) to be used as a prayer room.

In 2007 AD, Greek American politician Chris Spirou launched an international organization “Free Agia Sophia Council” championing the cause of restoring the building to its original function as a Christian church.

In 2013 AD, two of the museum′s minarets started voicing the call to prayer (the Azan) regularly.

On 1 July 2016 AD, Muslim prayers were held in the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 85 years.

In October 2016 AD, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) appointed, for the first time in 81 years, a designated imam, Önder Soy, to the Hagia Sofia mosque (Ayasofya Camii Hünkar Kasrı’nda), located at the Hünkâr Kasrı, a pavilion for the sultans’ private ablutions. Since then, the adhan has been regularly called out from the Hagia Sophia′s all four minarets five times a day. 

On 10 July 2020 AD, the decision of the Council of Ministers to transform the Hagia Sophia into a museum was cancelled by the Council of State, decreeing that Hagia Sophia can be used only as a mosque and not for any other purpose. A presidential spokesperson said it would become a working mosque, open to anyone similar to the Parisian churches Sacré-Cœur and Notre-Dame.

The spokesperson also said that the change would not affect the status of the Hagia Sophia as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and that “Christian icons” within it would continue to be protected. The mosque opened for Friday prayers on 24 July, White drapes covered the mosaics of the Virgin and Child in the apse.

Then Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Presidency of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), went up to the pulpit with a sword and read out the Friday sermon, or khutbah. Delivering his sermon, he proclaimed: “Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror dedicated this magnificent construction to believers to remain a mosque until the Day of Resurrection“.

The ritual of reading the khutbah with a sword, which is a tradition dated to the Ottoman era, The sword held in the left hand, like in the sermon, aims to give confidence to the allies. As the Ottoman ‘Conquest‘ tradition, two green banners were hung on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest and a sword was placed on the right entrance side of the pulpit.

July 2020 , Juma prayers inside Hagia Sophia

Nalhan Usman, the granddaughter of the last caliph of the Ottoman Caliphate, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, also came on this historic occasion and was present at the Sofia Mosque for Friday prayers.

Nelhan Osmanoglu , the great grand daughter of Khalifa Abdul Hameed II.

Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul, and a mosque from 1453 to 1934 nearly 500 years and most recently as a museum for 85 years.

New plaque – Jama Masjid Aya Sofia
Hagia Sophia in 1890 by an unknown artist, Pic Source: Wiki Images


  • The Buildings of Procopius. Loeb Classical Library. 1940.
  • Dark, Ken R.; Kostenec, Jan (2019). Hagia Sophia in Context: An Archaeological Re-examination of the Cathedral of Byzantine Constantinople
  • Dark, Ken R.; Kostenec, Jan (2019). Hagia Sophia in Context: An Archaeological Re-examination of the Cathedral of Byzantine Constantinople. Oxford
  • City of Byzantium: Annals of Niketas Choniatēs. Translated by Magoulias, Harry J. Wayne State University Press
  • Encyclopædia Britannica
  • Mainstone, Rowland J. (1997) [1988]. Hagia Sophia: Architecture, Structure and Liturgy of Justinian’s Great Church. London
  • Binns, John (2002). An Introduction to the Christian Orthodox Churches. Cambridge University Press.
  • Krautheimer, Richard (1986). Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture (4th ed.). New Haven and London: Yale University Press
  • Mamboury, Ernest (1953). The Tourists’ Istanbul. Istanbul: Çituri Biraderler Basımevi.

Cause & effect – A Preamble to the Rebellion of 1857

Translation series of “Heroes of 1857”, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode VII (First Ed., 1949)

Cause & effect – A Preamble to the  Rebellion of  1857 

Only God knows which blessed moments were those, when Babur’s  sacred hands laid down the foundation stone of the Mughal Empire. Despite the darts of calamity trying to erase it for  a hundredth time were not successful. But when it did end, along with it, the national existence of Muslims also ended from the heavenly Hindustan.Their culture, civilization, knowledge, wealth thus along with the throne went everything, which was ever a source of pride. Later on, only the sovereignty of the fort sustained, despite being persecuted and declining, the glorious traditions of the past were associated with it. Hence it became the focus of the public veneration. East India Company’s transgressions had surpassed all boundaries when with Awadh’s  annexation in 1856 compelled to convince the Muslims, that if by any chance the current situation prevailed then,

آپکے جنون میں فاصلہ شاید نہ کچھ رہے
دامن کے چاک اور گریبان چاک میں
Your derangement might eliminate the distance 
Between the slit of the collar  to the hem of the shirt

Some post mutiny visuals of Red Fort published in Illustrated London New, Source: Wiki Images

The initial disturbance led to the intense eventual commotion of 1857 . Both commoners and nobles picked up swords for the liberation of nation and the country. Prominent among nobles were General Bakht Khan, Feroz Shah¹, Nana Rao (Nana Sahib)², Nawab Tajamul Hussain Khan³, General Mahmoud Khan, Azeem Ullah Khan etc. Among clerics were Maulvi Ahmad Ullah, Maulvi Liaquat Ali and Maulvi Fazal Haq Khairabadi etc.

The 93rd Highlanders clearing the Secunder Bagh, Wiki Images
Tatya Tope’s Soldiery, Published at The Illustrated London News, 1858 Source: Wiki Images

¹ He was Taimuri Prince, on the battlefield his sword caused trouble among the ranks of the enemy when he made the call for battle from Bareilly. But when Khan Bahadur Khan was defeated in Bareilly, Feroz Shah also bade farewell to the battlefield. The Englishmen tried to arrest him but remained unsuccessful. It was heard that he left for Hijaz “the Sacred place” ( Home to Mecca and Madina).

² Nana Rao Maratha fought against Englishmen with matchless bravery. His valour and high intellectual ability was acknowledged even by Englishmen. French writer Garsan Vitasy wrote: “It is heard that this fierce man has the ability to write and speak in English. This person has translated Shakespeare’s famous play.”

³ Nawab sahib (Tajamul Hussain Khan) migrated to Mecca after the defeat in the struggle for freedom. Nawab Siddiq Hasan Khan saw him there in abject poverty and ragged condition. The Opulent pride he used to live was translated by Ghalib as follows ,

دیا ہے اور کو بھی تا اسے نظر نہ لگے
بنا ہے عیش تجمل حسین خان کے لئے

Blessed may others be as well, may they never catch a bad eye
But Luxe is surely just made for Tajamul Hussain Khan

زباں پہ بار خُدایا یہ کس کا نام آیا
کہ میرے نطق نے بوسے مری زباں کیلئ

Oh my Lord, whose name escaped me
For my articulation kissed my tongue with veneration

Much time has passed since the First War of Independence but still there is a shroud of darkness on the actual events. In this regard, Khawaja Hasan Nizami sahib tried to shed some light. His writing has a color of fiction however whatever he wrote it is with reverence reflecting  the patriotism of a Muslim for the rule of the Fort (Mughal rule in Delhi). Khawaja laments grievously  at the devastation of the fort, making others cry as well. Although  the Mughal rule was a personal fiefdom, God knows what was so special about it that every person shed tears of blood at the Fort’s decimation. Therefore, when after half a century, Mr. Andrews started collecting information from elders of Delhi about the account of clamour of freedom in order to write Maulvi Zakaullah biography  he displayed amazement and wrote, “ Whichever elder was asked about the King, used to shed tears despite being Hindu or a Musim.. It was hard to distinguish if they were narrating an account of a stranger or their own ordeal”.

Bengali literati wrote very well and quite extensively on this subject but it was limited in English and Bangla languages. The insolvency of Urdu stayed the same. The written literature which the people of that era left for their predecessors was either eaten by termites or kept in Private libraries like a forbidden tree, impossible to access (written in 1944).

Nawab Mohsinul Mulk , Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and his son, Justice Mahmood. Pic Source: Wiki Images

Among Muslims two gentlemen wrote on this issue from a historical perspective. One was Sir Syed and the other was Maulvi Zaka Ullah. But both have written with a knife rather than a pen. In fact Zaka Ullah was particularly brutal. And as a result was accorded with the titles of Khan Bahadur and Shams-ul- Ulema. Without doubt whatever Sir Syed writings were based on sincerity and compassion for the nation. Besides sincerity he was also of the opinion that in order to absolve Muslims from this blame these events should be erased from the pages of history as much as possible. During the First War of 1857,  he was an eyewitness to the devastation through which Muslims went through. When General Mahmood Khan, grandson of Nawab Zabita Khan raised the flag of rebellion in Bijnor, at that time Sir Syed was posted there as an Arbiter. Later he came to Delhi. In the background of this horrible tragedy he complied  ‘Asbab-e-Baghawat-e-Hind’ (Reasons of Hindustan’s rebellion) only he could dare to compile such a book, in which he writes, “In a responding essay to the disobedience of Hindustan in which I explained the actual reasons for rebellion. Although my heart wishes to wipe it off and forget about it because the public announcement issued by the Honorable Queen is actually a complete remedy to each reason of rebellion. Truth is that after seeing this announcement, those authors who were writing about the reasons of rebellion dropped their pen.. There was no need left to further  conduct the diagnosis.’’ After that disregarding the movement as an invention of some trivial and fanatic minds he wrote , “We don’t regard the Annexation of Awadh as a result of this rebellion. Although everyone was annoyed at the annexation of Awadh believing the Honorable East India company broke the pledge and agreement. But it is observed that no one turned rebel among the affluent and the influential . Please do not respond that Nawab of Jhajhar and Raja Balabgarh etc etc became rebels.”

Despite accepting the facts this insistence on secrecy is so interesting. In Fact the massive repression meted out by the Company’s Army (EIC) on the masses and innocents and the heart trembling tactics insinuating the Genghis (Mongol-like) naturally led to this requisite that the truth always prevails. Among Englishmen few compassionate ones strongly protested against the atrocities committed by their own brethren which were meted out on innocent people. Those who were spectators themselves became a spectacle.  Mr Russell wrote, “But It is against humanity and justice that all districts are ravaged just because the Rebels were stationed there. Englishmen massacred peasants on both sides of the road for hundreds of miles turning the country desolate like a desert. Thousands of citizens were hanged despite them not even having a distant connection with the rebellion. Innocent civilians, despite them kept pleading for mercy, were shot. In fact elderly folks who were trembling were dismembered. A bloodbath was ordered in Delhi including even those who we knew there were wishing for our (Englishmen) success.

British soldiers looting Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow, after its recapture (steel engraving, late 1850s)

In the record of Parliament, Govt of Hind’s all archives are kept which reveal that besides the rebels, men, women, children and elders of the general population were also hanged. It was not limited to hangings only but their houses were also burnt to ashes in the village. General Outram was of the opinion that this event was a massacre of innocent people. Major Reynard received instructions from General Niell,“Lay siege around the populace of Fatehpur town and slay them’’.  

Capture of Bahadur Shah Zafar  and his sons by Wiliam Hudson at Humayun’s Tomb on 20 September 1857 by Robert Martin. Source: Wiki Images
Graves of martyrs at Naumahla Masjid, Bareilly,
Pic source: Tawarikh Khwani

Mr. Mitchell Edward penned his observations, “All the people found inside the city for refuge were slayed by the bayonets’’. He wrote to his friend, “As you can imagine when I told you  that in some houses 40-50 people took refuge. They were not rebels but residents of the city (Delhi) who were counting on our merciful governance to be forgiven.. But I am glad to say that they failed (meaning that they were not spared and were killed)’’.

Capture of Delhi, A Coloured lithograph by Bequet Freres after R de Moraine, published by E Morier, Paris, 1858 (c). Source: Wiki Images

A fair segment among the ruling party was of the opinion that this rebellion was a result of that atrocious conduct of East India Co., which they and their cohorts adopted towards the masses and Royal family. Therefore, the causes of rebellion should be probed and internal misgivings removed so that a principle of adopting caution can be complied. So when Savarkar’s book was banned , Mr Tomson strongly protested and wrote, “In my view this is extremely inappropriate that the Government has banned the history of Savarkar. But it is not our wish that some parts of that fight are kept hidden. It is our duty that we should include Hindustan’s point of view in our history’’. But the Civil Service was against the moderation policy, instead of thinly veiling they wanted to put a deep shroud over it so that the world would totally forget. Therefore Edward Tomson wrote, “It is in the mutual interest of England and Hindustan that the unpleasant memory of rebellion is forgotten. We should insulate this poisonous well and fortunately at present there is a large number of Hindustanis and Englishmen sincerely believing that the memory of rebellion’s sad events should be erased from the pages of history and hearts of people by any means . It is important for us to wait and adopt this policy for a few years so that those people still having the unsavoury recollection of the rebellion will pass away’’. The  effort to completely forget the events leading to the clamour of 1857 left the most profound effect on the personality of General Bakht Khan. The account of strategy, politics, valour and determination and his leadership ability is acknowledged by friends and foes alike. But his detailed account and the eventual  disappearance of the biggest hero of rebellion with his 40,000 strong group still remains a historical mystery.

Status and Lineage
The literature which came under observation pertaining to 1857 or the input from elders did not help in increasing our (author) knowledge about Bakht Khan. Several people with reference to Maulvi Zaka Ullah tried in vain to prove that he belonged to some unknown and inferior family. But the distinguishing feats performed by General Bakht Khan during 1857 and the way he expanded the rebellion movement across Hindustan is a proof of his noble lineage. In this connection, the biggest witness is Chanda Begum, the great granddaughter of Nawab Dundey Khan, who with blessings of God is still alive. We came to know that he was a close relative of Ghulam Qadir Rohila and he (Gen. Bakht Khan) was from the Rohilla family. His father’s name was Abdullah Khan. When the Ruler of Rohilkhand Hafiz-ul-Mulk Hafiz Rehman Khan was ruined by the atrocities of Englishmen and Shuja-Ud-Daula. The family of Ghulam Qadir Khan was also not spared. During this mayhem everyone went their separate ways. Therefore General Bakht Khan ‘s father along with his family shifted to Sultanpur in Awadh. Nawab Abdullah Khan Rohilla became the center of attention of a Princess from the family of Shuja-Ud- Daula due to his good looks and bravery. So this displaced Rohilla Chieftain got into a close relation with the Nawabs of Awadh. Once General Bakht Khan himself mentioned to the Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar that I am a resident of Sultanpur and belong to Awadh ‘s family. If you have doubts about what I say then you may get it verified.  King said that verification is not needed and he believes in his nobility and purity.

It is not a stretch of imagination that the nation which could produce impassioned personalities like Hafiz ul Mulk Nawab Najeeb Ud Daula and intellectuals like Ali Wardi Khan could give birth to a fervent fighter like Bakht Khan during the last war of independence for Hindustan.

ہر ایک بات پہ کہتے ہو کے تُو کیا ہے
تمھیں  کہو کے یہ ،انداز گُفتگُو کیا ہے


Trans. For anything I say…you answer with provocation
why don’t you say, what’s this style of conversation?

This is a translation series of Urdu account by Sayyada Anees Fatima titled “Jang-e- Azadi (Awwal)’57 kay Hero” (Trans. Heroes of the First War of Independence). It was first published in 1949 at Aligarh under the aegis of All India Muslim Educational Conference (A movement founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). The author captured the melancholy, conflicts of Indian states with East India company & struggle of 1857 in a vivid story telling style integrated with contextual Persian & Urdu Poetry. The translation & contextualization is done by Sayyad Asad Ali (her grandson) & edited by Saba Saif.

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Shahjahanabad – the living city

Cover page of Book

Book review, Shahjahanabad, The Living City of Old Delhi authored by Rana Safvi & published by Harper Collins (2019)

There is a reason why it is called the ‘living city’ of Old Delhi, by the author Rana Safvi, in her book, Shahjahanabad, which is the third book in the “Where Stone Speak” Trilogy, a series published by Harper Collins India. Unlike other cities like Tughlaqabad, Old Delhi, which was actually relatively new in the timeline of the cities of Delhi, is a place where it’s milieu is astir with not just it’s monuments that includes mosques, mandirs and mahals, but there are people living within the environs of this very city, relaying the legacy of times gone by. There are the gullies and koochas (lanes and bylanes) that haven’t been able to shake off the time-dust that has settled over them. There is the Qila e Mubarak and Jama Masjid, that peg down the medieval character of the place. And then there is the Mughlai cuisine which is still as delectable as the centuries it reminds us of.

Interior of Hammam, Red Fort c 1830, attributed to Ghulam Ali Khan, source: Wiki Images

Rana Safvi plays the role of an omniscient guide, a companion spirit if you may, as she opens up a portal to a land that is now mere memory. We see a Lal Qila (red fort) rising up in all its splendour, from the point where it was being laid down brick by brick. It is impossible to ignore the vision and ambition of a man who set his throne a little lower than the mimbar (pulpit) of the grand mosque (The Jama Masjid). In his vision existed gardens of redolent vigour, and streams that made their way to every part of the new paradise – the Nahr e Bahisht. We also find ourselves witness to grandiose ideas like the Orpheus panel, a work of Italian craftsmanship, that had animals and birds, forging a connection with the King Solomon of lore. But as we see the breadth of detail, we also see the length of an outline that goes beyond the King’s residence.

