“Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Untouchables, Christians of the Frontier Province have witnessed with their own eyes that one order from Khaksar-i-Azam sets in motion five million…Khaksar soldiers.” Al-Islah — Dec. 01, 1946.
Such was the strength of the legendary Allama Mashriqi ― Historical documents speak loudly of Mashriqi’s lead role in the anti-imperialist fight for British India’s independence.
Mashriqi began his struggle early on and, in 1939, a defining moment took place which demonstrated his true power. In this year, Mashriqi came out victor during the Khaksar Tehrik-Government of United Provinces (U.P.) conflict, and ultimately, Sir Harry Graham Haig (Governor of U.P.) signed a truce on Mashriqi’s terms.
Right after this unprecedented triumph, Mashriqi established a parallel Government in British India. According to details published in Al-Islah (November 17, 1939), the country was divided into 14 provinces (with a center at Lahore) and names of provincial commanders were announced. Each commander (called Hakim-e-Ala) was ordered to ensure that his power was comparable to that of the British Governor in his respective province. For instance, they were to have their own warfare equipment and other paraphernalia. A directive was also issued to augment Khaksar strength by enrolling 2.5 million new Khaksars across India by June 15, 1940. Efforts to this end were taken immediately and startling results were witnessed.
With such events, downfall of the British rule in India was imminent. For the first time in the ruler’s history, someone was moving swiftly ahead to end their rule. In the midst of World War II, this created panic for the Government of British India. Moreover, this worried other political leaders in India who could see their own demise in the rise of Khaksar Tehrik and Mashriqi ending up with political power. Mahatma Gandhi rightly wrote in Harijan, “If independence is taken by force of arms, then the strongest power will hold sway over all India…They [Princely States in India] will each fight for their existence and succumb to the strongest who will be the emperor of India...” This mindset prevailed in the anti-Khaksar circles. Hence, leaders’ vested interests came into play, while the nation’s interest was overlooked. Owing to this, actions against Mashriqi were consented.
On March 19, 1940, after the Khaksar massacre, the Government arrested Mashriqi and banned the Tehrik in Punjab. Discussing the Khaksar threat, Lord Linlithgow (Viceroy of India) wrote on March 28, 1940 to Sir George Cunningham (Governor of North West Frontier Province): “behaviour of the Khaksars on this occasion shows too clearly how potentially dangerous this organisation is.” A similar sentiment is also reflected in a letter Linlithgow wrote later on to Cunningham on June 06, 1941: “I felt quite clear after an exhaustive discussion in Council that there was no alternative to the action [on this day in 1941, the Tehrik was banned all over India] which the Home Department have now asked all Provinces to take. I have always regarded this movement as potentially a very dangerous one. It is well organized; well disciplined; and it works underground. There are not lacking signs that it aims at nothing [other] than Muslim domination...”
Upon release, Mashriqi issued instructions to the Khaksars to mobilize all resources to achieve the Tehrik’s objective. Apart from rallying the public and uniting leaders for a united front against the rulers, Khaksars also mobilized men in the armed forces. In fact, many of them were in the forces themselves (refer to Dr. Sir Ziauddin Ahmad’s statement in the Central Legislative Assembly debates on September 23, 1942).
As a result, on February 18, 1946, mutiny took place in the Royal Indian Navy. Two days after the rebellion, i.e., on February 20, 1946, Saadat Ali Ajmeri sent a letter to Mashriqi providing details of the mutiny as well as the Khaksars’ part in the rebellion. An extract of his letter in the Khaksar weekly Al-Islah stated, “…There are two or three Khaksars on each ship and five to ten in each establishment. They are in the forefront [of this rebellion]… Allama sahib’s friend ‘Chaudhry’, who is now commander, is also with them.”
Around the same time, the Royal Indian Air Force mutinied in different cities. This was followed by another mutiny (on February 28, 1946) by soldiers of the Royal Indian Army Signal Corps at Jabalpur. Meanwhile, soldiers released from the armed forces after World War II and members of Indian National Army (I.N.A.) of Subhas Chandra Bose began to join the Tehrik. Other like minded parties also came forward.
