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Ubaidullah Sindhi

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Title: Ubaidullah Sindhi  
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Subject: Hindu–German Conspiracy, Sindhi nationalism, Provisional Government of India, List of Sindhi people, Revolutionary movement for Indian independence
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Ubaidullah Sindhi

Ubaidullah Sindhi
Born (1872-03-10)March 10, 1872
Died August 22, 1944(1944-08-22) (aged 72)
Era British Raj
Region Islamic philosopher/scholar

Ubaidullah Sindhi (Sindhi: عبیداللہ سنڌي, Urdu: مولانا عبیداللہ سندھی‎), (March 10, 1872 - August 22, 1944) was a noted nationalist leader and a political activist of the Indian independence movement.

Born in a Uppal Khatri family of Sialkot, Ubaidullah converted to Islam early in his life and later enrolled in the Darul Uloom Deoband, where he was at various times associated with other noted Islamic scholars of the time, including Maulana Rasheed Gangohi and Mahmud al Hasan. Maulana Sindhi returned to the Darul-Uloom Deoband in 1909, and gradually involved himself in the Pan-Islamic movement. During World War I, he was amongst the leaders of the Deoband School, who, led by Maulana Mahmud al Hasan, left India to seek support of the Central Powers for a Pan-Islamic revolution in India in what came to be known as the Silk Letter Conspiracy.

Ubaidullah reached Kabul during the war to rally the Afghan Amir Habibullah Khan, and after brief period, he offered his support to Raja Mahendra Pratap's plans for revolution in India with German support. He joined the Provisional Government of India formed in Kabul in December 1915, and remained in Afghanistan until the end of the war, and left for Russia. He subsequently spent two years in Turkey and, passing through many countries, eventually reached Hijaz (Saudi Arabia) where he spent about 14 years learning and pondering over the philosophy of Islam especially in the light of Shah Waliullah's works. In his early career he was a Pan-Islamic thinker. However, after his studies of Shah Waliullah's works, Ubaidullah Sindhi emerged as non-Pan-Islamic scholar. He was one of the most active and prominent members of the faction of Indian Freedom Movement led by Muslim clergy chiefly from the Islamic School of Deoband. Ubaidullah Sindhi died on August 22, 1944.

Early life

Ubaidullah was born on March 17, 1872 (12 Muharram 1289 AH) to a Uppal Sikh Khatri family at Chilanwali, in the district of Sialkot (now in Pakistan). His father Ram Singh Zargar died 4 months before Ubaidullah was born, and the child Ubaidullah was raised for the first years of his life under the care of his grandfather. Following the latter's death when Ubaidullah was two years of age, he was taken by his mother to the care of her father, his maternal grandfather's house. Ubaidullah was, after sometime, entrusted to the care of his uncle at Jampur when his grandfather died.


When he was at school, a Hindu friend gave him a book "Tufatul hind" to read. It was written by a convert scholar Maulan Ubaidullah of Malerkotla. After reading this book and others like Taqwiyatul Eeman and Ahwaal ul Aakhira, Ubaidullah's interest in Islam grew, leading eventually to his conversion to Islam. In 1887, the year of his conversion, he left for Sindh where he was taken as a student by Hafiz Muhammad Siddque of Chawinda [Bharchundi, in Sindhi, ڀرچونڊي]. He subsequently studied at Deen Pur under Maulana Ghulam Muhammad where he delved deeper into Islamic education and training in mystical order. In 1888 Ubaidullah was admitted to Darul Uloom Deoband, where he studied various Islamic disciplines at depth under the tutelage of noted Islamic scholars of the time, including Maulana Abu Siraj, Maulana Rasheed Gangohi and Maulana Mahmud al Hasan. He took lessons in Bukhari and Tirmidhi from Maulana Nazeer Husain Dehlvi and read Logic and Philosophy from Maulana Ahmad Hasan Cawnpuri.

In 1891, Ubaidullah graduated from the Deoband school. He left for Sukkur, and started teaching in Amrote Shareef [under or with Maulana Taj Mahmood Amroti, who became his mentor after the passing away of Maulana Muhammad Siddique of Bharchundi]. He married at this time the daughter of Maulana Azeemullah Khan, a teacher at Islamiyah High School. In 1901, Ubaidullah established the Darul Irshaad in Goth Peer Jhanda in Sindh. He worked on propagating his school for nearly seven years. In 1909, requested by Mahmud Al Hasan, Ubaidullah returned to Deoband. Here, he accomplished much for the student body, Jamiatul Ansaar. Ubaidullah was at this time very active in covert anti-British propaganda activities, which led to him alienating a large part of the Deoband leaders. Subsequently, Ubaidullah moved his work to Delhi at Hasan's request. At Delhi, he worked with Hakeem Ajmal Khan and Dr. Ansari. In 1912, he established a madrassah, Nazzaaratul Ma'arif which achieved much in the field of propagating Islam.