View of Qila e Moalla & Salimgarh Fort, c 1843, Mazhar Ali Khan, Source: Wiki Images

Between and around the Fort and the Mosque, a city was laid down. The city, with walls surrounding it from all sides, had 13 gateways and 14 wicket gates. Within its confines, were ancient remnants like the Nigambodh Ghat and Neeli Chhatri, sites that go back to ancient Indraprastha itself. There are multitudes of mosques and dargahs strewn all over the place. There are bazaars founded in the manner of Iranian and Arab souks. Ultimately, we have the grand mosque, the Jama masjid, built on a hill, looking over the entire city. It was then, as it is now, a symbol of faith and grandeur. Structures like the Matia mahal and Turkman gate acted as foci for the development of more bazaars and residences around them. We also see many temples, dargahs and mosques (new and old) shaping up the environs. But that’s not it. The real delight of the place are the havelis. Huge residences like the Rang mahal and the Haksar Haveli, are only a few of many. Amidst all this, how can Chandni Chowk be ignored. It was built by none other than the Princess Jahanara herself. She was the eldest daughter of Shahjahan, and a sister to both Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb. After the war of succession, she immersed herself in realising her more architectural capacities. She build the Chowk, the Begum ka Serai and Begum ka Bagh. Chandni Chowk was to be a market square and it carries on in that capacity to this day. Rana Safvi has been so meticulous about detail, she has even mentioned the roads and lanes with their respective names, along with the people who resided there. So, for instance, we have the area Ballimaran, which not only housed the Nawabs of Loharu and Hakim Ajmal Khan, but has a small by lane, Gali Qasim Jaan, which is famous for Ghalib ki haveli. There is Dharmpura which is a nest for Jain mandirs like the Bada and Chota Jain Mandirs. Besides these, there are many Koochas and Katras, which have their own brickwork of fame. Havelis and Mahals with famous associations can be seen all over these places. One of these is Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s haveli, found near Faiz Bazar. The author relates quite a story about this one, which would better be left for the reader to discover.

As we move out of the walled city, and into the 19th century, there are British monuments that aren’t merely distant silhouettes anymore. The St. James church was built by Col. James Skinner  and consecrated in 1836. It served as the principal church till the Viceroy church was built. Then there was the Delhi College, which had illustrious alumni like Sir Syed himself. The Kashmiri darwaza, from which the British exited or entered Shahjahanabad, later became a sad memory during 1857, when Bahadur Shah Zafar’s sons’ heads were hung on it.

A salient mention of the many gardens like the Qudsia Bagh and Roshanara Bagh (built by younger sister of Jahanara), cannot be dispensed with.  They are testimonies to the Mughal women’s superior esthetic sense. As we see move in time, towards 1857 and beyond, the stage is set for the coming deterioration. The ridge of 1857 fame, and the plight that befell Shahjahanabad and its people, take the book to its apogee. Although much has been written about the great revolt, the author revisits the places and events that demolished Shahjahanabad as a Mughal bastion. The Zafars and Ghalibs could only be a witness to a dying day. But nearly 150 years later, Shahjahanabad lives on. In it’s festivities, and its food. In it’s people and their culture. Although the partition in 1947, wreaked havoc on the city of Delhi, and many left their homes for newer abodes, there is still an uninterrupted character to Old Delhi. One that has continued ever since Shah Jahan placed the foundation of the Lal Qila. Old Delhi is a living city, because these stones, this heritage, is quite unlike the ruins that can only be seen and heard. These stones, abuzz with life around them, can speak.

It was my honour to host Rana Safvi Sahiba on the forum of Tawarikh Khwani. Here is a link for that engaging conversation.

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The Retreat of Lucknow

Translation series of “Heroes of 1857”, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode VI (First Ed., 1949)

Notes selected from Russel’s Diary titled “The last moments of Lucknow’’

Attack of the Mutineers on the Redan Battery at Lucknow, 30 July 1857, Wiki Images

The city of Lucknow is larger than Paris, with a residing populace of around 1 million citizens. The besieged loyalist emotions are strengthening owing to the perseverance, bravery and wisdom of Begum Hazrat Mahal. Begum is exhibiting intrepidity with distinction’’. During the battle at the Begum’s mansion as reported in the previous episode, around 500 rebel fighters were martyred. Sir Colin (Commander-in-Chief) did anticipate a grueling fight at Qaiser Bagh but the local sub commanders were afraid of Urban warfare as there was house to house fight.   Inside the rooms of Begum’s mansion, the rebel fighters dueled till the last moment till they got killed and they also killed enemy troops. This very gruesome, hand to hand combat continued in the state of extreme agitation. Sir Evelyn Wood penned that, The capture of Begum’s mansion was the toughest skirmish of this war. (Ref. Rebellion in Hindustan by Evelyn Wood published 1908). Mitchell Edwardes also wrote that it was the fiercest battle of this War. Some 600 to 700 rebels were killed. Although fatalities on our side were less but William Hudson, leader of the cavalry who slayed the Princes in Delhi got killed. Despite the pertinacity of Begum Hazrat Mahal, the bravery of the troops and Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah’s adherence, the Englishmen were successful in the siege of Lucknow with Nepalese support. Although there were pitched battles at every step, traitors within the country and the city played an instrumental role in strengthening the stance of Englishmen.      

The Relief of Lucknow by General Havelock, 25 September 1857. Engraving, 1858

Hazrat Mahal’s Retreat 

After the defeat Hazrat Mahal was nervous and worried. As the fear of her impending arrest increased day by day. Therefore, she was left with no option but to leave her country for good. The spectacle of her departure from Chaulakhi was extremely painful. Author of Qaiser ul Tawrikh wrote, “When the distraught Hazrat Mahal accompanied by the other noble Ladies, womenfolk of the outhouses and servants came out of the gate. In a way that she was leading the procession and at the rear rest of the women were aligned. Birjees Qadr (her son) was sitting in the lap of a noble Sayyad. She stumbled, entangling at every other step while walking on foot  reached Maulviganj Bridge via Shah Peer Jalil hill. Ruffians were constantly on a look out for her entourage – She Stayed at Ghulam Raza’s place for a night, then went to resident of Sharf Ud Daula and from there continued to Mahal Sirai Hussainabad. By the evening, all outhouses staff gathered, and a security cordon was arranged for them. A message from General Outram was conveyed to the Host Ali Raza that she (Hazrat Mahal) will be given back the country as it was during the era of Wajid Ali Shah if she withdrew from the War. She need not to accompany the defeated rebel troops. The passengers of Calcutta (Wajid Ali Shah) and London (Mother of Wajid Ali Shah) will also be brought back here. Hazrat Mahal scorned at the offer of Outram with contempt and refused to sign the peace treaty’’.

وہ اپنی خُو نہ چھوڑیں گے ہم اپنی وضع کیوں بدلیں
سُبک سر بن کے کیا پوچھیں کہ ہم سے سرگراں کیوں ہو
They will not change their nature so why we change our manner
After becoming wanderer thyself, Why question us how we turned intoxicated.

The heart was in no condition willing to leave the land where from childhood till now, the best days of life were spent

عجب ہے مسلک راہ وفا بھی 

قدم محدود ہو کر رہ گیا ہے

Weird is the cultish path of loyalty 
Footstep has got restricted

In response to the letter of Begum Hazrat Mahal Maharaja Nepal wrote, “Over there Englishmen and here (in Nepal) we will hunt you down so better leave’’. In the History of Freedom Struggle – UP State there was a letter with reference of T.H. Chamberlain – Assistant General Superintendent dated Feb 2nd, 1860. In which it was reported that there are several exchange of letters between Begum Hazrat Mahal with Nawab Khan Bahadur Khan – Ruler of Rohilkhand and the other Rebel chieftains which contained in numerous mentions of letters sent to Jang Bahadur of Nepal in which he was urged, albeit failure , to support against the joint enemy (i.e., East India Co.). However, as a result of the above correspondences only Hazrat Mahal , Birjis Qadr , women and children were allowed to stay in Nepal officially. But many rebel fighters were abandoned to become meals of wild animals in the mountains of Nepal. In the meanwhile, Jang Bahadur returned to Nepal after assisting Englishmen in capturing Awadh. There were daily skirmishes between Nawab Mammu Khan and Nepalese. Jang Bahadur was under the impression that he had buried the fire of the rebellion forever in Hindustan.So some extinguished spark from that fire does not have the capacity to devastate Nepal’s peace asylum.   

Kavanagh being disguised as a sepoy during the Siege of Lucknow, painted by Louis William Desanges

The Despicable Role of Jang Bahadur

When no trick worked  Jang Bahadur thought of a dubious way with which Nawab Mammu Khan and his troops were wiped off. This mountainous lion disguised in a sheep’s clothing started nurturing personal relations with Nawab Mammo Khan and they met several times. So much so that the military skirmishes also ceased. One day as per usual Jang Bahadur accompanied Nawab Mammu Khan for a walk and while talking took him to a hill where one Englishman Mr Bell sporting Arabic dress was hiding with some men. Mammu Khan was oblivious of this sudden calamity thus was caught unaware, was arrested and brought to Lucknow. He was condemned to be hanged but for a big ‘’Criminal’’ like him it was considered insufficient so for he was banished for the rest of his life to Nicobar at Andaman Islands (so called Kala Pani) and he passed away over there. (Ref. Tawarikh-e- Ajeeb by Maulvi Jafar Thanseri ). The documents pertaining to arrest of Nawab Mammu Khan and Khan Bahadur Khan (Ruler of Rohilkhand) in “Freedom Struggle’’ Edition 5 do not completely endorse the story but at least it proves that Jang Bahadur using fake rhyme or reason and strong cordon arrested both gentlemen and informed Englishmen (EIC). After the arrest of Nawab Mammu Khan his group dispersed. Jang Bahadur had no objection against the stay of Hazrat Mahal and Birjees Qadr probably due to two reasons. One that despite being a woman she proved herself to be extraordinarily brave and determined which might have impressed him. Secondly, she handed over all the diamonds and jewelry which were in abundance to the Govt of Nepal. It’s God’s will! Whither were those Royal Palaces giving an illusion of paradise on earth and whither these deserted and abandoned mountains of a strange land. Seeking and searching for a few straw to make a resting place in this foreign land all under the hell-like gaze of the antagonistic host. 

لیکن پاۓ ثبات میں لغزش ہو – ناممکن
Improbable that steps of perpetuity may blemish        

Until the last moments there could be no better display of the unblemished faith. For quite some time, Englishmen kept wishing Hazrat Mahal’s return to Hindustan through one English artist who went to paint Birjis Qadr’s portrait, Englishmen conveyed a message that as per Govt Order she can live in Faizabad, Lucknow or wherever she pleases. Besides salary they will also be accorded Royal protocol. 

The 93rd Highlanders clearing the Secunder Bagh, Wiki Images

Martyrdom of Ahmad Ullah Shah   

Along with Hazrat Mahal all the leading rebels either left Awadh or got killed. But as mentioned earlier. Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah sahib didn’t retreat from the battle ground and kept the struggle going.  After the departure of Hazrat Mahal he set up a barricade at Saadatganj and installed a Canon on the tri-way. But his fate was already sealed. He was badly defeated; admirers and disciples forcefully removed him from the battle ground. Afterwards they all gathered at Raja ‘s place (Gadhi), but not only the Raja closed the gate but also fired from above  and he (Maulvi Ahmad Ullah) was martyred. The Raja decapitated him and sent his head to the East India Co. who rewarded him with a cash amount of Rs 50,000/- and land was also given¹. 


  1. Mr R.C. Majumdar wrote in his famous book ‘’Soldiers Rebellion’’. It is unfortunate that a brave and strong son of Hindustan was not killed by the enemy but by his own countrymen for whom he (Maulvi Ahmad Ullah) rendered greatest service (of safeguarding motherland). 

In the battle for God the faithful’s ultimate wish is to either get martyred or become victorious, achieving either of the two is the pinnacle. 

سر کُشتہ بر نیزہ میز و نفس
کہ معراج مردان ہمیں است و بس
Decapitated head of mine still breathes
Guess it is the epitome of valor

Begum Hazrat Mahal Stay at Nepal

The details of the events leading to Hazrat Mahal ‘s departure to Nepal have been explained earlier. Following are some Additional details: Begum sahiba left for Nepal on March 16th 1858. Maulvi Abdul Haleem Sharrar penned, A crowd of one hundred thousand was accompanying her. Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah continued the fight to let Hazrat Mahal and Birjees Qadr leave freely. After retreating from Lucknow Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah reached Shahjahanpur. After the Englishmen took back the city from his small bunch of fighters, Maulvi sahib regrouped his forces outside the city, where the army of Begum Awadh also joined him. Maulvi, Begum and Prince Feroz Shah jointly fought a very fierce battle which continued all day but they were forced to retreat. But they rebounded.So it is a matter of prestige for Maulvi Ahmad Ullah that with the help of Begum’s troops he defeated Sir Colin Campbell – Commander of British Govt twice.          After entering the boundaries of Nepal, Begum had to face all kinds of troubles and calamities. In the beginning she stayed at Batol-top at a pavilion of Asaf Ud Daula. Here she received a dispatch from Maharaja Nepal with a following subject, “Either You reconcile with the British or go somewhere else. Don’t expect any assistance or charity from us, we cannot fight the British’’. On behalf of Hazrat Mahal, Nawab Mammu responded to this disdainful lamentation with extremely harsh words. “We will not go anywhere, will remain here and fight with the Englishmen. We didn’t depend on you when we rebelled’’. Beni Madhav, Devi Baksh Muhammad Hasan, Mehdi Hasan,Amar Singh,Khan Bahadur Khan, Mammu Khan, Nana Saheb, Bala sahib, Jawala Parshad were all besieged in the narrow valleys of Nepal only Prince Feroz Shah crossed River Ganges alongwith his 2000 riders and reached Atawa but British Army didnt get the wind of him. Later he joined Tantia Tope.  In 1859 after their absolute success the British abandoned the efforts to bring back Hazrat Mahal to Hindustan.On their behest Govt of Nepal permitted them to reside in an honorable way.  Begum sahiba , lived near the Palace of Maharaja Jang Bahadur. She used to get Rs 5,000/- allowance per month. A piece of land was also given to her where she built an Imam Bara (Shiite ‘s place of worship). She passed away in 1879. Mirza Birjees Qadr stayed in Nepal until 1891 and then he moved to Calcutta where his step brother Mirza Qamar Muhammad Ali Bahadur poisoned him to death in the guise of inviting him for a feast. Thus a memorial of the Independence War was martyred.  In this connection, Mirza Ali Azhar Barlas wrote, “During author’s childhood, it was a common knowledge and the author (Mirza Ali Azhar) himself heard from some gentleman in person that on behest of Englishmen (EIC) , Prince Qamar Qadr Muhammad Ali invited Mirza Birjees Qadr to his mansion in Khizarpur for a meal and poisoned him. After the death of Birjees Qadr , Englishmen accepted Mirza Qamar Qadr as the eldest son of Wajid Ali Shah and Rs 3000/month pension was accorded for life’’.  Another member of this family Nawabzada Murtaza Ali Khan wrote a letter to Sayyad Altaf Ali Barelvi (husband of author Sayyada Anees Fatima), “The passing away of Birjis Qadr has made a special effect on our family. Due to the old relation and camaraderie Prince Mirza Jahan (Late) who was nephew of Wajid Ali Shah, solemnized engagement of my two elder brothers with the two daughters of Late Birjees Qadr. The engagement ritual of tying Imam Zamin was already performed (Lucky charm to have blessings of Holy  Imam).that seven bodies were taken out from the house. Yet another conspiracy of Englishmen met success and the last beacon of Awadh was also silenced.’’ A few years back there was a short publication by Irfan Ali Mirza from Calcutta about the final resting place of Mirza Birjis Qadr and about his family members. This memoir by Irfan Ali Mirza is presented below as it is as a matter of record, “On the 14th day of August 1893 , three more people , Honorable Birjis Qadr, his elder son and daughter were also killed due to poisoning. Birjees Qadr was buried by Sarjahan Qadr by using imperial military force in a desolate place in Imambara, but the adversaries buried his children same day in a corner adjacent to a drain in the vast Royal graveyard.  But today by God’s grace that the same area which was adjacent to the drain is at a safer height while the yesteryears’ better portions have steeped in the ground. Today this same are is prominent and popular, and the Grandmother is also buried here.’’ 