On June 08, 1946, Mashriqi called the Azad Hind Fauj Conference at Lahore. At the conference, Mashriqi said “after sixteen years of unprecedented self-sacrifices, we are now ardent to reach our objective as fast as possible, and within the next few months will do anything and everything to achieve our goal.” Mashriqi’s nationalistic zeal and determination to overthrow foreign rule was well admired and a lot of soldiers joined the Tehrik during this time period. Among the I.N.A. officers were Col. Ihsan Qadir and Major General S.D. Khan.
On August 11, 1946, at Mori Gate, Lahore, Mashriqi made an awakening speech describing British Rule in India as “Trade Imperialism,” which had exploited the Indian resources ruthlessly; Major General S.D. Khan was present here. Mashriqi’s speech, which was directed at 400 million Muslims and non-Muslims, shook people’s conscience and inspired them to not rest until foreign rule was ended. Soon after this meeting, Major General S.D. Khan sent a call to 800,000 released and retired soldiers and 50,000 men of the I.N.A. to join the Khaksar Tehrik.
These activities were not going unnoticed by the Government. Khaksar exertion to shake the pillars of colonial rule was working and the British were shaken by Mashriqi’s groundwork for the revolt. The rulers became highly anxious that there would be no way for them to suppress this movement.
Final preparations for a revolt took place in November 1946 at the historic Khaksar Camp (November 07-10, 1946) in Peshawar. Here mock wars and military exercises were held. On the last day, Mashriqi came and inspected the Khaksars’ readiness for the dawn of India’s freedom. On this momentous occasion, Mashriqi addressed a crowd of 110,000 Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, and others. In his eye-opening and revolutionary speech, Mashriqi shed light on the self-seeking and futile politics of Indian leaders and gave an account of British exploitations of India’s resources. The speech sparked a sense that further abuse by the rulers would no longer be tolerated and their rule must come to an end.
With the tremendous success of the said camp, Mashriqi made a written proclamation (December 01, 1946) of the day which the nation had been waiting for and which would arrive shortly; he announced: “Idara-i-Aliya [Khaksar Headquarters] shall soon issue an order that in the entire India, four million [sources quote a range from 4-5 million members] Khaksars, side by side with hundreds of thousands rather millions of supporters shall march simultaneously… This moment shall dawn upon us very soon and that is why it is being ordered that a grand preparation for this historical day should commence immediately… so that British can clearly witness the day of India’s freedom…”
The said declaration terrorized the rulers and they sensed that soon the Khaksars would be marching towards Delhi and storming all important places in India. The rulers did not take this inconsequentially, and shortly thereafter in February 1947, the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, declared that power would be transferred to Indians no later than June of 1948. — Indeed! This was a crowning victory of Mashriqi.
All previous political campaigns, such as Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements, as well as all Government parleys, from the Cripps Mission, Simla Conference, Cabinet Mission to the Interim Government, had failed. It became clear that these activities, sponsored by the rulers, were merely meant to show the world that the rulers were doing their best to help resolve political tangles within India, so that India could be granted her freedom. However, these were just ploys. Indian leaders were not working to resolve their differences and continued to play in the hands of the British for their own interests. Had the British not been able to see the Khaksars’ intent and drive, they, as usual, would likely have kept the Indian leaders engaged in negotiations while maintaining their own rule.
To ensure that no more games could be played, Mashriqi issued another order (March 1947) asking 300,000 Khaksars to assemble in Delhi on June 30, 1947. With this call, Mashriqi forever closed the door for further manipulation or delay to British India’s freedom. The call to over a quarter million Khaksars to reach Delhi could not be taken lightly. In the eyes of Government and opposition circles, the Khaksars would advance on June 30th to seize political power. This generated a sense of urgency to transfer power. Therefore, Attlee’s plan was put side, and within months, on June 03, 1947, a partition plan was announced by the newly appointed Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten. This kind of urgency had never been needed nor observed. Importantly, Mountbatten gave no time to the All-India Muslim League or the Indian National Congress, and in fact, directed them to approve the plan instantly.
