It emphasised on the belief that Allah would soon send a
Messiah, who would eradicate the social, religious and political evils and
would purify and glorify Islam. The main aim of the Wahabis in India was to
convert ‘Dar-ul -Harb’ (non-Islamic territory) into `Dar-ul-Islam’ (Islamic
The British government termed the Wahabis as traitors and
rebels. But the main aim of the movement was to reform the Muslim society and
rejuvenate it. For the same purpose the movement also laid stress on the revival
Originally, the Wahabi movement was started in Arabia by
Muhammad Ibn-Aba-e-Wahid. Being religious in content its main aim was to end
tribalism and spread Islam. But the orthodox Muslims did not give it due
importance and even opposed it.
Shah Wali Ullah was the first Muslim leader in India, who
expressed concern over the miseries of Muslims. Afterwardhis movement was shaped
as Wahabi movement by Shah Abdul Aziz and Saiyid Ahamd Raebarelvi.
Saiyid Ahmed called it a holy war and toured all important
cities and places of India. He chose Sittana in the North-western Province as
the centre of his activities and organised a strong network of branches found it
from Dhaka to Peshawar. In India, its main centre was in Patna.
In 1831, after the death of Sayyid Ahmed ‘Raebarelvi’, Ali
brothers of Patna, Vilayat Ali and Inayat Ali became the main leaders of the
movement.After 1860, the British carried out extensive military operations
against the Wahabis and destroyed their military outposts.
Armed resistance by the Wahabis had come into being only
after the revolt of 1857. The movement was fully suppressed after 1870.
The chief inspiration for this movement came from Bhai
Ram Singh (1824-1885) a disciple of Bhai Balak Singh who was a simple and
devoted person. His father Jassa Singh was from a poor family belonging to
the Ramgarhia misl. Bhai Ram Singh had served in the Sikh army before the
first Anglo Sikh war.
The ill-treatment meted out to Maharani Jindan, Diwam Mulraj
and Maharaja Dalip Singh turned him against the British. He stressed on the need
for recitation of Chandi Path, Guruvani, Nam Jap and Asha-di-var running langars
and worshipping of cow.
Bhai Ram Singh encouraged his followers to be self-dependent‘
He asked them not to admit their children in government schools, not to appear
in courts of law, not to use foreign goods, railways or postal services. This
way he was perhaps the first person to adopt the policy of non-cooperation
against the British government.
He divided the area under his influence into 22 parts and
appointed ‘Subedars’ and Naib-Subedar in them. He also constituted an
independent spy system. He never used the roads built by the government.
Instead Bhai Ram Singh was deported to Burma by the Third
Bengal Regulation of 1868, where he died in 1885 at the age of 61.
It was essentially because of the exploitative policies of the British that the
feelings of unrest grew among the Indians which finally manifested in the form
of a revolt in 1857. The greased cartridges only provided the much needed spark,
which set the stage ablaze.
In 1852, an Inam Commission was established. Its
objective was to take over the lands on which revenue was not being paid.
More than 20,000 jagirs were confiscated during the period of Lord Dalhousie
itself intensifying the mushrooming discontent.
The Indian princely states vehemently opposed the denial
of the system of adoption by the British. Lord Dalhousie annexed several
Indian states. States like Satara (1848), Jaitpur and Sambhalpur (1849),
Baghat (1850), Udaipur (1852), Jhansi (1853) and Nagpur (1854) were merged
with the British Empire by applying the dubious Doctrine of Lapse.
Nana Sahib was refused pension, as he was the adopted son
of Peshwa Baji Rao II. Lucknow was annexed in 1856. on charges of
maladministration and Jhansi was annexed owing to Doctrine of Lapse.
The government of the Company did not even leave the last
Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah II. The Governor-General of India, Lord
Ellenborough discontinued the practice of giving gifts to Bahadur Shah and
struck his name off the coins.
In 1856, the annexation of Awadh created panic and
disaffection. The state of Awadh had been loyal to the Company throughout.
But despite that Awadh was annexed to the English state on the grounds of
misrule and administrative irregularities.