It is stated that today in Kathmandu – Nepal near the mausoleum of Hazrat Mahal, who was the Hero of 1857 and mother of Birjees Qadr, one toilet, six motor workshops and 2 Fuel Stations have been constructed. For the repair of Hazrat Mahal ‘s mausoleum, Prince Nayyar Qadr, grandson of Prince Birjis Qadr contacted Mr Koirala – Former Prime Minister of Nepal and Ambassador of India to Nepal, but the result is not known. In Kathmandu the mausoleum of Begum Hazrat Mahal is on the land of Hindustani Masjid. All these land holdings were under the ownership of Begum. Maharaja Jang Bahadur gave Hazrat Mahal large tracts of land near Bell Tower where she built Imam Bara to keep organizing lamentation or mourning for Sayyad Ul Shuhada (Martyrs of Karbala). A royal decree of Maharaja Jang Bahadur written in bronze is kept in Pagat Pahar office for record to prove that the ownership of this land was given to Begum Hazrat Mahal.  She was buried in the same piece of land when she passed away in 1879. Prince Birjis Qadr was in Kathmandu at that time. He returned to Calcutta in 1891 and two years later he was poisoned to death. Afterwards upon seeing no heirs in sight some people encroached upon and the same place is now known as Hindustani mosque. In order to meet the repair expenses of the mosque fuel stations and workshops were built on the adjacent land. But the custodians say that still not enough income is generated therefore difficulties are faced to build the mausoleum. Two decades ago when Nawab Nayyar Qadr came to Kathmandu, the people attached with the mosque and others offered to aid in construction of the mausoleum. A merchant from Lucknow who was based in Kathmandu committed to providing Rs 25,000/- but the heirs of Begum Hazrat wanted this work to be carried at State level.  Local newspapers including a semi-Govt daily ‘’Gorkha Punch’’ published pictures of Mausoleum and the current situation. There are still some people alive who saw Prince Birjees Qadr in person. They still have 70 to 75 year old diary which can greatly benefit those who intend to record Hindustan’s history.’’  

Company’s Atrocities during Awadh’s Conquest

According to Dr Hunter, “Rebellion and the emotions of prejudice are the obvious outcomes of foreign invasion [1].” But the bitter memory of the insults and hardships which Muslims have endured over having this essential sentiment, can never be erased. General Havelock had written to Neill, “The moment you will arrive, I intend to distress them so much that the whole Hindustan gets crossed [2].”  

The interior of the Secundra Bagh , several months after its storming during the second relief. Albumen silver print by Felice Beato

After the conquest of Lucknow, an unrelenting series of murder and mayhem ensued. Every Hindustani was put to sword regardless of them being soldiers or peasants. No questions were asked, having dark complexion was considered sufficient excuse to be condemned [3]. W.H Russel, special correspondent of “The Times” has written in his 29th February’s diary entry about Neill’s barbarism. Before Neill departed from Allahabad, he carried out a spate of Mass killings of common people without hesitation, that an officer belonging to his column interjected with this reason, how will the army be able acquire provisions if he intends to ruin and depopulate the country like this[4]. As it is described Commander Neill was famous for his cruelty, he besieged whole villages, setting them on fire burning the remaining survivors. According to his order those who were captured should be made to lick the bloodied earth with their tongue, if they refuse strike them with sticks and then hang them. The punishments of such nature were carried out savagely. And his punishment by the power of almighty, was also to die during the war. Later his son was killed by a soldier Mazhar Ali, who was acting on the will of his deceased father on 14th March 1858 in a place called “Agar” in CP, killing him during a parade [5]. Qaisar-ul-Tawarikh’s author writes, After Lucknow’s conquest no place was safe from Nepalese for 15 days. The soldiers were also active in this pillage. In Hazrat Abbas’s Dargah 300 veiled women were dishonored by the British. Mirza Nasiruddin Barlas, being a British subordinate, wrote about the events of the European’s atrocities in Lucknow in his memorandum with extreme caution, however the truth is always revealed. Presenting the brief excerpts as follows, Because the citizens of Lucknow were unarmed, lots of dead bodies were found in houses, neighborhoods and roofs. Many veiled women holding their infants to their chests, killed themselves by jumping in the wells adjacent to their homes. In Front of the house in which Outram was residing, huge pieces of timber were installed like doors, with ropes hanging for execution and also in the surrounding trees, dead bodies of few people were seen hanging. We saw a huge pile of hundreds of books and documents dumped near “Cha Kankar” near Roshan Ud Daula’s mansion. During its cleaning several dead bodies were recovered from the roof, rooms and from the adjacent wells.  The dead bodies of women were taken out from the well along with bodies of their children. Swords and daggers were retrieved. The mansion under discussion was very delightful and exquisite [6].

Suppression of the Indian Revolt by the English by Vasily Vereshchagin c 1884
Pic Source: Wiki Images

Me and my brother arrived at Alam Bagh enduring much difficulty and problems, but when we finally reached, Alam Bagh was no more. I saw all the trees of Alam Bagh were cut down along with the ones lining the sides of the road. Obstructions were made in front of all doors. Hundreds of dead bodies of various men, elephants and horses were seen scattered throughout the area of Alam Bagh. The fire of combat was ablaze. The British used to live underground like desert animals or insects. They had made such houses underground which had proper floors and contained all the essentials including table and chair, lamps etc. The impact of the Cannons which were fired from Lucknow was felt in the underground rooms. We were very scared, Colonel Barrow told me and my brother to not worry, and “Sahib Bahadur” said “This battlefield is dust, and you are an author with a pen, till the Lucknow is captured, stay with Narinder in Bansi Banthra he is a subordinate of the government.” There is going to be an attack on Lucknow on 8th April 1858, and we are anticipating victory that day, come to Lucknow on that day. Therefore, us two brothers and Mirza Muhammad Hassan along with a servant Muhammad Khan reached Bansi Banthra. Narinder was already informed. We were facilitated and since we had skipped some two or three meals on the way, we ate to our heart’s content. 8th, 9th, 10th of April we stayed there.   

Inhuman atrocities of the British After Lucknow’s capture

In in one of those days the messenger informed, that around 01:00 hours in the night the British army commenced an intense attack on Lucknow from the three directions of Camp Bagh Alam, Camp Musa Bagh and Camp Kothi Dilkusha leaving the path adjacent to Goshainganj for the enemy to escape. The official army entered the city carrying the cannons and rifles, that night was the doom of the city. Those citizens which were armed ran in whichever direction they found. There was a lot of commotion and sound of military slogans, rifles and cannons. In this intense conflict Begum (Birjis Qadr’s mother) Lucknow escaped from the path of Goshainganj and went in the direction ofMurshadi while fighting along with her son. And after this event, the city’s devastated civilians also ran fearing for their lives taking along their women and children. It is said, other than the dead bodies of soldiers, 26,000 bodies were found of the man, women and children. Because the civilians were not armed, lots of bodies were found in the houses, neighbourhoods and roofs. Many veiled women with infants holding to their chests killed themselves by jumping in the wells of the city or houses.

The scene of Hangings in Lucknow

When me (Mirza Naseer Uddin) and my brother (Nazim Uddin) reached Lucknow, it was 3 days since Lucknow was captured. Since I am writing all these events after 42 years, so it won’t be unlikely to have a conflict of one or two days in the sequence of original events.  We reached Lucknow on 11th or 13th of April 1858 and appeared in front of the Master. At that time Colonel Barrow Sahib was a special commissioner and Marshal law officer and was working as a subordinate of General Outram Sahib. In Hazratganj the house where General Outram was residing, had large boulders erected like doors in the front and in each door, there were ropes hanging for execution. Few bodies were also hanging on the trees in the adjacent area.

An account of a destroyed Mansion

Barrow Sahib gave 200 rupees to my brother and said, “Soon you will be going on a mission, buy necessities and luggage for travel with this money. Two swords and one double barrel rifle was presented to him, and he was also told to take as many rifles and swords and as much ammunition as he needed from the stockpile of the weapons. Me and my brother took 35 swords and the same numbers of guns and other high-quality articles and took them back to the place of our resident which was near Cha Kankar meaning Roshan Ud Daula ’s mansion. In that house we saw hundreds of books and documents dumped up in a pile, and during the cleaning of the house few dead bodies were found from the roof, rooms, and well which was situated in the enclosure. From the well the bodies of women with children were retrieved. Swords and daggers were also recovered. The bodies were collected by the municipal officer. The mansion under discussion was extremely superior, delightful and exquisite. After that, according to the order of Colonel Sahib, a stay in Hazratganj was advised, which would facilitate a quick way to consult Sahib Bahadur.

Russel wrote in his account which he had seen with his own eyes, it’s impossible to describe the circumstances around loot. The door of whichever house was broken revealed piles of gold and silver. The sight of plundering was strange and weird. Still the fruit of the absolute victory was to be tasted [7]. After this he writes [8], The respectable women and girls, upon seeing the British jumped in the wells and gave their lives. It was a great ordeal for the inhabitants. Every corner was manifesting terror, reeking of unjust blood spill [9].  Reynard Coneill wrote, few villages are specially selected for random massacre due to their “Criminal” activities. Their whole male population will have to be exterminated [10]. 

Awadh’s Brave Men and Women

The accounts of “bravado and attributes of valour of Awadh’s Muslims are not given much value today other than just fictional stories for the current generation because today, the attributes of weakness, fragility and delicacy are considered special traits in Awadh’s residents”. Yet only 150 years earlier, Shabab Lucknow wrote the following account of their ancestors, I happened to pass by a strange country where all the highborn and commoners are born wrestlers, whose flesh and blood is brimming with militancy. Those Muslims with Intimidating faces sporting black beards, are seen armed with sword and shield. Fighting is a child’s play for Awadh’s residents [11]. Then he writes, The Pathans wielding swords, with angry countenance, rubbing shoulders with shoulders, passed by us, fixing us with an angry stare [12].   After that he Author Shabab Lucknow writes [13], When they go out on a stroll, no matter how humble their attire is, they would always be armed with a couple of swords and shields. The shield with cowhide stretched over, is usually kept on the left shoulder. Other than Lucknow such armed men would not be seen in any other city [14]. Trivial matters ending in contention and murder has therefore become a desirable instinct. Well at least their weapons are prevented from getting rusted as an incentive [15] . Other than the scholars, soldiers and common population, the high ranked women and the common women, have also carried our prominent endeavours. The pages of history are filled with their accounts. The Author Shabab Lucknow writes, I have seen them doing military drills with my own eyes. These women are perfectly capable of wielding a gun, advancing, retreating, loading the gun and aiming, the act of mounting the stone and doing all this in such a sequence, as it is done in barracks. They also have Sargent’s in their groups [16]. Moreover, he further wrote, these two companies of female soldiers. Ghaziudin Haider did not want to pass down the throne to Nasiruddin Haider after him. Against this the mother of Naseerudin Haider fought with much bravery and persistence. She armed her soldiers, and with intrinsic bravery which left a very good example, at last she succeeded, and the King was defeated [17]. When Naseeruddin was poisoned, she again raised a commotion, she sent her female Army taking residency under siege and putting Naseeruddin’s son on the throne. If Begum was born in some other era, her prominent endeavours would have been written in world’s history. On her bravery she deserves plaudits [18] . After Nawab Mammo Khan’s arrest, the Nepalese government stopped provisions for his army. They lurked in every gorge, their countenance was like gorillas, with no clothes on the body. They were left with only sword, gun and stone throwing. Still they did not surrender. After the exile, murder and looting, the policy of unarming the remaining population was quickly carried out. For one year all kinds of weapons were dumped in carts to be entered in the official state’s repository [19]. There can be no other plan as effective to unarm a brave nation and turn them into cowards. That’s why after some time such was the condition of cowardice and low esteem that people used to hesitate while introducing themselves as the descendants of warriors. When Maulvi Abdul Haleem Sharar Sahib was compiling his book, he tried to compile a chapter on the expertise of the art of war, he wrote with extreme grief and dejection, The current generation is completely oblivious to the brave deeds and military finesse. And today when we have raised our pen to write about these skills, we find no such person who would enrich us on this matter except for only Masood Qadr and one elderly Suleman Khan Sahib. Theirs are the only accounts and the only source helping us to write about the war techniques. In the time of rule, those faults and defects, which now are also rephrased as fine arts and Arts, were not manifested in the general population but rather were the acquired hobbies exclusively of the kings. It’s not hard to correct them but sadly no one is concerned with the former glory [20]. The horrendous atrocities of British, how they have led the nation to a dreadful end. But I wonder why even after the elimination of everything Dr Hunter has warned the British about poor us quoting, “In their matter, trivial complaints are turned into political mistakes of tremendous great magnitude[21].” Begum Hazrat Mahal’s offspring and related people are still residing in Pakistan and India. In this matter according to the material which could be acquired following is the detail of the descendants of Begum’s family.

Descendants of Begum Hazrat Mahal [22]

دل ہی تو ہے نہ سنگ و خشت درد سے بھر نہ آۓ کیوں
روئیں گے ہم ہزار بار کوئ ہمیں ستاۓ کیوں
Only when the heart is not made of brick and stone, why won’t it overcome with pain
We would cry a thousand times, Why anyone should distress us to begin with

[1] Humaray Hindustani Musalman (Our Hindustani Muslims) By Dr Hunter, Page 209
[2] Arooj Ehad Englishia (The rise of the English Era), Page 86
[3] Ulema ka Shandaar Maazi (Glorious past of the scholars)
[4] Yaadashtain Ammaria Azeem William Force Mitchell Published London 1968 page 22
[5] Diary Forbes Mitchell page 222 Published London 1860
[6] Raad Qaya AbdulQadir Khani  volume 2 includes Waqaya Naseer Khani; these events are written on page 3 to 61 and published from the All Pakistan Educational Conference Karachi.
[7] Arooj Ehad e Englishia Page 61
[8] Russel writes further, “Stitching Muslims in Pig’s skin, rubbing Pig’s fat on the dead bodies and burning all these were of extreme vengeance and shameful activities.” Reference “The Rebellion of the soldiers” from R.C. Muhammad Page 113.   
[9] Qaisar-ut-tawarikh page 232
[10] Ulema Ka Sahndaar Mazi Page 23
[11] Shabab Lucknow page 3
[12] Shabab Lucknow page 100
[13] 12 November 87 Mitchell states while writing his eye witness accounts, there was a huge Peepal tree (Ficus Religiosa) in the courtyard. There were few dead bodies lying under and around it. Captain Dawson said to a faithful soldier, “Look at the top of the tree, to make sure there is no soldier there. The soldier looked loaded, his rifle took aim and pulled the trigger. A person fell down dead. Wearing a smart Red baized waistcoat and a smart pink silk trouser. A fountain of blood was oozing out from the chest. There were a couple of vintage pistols at the waist, one was empty and one loaded. By the impact of the gunfire and the fall, the buttons of the waistcoat broke revealing that she was in fact a young woman. Very beautiful and strong but she had till then killed 8 men . Havelock’s biographer wrote that, “When our army was moving from the streets and lanes of Lucknow towards the residency, we were encountered with another heart wrenching event. A Muslim woman, carrying her child was throwing stones on us from a tall building. Unluckily she caught a bullet and fell with a bloodcurdling scream. With this her innocent child also fell in the army and was caught by a Sikh on his Bayonet.     
[14] Sahbab Lucknow page 12, 13
[15] Sahbab Lucknow page 110
[16] Sahbab Lucknow page 103
[17] Sahbab Lucknow page 104
[18] Sahbab Lucknow page 105
[19] Qaisar-ut-tawarikh page 772
[20] At that time generally in the whole Hindustan and specifically in Awadh and Rohilkhand, the Muslims were of soldierly demeanour and exuding splendour. In 1823 Calcutta’s Lord Padre Hebar came to Lucknow. Incidentally while passing through the market he saw an old royal elephant fell because of weakness. To witness this, a crowd of people gathered around. The Padri states, in this crowd he saw such glorious, dignified and beautiful and armed people which he had never seen in Europe or the rest of Hindustan. (This travelogue is in Liaquat Library Karachi—) 
[21] Humaray Hindustani Musalmaan page 305

[22] In Calcutta on death of an extremely old woman of Birjis’s Family with an imitation from a memoir. The titles of the Children of Prince Mehar Qadr and real names have been taken from Risala e Nazara Begum Hazrat Mahal number related to Lucknow August 1962.