Within days (June 09), the All-India Muslim League (AIML) called its meeting at Imperial Hotel (Delhi). Khaksars came to impress upon Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to reject the Mountbatten Plan, as dividing the country would be devastating to both Muslims and non-Muslims and “a truncated Pakistan is betrayal of the Muslims by Mr. Jinnah…” However, Quaid-e-Azam did not want to hear any opposition to his plan for Pakistan; he went to another room and, according to Khaksar sources, informed Jawaharlal Nehru of the Khaksars’ arrival. Police was ordered to arrest the Khaksars. The New York Times (June 10, 1947) reported, “…Khaksar demonstrators…were arrested…” The Canberra Times (June 11, 1947) reported: “…police used tear gas bombs.” To make sure partition went through, Mashriqi was stabbed and arrested. The Canberra Times wrote: “Allama Mashriqi…was yesterday stabbed at a hotel where the Moslem League Council met.”
The AIML accepted the Mountbatten Plan so quickly that it prohibited anyone from opposing it. Quaid-e-Azam backed out from his earlier stance (on May 21, 1947): “…I am…deadly against the partition of Bengal and the Punjab and we shall fight every inch against it.” On June 14, the Indian National Congress also accepted it. Mahatma Gandhi supported partition and deviated from his life-long stance. In 1940, Gandhi had said, “Pakistan can only be conceded on our dead bodies.” On March 31, 1947, Gandhi had said, “If the Congress wishes to accept partition, it will be over my dead body. So long as I am alive, I will never agree to the partition of India. Nor will I, if I can help it, allow Congress to accept it.”
The urgency in all circles was generated by the call for 300,000 Khaksars; all knew that if these Khaksars arrived in Delhi, political power would go into the hands of Khaksar Tehrik. This of course was not acceptable to any leaders, whether Indian or non-Indian.
In fact, Mashriqi never sought power for himself but wanted only freedom for his people and to save India from breaking up. He saw no issue with Muslims, Hindus, and other communities living together — he saw prosperity in such harmony and destruction in the opposite. Further, he saw no danger to Islam in undivided India — he saw no threat of Hindu domination, regardless of the fact that there were a greater number of Hindus in the country, as power is not a matter of quantity (i.e. number of people) but is rather about quality (i.e. the brains). Case in point, the British themselves were a minority in number but had used intelligent tactics to maintain their rule; the British population in India, as per Gandhi, was less than 100,000 vs. 400 million Indians. To Mashriqi, the differences in the country were magnified out of proportion for selfish ends. Indeed, Mashriqi was unquestionably right! Division has not brought desired results, as were claimed by the proponents of partition.
Mashriqi was heartbroken to see India divided and was utterly crushed to observe people of the same nation slitting each others’ throats, the madness of rape and abduction of females, and the ruin of millions of lives — this was one of the worst disasters in human history. With the blood of innocent people spattered on the streets of India, Mashriqi’s conscience did not permit him to celebrate the victory that was indeed the crowning triumph of his own strenuous and painstaking struggle of seventeen years ― Mashriqi took no credit of winning independence.
The question then remains: why has Mashriqi’s pivotal and revolutionary role in British India’s freedom — birth of Pakistan and India — been denied? The answer is simple: power was transferred to the Muslim League and the Congress, therefore, history since independence has been dictated by their men. Indeed! Pakistan and India’s history as it is written is farce and has been constructed under the biases of contemporary politics. If ever, historians get past this narrow-minded view, the history of Indian-sub-continent will be re-written to correct distortion and include all omitted facts.
