Hijrat, 1920

An excerpt from my book,” A Never-Ending Conflict”:

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, Islamic Empire in India went into terminal decline. Peeved by the demeaning status of Muslims who ruled India for five centuries, Syed Ahmed tried to rejuvenate Islam in India in the 1880s. In the late 1910s, the Ali brothers started the Khilafat movement to save Khalifa in Turkey and mobilise Indian Muslims.

Muslims became excited and emotional for the Khilafat that even poor Sufis and Pirs started making larger contributions, lending open support, and conducting meetings for the movement. On the other hand, these activities raised concerns among Hindus as these Muslim spiritual leaders were previously seen exhorting violence against Hindus, or at best, were silent in the face of rabid violence.

They had a huge hold on the masses, especially rural ones, and were able to convince the economically poor Muslims that their religion was in danger. At this juncture, Khilafat leaders like the Ali brothers and Maulana Azad opined that only two methods were available to pious Muslims: jihad or hijrat. If jihad was not possible, then hijrat was the only method for Muslims to escape the tyranny of kafirs. Under hijrat, they had the option to migrate to purely Islamic countries in Central Asia, which even had a sanction in the Quran. Azad stated that hijrat was one of the important constituents of the five pillars of Islamic society, which held the Islamic structure together for centuries. He went on to declare India as “Dar-al-Harb”, unfit for Muslims. The idea then gained currency and thousands of Muslims started to migrate to Afghanistan in the hot summer of 1920 after selling their property in distress. In India, the Khilafat committees took the lead in managing the caravans of the muhajirin (who migrated from India and then left for Tashkent after the snub in Afghanistan) to Afghanistan.

The first batch received a rousing welcome in Afghanistan and soon, stories began to float, creating immense interest among the Indian Muslims. The Amir of Afghanistan welcomed the travelers with open heart and asked them to take the arms and fight against all sorts of kafirs. On hearing the juicy anecdotes, more and more people began to migrate and many villages near Peshawar became empty.

Soon, the narrow Khyber Pass had a traffic jam with hundreds of bullock carts, horses, and camels clogging the way, resulting in jostling, which led hundreds of people to fall to their death in the deep gorges. Apart from this, Afghan Muslim tribals, sensing the opportunity of a lifetime, pounced upon the hapless fellow Muslim travelers and looted them. Their women were kidnapped, raped and enslaved, despite them being Muslims. In these carnal matters, Afghans were not partial. Once littered with Hindu corpses, Khyber Pass was now strewn with Muslim bodies.

However, when the figure of immigrants reached 40,000, Afghanistan expressed its inability to accommodate them further and asked them to return. The Muslim migrants now became infuriated at Afghanistan’s sudden U-turn and cold reception. With no other option, about 75 percent of the Muslims had to return to India unceremoniously, while the rest moved further up to Central Asia.

Mohammed Ali went to Switzerland in August 1920 to meet Talat Pasha, a former Turkish ruler, to raise funds to create an army of ghazis comprising Afghans, the newly migrated muhajirin, and the tribals on the Indian borders along the Durand line. However, Turkey could not provide funds as the war had ravaged it. Hence, the Afghans and the Bolshevists (a radical, far-Left, and revolutionary Marxist bloc in Russia) were jointly assigned to attack India and secure independence from the British.

The Bolshevists were sincere in their endeavors and despatched M.N. Roy, a member of the Central Asiatic Bureau of the Communist International, to Tashkent in December 1920 to oversee the preparation of the ‘Army of Liberation’ by thousands of angry and disenchanted  muhajirin. However, many consider the help to M.N. Roy and other Indian communist revolutionaries as a tactic by the Bolsheviks to strengthen Soviet Russia’s negotiating station against the British. However, it also ended up in an abject failure. Since then, Communism and Islam are collaborating with each other as both want to uproot the existing world order and implant theirs.

In retrospect, The Hijrat movement, conceived in the fictitious concept of pan-Islamism, was doomed to fail from the start. When the Afghans felt the heat of the hijrat, they suspended it and sent their Indian Muslim ‘brothers’ in all directions. The people who had left their well-manicured garden discovered the grass was not at all green on the ‘hallowed’ Muslim lands.

The incident of hijrat remains an exciting occurrence in Indian history as many Hindus hoped it to be a grand success. But only if wishes were horses.

Written by Amit Agarwal, author of the bestsellers on Indian history titled “Swift horses Sharp Swords” and “A Never Ending Conflict”.

Follow me on Twitter @amit1119 and Instagram/ Facebook at amitagarwalauthor.

You may buy the books at the following links:

Buy Swift Horses Sharp Swords: Medieval battles which shook India Book Online at Low Prices in India | Swift Horses Sharp Swords: Medieval battles which shook India Reviews & Ratings – Amazon.in

A Never-Ending Conflict: Episodes from Indic Resistance | Garuda Prakashan (garudabooks.com)

https://garudabooks.com/swift-horses-sharp-swords… (Hindi)

Swift Horses Sharp Swords: Medieval battles which shook India (Hindi) | Garuda Prakashan (garudabooks.com)


Amit Agarwal