Sheikh Hasan Tahir Jaunpuri

شیخ حسن طاہر جون پوری

Resting place of Sheikh Hasan bin Tahir Jaunpuri at Vijay Mandal, Delhi
Pic source: Syed Mohammad Qasim

سم اللہ الرحمٰن الرحیم 
شیخ حسن بن طاہر جون پوری ثم دہلوی م 909 ھ

آپ عہد مغلیہ سے قبل ہندوستان کے عالم کبیر، عارف جلیل اور صاحب مقامات بزرگ گزرے ہیں ! شیخ حسن کے والد کا نام طاہر تھا اور اسی لئے آپ کا نام اکثر جگہوں پر حسن طاہر منقول ہے 
تزکروں میں آپ کو شیوخ عباسی بتایا گیا ہے یعنی آپ جناب عباس بن عبد المطلب رض کی اولاد میں سے تھے

آپ کے بزرگوں کا اصل وطن ملتان تھا۔ تحصیل علم کی خاطر آپ کے دادا پہلے بہار  آئے اور  کچھ عرصہ بہار میں سکونت اختیار کی۔  اول اول شیخ محمد کے مدرسے میں مقیم رہے پھر شیخ بدھ حقانی سے تعلیم حاصل کرتے رہے، چنانچہ یہ خاندان بہار میں تھا کہ شیخ حسن بن طاہر متولد ہوئے ۔   
شیخ حسن کی پیدائش تو بہار میں ہوئی تھی مگر جب اپ کچھ بڑے ہوئے تو اپ کے والد شیخ طاہر حصول علم کے بہترین مواقع دیکھ کر جون پور منتقل ہو گیے جو تب تک علماء اور فضلاء کا مرکز بن چکا تھا اور ہندوستان بھر کے چوٹی کے فضلاء وہاں موجود تھے 
تعلیم آپ نے شیراز ہند جونپور میں مختلف اساتذہ سے،  جن مین شیخ شہاب الدین دولت ابادی کے  شاگر شامل تھے،  حاصل کی۔
اسی زمانے میں فصوص الحکم ایک بزرگ سے آپ نے پڑھنی شروع کی جب کہ آپ کے والد صاحب اس کے  سخت مخالف تھے انہوں نے ایک دن مسئلہ توحید کے متعلق آپ سے دریافت کیا ، آپ نے اس مسئلے کو علماء ظاہر کی طرح ایسی وضاحت سے بیان کیا  کہ آپ کے والد صاحب کے بھی چند اشکال ختم ہوگئے پھر اس کے بعد آپ کو فصوص الحکم کے پڑھنے سے منع نہیں فرمایا 
 تکمیل علوم کے بعد شیخ حسن بن طاہر نے نے جون پور میں ہی ایک مدرسہ قائم کیا اور درس و تدریس میں مشغول ہوئے 
یہیں آپ کی شادی بھی شیخ محمد بن عیسی جون بوری کی بیٹی سے ہوئی۔

جس زمانے میں شیخ حسن جونپور ائے ، اس زمانے میں جونپور علماء و مشائخ سے پر تھا ، بالخصوص مانکپور (اودھ) کے مشہور بزرگ راجے سید حامد مانک پوری کا شہرہ آفتاب نصف النہار پر تھا مگر چونکہ  راجے سید حامد شاہ رسمی عالم نہیں تھے ، علماء و فضلاء کا ان کی طرف رجوع نہ کے برابر تھا ، ایک مرتبہ شیخ حسن بھی امتحان کی غرض سے ان کے پاس   گئے اور پہلی ہی ملاقات میں میں راجے سید حامد کے معتقد ہوگئے
یہ قابلِ ذکر ہے کہ شیخ حسن طاہر پہلے جید عالم تھے جو سید حامد شاہ سے بیعت ہوئے ، راجے سید حامد ، چشتی نظامی سلسلے کے اکابر شیخ حسام الدین مانک پوری کے اجل خلفاء میں سے تھے ، راجے سید حامد کی وفات کے بعد ، شیخ حسن طاہر نے اپنے مرشد زادہ راجے سید نور سے اصلاحی تعلق قائم کیا اور بالآخر راجے نور سے خلافت حاصل ہوئی ۔ آپ کا اپنے مرشد کی نگاہ میں کیا مقام تھا اس کا اندازہ اس بات سے لگایا جا سکتا ہے کہ راجے سید حامد آپ کو کمال الحق کہا کرتے تھے اور بروز قیامت اپ کو بطور حجت پیش کرنے کی بات کہا کرتے تھے !

دہلی میں قیام
جونپور میں تکمیل علوم و سلوک کے بعد آپ سلطان سکندر لودھی کے زمانے میں اگرہ تشریف لائے ۔ کچھ عرصہ کے بعد سلطان سکندر کی استدعا پر اگرہ سے دہلی منتقل ہو گئے اور بمقام بجے منڈل اپنے اہل و عیال کے ساتھ قیام فرمایا اور وہیں درس و تدریس کا سلسلہ بھی جاری فرمایا۔
ایک زمانے کو علوم ومعارف سے سیراب فرمانے کے بعد 24 ربیع الاول 909 ھ میں دہلی میں اپ کا انتقال ہوا اور وہیں  بجے منڈل میں ہی بیگم پوری مسجد کے قریب ہی آسودہ خاک ہیں اور اپ کا مزار اب تک زیارت گاہ خاص و عام ہے ، آپ کے مزار پر ایک درخت سایہ فگن ہے اور قریب ہی آپ کے اعزہ و اقارب کی قبور ہیں ، امتداد زمانہ سے جہاں دہلی میں ہزاروں مشاہیر کی قبور مسمار ہو گئیں مگر خدا کی شان ہے کہ آپ کی قبر بغیر کسی قبہ، بنا کسی عمارت یا گنبد کے محفوظ و مامون رہی۔

منقول ہے کہ سلطان سکندر لودھی کا ایک بھائی جس پر سلطنت کے حصول کا جنون سوار تھا ہے وہ آپ سے تعلق رکھتا تھا تھا، اس خیال کو لے کر وہ ایک دن آپ کے پاس آیا اور کہنے لگا کہ حضرت دعا فرمائیے کہ خدا تعالی یہان کی حکومت مجھے عنایت فرمائے آپ نے اس کو اس خام خیالی سے منع کرتے ہوئے فرمایا کہ خدا تعالی نے اپنی حکمت کاملہ سے تمہارے بھائی کو سلطنت عطا فرمائی ہے ہے تم اس سے کوئی اختلاف نہ کرو بلکہ اس کے تابع ہو کر رہو رہو جب اس بات کی اطلاع سلطان سکندر کو ہوئی تو آپ کی دیانت و خدا ترسی سے بےحد متاثر ہو کر حاضر خدمت ہوا اور اس کے دل میں اپ کی عقیدت اور محبت مزید مستحکم ہو گئی۔
طریقہ سلوک پر آپ نے کئی رسالے لکھے تھے مگر ان کتابوں میں سے ایک کتاب مفتاح الفیض بہت مشہور ہوئی ،  اس میں سے کچھ اقتباسات شیخ عبد الحق محدث دہلوی نے نقل کئے ہیں ، لکھتے ہی
سوال : سلوک کیا ہے اور سالک کیا ہے ؟تزکیہ قلب و نفس کیا ہے؟تخلیہ سر  و روح کیا ہے ؟ منزل و جزبہ کیا ہے ؟ تخلیہ روح کیا ہے منزل اور جذبہ کیا ہے شریعت طریقت حقیقت کیا چیز ہے کیا ہے ؟ اور ان کا مقام کیا ہے؟
جواب : سلوک کے معنی لغت میں چلنا ہے ہے وہ حسی طور پر چلنے کے معنی میں ایک جگہ سے دوسری جگہ منتقل ہو جان اور یہاں سلوک سے مراد معنوی چلنا مراد ہے اور اسی انتقال کو مرتبہ نفس میں تزکیہ کہتے ہیں اور تزکیہ نفس سے مراد یہ ہے کہ حیوانی اوصاف کو ترک کر کے ملائکہ کے اوصاف سے متصف ہو جانا اور نفس امارہ کو نفس لوامہ اور مطمئنہ کے تابع کر دینا ہے۔دلا کے سلوک کو تصفیہ کہتے ہیں جس کا مطلب یہ ہوتا ہے کہ اپنے دل کو تمام دنیاوی رنج اور فکر سے صاف رکھا جائے  اور تخلیہ سر یہ ہے کہ اپنے سر میں کسی ما سوا اللہ کی کوئی خواہش نہ رکھی جائے آئے اور خدا کے علاوہ خواب وہ جنت ہی کیوں نہ ہو کوئی خیال نہ کرے اور اپنے سر کی نگہداشت کریں بعد میں غیر اللہ کا تصور تک نہ آنے دے اور اگر اچانک ماسواللہ کا کوئی خیال تصور آپ بھی جائے تو فورا اس کو نکال کر پھینک دے اور تجلی روح  یہ ہے کہ خدا تعالی کے ذوق و شوق اور اسرار اور انوار کے ذریعے اپنی روح کو پاک و صاف اور ان اوصاف سے مزین رکھے اور حقیقت سلوک سے مراد یہ ہے کہ حیوانی اور انسانی جملہ اوصاف سے نکل کر خدائی اوصاف اور خدائی اخلاق کو اپنا لے  جیسا کہ حدیث میں آتا ہے تخلقو باخلاق اللہ 

Pic Source: Social Media shares

(شیخ  محمد بن حسن جونپوری عرف شاہ خیالی _(839-944ھ

   آپ کے بیٹے کا نام شیخ محمد بن حسن تھا جو جونپور میں پیدا ہوئے اور وہیں علوم کی تکمیل فرمائی اور پھر دہلی آکر سید ابراہیم الایرجی سے قادریہ سلسلے میں بیعت ہوئے اور مدت تک انکی خدمت کی۔ آپ کو عرف عام میں محمد خیالی کے نام سے جانا جاتا تھا۔  کچھ عرصہ کے بعد اپ حرمین شریفین کی زیارت کو گئے اور ایک مدت دراز تک مدینہ شریف میں قیام کیا۔ مشائخ یمن سے بھی سلوک و طریقت  میں استفادہ کیا ۔جب دہلی سے سید عبد الوہاب بخاری دوسری مرتبہ حج کو گئے تو آپ کو وہاں پایا اور اپنے ساتھ دہلی واپس لائے۔ آپ بڑے عالم و عارف تھے اور اپنے زمانے کی اپ کی بڑی شہرت ہوئی ، اپ صاحب دیوان شاعر بھی تھے۔ آپ نہایت مرتاض ، قوی النسبت اور صاحبِ حال بزرگ تھے جب اپ خلوت سے باہر آتے تھے تو لوگ آپ کو دیکھ کر حیرت سے اللہ اکبر کہتے تھے۔ آپ کے متعلق بتایا گیا ہے کہ اپ عصر کے بعد رات کا ایسے انتظار کرتے جیسے کوئی اپنے محبوب کا انتظار کرتا ہے اور رات ہوتے ہی کمرہ بند کر کے ذکر و عبادت میں مشغول ہو جاتے
آپ کے خلفاء میں شیخ عبد الرزاق جھنجھانوی اور شیخ امان اللہ پانی پتی بھی ہین جنہوں نے وحدت الوجود پر اپنے خیالات کی وجہ سے خاص شہرت پائی ، شیخ عبد الحق محدث دہلوی کے چچا شیخ منجھو بھی اپ کے مرید تھے 
اپ کی وفات 944 ھ میں دہلی میں ہوئی اور اپنے والد کے برابر محو خواب ہیں

(شیخ عبد العزیز شکر بار جون پوری ثم دہلوی (898-975 ھ
شیخ حسن طاہر کے دوسرے بیٹے شیخ عبدالعزیز شکر بار چشتی دہلوی ہیں جنہیں دہلی کے متاخرین بزرگوں مین چشتیہ سلسلہ کا مجدد کہا جانا چاہیے   اپ جونپور میں پیدا ہوئے ، ڈیڑھ برس کے تھے کہ والد صاحب کے ہمراہ جون پور سے دہلی کی طرف سفر کیا ، پرورش دہلی میں ہوئی ، سید محمد بخاری دہلوی اور میر سید ابراہیم الایرجی سے علوم ظاہری کی تکمیل کی ۔
سہروردیہ سلسلہ سید عبد الوہاب بخاری سے حاصل کیا اور سلسلہ قادریہ میر سید ابراہیم ایرجی سے 
اس کے بعد ظفر آباد( جونپور)  کا سفر کیا اور وہاں  کئی برس قیام کیا ، ،مشہور بزرگ میاں قاضی خاں ناصحی سے چشتیہ سلسلے میں مرید ہوئے اور سلوک کی تکمیل فرمائی اور پھر دہلی واپس اکر مسند ارشاد پر متمکن ہوئے اور ایک زمانے کو مستفید فرمایا ، تمام تاریخ و تزکرے آپ کی پاک بازی ، اخلاق عالیہ ، تواضع ، نیک نفسی ، ورع و تقدس کی گواہ ہیں ،استقامت کی یہ حالت تھی کہ  جو وظیفہ اور وقت بچپن میں مقرر کیا ، اخر عمر تک وہ باقی اور قائم رہا ، دہلی میں اپ کے دم سے سلسلہ مشیخیت و ارشاد عرصہ تک قائم رہا۔ اپ کی عظمت کا اندازہ یوں لگایا جا سکتا ہے کہ شیخ باقی باللہ رح جیسے بزرگ پابندی سے اپ کے مزار پر حاضر ہوتے اور

جاروب کشی کرتے تھے

Hazrat Shiekh Abdul Aziz Shakarbaar Alehrehma ki Qabr , Pic Source: Syed Mohammad Qasim
Babe Aziz Dargah Hazrat Sheikh Abdulaziz Shakarbar,
Pic : Syed Mohammad Qasim
Kutba Dargah Hazrat Shiekh Abdulaziz Shakarbar, Pic Source: Syed Mohammad Qasim

 آپ کی تصنیفات میں سے رسالہ عینییہ جو شیخ امان پانی پتی کے رسالہ غیریہ کے رد میں ہے،  رسالہ عزیزیہ اشغال و اذکار میں ، عمدہ الاسلام فقہ حنفی میں اور شرح مخزن الاسرار، حقیقیہ المحمدیہ شیخ وجیہ الدین گجراتی کی شرح بھی شامل ہے اپ کے نامور خلفاء میں شیخ نجم الحق چائں لدہ سہنوی اور شیخ عبد الغنی بدایونی رحمہ اللہ علیہم شامل ہیں
آپ نے جلال الدین اکبر کے زمانے میں 975 ھ میں دہلی میں انتقال کیا اور جس مسجد کے سائے میں آپ کی قبر بنی اسے مسجد افغانان کہا جاتا تھا ، اب قبرستان مہندیان کا ایک حصہ سمجھئے۔
شیخ عبد العزیز کے بیٹے شیخ قطب العالم ،مشہور عالم فاضل ، متقی ، پرہیزگار بزرگ تھے اور اپنے والد کے جانشین تھے اور انکے بیٹے شیخ رفیع الدین محمد ہوئے جن کی بیٹی ، شاہ ولی اللہ دہلوی کی دادی تھیں۔
شیخ حسن طاہر اور آپ کے احفاد کا یہ مختصر تزکرہ ختم ہوا ، اپ سب پر اللّٰہ کی رحمتیں ہوں
نامِ نیکِ رفتگاں ضائع مکن
تابماند___ نام نیکت برقرار
(گزرے ہوؤں کی نیک نامی کو ضائع نہ کر تا کہ تیری نیک نامی بھی باقی رہے

خالد بن عمر

خالد بن عمر
مزید مطالعہ / حوالے کے لئے ملاحظہ فرمائیں
اخبار الاخیار ، شیخ عبد الحق محدث دہلوی
کلمات الصادقین ، محمد صادق ہمدانی کشمیری
مزاراٹ اولیائے دہلی  ، محمد عالم فریدی
انفاس العارفین ، شاہ ولی اللہ دہلوی
یادگار دہلی ، سید احمد ولی اللہی
ہسٹری آف قادری ارڈر ، فاطمہ زہرا بلگرامی

Plassey: Siraj vs Clive

Cover page of the book

Book Review, “Plassey: The Battle that changed the course of Indian History”

The book was authored by senior columnist & author, Sudeep Chakravarty, and published by Aleph Book Company. It was released in January, 2020. Here is a succinct readers review of the account. 
The year is 1756. It’s been nearly fifty years since the death of the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. The Indian political terrain has changed faster than expected. The throne of Delhi was weak and overshadowed by its minister Imad ul Mulk.
In Bengal, one of the most prosperous provinces of the Empire, the things couldn’t be more different. It is here that trade flourishes like the Sundarbans. The Dutch, the English, the French all have their factories here. There were Portuguese and Armenian merchants too. And they all compete ferociously for the prize that was Bengal. The relationship between the regime and the companies can be termed as an uneasy peace at best. But trouble was brewing. In 1756, the Nawab Alivardi Khan, died and left the masnad to his grandson, Siraj ud Daulah. Siraj was young and fierce. From his seat in Murshidabad, the young successor of Alivardi Khan finds that his power isn’t entirely unchallenged.

