Syed Ahmed Shaheed (1786-1831)


Syed Ahmed Shaheed was born at Rai Barailly in November 1786. His father Shah Ilm-Ullah was pious religious scholar. He was a well built young man and took interest in manly sports. He was inspired spiritually by Shah Abdul Aziz. In 1810 he joined the army of Nawab Ameer Khan of Tonak in order to take part in Jihad against the British. He fought against the English forces and displayed his skill in the art of fighting. Syed Ahmed Shaheed was an outstanding orator. His religious and political sermons won him many companions which included Shah Ismail and Shah Abdul Haye. In the first half of the nineteenth century Punjab was under the rule of Sikhs who were very cruel to the Muslims. They were showing disregard to the Muslim culture, customs and religious places. On hearing about these brutalities Syed Ahmed Shaheed decided to launch Jihad against the Sikhs. For this purpose he founded Jihad Movement. The Muslims of Indo-Pakistan responded to his call and thousands of Muslims got themselves enrolled in the Jihad Movement. Syed Ahmed Shaheed decided to launch Jihad from North West Frontier region of the country. Thus on 17th January 1826 he started his journey along with thousands of Mujahideens. He reached Sindh via Gwalior, Tonak, Ajmer and Marwar. Then he went to Afghanistan through Balochistan. From Afghanistan he arrived at Nowshera after nine months journey.




Battles Against Sikhs

On his arrival in the Frontier province the warriors of Yousaf Zai tribe, followers of Pir Syed Akbar Shah and the local Muslims joined the Jihad Movement. Syed Ahmed Shaheed declared war against Sikhs. Ranjid Singh the Sikh ruler of Punjab sent Budh Singh at the head of ten thousand soldiers to meet the challenge of the Mujahideens. On 21st December 1826 a strong contingent of Mujahideens attacked the Sikh army at night. As a result thousands of Sikh soldiers were killed and Budh Singh had to retreat with heavy losses. Later on after several skirmishes the sikh army was defeated in the battle of Hazru. After these successes Syed Ahmed Shaheed decided to organize the local administration. He established an Islamic state in the area and announced his caliphate on January 11, 1827. These victories and successes of Mujahideens disturbed Ranjit Sikh very much. He decided to weaken the Mujahideens through diplomacy. He reached Peshawar and won the sympathies of two local chiefs Yar Mohammad Khan and Sultan Mohammad Khan by pointing them the ruler of Peshawar. Thus the Muslims were divided into two camps. However Syed Ahmed Shaheed succeeded in conquering Peshawar in November 1830. Through mistake Syed Ahmed Khan appointed Sultan Mohammad Khan the ruler of Peshawar. Unfortunately Sultan Mohammad turned a trailer and hatched a conspiracy against Syed Ahmed Shaheed. Thousands of Mujahideens were murdered treacherously at Peshawar and other places. In the meantime Sikh army under Sher Singh advanced against the Mujahideen. Syed Ahmed Shaheed gathered ail of his forces and encamped at Balakot which was a very secure place. Sardar Sher Singh too arrived at Balakot at the head of 20 thousands soldiers. The Sikh army besieged the area. The famous battle of Balakot was fought on 6th May 1831. The Sikhs emerged victorious. Almost all the Mujahideens including Syed Ahmed Shaheed were martyred.

Failures of Jihad Movement

The center and aim of life of Syed Ahmed Shaheed was Jihad which due to reasons became a failure. The main causes of the failure can be listed as under:

1. Ranjeet Singh acquired the military services of the Western generals Ventura and Elite who imparted training upon the soldiers of Ranjeet Army and the battle was also fought with the modern war weapons from the side of Ranjeet Singh. Mujahideen on the other side was ignorant of War Strategy.
2. In the combat which took place between Ranjeet Singh and Mujahideen army of Ranjeet Singh used modern Mujahideen depended on out dated and all weapon. The old weapon could not face the modern weapon.
3. They were ample financial sources with Ranjeet Singh but Mujahideen were facing the lack of financial resources.
4. Ranjeet Singh was aware of the fact that so long there unity of thought and action in amongst Mujahideen, it was not possible to defeat them. Therefore, he infiltrated his agents among Mujahideen who created misunderstanding amongst them.
5. Ranjeet Singh exploiting the human weakness, attracted pathans by bribing luring and sometimes pressurizing who committed spying, revolt, dissimulation and slaughtered Mujahideen.
6. According to Islamic System and in the following of Sunnat-e-Rasul (P.B.U.H), Syed Ahmed after establishing Islamic rule collected Zakat (Islamic tax) from the rich Muslims but he could not arrange the proper distribution of Zakat amongst the needy poor people. Consequently, the lower class (majority of the masses) became the victim of pessimism, depravity and the sense of inferiority. The poverty suffering class. In this way refused to accept Islamic system and started the move against this government.
7. Syed Ahmed Shaheed, dominated by feelings of reformation, wanted to implement the Islamic laws even during the period of war. For instance, compulsory marriage of girl and widows. The sentiments of pathans, in the manner, injured and they started to kill the government officials in nights.
8. Jihad Movement failed also due the reasons that the Syed's government punished people severely even on every minor mistake. For instance, lashing punishment to the liar woman and people who were not offering namaz. These were not Islamic punishments.
9. Some points in Jihad Movement resembled with the Wahabi Movement while pathans were against of Wahabi Movement.
Jihad Movement, no doubt failed but this movement played a decisive role in creating and establishing an Islamic State (Pakistan) in future because this movement created unity of thought and act amongst the Muslims of Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.

Conclusion

Although Syed Ahmed Shaheed failed to finish Sikh rule in Punjab yet his Jihad Movement Kindled a flame of freedom in the Sub-Continent. The Pathans of the Frontier province were greatly inspired by the valiant deeds of the Mujahideens, The tribesmen continued the Jihad for freedom against the British. Similarly the Mujahideen spread the spirit of Jihad throughout the length and breadth of Sub-Continent. The spirit of freedom led to the war of independence in 1857. In addition the Jihad Movement imbibed in the Muslims the spirit of Islamic nationalism which ultimately led to the Two Nation Theory and establishment of Pakistan.