This article is written to remember Allama Mashriqi Inayatullah Khan on his death anniversary. Mashriqi died on August 27, 1963 in Lahore. With the news of his death, the country went into a state of shock. His death was mourned worldwide by his supporters and followers. Businesses at many places in Pakistan remain closed. Well over 100,000 people, who came from all over, attended his funeral. The crowd was immersed in an ocean of grief and tears, and a lot of people were crying hysterically. “Some persons fell unconscious when they rushed forward in a bid to have the last glimpse of the late Khaksar leader.” Throughout, flowers were showered on his body. Khaksars fired 101 gun shots as a last tribute to their beloved leader. In accordance with Mashriqi’s wishes, he was buried at the headquarters of the Khaksar Tehrik (Icchra, Lahore), where he had started the Khaksar Tehrik in 1930 to liberate the nation from the yoke of foreign rule. May God rest his soul in eternal peace.
The author is an independent scholar (with a focus on Allama Mashriqi & the Khaksar Tehrik in British India) and feels duty bound and utterly committed to revealing those facts of the history of the Indian-subcontinent that have been concealed or twisted. The author means no disrespect to any personalities and simply aims to uncover hidden facts from history.
Founder of the Khaksar Movement
August 25, 1888 - August 27, 1963
“Inayatullah Khan, famously known as Allama Mashriqi (Scholar of the East), was born in Amritsar, India into a Punjabi Rajput family on August 25, 1888. He died in Lahore, Pakistan on August 27, 1963. Mashriqi was born with a gifted mind. He obtained his early education at home. His parents nurtured him by providing him with real values and a strong personality and character. When he took the entry test for public school, the headmaster was extremely impressed by his performance. Mashriqi continued to perform exceptionally well during his school years, obtaining a scholarship and distinction in his class. Thus, from the time of his childhood, there were signs that he would someday become a great scholar and tremendous leader. Mashriqi proved these signs to be true.
After tremendous performances at F.C. College and Punjab University, Mashriqi left for England to study at Cambridge [Christ's College]. There, he attained remarkable academic accomplishments. While most students complete one degree in four years, Mashriqi completed four degrees in five years, with distinction!
During his time at Cambridge, Mashriqi realized that the Indians were living in poverty and being ruled by foreigners. He came to the conclusion that this was because of the degeneration of their character and values. He knew that something needed to be done to eradicate the problem.
After completing his education in 1912, Mashriqi spent a few months in Europe. At this time, he was offered the position of the Premier of Alver (Alwar) in India (along with a very high salary and fringe benefits) by the Maharaja of Alver, but Mashriqi politely declined the offer. Mashriqi was extremely disturbed by the condition of the Muslims in India. At times, he even had sleepless nights as a result of his concern. This concern for the Muslims appears to have been inspired by his father. He instead wanted to join the education department in India; Mashriqi felt that through the education department, he could build the character of the youth, and inculcate in them the true values and teachings of his religion. This would hopefully strengthen the nation and ultimately allow the Muslims to rule themselves. So, Mashriqi returned to India in January of 1913 and in April of the same year, he became the Vice Principal of Islamia College in Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), India (now part of Pakistan); he became the Principal on April 1, 1917 and remained there until September 14, 1917 (KM 1963 Oct. 15; KM 1963 Oct. 16).
In 1917, Mashriqi was appointed as the Under Secretary of Education in India. He hoped that this position would allow him to continue to reform the educational system. On October 15, 1919, he was made a member of the Indian Education Service (IES) and was sent back to Peshawar, where he served as the Principal of a Government high school. There, he also served as Principal of a Training College and Director of Education for a brief period of time. In 1920, the British offered Mashriqi Ambassadorship to Afghanistan and Knighthood (Title of “Sir”) in 1921, but he refused both.
In 1920, Mashriqi began his monumental work, Tazkirah (a commentary of the Holy Quran), which he completed in 1924. He wrote the book because he didn’t agree with the teachings of the Mullahs (religious clergymen), who he felt were unable to interpret the true meaning of Islam due to their poor education and knowledge.