I recently hosted a book talk with author Sudeep Chakravarty.  Its well written account, that reads like a story, even though it  has balanced its  academic rigor. I started reading the book on the 1st of July, lazily going through the introduction. I must say, initially, it seemed a little dense to me. The sentence structures were anything but usual. But as soon as I got past it, and the context started building up, I just couldn’t stop reading. The book is divided into 3 sections, and it basically builds with a background, the characters, ending with the actual battle. It got so consuming, that I finished a 400 page non-fiction book in four days. The final day, I was up reading it all night, bringing up the reading time for that day to 9 hours! So why should Plassey matter? Because it is a battle, that changed the entire course of modern Indian history. From 1757 onward, we saw the rising domination of the British, both Company and Crown. It brought out a clear message- The British way of expansion, militarily, commercially, and even politically stamped its superiority upon the Indian milieu. As puppet Nawabs later on were installed by the British, starting with Mir Jafar, the company was able to extract outstanding sums from Bengal, all of which did not come from trade. In 1764, the British won the battle of Buxar, pitted against the combined forces of the ruling Nawab, the Mughal emperor and the Nawab of Awadh. A rather easy victory. The treaty of Allahabad later on provided the British with  diwani rights, which allowed the company to collect taxes in Bengal, in place of the Nawab, giving back a small sum in exchange. This went on for a few years, till the Company formally took over politically. There was a disastrous famine in Bengal, in the year 1770, which is said to have killed people numbering in the millions. A lot of blame for this havoc can be apportioned to the British and their policies. This was the first example, of how India was to be for nearly 200 years to come. The fat cow that India was, was sucked dry. Some even go as far as to call it the rape of India. That is where Plassey holds its importance. The beginning of the end. How it happened. How it could have been different. How the rulers before were much better than the rulers to come. Indeed, Sudeep Chakravarti’s work is a study in the appreciation of the Nawabs of Bengal. It is also a repudiation of the many myths that surround it’s protagonist – Siraj ud Daulah. It also throws light on the figure of Robert Clive. By the end, this theme, Siraj vs Clive, was the only frame encompassing my mind. As we see in the book, Siraj was not the sadistic alcoholic that he is made out to be. We see a man contesting for the throne, that is literally surrounded by vultures. A man who in his human capacity is deeply struggling with a balancing act. He is able to defeat the first challenge to his throne, that of Shaukat Jung of Purnea, to which the vultures express their shock and turn to someone they don’t fully understand. Siraj wasn’t a pliant man. He wanted the Company fortifications down, and he battled them for it, evicting every Company man out of Fort William. We also see how contentious became the incident of  black hole.
Enter Clive. A man who had aspersions cast on him since childhood, happens to rise through the ranks of the company quite swiftly. No, it wasn’t luck. His energies were very well directed. As was his talent for decisive action. During the battle of Calcutta, not only was he able to defend his position well, he even alarmed the Nawab, by turning the tide and launching an attack against him. He seems to have enjoyed the loyalty of his men, which is by no means a small feat. He also seems to have been able to turn the loyalty of the Nawab’s men, which really helped change the course of the battle. In the subsequent treaty of Alinagar, Clive won back the trading rights and was not intent upon eradication the French from Bengali soil. This is where we see an interesting turn of events. We have three parties, The British, The French and the Nawab. It was such a mire of confusion, traitors and mistrust, that an easily affordable alliance of the French and the Nawab never happened. Owing to this, and the traitors, the French factory at Chandernagore was destroyed. Most of the French were exiled. A 24 year old Siraj, had no one to counsel him in one of the most challenging moments in his life. With traitors, he went to battle at Plassey, and lost. With bad luck, he scampered and was killed. An equally anxious Clive, with the stars aligning for him perfectly well, along with the conspirators, was able to win such a decisive battle in a matter of hours. I agree, Clive was way more focused and tenacious than Siraj. But at least he didn’t have to watch his back.

An oil-on-canvas painting depicting the meeting of Mir Jafar and Robert Clive after the Battle of Plassey by Francis Hayman c 1757

The story of Plassey is a compelling tale of how conspiracy is not always a theory. Also, it is instructive in the manner of empire. How no one needs more enemies than he can handle. How a Siraj with more friends, could have easily defeated a Clive, with a little less expediency.

The Book talk is available on the YouTube channel of Tawarikh Khwani. The conversation with Sudeep Ji is nothing less than a consuming journey into the past. Please find below the links to it.

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The Last Stand by Awadh

Translation series on “Heroes of 1857”, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode V (First Ed., 1949)

Assault Of Delhi Capture Of The Cashmere Gate 14Th September 1857 From The History Of The Indian Mutiny Published 1858 Canvas Art

The news of Delhi’s fall struck like a whiplash and the intensity of the raids (by the rebels) multiplied. A public announcement was made by Feroz Shah.

Qaiser ul Tawarikh – Page no. 264

All the general public is notified that when the infidels conquered Delhi, they didn’t spare any lives. Similarly, your offspring will get killed. It is a matter of shame if women and children are killed or humiliated in front of your eyes. O brave people! These white men are not more than 5000…we will live in peace forever if they are all killed, (Feroz Shah).

Feroz Shah was son of Nazim Bakht and maternal grandson of Delhi’s King Farrukhsiyar. He left for a Hajj Pilgrimage and by the time he reached Indore the rebellion of 1857 had ignited. He stayed there after listening to this news and brought Fighters from Gwalior to Akbarabad and encircled Agra but was defeated and travelled to Mewat. Taking General Abdul-us-Samad Khan and Fazal Ali Risaldar, he reached Bareilly through Lucknow and Shahjahanpur, but no strategy worked. After facing defeats in Delhi and Lucknow he roamed in the forests of Bikaner and later left for Kabul and then Iran. People in Hijaz (KSA) saw a Fulvous colored dress and recognized Feroz Shah. During the war of independence, Khan Bahadur Khan who was the Ruler of Rohilkhand at that time gave him a lot of protocol and respect.  At Nakatia Bridge which was a few miles away from Bareilly, he fought with valor against Englishmen but after facing defeat, Khan Bahadur Khan came to Lucknow and became a guest of Hazrat Mahal. Prince Feroz Shah had some disagreement with Ahmed Ullah Shah.  Bidding farewell to Lucknow he moved to Mahmudabad. Here he gathered a sizable group of fighters and decided to fight again. He made a very effective speech in which a quote is worth contemplating, ‘I dedicate my body till death, whoever is ready to die may join me otherwise there is an option to leave’. It was heard that at the time of speech Prince (Feroz Shah) was starving for the last three days. In a book ‘’Alm-o-Amal Waqa-e- Abdul Qadir Khani’’ by Dr Ayyub Qadri it is written that Feroz Shah’s mother’s name was Abdi Begum and she was daughter of Mirza Mungo. Mirza Mungo was the nephew of Shah Alam Sani (The second). After the defeat in the First War of Independence. Prince Feroz Shah ‘s exploits can be traced up to 1869. Probably he died in Turkey (or some say in Mecca). Later in Circa 1882 a monthly financial assistance of Rs Five thousand or Ten thousand was recommended for his widow by the British resident to the Government of India.The recommendation letter has been seen by the author (Sayyada Anees Fatima). 
Portrait of Mughal emperor Farrukhsiyar at his balcony. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Portrait of Nana Saheb, Source: Wiki Images

Nana Saheb and General Bakht Khan also came during that time and stayed as a special guests of Hazrat Mahal. The presence of these devoted patriots and the perseverance of Hazrat Mahal stretched this battle till 1858.

In original Urdu account Nana Saheb was mentioned with name of Nana Rao with this descriptive note. Nana Rao was the last sovereign of the Maratha Empire. The 1857 rebellion was plotted by him and General Azeem Ullah. In Kanpur they started the movement with force and passion. General Azeem Ullah Khan was a patriot and had excellent command on English language. His laudable attributes can be gauged from the letters he wrote to an English lady friend, which were later found by soldiers during the loot and plunder at the Palace of Nana Rao in Kanpur. In one of the last letters he writes, “We the eastern folks consider life to be very trivial. My country needs me. The emotion which the world calls patriotism has shaken me. There is darkness enveloping the whole country, but I am hopeful that long after my death. The sacrifice I render may blossom into a flower of optimism sown by times. I have burnt my both hands in the blazing fire of life without regret…’’
A portrait of Nana Saheb published with this caption in Illustrated London News, 1857 “Nana Sahib” (Dhundu Pant), one of the rebel Maratha chieftains; Source: Ebay

After Kanpur’s defeat, Tantia Tope also came to Lucknow. Hazrat Mahal led him to Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors) & eleven cannon’s salute was accorded. And they were also presented with a precious handkerchief, vestment and gifts worth 25000 rupees.

Maulvi Zaka Ullah wrote, “Seventy to eighty thousand brave men were streamlining their stronghold with persistence and caution.  The National dignity and strong religious faith had turned them into tenacious fighters, under the command of a lady, Hazrat Mahal who was the Vice Ruler of City’’.

An Englishman named Fielding wrote, during the time of the Rebellion, the headcount of the English soldiers was very less. Intermittent attacks by the rebel fighters further depleted this number. Therefore, Henry Lawrence wrote to Sir Colin Campbell, “If the reinforcement will not arrive then they will not be able to keep their hold on residency for more than ten to fifteen days’’.

Condition of Rebel Fighters 
Forbes Mitchell (part of EIC forces) wrote that a posse of Archers were appointed on the walls of Shah Najf. They were so expert in archery that whoever among us used to raise their head high was immediately targeted.  One arrow ripped through the forehead of a soldier, coming out one foot from the opposite side. Another soldier took an arrow to his chest which also went through, dragging him some 3-4 yards. This soldier suffered 6-7 feet above the ground before dropping dead. The three slogans of Deen, Deen! , Allah Hu Akbar and Jai Kali Mai kept constantly reverberating..

The Relief of Lucknow, 1857
by Thomas Jones Barker Source: National portrait Gallery
Retrieved from

Internal Treason 
But like Bengal and Delhi, there was a continuous series of internal treason. This hardship of Bailey guard was not because of the bravado of English Army but owing to conspiracies hatched by traitors of the country. Hence the author of Qaiser ul Tawarikh penned, “At the time of the first attack by the Englishmen upon orders of Hazrat Mahal, the doors of Qaiser Bagh (Garden) were closed. Najeebabadi Telanga troops cursed residents of Lucknow city as if they had not delivered supplies to Bailey Guard, the Englishmen would starved to death.’’

Other reasons of defeat

Maharaja Bal Krishan who apparently exhibited a lot of compassion in front of Hazrat Mahal but was hand in glove with the Englishmen. He tricked all Taluqdars (Landholders who collected tax on behalf of sovereign) into returning to their respective areas. Due to extreme paucity of funds Hazrat Mahal also was caught in the snare of his deception. Bal Krishan came up with the excuse that if they (Taluqdars) won’t  go back to their areas, how the taxes will be collected from their respective dominions; Bulls eye! as the return of the Taluqdars with their militias till March 1858 certainly gave rise to a sense of dejection in the rebellion movement. But despite this setback, Hazrat Mahal’s courage was not decreased even a speck and the tumultuous events of rebellion continued with zeal.     

Bal Krishan was appointed as Finance Minister by Hazrat Mahal but he turned out to be a traitor (Ref. Tareekh-e-Jang-e-Azadi Page 21). Mitchell wrote that the trench near Begum’s (Hazrat Mahal) mansion was filled with the corpses of enemies (Rebel Fighters).

Maharaja Nepal‘s collusion with East India Company  

Right amidst the War, Jang Bahadur, the Prime Minister of Nepal headed out of his country with a large division and moved in the direction of Awadh. The rebellion which Sir Colin Campbell and General Outram were unsuccessful to quell despite all efforts was quashed by Jang Bahadur and his army. Under the shadow of Nepali guns and swords Campbell and Outram raised again to conquer Awadh, that Awadh which according to Governor General Lord Kenning, was harboring the largest number of rebels.
دوست نے خاطر دشمن سے کیا مجھے ہلاک
Trans. Friends killed me by providing relief to the enemy

(ref. Pinnacle of British Colonialism): Raja Balram assisted British with all means. One Englishman penned that approx. three days they stayed at Balram but the Raja (Balram) cautioned that staying here was not wise and he wrote a letter addressed to Raja Nepal ‘’Please protect these people by all means’’’. He gave us another letter written to his brother-in-law who was a big landholder or Raja of Gorakhpur district.   

Begum Hazrat Mahal and Non-Muslims
In Awadh Begum Hazrat Mahal was supported by Hindus to such an extent that the soldiers had a common impression that after victory the Hindu Religion will gain prominence. They were not threatened by the Muslims and trusted them a lot. This was evident from the large proportion of Hindus in the rebel forces. Sir Evenson Wood recorded in his book “Rebellion in Hindustan’’ that Hindus were afraid of being forcibly converted to Christianity. Those very rebel Hindu soldiers who were with Hazrat Mahal made an appeal to Jang Bahadur (PM of Nepal) in April 1859 which stated that since they were fighting for Hindu religion so Maharaja Nepal who himself was a Hindu should help them.

Nana Sahib, Maharaja Nepal, Begum of Lucknow along with other notables, in a German steel engraving, earlier 1850’s, Source: Ebay

The Audacity of the Fighters
The invasion of the English and Nepalese forces was blocked by the clerics and fighters who drenched themselves in the pool of blood. Still Jang Bahadur left Gorakhpur on 14th February for the Capital of Awadh. His ally General Rocroft came to know that Phoolpur is swarming with rebels so Jang Bahadur went in the direction of Lucknow via Sultanpur. On route to Lucknow two bloodied battles were fought in which rebels faced Nepalese valiantly. During these fights traitors of the country also continued their conspiracies in which Raja Balrampur was at the forefront. 

Exhibition of Decency 
When Hazrat Mahal was leaving for Nepal the situation was very delicate. At that time Rana Beni Madhu Singh of Shankarpur exhibited a great degree of decency and bravery. It is said that when he handed over his Fort to General Hope Grant’s battalion, then Englishmen came under the impression that Rana is inclined towards truce. Hence, he was presented with relatively lenient terms of truce by the Englishmen. Rana noticed this gesture and instead of thanking them he showed patriotism and decency by this reply to the British envoy, I was unable to protect my Fort therefore I handed it over to you. But I can’t turn myself in, because I owe my existence to the King (Birjis Qadar) and Begum Hazrat Mahal. Therefore, he and his battalion went to Nepal with the Army of Hazrat Mahal. The stretch of thirty three miles, on a road from Gorakhpur to Sultanpur was filled with rebels. The biggest concentration was at Mug Rampur and Chanda. Mehdi Hussain and Banda Hussain were the commanders of the battalion. After Mr. Franks and Nepalese army captured these areas, Zaka Ullah said “Mehdi Hussain still didn’t give up and in order to give a tough time to Nepalese Army at Badshah Ganj he assembled the defeated and dispersed  army. Mirza Jaffar Baig set up an alignment near his house on the road which goes to Lucknow and also installed Canon on one side’’. 

شکست و فتح نصیبوں سے ہے ملے اے میر
مقابلہ تو دل, ناتواں نے خُوب کیا        
Trans. Victory or Defeat is attained through fate O Meer!
Though weak heart battled a lot  

While staying put in Amethi, which is 8 miles away from Lucknow, Mr. Franks received orders from Commander in Chief that “Do not go further as Dawoodi fort is swarming with rebels’’. After discussion about Nepal we will now move forward to witness a few highlights of the battle at Lucknow.

Lucknow, Indian Mutiny, 1857. Retrieved from

Final Glimpses of the Battle of Lucknow
The first combined Nepalese and British attack was on “Alam Bagh”. There was an intense fight at Hazrat Mahal’s mansion around which hundreds of Rebel’s bodies were seen scattered. However just before the imminent takeover of “Chulakhi”, Khan Ali Khan reached with one thousand of his soldiers.

Khan Ali Khan Raja was lieutenant of Nawab Ali of Mahmudabad and he was also commander of the collective battalions of Landholder/ Tax Collectors. Whereas the army of the general public (rebels) was under the command of Colonel Barkaat Ahmad. It was said that Raja Nawab Ali and Raja of Ramnagar did not cooperate at the start of the War of independence. But owing to pressure applied by the Army and allies they were compelled to join the rebel army.

There was a fierce battle, Alam Bagh turned into a pool of blood. Jang Bahadur ambushed the rear and hundreds fell. Khan Ali Khan was also injured. Despite knowing Chulakhi being the most obvious target for the attack.

While moving from the south gate of Qaiser Bagh towards Lal bagh,  it is a majestic two storey mansion on the left side. It was built by Azeem Ullah Azam Ud Daula sahib and Warder Muhammad Ali Badshah. Wajid Ali Shah liked this mansion a lot because it was adjacent to Qaiser Bagh so he purchased it for Rs 4.7 million and named it Mashooq Manzil (Trans.Beloved Destination). But among the general public it was popularly known as Chaulakhi. After the end of the Rebellion it was auctioned to one person named Shah jee for Rs 12,000 and later Nawab Wazeer Mirza purchased it for Rs 40,000.

