What happened after 1857?
The historian William Dalrymple writes the Ulama became the main target of the British oppression and persecution. The word ‘Maulvi’ became synonymous with ‘rebel’ in British eyes. At least 100,000 were killed of which a great proportion were the Ulama.
Right across India, in the Punjab, Ambala, Multan, Peshawar, Agra, Jhelum, Aurangabad and many other places, “mutineers” were tied to the barrels of cannons and blown away whilst others were hanged.
The Mughal dynasty now came to an end. Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Burma in 1858 while his three sons were executed. Bahadur Shah Zafar died four years later in Rangoon, aged 87.
The rebellion proved to be an important watershed in Indian and British Empire history and led to the dissolution of the East India Company. The Government of India Act 1858 meant India was now to be administered directly by the British government beinning a century of the British Raj.
The Ulama who fought colonialists are not only seen as heroes by Muslims, but even their foes recognised them as such.
The British Army General, Sir Mowbray Thompson, who fought against Muslims in the uprisings of 1857, wrote in his memoir:
“If to fight for one’s country, plan and mastermind wars against mighty occupying powers are (acts of) patriotism, then undoubtedly the maulvis were the loyal patriots of their country and their succeeding generations will remember them as heroes.”
Use of sedition charges is an old colonial practice.
An interesting point that followed the revolts were the cases brought against many Ulama.
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