In 1923, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London (Mashriqi  1997, 6). A few years later (in 1926), Mashriqi led a delegation to Egypt, where he made his famous speech, Khitab-e-Misr. All along, Mashriqi had remained in government service. The British resented his efforts for the Muslim cause. Mashriqi himself had also discovered that it was difficult to change the prevailing policies and bring reform under British rule. He realized that it was necessary for him to leave the service and start his own movement in order to change the destiny of the Muslims and acquire the freedom of India. He knew that it was going to be an arduous journey, and that to achieve his goals, he would have to make many sacrifices, including foregoing his comfortable lifestyle, handsome salary, and social position. Thus, he resigned from government service in 1930.
Mashriqi abandoned the life of ease and comfort because he felt that a leader of a nation could not live a life of luxury while his people live in poverty. He rejected the Western way of life, which he had pursued previously, and adopted the life of a commoner. He stopped wearing Western-style suits, ties, and bows. He began to live and travel modestly; he ceased spending his money on luxury or comfort, and instead, devoted all his resources towards his goals. He became one with the masses.
In the 1930’s, Mashriqi laid the foundation for his Khaksar Tehrik (Khaksar Movement) to reform society, eliminate poverty, and bring freedom to India, ultimately leading to the revival of the lost glory of the Muslims. He wanted a society where unity, peace, love, and harmony prevailed for everyone, regardless of color, creed, sect, or religion. He believed that this could be achieved through social service, and made social service a requirement for every Khaksar. Syed Shabir Hussain quotes Mashriqi:
' [The] Khaksars are determined to establish, by uprooting all
sectarian feelings and religious bigotry (but keeping religion
in tact), an egalitarian, benovelent and non-partisan order
which would ensure a fair deal to all nations and guarantee
their rightful growth, and which will be based on virtue, struggle,
action and supreme justice' (Hussain 1988, 266).
Based on the benevolent principles of his Khaksar Tehrik, Mashriqi soon emerged as a powerful and consummate leader who revolutionized the Muslims in India. In his efforts to eradicate sectarianism among the Muslims, Mashriqi traveled to Lucknow in 1939 to put a stop to Shia-Sunni riots. Though he was highly successful, he was arrested while attempting to mediate a settlement. Mashriqi was released because of public pressure. However, the Government published a false claim in the newspaper stating that Mashriqi was released because he signed an apology (Mashriqi’s signature was forged) and promised not to return to Lucknow. Upon hearing of this, Mashriqi was angered and he returned to Lucknow, where he was again arrested.
Nevertheless, Mashriqi’s continuing efforts for the Muslims and the ideology of the Khaksar Movement helped the Tehrik to expand by leaps and bounds within a short period of nine years (from 1930-1939). By 1939, the Tehrik was at its peak and had spread to every corner of India. It had emerged as a great threat to the imperialists because there was no other Movement in India that was as organized and had such strong roots in the masses. The British felt threatened by this Movement, and sensed that it was going to cause a revolution. Thus, they attempted to suppress the Tehrik by restricting its activities. Mashriqi went to Delhi to meet the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow in order to remove these restrictions. He also met with Quaid-e-Azam, Dr. Sir Zia ud Din, and other Muslim leaders to discuss the same matter. Mashriqi was convinced that the restrictions were not legitimate because the Khaksars had not done anything wrong or unlawful.
On March 19, 1940, the Khaksars marched through the streets of Lahore in protest of the ban, heading towards Badshahi mosque to offer prayers. The police attempted to stop the Khaksars, but the Khaksars continued marching. The police then open-fired on hundreds of innocent Khaksars, injuring and brutally killing many. On March 19, the day of the massacre, the Khaksar Tehrik was banned and Mashriqi was arrested.
There were large protests against the massacre and Mashriqi’s arrest. On March 21, 1940, Quaid-e-Azam…”
Source: Allama Mashriqi & Dr. Akhtar Hameed Khan: Two Legends of Pakistan. page 49-52. Author: Nasim Yousaf.
Hard Cover: 1401090974
Soft Cover: 1401090966
Allama Mashriqi's followers in Khaksar uniform [Image source (Nasim Yousaf's collection): Khaksar Tehrik album, "India" 1931]
For historic Khaksar photos, visit the mentioned urls: