Amaresh Misra

20th August marks the 256th Death Anniversary of Shah Waliullah, the great revolutionary theoretician of the Indian Sub-Continent, a person who wrote about the theory of General Will before Rousseau, about the labour theory of value before Adam Smith, and about the scientific laws of history before Hegel and Marx. Shah Waliullah translated the Koran from Arabic to Persian. More importantly, Shah Waliullah formulated the CONCEPT OF REVOLUTION SUITED TO THE PECULARITIES OF SOUTH ASIAN SOCIETIES.

Yes…you heard me…THE WORD ‘INQUILAB’ WAS FIRST USED BY SHAH WALIULLAH IN THE 1750s TO DENOTE A REVOLT BY PEASANTS, ARTISANS, TRADERS AND SHOPKEEPERS AGAINST A FEUDAL REGIME THAT OVERTAXED ITS SUBJECTS!

27 YEARS AFTER SHAH WALIULLAH’S DEATH, in 1789, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION TOOK PLACE AROUND PRECISELY THIS MODEL.

Shah Waliullah’s son Shah Abdul Aziz issued the anti-British Fatwa of 1803–THE ONLY FATWA IN THE WORLD THAT RE-DEFINED JIHAD AS ‘INQUILAB’…AND CALLED UPON NON-MUSLIMS (HINDUS IN THIS CASE) TO WAGE A POLITICAL-RELIGIOUS WAR AGAINST BRITISH IMPERIALISM.

IT WAS IN RESPONSE TO THIS FATWA THAT THE WALIULLAHITE REVOLUTION BEGAN IN INDIA…A CURRENT THAT FOUND EXPRESSION IN THE ANTI-BRITISH 1857 UPRISING.

It was in turn as a response to the Waliullahite Fatwa, THAT SANATANI HINDUS ISSUED THEIR OWN, ANTI-BRITISH PROCLAMATION OF ‘DHARMAYUDDHA’–THAT SPOKE OF UNITY WITH MUSLIMS AND WAS SUPPORTED BY THE 4 SHANKARACHARYAS!

IT WAS THE DHARMAYUDDH PROCLAMATION THAT INSPIRED MANGAL PANDEY!

Since India, Pakistan and Bangladesh regard 1857 as their first Independence war, ALL THREE COUNTRIES OUGHT TO BE COMMEMORATING THE 256th DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF SHAH WALIULLAH.

But not a single tweet from the Heads of States of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

20th August also marks the 157th Death Anniversary of FAZL-E-HAQ KHAIRABADI, the great Ulema of Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh, who was the leading luminary of the 1857 war in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi issued a second Fatwa in 1857, that made it mandatory for MUSLIMS TO FORGE A UNITED FRONT WITH HINDUS AGAINST THE BRITISH.

Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi was also a man of letters, contemporary of Zauq, Momin and Ghalib. He is credited with a separate oeuvre of literary and philosophical writings, as well as the science of humour.

Despite conditions that could have absolved him of involvement in 1857, Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi chose to admit his role and suffer hardships of a severe prison term in Andaman and Nicobar islands. Khairabadi Sahab died on 20th August 1861 during his incarceration. Before that, with great difficulty, often on prison walls with charcoal, he wrote RISAL-E-SAURATUL HINDIYA, a rare treatise ON THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF 1857, in Arabic.

Muztar Khairabadi, the GRANDFATHER OF JAVED AKHTAR, was Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi’s grandson. Muztar Sahab was the son of HIMANI KHAIRABADI, A POETESS IN HER OWN RIGHT, and Fazl-e-Haq Sahab’s daughter.

JAVED AKHTAR’S SANSANIKHEZ (SENSATIONAL) AND DRAMATIC STYLE OF CINEMATIC STORYTELLING, WHICH GAVE US ‘ZANJEER’, ‘DEEWAR’, ‘SHOLAY’…AS WELL AS THE ANTI-ESTABLISHMENT, REBEL FIGURE OF AMITABH BACHCHAN, THAT DEFINED AND RADICALISED A GENERATION (including me) THUS HAS ROOTS IN SHAH WALIULLAH, SHAH ABDUL AZIZ, FAZL-E-HAQ KHAIRABADI…

AND 1857…