Hazrat Mahal was not willing to leave it on any condition. Nevertheless, at the home at Chulakhi, there was an intense fight between British and the rebels. The account of which has been written by the British authors, but it’s obvious they have talked about the rebels in a derogatory manner. Before including the important accounts of these authors, we present a memoir of a family, from Bhatwa Mayo which was an administrative district. who participated in this fight. This excerpt has been taken from a book “Aasar e Yaadgaar” (Trans: Monuments of a memory) published in 1904. This book is now scarce. When the hubbub of news of British forces entering the city reached, mob after mob set out for the barricades. The fight started in Alam Bagh. It was the 6th of “Safar”, Friday the 25th of September 1858, 10 o’clock in the morning. A subordinate reached from the respected Begum through the Government rest house, to summon Tajamul Hussain Khan (Landlord of Bhatwa Mayo). Here the food was served. Just as everyone, ready with their washed hands, was about to take the first bite, the second person arrived. And this ensued until a message was received from the Respected Begum, “will you leave from there when my respect (Would be in the hands of the British?)”. As soon as they listened to these words, all three brothers stood up from the Serviette, armed themselves with their weapons, and mounted their horses. Leaving few of their companions at the retreat and few at the Bailey Guard’s battlefront, they reached the royal abode with an estimated headcount of 200. Mammo Khan delivered an order to fight the British from the Respected Begum presenting 10,000 rupees as a military expenditure. Nabi Bakhsh Khan and his people refused to take the money and right away started for the Barricade of “Handalna”. The remaining rebel forces, along with the rest of the citizens and the people from the surrounding districts, thus everyone headed for Alam Bagh ready to fight that day. It was hard finding space en route due to the excess of the crowd. Raja Nawab Ali Khan (Mahmudabad) who was Nabi Bakhsh Khan’s uncle, was reposed in Amin Ud Daula’s house. Raja Sahab heard about all three brothers going in the direction of Alam Bagh with the resolute determination to fight. He came anxiously to the barrier, which happened to be on the way, brimming with the emotions of extreme affection. They advanced, upon reaching the Handolna’s barricade their intention was to attack after crossing the canal bridge but faced difficulty in the path ahead due to the multitude of abundant crowds. Right at that point, there was a constructed garden and standing beneath one of its walls, there was an alley on their side. They sent some companions in that direction to find out if the path is clear and if they can exit through it. Just as they watched them go away, they were surprised to see the same multitude of an abundant crowd coming back. Eventually there was no other option. The wall was dug up by the shovel holder companions and they entered the garden from one side. The horses had to be left outside the garden. And Lo and behold, the British were seen coming in the direction of the garden road because of their non-familiarity of the way. In short, under the mosque of Ghulam Hussain, a fight was commenced with Nabi Bakhsh Khan and his companions. At the time, from their side there were the three brothers, and their brother in law, Sheikh Ahmad Hussain Fatehpuri and Mir Hussain Ali, real cousin of Naogoan’s resident Ali Bakhsh Khan (deceased), and some other special personalities and brothers including Haji Akbar Ali (Mahmudabadi). Excluding them the rest of the army did not return from the exploration of this path. There was gunfire from all sides, first Tajamul Hussain Khan was wounded. He took a bullet in his right hand. Haji Akbar Ali Khan proceeded to inform Nabi Bakhsh Khan. Later Kazim Hussain Khan was wounded. He was shot in his left foot, Haji Akbar Ali told Nabi Bakhsh Khan, “see the younger master has also been injured”. An irate Nabi Bakhsh Khan shoved him aside, telling him that “you want to make me a coward by showing me the blood of my young brother. Is that why you have come here? Let death come, this isn’t a place where sweets are distributed”. Kazim Hussain Khan’s Gun stone was wasted during the fight. Brother in arms was standing nearby. He calmly took another stone from him, replaced it, then loaded the gun and took a shot. There was a bullet shower from the opposite direction during all this time. Nabi Bakhsh who was watching from the corner of his eye highly praised this persistence. Subsequently, Sheikh Ahmad Hussain also was injured and fell. Nabi Bakhsh Khan was shot at the temple, he staggered and fell quickly embracing martyrdom. Meer Hussain Ali also served the purpose. The fight ended by the time of “Zuhr” (prayer). The British fled and returned from Martin’s villa towards the road which came to the city and entered from that direction. That’s how respected Begum got a chance to exit the city with respect and honor. In this fight nineteen were injured and killed from this side. And twenty one on the opposite side perished. At this moment, those companions who went to discover the way also came back.

Sketch of Alam Bagh Lucknow, 25th December, 1857 Source: Wiki Images

A Valiant Mother
The Palanquin carriers supported their bearings, consisting of Hussain and the victims and carried them to the bivouac. Upon reaching there they discovered it was already attacked and ransacked of all the valuables by the British. Without much choice under the state of  sheer helplessness they reached Bhatwa Mayo the next morning. The palanquins of all three brothers were kept in the women’s quarter. Nabi Bakhsh Khan’s mother came and saw the state of her three young sons. In the catatonic state of agony and desolation, they found their lives had ended. These were the only words she uttered, the first word escaped her was this, “O God Almighty I am grateful, that they have come before me like this, after being bravely engaged in facing the enemy at the war. They have kept the honor of the family. I am content with them and forgive them my rights as a mother”. The victims were buried.   

Fighter’s spirit of freedom
This very spirit of freedom engulfed the whole Lucknow and everyone in it, from a commoner to an elite. About Begum Hazrat Mahal’s departure to Lucknow, Mirza Ali Azhar Barlaas wrote in his famous book “Tareekhi Shehpaaray” (Trans: Historical Verism)
Respected Begum would have been arrested, but at the very last moment Khan Ali Khan entered in Qaiser Bagh and fought with bravery, leading to a tremendous loss faced by the British.

Mermaid Gate, Kaiser Bagh, Lucknow, c 1860 by Samuel Bourne, Source: British Library
Retrieved from

Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah’s bravery
The chance for the respected Begum along with her companions, to leave Lucknow reverently was also provided by Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah in addition to Khan Ali Khan (Mahmudabad). He provided vigorous resistance and became an invincible power in the face of the looming clouds of difficulty and failure. Holmes wrote with reference of Manjandi, some rebels in which Maulvi is included still are displaying unusual persistence. They are the only one left in the destroyed city. They too were evicted on 21st March and the siege of Lucknow ended. 

Begum Hazrat Mahal’s rejection for a truce
The British presented attractive terms to convince Begum Hazrat Mahal to submission but she rejected. On 16 March 1858 respected Begum left Lucknow and bearing extreme hardships reached Baundi Taluqa of District Bahraich. She kept on fighting with determination till 1859. Because of the respected Begum, during those days the people’s veneration for the royal family increased to an unprecedented level, the account of which is given in the words of Sir Colin Campbell commander in chief, neither our threats nor sweet talk or flattery can convince the Awadh’s Chiefs to sever their relationship with the deposed king and his family, or to accept our rule. 

Nawab Mammo Khan’s Advice
One day in the morning Nawab Mammo Khan tried his best to counsel Hazrat Mahal (for reconciliation) indirectly and with using hints, but there was no change in her perseverance.

سبق جس کو وفا کا یاد ہو گا
مُحبت میں وہ برباد ہوگا
شہر اُجڑا تو بس جائے گا لیکن
ہمارا گھر نہ پھر آباد ہوگا 
Trans.Whoever remember the lesson of loyalty
Get devastation in love
The city if ruined may revive again
But our abode may not inhabit again

This is a translation series of Urdu account by Sayyada Anees Fatima titled “Jang-e- Azadi (Awwal)’57 kay Hero” (Trans. Heroes of the First War of Independence). It was first published in 1949 at Aligarh under the aegis of All India Muslim Educational Conference (A movement founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). The author captured the melancholy, conflicts of Indian states with East India company & struggle of 1857 in a vivid story telling style integrated with contextual Persian & Urdu Poetry. The translation & contextualization is done by Sayyad Asad Ali (her grandson) & edited by Saba Saif.

Roshni Hira Se by Dr. Shams Jilani, Part I-20

This is series of video lectures of author in Urdu on a book written as biographical account of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him)

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The Rebel Queen: Begum Hazrat Mahal

Translation series from Heroes of 1857, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode IV (First Ed., 1949)

Designed by Saba Saif

Hazrat Mahal (1820 – 1879)

Oh, passionate heart, if I wish everything could be possible,
I need to walk but a few steps, and there my destination will be!
Behzad Lakhnawi

(Trans. of Couplet in the above picture)

After Wazir Ali Khan, no audacious personality prevailed Awadh’s throne…

It is a strange fact, as much as most of his ancestors, other than “Nawab Saadat Ali Khan”, were carefree, weak and gutless related to state’s political affairs, on the contrary, Royal Ladies of Awadh proved themselves to be much braver, daring and resolute to such an extent that their endeavors surpassed the palaces walls and influenced the matters of State. Two Royal ladies rendered their services to safeguard the symbol of their dominion, which seemed to be getting erased like an erroneous word after the decline of power. One was “Hazrat Aalia aka Malika Kishwar” mother of “Wajid Ali Shah” and the other was “Hazrat Mahal”. One of them struggled to salvage the Kingdom within the confines of the law. And the second one, not only participated in the fiery revolution of 1857 but also fought to save the State of Awadh. Only if “Hazrat Mahal’s” struggle was successful; her name would also be included in the same league as the praiseworthy Warrior Princesses like Razia Sultan and Chand Bibi. It is common practice that the world pays homage and immortalize those who meet success in their mission. The ones who fall victim to the hardships of the path and meet failure in achieving their objectives are never heralded like a hero.     

Portrait of Hazrat Mahal, source: Wiki Images

During the reign of Wajid Ali Shah, with hedonism at its peak, an innocuous young girl named Umrao Jan entered his Harem. Nature has blessed her equally with immense beauty of both countenance and character. Wajid Ali Shah’s insight appraised her to be worthy of a serious title of “Hazrat Mahal’’. Mirza Birjis Qadr was her Son. The British tried hard to hurt the status of Birjis Qadr by spewing negative propaganda but were unsuccessful in their conspiracies. Russel wrote in his memoirs that “We were hesitant in calling him King’s son but those nobles and chieftains of Awadh, who were privy to the background situation didn’t have any qualms about the legitimacy of Birjis Qadr and they had sworn allegiance to him with their lives.”    

Seems like this resolute plan was the chief reason why Hazrat Mahal didn’t accompany the deposed King (Wajid Ali Shah) to Calcutta. Staying back in Lucknow gave her an opportunity to partake in the War of Independence against the East India Company (EIC).

A portrait of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah & his family

1857 War of Independence

A painting from mutiny depicting a scene of battle between East India company soldiers & revolutionaries

On 2nd May the fire of rebellion ignited, particularly in the capital. To support Hazrat Mahal, a united assembly of fighters and scholars were already present in Awadh. First, a Sardar named “Agha Mirza alias Kambalposh” (Blanket wearer) raised Muhammadi Flag with just 200 fighters. But they all were arrested on the orders of the Resident. In a book named “Qaiser ul Tawarikh” it is written that, those people saw that valiant man and instigated him to fight. Kotwal (Precinct In charge) Saadat Ganj got them all arrested. The courtesan compound was turned into gallows where Agha Mirza with his 14 fighters were hanged to death achieving martyrdom. When the British sensed the imminent danger in Lucknow – Awadh, they took some prominent figures in the royal family in their protective custody as a caution so that rebels won’t be able to nominate any one of them as their leader. Among them, there were few members who already had differences within their family. Wazeer Mirza who was a nephew of Mumtaz-ud-Daula also was imprisoned during this time, he was later released and participated in the War of Independence. Other prominent personalities in this list were Mustafa Ali Khan brother of former King Wajid Ali Shah, Prince Rukn-ud-Daula son of Saadat Ali Khan Nawab of Awadh, Nawab Muhammad Humayoun Khan, Mirza Mehmood Shikoh, nephew of Prince Suleman Shikoh of Delhi and Raja Tulsipur. Afterwards the Company (EIC) and its lackeys circulated public notices of amnesty in all the districts of Awadh proclaiming forgiveness to those who had rebelled and committed war crimes. At the same time, they issued a policy to seize weapons from the Royal family and all the subjects. This raised great apprehension and anxiety among the people and specifically among the clergy. The sacrifice of “Kambal posh” and his group didn’t go in vain. The whole of Awadh, just volcanic mountain erupted like a fireball. The masses under the patronage of clerics, despite the lack of resources and empty handedness, fearlessly positioned themselves against the mighty and forceful power of the Company. Emotions of patriotic fervor and unity made them indifferent towards all other self-interests. There was just one objective:
مجاہد کو خدا کی راہ میں قربان ہونا ہے 
[Trans. “A fighter seeks sacrifice In God’s path” …]

Anointment of Birjis Qadr

Depiction of Birjis Qadr with Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Illustrated London news with caption “The Princes of Oude and suite–from a photograph by Mayall,” from the Illustrated London News, 1857. Source:

The next day all former pensioned officials of past and present appeared at the Court and were reinstated on their positions. A coin was issued with the name of Birjis Qadr with the following couplet embossed,

نصاری پر قہر, خدائ ہو 
جواں سال سُلطان لکھنؤ کا ہوا
Trans. May God’s wrath heap upon the crusaders
As a young spirited became Ruler of Lucknow

On another coin of Birjis Qadr there was a Persian couplet,

سکہ زد برسم و زر چوں مہر بدر
نیرؔ دیں میرزا بر جیس قدر 
Trans. Coin is struck in Gold and Silver like Sun and Moon
For the New Patron Mirza Birjis Qadr

Sharf Uddin and Maharaja Bal Kishan who held the positions of the Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the former government were reinstated. Nawab Mammu Khan was appointed as position of a Vice Ruler and Chief Justice. All royal ladies gathered. They all agreed with Hazrat Mahal’s opinion and endorsed the anointment of Birjis Qadr. Because he was just 10 years of age, Hazrat Mahal took the position of his “Guardian” (Power of Attorney). Some of the other wives of Wajid Ali Shah, who had resentment and jealousy against Hazrat Mahal such as Akhtar Mahal, wrote to the King, ‘’I never conceived Hazrat Mahal to be such a daredevil, how she herself fights the foreigners, along with the ruffians, sitting on an elephant. She has no apprehension nor restraint’’. Unlike Lady Akhtar Mahal, Nawab Fakhar Mahal and Bandi Jan etc., there were few Royal ladies who had sympathies with Hazrat Mahal. Therefore, in an account Rasheeda Begum wrote to Wajid Ali Shah: “After a year of your departure, there were mass riots such was the nature of the calamities which descended upon us, that not even our enemies deserve to be inflicted with such fate. Hazrat Mahal turned the enemy away with display of extreme bravery. She has proved to be such a courageous woman and truly kept the honor of your name. For how brave and valiant he himself must be, whose woman has the capability to fight with equal ferocity as any man.”

Portrait of Birjis Qadr & Wajid Ali Shah, Pic source: Rehan Asad

Battle preparation

A commemorative stamp issued by Indian government c 1984 as an honor to Indian freedom fighter
Retrieved from

Honorable Aaliya (Mother of Wajid Ali Shah) was in London and Wajid Ali Shah was under the custody of the Company in Calcutta. In such turbulent time as the rebellion of 1857, Hazrat Mahal keeping all these facts in the background took the sole burden of this leadership on her shoulders displaying extraordinary valor. Reforms were announced, and the orders were issued addressing all the trusted nobles and landowners that, now this blessed country has been bestowed to us by God. It’s essential to eliminate the foreign infidels. Come together to kill those who remain (Company’s Guards) at the Bailey Guard. Whoever will help in doing this will be given half of the area (of Bailey Guard).  Therefore, in compliance of this order nobles and associates of Awadh State reached Lucknow and immortalized their names by joining the Rebel movement of Hazrat Mahal along with their large battalions.       

Uprising Of 1857, a rare photograph
The Bailey Guard Gate in Lucknow
Watercolour of The Baillie Guard Gate at Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh dated circa 1861. Source: British Library
Retrieved from:

Activities of the Traitors:

The conspiracies of the royal courtiers persisted alongside while the military command was sanctioned to Raja Jaylaal Singh, Meer Mehdi Muzzafar Ali and Risaldar (Rassaidar) Qasim Khan instead of the Military Commander Barkaat Ahmad and other fighters. For the sake of national spirit, the fighters tolerated this injustice meted out at such an early stage, but it started to badly affect the military discipline.  Kamand Lal wrote about the besieged of Lucknow Residency in his “Risala e Tareekh e Baghawat e Hind” (Trans: A Magazine of Indian Rebellion History) Edition 1, Magazine 135 (Trans: From chapters 2 till 10)

Mirza Haider, who was an offspring of Bahu Begum, and had some relatives living in Faizabad, used to write a detailed account of the goings-on of everyday and send it to Mr. Gibbons. A land lord, Gauri Shankar who was a trusted aide of Rawal, did not hold back from efficiently dispatching all the speculations in the newspapers. Moreover, regular written accounts were also sent out by many strategically placed under-cover Government officers in various departments. Some of the Awadh’s most influential figures, who aggressively participated in the national movement are listed below: Nawab Ali Khan Raees Mehmudabad, Dargej Singh, Munshi Muhammad Hussain Qidwai, Aulad Hussain Syed Pur, Hashmat Ali Sandela, Mansab Ali Rasulabad and Kallo Khan Nanpara. The scholarly Hazrat Mahal used to organize all the empire’s affairs by the council of Nawab Mammo Khan and Molvi Ahmad Ullah Shah Sahib. She stayed and held her court at a building named “Chulakhi” during the time of rebellion. Such was the success of this movement led by Hazrat Mahal’s prudence, comprehension and integrity, along with Mammo Khan and Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Shah’s advanced strategy, that the predominant feeling of numbness and stagnation in the nation due to the separation from the military life, disappeared at once. The weapons that were rusting away uselessly were polished till they shone and their clamour was heard through the expanse of the sky, reverberating and melting the frigid hearts.

کچھ ہورہےگاعشق و ہوس میں بھی امتیاز
آیا ہے اب مزاج تیرا امتحان پر
There will now be a distinction between love and lust
This is now a test of your temperament

The Battles at “Bailey Guard”,were led by the landholders and their supporters at the front. McLeod Innes wrote, that among the rebels, there was a huge proportion of the landholders and their courtiers, recruited in abundance to fight at the front line and subsequently they suffered the maximum loss of lives during these battles. Sir Hope Grant Wrote, I have seen many fights in Hindustan with numerous personalities upholding the rule of “Do or Die” during a fight, which means they have no option but to win, either they will win or die fighting. But till now no such example has come under my observation, which is as superior as the passion and determination demonstrated by the Landholders of Awadh. The united army of all the Landholders of Awadh congregated under the command of Raja Mehmodabad’s lieutenant Khan Ali Khan. (See the book, “Lucknow Baghawat Key Doran” (Trans: Lucknow, during Rebellion) by McLeod Innes, Published in 1897 in London.)
The brave and passionate Hazrat Mahal, despite observing veil, used to come out riding a horse. She held her ground against the British for almost 10 months. As an expression of the love and reverence for her, the people used to call Birjis Qadr and hug him saying that you are innocent, don’t become indifferent like your father. Beware of the pandemonium, it will end in your ruin. The intense emotions of hatred and contempt were quickly accelerating against the company. Maulvi Zaka Ullah writes, only in 11 days, no one from the British government was left to rule in any district of Awadh, and English jurisdiction started to feel like an illusion. Sir Henry Lawrence wrote in one of his letters he sent to lieutenant Governor. “We have lost governance of all districts; everyday situation is turning worse. All the landowners are taking up arms, and few have taken over the control of villages.” Even the capital was no exception to the condition of the villages and townships, where a small village near the town of Unnao with an area of mere three quarter of a mile was full of people volunteering to fight. All houses in the village had been converted into battlefronts. Mr. L.E Retneress, was among the besieged of Bailey Guard. He presented the initial account of his memory of the Awadh’s rebellion in the following words: “Other than Lucknow we have lost the whole area of Awadh. The adjacent cities in the local suburbs namely, Faizabad, Sultanpur and Daryabad are supporting the rebellion just like Salon. Either they are doing this out of hatred for us or because of the fear of rebels.” Russel further expressed his concerns in his diary with these words, Begum Hazrat Mahal has started a never-ending war with us. Based on all previous grievances against Awadh’s Empire, including the prompt monetary donations which the royal family had been arranging for the British in the past, also, the act of ignoring all the previous contracts during Awadh’s affiliation, has added to her enmity against us.

Map of United Provinces of Oudh & Agra that includes the erstwhile Kingdom of Wajid Ali Shah

The call to Fight

An announcement was made to attack the Bailey Guard the day after tomorrow. Muslims and Hindus made their vows over the Quran and Ganga Jal respectively. They were not to eat, sleep or do any personal chores, until all the besieged are put to the sword and Bailey Guard is to be reduced to the ground. Tomorrow, either the British will survive, or they will.

Hustle Bustle of the War

The first attack on Bailey Guard was made on the 31st of July under the command of Maulvi Ahmad Ullah Sahab. He proclaimed to the whole army, “You are going to fight on Begum’s orders, she will be the one to compensate too”. Begum could not sleep the whole night before the attack. People used to praise her efficiency and goodness of heart, she honored or the soldiers, rewarding them with much more than just encouragement. Once in a Battle of Alam Bagh, Raja Maan Singh, displayed a rare act of commitment, and was bestowed by her with a handkerchief and a double folded shawl. She also graced him with a title of “Farzand e Khaas” (Trans: Special Son) and he was given a Dupatta (Trans: Scarf) from her personal dress. He was promised more money and land after winning. The fight intensified in the month of August. Owing to the addition of an army regiment defeated at Kanpur, who along with their artillery, came to Lucknow under the command of officer Fida Hussain. General Syed Barkaat Ahmad and Captain Suba Singh with their respective regiments, attacked Bailey Guard with tremendous intensity. Despite being hungry and thirsty they invaded the British Garrison, commencing in hand to hand sword fight. One Maulvi Sahab, who advanced with the spear and standard, perished in the Garrison’s trench. Each Garrison witnessed a fight unlike any other.  Maulvi Zaka Ullah writes, Bailey Guard was attacked with such intensity that one of its biggest trenches were destroyed. The rebels advanced with ladders and stuck them to the walls and entered in the periphery of the cannons. Today they came to attack with valour. To make the British soldiers anxious they kept hollering late into the night. General Nickelson writes, “The rebels did not let go of a single opportunity of engaging in any activity useful in intimidating our soldiers“. One day Ali Muhammad Khan raised the standard, tied the Quran just like in the “Battle of Safeen”, and kept on reciting the words of despair. There was an old man of ascetic countenance whom people used call Shah Jee. Such was the state of his passion that he attacked the Bailey Guard unaided and alone, with just the sword in hand, while reciting the following verses,
درمیان ایں واں گردوبے جنگِ عظیم
قومِ عیسیٰ را شکست بے گماں پیدا شود
Trans: Amidst all this, here and there, a great battle will be fought,
It is certain that the wicked will fall

In the end of this installment here is dedication in the honor of Rebel Queen – Hazrat Mahal.

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This is a translation series of Urdu account by Sayyada Anees Fatima titled “Jang-e- Azadi (Awwal)’57 kay Hero” (Trans. Heroes of the First War of Independence). It was first published in 1949 at Aligarh under the aegis of All India Muslim Educational Conference (A movement founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). The author captured the melancholy, conflicts of Indian states with East India company & struggle of 1857 in a vivid story telling style integrated with contextual Persian & Urdu Poetry. The translation & contextualization is done by Sayyad Asad Ali (her grandson) & edited by Saba Saif.

Hazrat Ibrahim Alih Salam Ka Misali Kunba

عراق کا قدیم شہر أور جہاں حضرت ابراہیم عالیہسلام کی ولادت ہی

                                               حضرت ابرا ہیم علیہ السلام کا مثا لی کنبہ۔۔۔۔ شمس ؔجیلا نی وینکور

   قا رئین ِ گرا می۔آپ رو ا یتی طو ر پر تو حضرت ابرا ہیم علیہ السلام کا قصہ پڑھتے رہے ہیں مگر میں آج جو رخ آ پ کے سا منے پیش کر نے جا رہا ہو ں وہ ہے ایک مثا لی خا ندا ن یہا ں آپ کو عا ئلی زندگی کا وہ بہترین نمو نہ نظر آئے گا جو کہ نہ صرف تو کل علی اللہ کا مظہر ہے بلکہ فریقین میں ایک عظیم اعتما د کا مظہر بھی۔ اگر ہم ان کی پیروی کریں تو ہما ری زند گی نہ صرف اپنے لیے جنت بن جا ئے گی۔بلکہ اورو ں کے لیے بھی نمو نہ ہو۔آپ سب یہ تو جا نتے  ہی ہیں کہ حضرت ابرا ہیم علیہ السلام کو متعد با ر امتحا نا ت سے گذر نا پڑا، پہلی مرتبہ جب جبکہ انہو ں(ع) نے اپنے آبا واجداد کو جو کہ بت پر ستی میں مبتلا تھے کتنی خو بصو رتی سے سبق دیا وہ قر آن کی زبا ن میں سنئے۔ پہلے ایک ستا رے کو دیکھا اور فر ما یا کہ یہ میرا رب ہے۔لیکن تھو ڑی دیر کے بعد وہ معدو م ہو گیا تو فر ما یا نہیں،نہیں معدو م ہو جا نے والا میرا رب نہیں ہو سکتا اس کے بعد چا ند کو دیکھا اور فر ما یا کہ یہ میرا رب ہے۔مگر چند گھڑیو ں کے بعد وہ بھی غا ئب ہو گیا تو فرما یا یہ بھی میرا رب نہیں ہو سکتا،پھر سورج کو طلو ع ہو تے ہو ئے دیکھا اور فر ما یا یہ میرا رب ہے۔ کیو نکہ یہ سب سے بڑا ہے(اور زیادہ چمکدار بھی) مگر جب وہ بھی غرو ب ہو گیا تو فر ما یا کہ تغیر پذیرکوئی چیز رب نہیں ہو سکتی۔لہذا دعا فرمائی اے میرے رب تو ہی راستہ دکھا۔اور رب حدیث قدسی میں فر ما تا ہے کہ جو میری طرف ایک قدم بڑھتا ہے تو میں اس کی طرف دس قدم بڑھتا ہو ں۔ لہذا رب نے را ستہ دکھا دیا اور انہو ں نے علی الا علان کہنا شرو ع کر دیا کہ تم گمرا ہ ہو، جنہیں خو د اپنے ہا تھ سے گڑ ھتے ہوا ور انہیں  کوخدا بنا کے پو جتے ہو تم سا ا حمق کو ن ہو گا ؟ لہذا  با دشا ہ نے اس جر م میں حکم دیدیا کہ ان کو زندہ آگ میں جلا دیا جا ئے۔ وہ آگ میں ڈا ل دیئے گئے۔ اس مر حلے پر بعض روا یتیں یہ بھی ہیں کہ جبر ئیل علیہ السلام نے  انہں امداد کی پیس کش کی مگر وہا ں توکل کا یہ عا لم تھا فر ما یا نہیں مجھے میرا رب کا فی ہے۔اور رب نے کفا یت فرما ئی کہ فرمایا اے آگ تو ڈھنڈی ہو جا۔ اس نے تعمیل ِ حکم کی اور وہ اللہ کی حمد کرتے ہوئے آگ سے نکل آئے۔ یہ ہے قر آن کی زبا ن میں مسلما ن کی تعریف۔اس لئیے قر آن نے انکی زبا ن سے ان کو پہلا مسلم کہلا یا۔اب آپ پو چھیں گے کہ آگ کا کا م تو جلا نا تھا پھر اس نے جلایا کیو ں نہیں؟تو ایک با ت جا ن لیجئے کہ تما م صفا ت اللہ سبحانہ تعالیٰ کی ہیں جو کہ اس نے با نٹ رکھی ہیں۔جیسے کہ ہمیں خلیفہ بنا یا ہو ا ہے مگر فرق یہ ہے کہ ہمیں نا فر ما نی کی چھو ٹ بھی دی ہو ئی ہے جبکہ اورو ں کو نہیں ہے۔لہذا ہم سب سے زیا دہ نا فر ما نی کرتے ہیں جبکہ اور کر ہی نہیں سکتے۔یہا ں سے وہ سر خرو نکلے، یہ پہلا مر حلہ تھا جو انہیں پیش آیا۔ اور پھر تو مر حلے پر مر حلے پیش آتے رہے اور وہ میدان سر کرتے رہے حتیٰ کہ خو د اللہ سبحانہ تعا لیٰ نے فر ما یا کہ “  ہم نے  انہیں کئی با تو ں میں آز ما یا مگر وہ پو رے اترے   ًاس سے بڑی سند اور کس کی ہوسکتی اورکہا ں  سے لائی جا سکتی ہے۔یہ ہے ایک مو من کی شا ن۔اگر ہم خو د کو دیکھیں تو فورا ً اپنے پیر نظر آجا ئیں گے۔آئیے اب دوسرے امتحا ن کی طرف۔ انکی پہلے سے ایک بیو ی مو جو د ہیں جن کا نا م حضرت سا ئرہ (رض) ہے لیکن وہ اولاد کی نعمت سے محروم ہیں اور خود حضرت ابرا ہیم علیہ اسلام بھی عمر کے اس حصہ میں ہیں جہا ں اولاد پیدا کر نے کی صلا حیت ختم ہو جا تی ہے۔ دوسری بیو ی حضرت حا جرہ (رض) سے ایک بچہ ہے جس سے ان کا نا م چلنے کی واحد امید ہے۔ لیکن حضرت سا ئرہ (رض)  کے لیے دو نو ں ما ں اوربیٹے کا وجو د ناقا بلِ بر داشت ہو جاتاہے اور وہ ان سے جان چھڑا نا چاہتی ہیں حضرت ابراہیم علیہ السلام پریشان ہیں۔ اب آگے اس مسبب الا سبا ب کا اپنا منصو بہ شروع ہو تا ہے۔ وہ دنیا کو ایسی دا ئمی عبا دت گاہ دینا چا ہتا ہے جو ہر قسم کے تغیر سے محفو ظ ہو۔حضرت حا جرہ (رض) اور حضرت اسمٰعیل علیہ اسلام کو ایک وطن بھی عطا کر نا چا ہتا ہے۔ تاکہ وہ خلیل اللہ پر اپنے انعامات کی تکمیل کردے کہ اپنے محبوب صلی اللہ علیہ و آلیہ وسلم کو ان کی نسل میں سے پیدا فر مائے اور پھر ایک عظیم امت کو حکم دے کہ وہ قیامت تک  ان پر اور ان کی اولاد پردور بھیجتے رہیں اور ان کی سنت کو بھی زندہ رکھے۔لہذا حکم ہو تا ہے کہ ما ں اور بیٹے کو وادی ِغیر مزرو عہ میں چھو ڑ آ ؤ۔ وہ تعمیل ِ ارشاد با ری تعا لی ٰ میں بلا چو ں وچرا روانہ ہو جا تے ہیں اور انہیں و ہا ں چھو ڑ کر الٹے پا ؤ ں وا پس مڑ نے لگتے ہیں تو حضرت حا جرہ (رض) پیچھے پیچھے تشریف لا تی ہیں اور پو چھتی ہیں کہ ہمیں آپ یہا ں کیو ں چھو ڑے جا رہے ہیں کیا مجھ سے کو ئی کو تا ہی ہو ئی ہے یا اللہ تعا لیٰ کا حکم ہے۔ وہ خا مو ش رہتے ہیں کہ یہ اللہ وا لو ں کا خا صاہے کہ وہ کبھی اللہ تعا لی کے را ز ظا ہر نہیں کر تے۔ جس طر ح ہم یہ نہیں پسند کرتے کہ ہما را کو ئی دو ست ہمارے راز دنیا بھر میں گا تا پھرے اسی طرح وہ بھی یہ پسند نہیں فر ماتا کہ اس کے راز ظا ہر کیئے جا ئیں،جو کہ اس نے تھو ڑے بہت کسی کو بتا دیے ہیں۔کیو نکہ اس کے راز تو کا ئینا ت کے رازہیں ان کا اظہار دنیا کی تبا ہی کا با عث بھی ہو سکتاہے۔ وہ جواب نہیں دیتے ہیں۔ حتیٰ کے وہ تین دفعہ پو چھتی ہیں اب وہ مجبو ر ہو جا تے ہیں فر ما تے ہیں کہ اللہ کا حکم ہے۔یہ سن کر انہیں اطمینان ہو جاتا ہے کہ اگراللہ کا حکم ہے تو وہ مسبب الا سبا ب ہے۔ اور انہیں یہ بھی ترد دنہیں رہتاکہ میرے پاس کچھ کھا نے کو نہیں، بچے کا ساتھ ہے، پینے کے لیے پا نی بھی نہیں ہے اور نہ سر پر سا یہ نا م کی کو ئی چیز ہے ہم زندہ کیسے رہیں گے؟وہ انکے پا ؤ ں کی بیڑی نہیں بنتی ہیں۔ حا لا نکہ وہ جا نتی ہیں کہ اب ان کے شو ہر کی منزل ان کی سو کن سا ئرہ(رض) ہیں۔ شک جنم لے سکتا تھا وسوسے جنم لے سکتے تھے،مگر وہ ایک جلیل القدر پیغمبر کی بیو ی اور دو ہو نے وا لے جلیل القدر پیغمبرو ں کی ما ں تھیں لہذا اللہ پر پو را بھرو سہ تھا۔ یہ توکل کی انکے مثا ل تھی،اور میا ں بیو ی کے با ہمی اعتما د کا نمو نہ بھی۔خدا پر جو اعتماد کرتا ہے خدا اس کی ہمیشہ کفا لت کرتا ہے۔ یہا ں بھی کی،وہ پا نی کی تلا ش میں دو ڑ رہی تھیں بچہ پیا س سے تڑپ رہا تھا ،جب وہ آخری چکر لگا کر واپس تشریف لا ئیں تو دیکھا کہ بچہ جہا ں ایڑ یا ں رگڑ رہا تھا وہا ں پا نی کا چشمہ جا ری ہو گیاہے۔ پا نی دیکھ کر پرندے آگئے اور پرندو ں کو دیکھ کر قا فلہ آگیا اور اس طرح دنیا کے قدیم شہر  ُام القریٰ   ًکی بنیاد پڑی جو کہ پہلے بکہ کہلا یا اور پھر کثرت ا ستعما ل سے مکہ ہو گیا۔ جس کو قیا مت تک کے لیے عبا دت گا ہ بنناتھا،جس میں کفار کا دا خلہ قیا مت تک کے لیے ممنو ع ہے۔ جس کو ابرا ہہ کے حشر دیکھنے  کے بعد شا ید ہی کو ئی طا لع آزما دو با رہ اسے ڈھا نے کی جرا ء ت کرسکے۔ اب آئیے تیسرے امتحا نکی طرف۔ اس مرتبہ ایک عرصہ کے بعد وہ پھر تشریف لا تے ہیں۔ اور ایک با لکل ہی انہو نی با ت فر ما تے ہیں کہ خدا نے مجھے حکم دیا ہے کہ میں بیٹے کی قر با نی دو ں۔ایسی مثال تاریخ عا لم میں کبھی سنی ہی نہیں گئی کہ اللہ تعا لیٰ نے کسی بندے کی جا نی قر با نی ما نگی ہو وہ تو حیات عطا کر نے والا ہے۔ مگر انہو ں نے اس انہو نی بات پر بھی خدا کے آگے سر جھکا دیا۔ پھر وہ بیٹے سے با ت کرتے ہیں۔ بیٹے کی سعا دتمندی ملا حظہ فر ما ئیے کہ وہ بھی کو ئی سوال نہیں کرتے،فر ما تے ہیں کہ اگر آپ کوحکم ہوا ہے تو آپ کر گزئیے انشا اللہ مجھے صا برین میں پا ئیں گے۔آگے تو آپ سب ہی کو پتہ ہے کہ ما ں بچے کو تیا ر کر دیتی ہیں، بیٹاکہتا ہے با با آپ اپنی آنکھوں پر پٹی با ند ھ لینا تاکہ ذبح کرتے وقت ترس نہ آئے مگراللہ تعا لیٰ کو جا ن نہیں لینا تھی۔صر ف نیت اور خلو ص دیکھنا تھا۔لہذا اس نے  اس قر با نی کو کسی اور کی قر با نی سے بدل دیا۔ یو ں یہ پورے کا پورا کنبہ باپ بیٹے اور بیوی کے با ہمی تعا ون سے اسقدر عظیم ہو گیا کہ اللہ تعا لیٰ نے انکے ہر،ہر فعل کو شعا  ئر ِ حج میں دا خل کر دیا اور میا ں بیوی کے اس اعتماد کی کہا نی کوہمیشہ کے لیے قر آن میں بھی محفو ظ کر دیا۔ جس کی حفا ظت کی ذمہ داری خو د اس نے لے رکھی ہے۔اگر اس میں سے ایک بھی عدم تعاون کرتا تو کیا یہ عظیم کا میا بی ہو سکتی تھی؟ اس میں جو سبق ہے وہ آپ کے لیئے چھو ڑتا ہو ں۔     

سلطنت اسمانی کے دور کی کعبہ اور مسجد حرام کی ایک تاریخی تصویر
١٩ صدی
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Awadh: Tale of Fledgling Nawabs & The Wayward King

Translation series from Heroes of 1857, by Sayyada Anees Fatima, Episode III (First Ed., 1949)

Portrait of Sadat Ali Khan II, Source: Wiki Images

Saadat Ali Khan II (1798-1814)
Owing to unfortunate demise of Wazir Ali Khan, East India Company (EIC) successfully instilled fear in the hearts of his successors. The ill-fated Awadh State’s “Crown of thorns” now passed down to Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. His accession to the throne depended largely on his agreement to arrange for the implementation of two partially fulfilled treaties, which meant total curtailment of political authority of Nawab of Awadh by the East India Company. An agreement was signed between EIC and Saadat Ali Khan according to which half of the country (State of Awadh) was seized by the company. Although later, in the following four years, he constantly resisted its implementation with courage and bravery.

Until one day, the resident Colonel Scott summoned Saadat Ali Khan’s advocate, Molvi Saddan. He took out a double-edged straight sword (Kirch) and placed it in front of him demanding an answer. To which Molvi Sahib replied, “Since this question was already answered in the Battle of Buxar, no one dares ask for an answer the second time.”

Book titled “Qaiser ul Tawarikh’’ page 157 : In 1764 during the Battle of Baksar Shah Alam Shuja-ud-Daula and Mir Qasim were defeated and afterwards Bengal , Bihar and Orissa ‘s seat of power was taken over by Englishmen.

Saadat Ali Khan was blessed with the most unusual mental and emotional qualities, but sadly was never given a chance to demonstrate his extraordinary mental prowess. As opposed to Asaf-ud-Daula’s generosity, he spent wisely and cautiously giving an opportunity to people to mock him as a miser when he initially took control of the State’s finances. C.M. Elliot eulogized about this matter by further adding, “Saadat Ali Khan handled the state’s affairs with extreme diligence. Bulk of his time was spent in cajoling the Resident and whatever time he could spare was utilized to check the ledgers, evaluate non-commissioned officers and the issuance of State protocols.” By exercising an efficient control over the expenditure, he was able to accrue Rs 17 million, intending to recover the lost country of his ancestors from the company (EIC). But sadly, before this objective was achieved, he passed away on 11th July 1814. It was widely rumored, that Saadat Ali Khan was poisoned under a conspiracy by the company (EIC).   

Ghazi-Ud-Din Haider, King of Awadh, receiveing tribute by Robert Home, c 1820
Pic Source: Wiki Images

Ghazi Uddin Haider (1814-1827)
He was anointed to the throne after Saadat Ali Khan in 1814. He had to offer Saadat Ali Khan’s collected money to the company as a payment of the imperial crown along with forced acceptance of the title of “King” for the sole purpose of undermining the authority of Delhi’s emperor.

After Ghazi Uddin Haider’s coronation, the lackeys of company had a windfall of fortune. Saadat Ali Khan’s frugality introduced Ghazi Uddin Haider with the title of the “Generous of the world”. The Company could not complain less, owing to his submissive way of life, their camaraderie continued till the day he passed away in 1827.

Nasir ad-Din Haider Shah
2nd King of Awadh
A portrait by an unknown artist, Source: Wiki Images

Naseer Uddin Haider
Naseer Uddin Haider ascended to the throne after Ghazi Uddin Haider’s passing. He spent the 10 years of his reign following the footsteps of his father. In 1837, he was relieved from the confines of life with integrity under compelling circumstances. It’s a common belief that he too was poisoned. In his tenure, company’s hegemony saturated all aspects of life, so much so that the king (Naseer Uddin) adopted the company of Englishmen along with their lifestyle and attire. An author Shebab Lakhnawi writes, “I once happened to meet the Resident (Rep. of EIC). Despite being a commoner in London, the unlimited authority he had in Awadh at that time, over the King and the 5 million of his subjects, could not even conceived to be replicated by any King in Europe.”

Muhammad Ali Shah
3rd King of Awadh

Muhammad Ali Shah (1837-1842)
An orphan, Naseer Ud Daula who was the third son of Saadat Ali Khan, was anointed successor to the throne by the name of Muhammad Ali Shah. His health was already in decline due to advancing age. In a short span of five years he relinquished the crown. Repeating the past practices, the company again had a new contract with him, according to which all the “military” and “resources” were usurped. Afterwards his eldest son Amjad Ali Shah was appointed King in 1842 who passed away in 1847.

یہ دل ، یہ پاگل دل میرا، کیوں بجھ گیا آورگی 
اس دشت میں اک شہر تھا ، وہ کیا ہوا آورگی
Trans. This heart, this crazy heart of mine,
why being so glum… wanderlust?
In this wilderness, once there was a town
what did happen to it, Oh wanderlust?

[Wajid Ali Shah state of mind summed by translator with verses of Mohsin Naqvi]

Wajid Ali Shah (1847-1856)
After him Wajid Ali Shah graced the ancestral seat of power on 13th February 1847. Unlike his elders he tried to adopt a liberal way focusing more on state’s reforms, opening new offices and institutionalizing the military. He also started publication of a newspaper by the name of “Aseer” (Prisoner) under the editorship of Munshi Muzaffar Ali, bringing discussions about the matter of the State out in open. The king showed great personal interest in these essays. Every time his Royal procession passed through the city, two riders used to carry a chest along, submitting all the complaints made by the plaintiffs. This practice was named as “Nausherwani” (A sort of process in which the complainant or petitioner’s identity is kept hidden). Wajid Ali Shah arranged to be fully aware of all the State’s affairs and issued a coin in his own name. This coin’s background is still registered among the list of preserved Coins in the Indian museum. He organized battalions of infantry and riders with peculiar Persian names like “Tircha (Slanted)”, “Akhtari (Energetic)”, and “Nadri (Rare)”. He also regulated methodical terms for Persian language. He used to visit the parade ground to inspect the routine of military drills, spear throwing, fencing and gunmanship. Mounted on his horse for straight 3 to 4 hours sometimes, he used to stay despite the harsh sunlight, sometimes distributing prizes to encourage the efforts of the deserving trainees. He also established a progressive department to settle the cases pertaining to loans. But such vision and intelligence started becoming a hurdle in the successful endeavors of the company (EIC), so following this perceptive saying, the resident established the understanding through the Prime Minister Ali Naqi Khan about the inevitability to fix the current situation. This understanding was to be taken as an order, not a petition which could be neglected. It just took a fraction of a moment to overturn the checkerboard.

A painting from the court of Wajid Ali Shah, Pic source: Wikiimages

سر چشمه شاید گرفتن به بیل
چو پر شد نشاید گذشتن به پیل
[Poet: سعدی/Saadi]
[Trans: A stream ‘s breach can be shut by a mere stitch
But when its filled then it cannot be even crossed on an Elephant’s back]

تھا جوش و خروش اتفاقی ساقی
اب زندہ دلی کہاں ہے باقی ساقی
[Trans: The oomph and vigor were accidental my friend
Live heartedness is a bygone my friend]

Manipulating the gift of novelty and foresight bestowed by nature, a new era of pleasure and joy commenced. The passing time further augmented this colorful intoxication and led him to be titled as “The Paramour Darling of the World”. The same Wajid Ali Shah was lost to the song of ecstasy, the magic of the swarming crowd of angelic beauties and the joy of the indulgence. He became oblivious to the world and its matters. 

الفراق اے صبر و تسکین 
الوداع اے عقل و دیں 
[Trans: Farewell ! o endurance and sustenance
Farewell ! o insight and belief]

The world-famous books he wrote can be compared to “A Deep River” without exaggeration, archiving his memoirs of the era of indifference.

  • Huzn-e-Akhtar (Distress of Akhtar)
  • Masaib-e-Ahle-Bait (Calamities of Muhammad’s (PBUH) Kith and Kin)
  • Daftar-e-Paresha’n (Dwelling of the Distraught)    
  • Risala Imaan (Magazine of Faith)
  • Seinkro’n Salam (Hundreds of Salaams “Poetic Salutation as a tribute to the Martyrs of Karbala” Rhymes)
  • Masnavis (Spiritual Couplets)

The King of Awadh had become either the provider of mere confab or investor in the Luxury.

Hanuman Garh’s Event
Hanuman Garh’s event” and the associated martyrdom of Molvi Shah Ghulam Hussain, Molvi Muhammad Saleh and Molvi Ameer Ali Shah is an important event during Wajid Ali Shah’s rule. The parallel progression of destruction and evolution constituted an inevitable law of nature. Syed Ahmed Sahib along with few of his disciples had continued Islamic movement which first raised its head during Ghazi Uddin Haider’s reign and apparently died down after the great sacrifice of the fighters in Balakot. The proverbial sword, which fell after Tipu Sultan, Meer Qasim, Siraj ud Daula, Hafiz Rehmat Khan, Nawab Muzaffar Khan, Ruler of Multan and the Meers of Sindh, was not sheathed, by the scholars and fighters of Islam, despite their powerlessness and destitution, till

یا تن رسد بجاناں یا جاں زتن برآید 
Braving the odds to fulfill goals

After Syed Ahmed Rai Barielly, for almost half a century, his followers kept themselves busy in shielding the masses from the venomous atmosphere created by the Courtiers and keeping their emotions of solidarity alive. In every front where good was confronted with evil, this organization of scholars and fighters came out of their seminaries, bravely upholding the honor of Islam and motherland.
During Wajid Ali Shah’s reign, in the four mosques constructed by Emperor Babur, Aurangzeb and their well-regarded commanders, the Muslims were refrained to perform prayers or delivering Azan (call to prayers) by their country Brethren. And, they did not hold back from demolishing the mosques as soon as they got a chance. This whole event took place on behest of the so-called valorous Company’s encouragement.
As part of retaliation, Shah Molvi Ghulam Hussain and Molvi Muhammad Saleh raised the standard of resistance and achieved martyrdom in Hanuman Garh by hands of some ascetics. But in this silent city known as “Darbar e Shahi”, such was the state of apathy, that not even a single sigh was uttered at the demise of the fallen fighters. The helplessness of the Awadh State and criminal negligence of the affluent added fuel to the fire among masses and clerics. Molvi Ameer Ali went to Ameethi and started a rebellion. Wajid Ali Shah’s court issued religious decree of heresy against Molvi Ameer Ali, under the influence of Prime Minister Ali Naqi Khan. This religious decree was signed by some famous scholars among which Molvi Fazal Haq Khairabadi, Molvi Abdul Razzaq Ferangi-mehli and Molvi Saad ullah Muradabadi were noteworthy. But it’s a nature’s miracle that later, the former of the above mentioned (Molvi Fazal) was immortalized by achieving martyrdom during the banishment at the Andaman Island, fighting in the name of the same cause. Molvi Ameer Ali met the same fate as his predecessor’s movement. He embraced martyrdom reciting the following couplet,

بہ ذکر حق سراپا گوش دارم
سر میداں کفن بردوش دارم
I am all ear for the remembrance of truth
When I am in expeditions, the shroud lies on my shoulders

Decline of the Kingdom
The event of the decline of the Kingdom took place just 3 months after the martyrdom of Molvi Ameer Ali. The following Persian couplet of Shifa’i Isfahani seems to be contextual.
دیدی کہ خون ناحق پروانہ شمع را
چنداں اماں ندار کہ شب را سحر کند 
Have you seen unjust death of moth by candle flame
It didn’t even get respite for a day

In 1856, just 9 years into the rule, General James Outram confiscated the rest of the authority from Wajid Ali Shah and took control of the whole Kingdom of Awadh. He announced a pension of Rs 1.2 million and land within 5 miles radius of Lucknow to be given to Wajid Ali Shah. Helpless Wajid Ali Shah decided to travel to Calcutta to make an appeal at the office of Governor General. But the Company efficiently knitted the same trap which costed him with his dominion at “Matiya Burj”. He was lured by the provision of all the attractions of Lucknow, till he got distracted from the objective and became oblivious to the very reason for which he decided to endure the hardships of exile.

A portrait of Wajid Ali Shah & Birjis Qadr at Manzilat’s restaurant, Pic Source: Rehan Asad

Finally, mother Hazrat Aalia was sent to London to seek refuge in telling the “Saga of Hue & Cry”. In the meantime, with all means of respite at disposal there was no reason keeping them from indulging in a celebration of a wedding arranged under the same circumstances.

Gateway of Imambara at Matiya Burj, Kolkata where resting place of Wajid Ali Shah is located, Pic source: Rehan Asad

Molvi Abdul Haleem Sharrar wrote, “In reality, there was another Lucknow reborn in Calcutta during the King’s (Wajid Ali Shah) stay. Matiya Burj was chosen to manifest its form. In fact Matiya Burj was Lucknow.” Although, it was the same intoxication, the same cupbearer, also the festivity was the same. But the exultation could not replicate the same intensity. With no alternative to the house arrest, detached from the Kingdom’s affairs there was a strange sense of refuge which still could not hold them back from enjoying the perks of monarchy. Titles like Rustam-e-Zaman (Brave of the Times), Sikandar-e-Daur’an (The Contemporary Alexander), Shah-e-Zameen o Zaman (King of Land and times) were the only sources left to pacify the ego and quench the thirst of authority. The Kingdom was gone but the inebriation remained still.

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[In the words of Poet Mohsin Naqvi sung beautifully by Ghulam Ali]

This is a translation series of Urdu account by Sayyada Anees Fatima titled “Jang-e- Azadi (Awwal)’57 kay Hero” (Trans. Heroes of the First War of Independence). It was first published in 1949 at Aligarh under the aegis of All India Muslim Educational Conference (A movement founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan). The author captured the melancholy, conflicts of Indian states with East India company & struggle of 1857 in a vivid story telling style integrated with contextual Persian & Urdu Poetry. The translation & contextualization is done by Sayyad Asad Ali (her grandson) & edited by Saba Saif.