With the onset of World War I, efforts emerged from the Darul Uloom Deoband to forward the cause of Pan-Islam in India with the help of the Central Powers. Led by Mahmud al Hasan, plans were chalked out for an insurrection beginning in the tribal belt of North-west India.[1][2] Mahmud al Hasan, left India to seek the help of Galib Pasha, the Turkish governor of Hijaz, while at Hasan's directions Ubaidullah proceeded to Kabul to seek the Emir Habibullah's support. The initially plans were to raise an Islamic army (Hizb Allah) headquartered at Medina, with an Indian contingent at Kabul. Maulana Hasan was to be the General-in-chief of this army.[2] Ubaidullah himself was preceded to Kabul by some of his students. While at Kabul, Ubaid Ullah came to the conclusion that focussing on the Indian Freedom Movement would best serve the pan-Islamic cause.[3] Ubaidullah's proposed to the Afghan Emir that he declare war against Britain.[4][9] Maulana Abul Kalam Azad is known to have been involved in the movement prior to his arrest in 1916.[1]

Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and Mahmud al Hasan (principle of the Darul Uloom Deoband) had proceeded to Kabul in October 1915 with plans to initiate a Muslim insurrection in the tribal belt of India. For this purpose, Ubaid Allah was to propose that the Amir of Afghanistan declares war against Britain while Mahmud al Hasan sought German and Turkish help. Hasan proceeded to Hijaz. Ubaid Allah, in the meantime, was able to establish friendly relations with Amir. At Kabul, Ubaid Allah, along with some students who had preceded him to make way to Turkey to join the Caliph's "Jihad" against Britain, decided that the pan-Islamic cause was to be best served by focusing on the Indian Freedom Movement.[3]

In late 1915, Sindhi was met in Kabul by the Niedermayer-Hentig Expedition sent by the Indian Independence Committee in Berlin and the German war ministry. Nominally led by the exiled Indian prince Raja Mahendra Pratap, it had among its members the Islamic scholar Maulavi Barkatullah, the German officers Werner Otto von Hentig and Oskar Niedermayer, as well as a number of other notable individuals. The expedition tried to rally Emir Habibullah to the Central powers and through him begin a campaign into India, which it was hoped would initiate a rebellion in India. On December 1, 1915, the Provisional Government of India was founded at Habibullah's Bagh-e-Babur palace in the presence of the Indian, German and Turkish members of the expedition and friends. It was declared a revolutionary government-in-exile which was to take charge of independent India when British authority had been overthrown.[6] Ahendra Pratap was proclaimed President, Barkatullah the Prime minister, Ubaidullah Sindhi the Minister for India, another Deobandi leader Maulavi Bashir its war Minister, and Champakaran Pillai the Foreign Minister.[10] It obtained support from Galib Pasha and proclaimed Jihad against Britain. Recognition was sought from Tsarist Russia, Republican China and Japan.[8] The Government would later attempt to obtain support from Soviet leadership. After the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, Pratap's government corresponded with the nascent Soviet government. In 1918, Mahendra Pratap met Trotsky in Petrograd before meeting the Kaiser in Berlin, urging both to mobilise against British India.[11][12]

However, these plans faltered, Habibullah remained steadfastly neutral while he awaited a concrete indication where the war headed, even as his advisory council and family members indicated their support against Britain. The Germans withdrew in 1917, but the Indian government stayed behind at Kabul. In 1919, the government was ultimately dissolved under British diplomatic pressure to Afghanistan. Ubaidullah stayed in Kabul for nearly seven years. He encouraged young King Amanullah Khan, who took power after Habibullah's assassination, in the Third Anglo-Afghan War. The conclusion of the war, ultimately, forced him to leave as Amanullah came under pressure from Britain.

Later works

Ubaidullah proceeded to Russia, where he spent seven months at the invitation of the Soviet leadership, and was afforded official treatment as a guest of the state. During this period, he studied the ideology of socialism. He was however, unable to meet Lenin because he (Lenin) was severely ill at the time. It is thought that Sindhi was impressed by Communist ideals during his stay in Russia. In 1923, Ubaidullah left Russian for Turkey, where he initiated the third phase of the Waliullah Movement in 1924. He issued the Charter for the Independence of India from Istanbul. Ubaidullah left for Mecca in 1927 and remained there until 1929. During this period, he brought the message of the rights of Muslims and other important Deeni issues to the masses. During his stay in Russia He was not impressed by the Communist ideas but rather after soviet revolution he presented to the soviet government that "Communism is not a natural law system but rather is a reaction to oppression, the natural law is offered by Islam". He convinced them the fact in very systematic and logical manner, but he was left unanswered when they asked him to show example state which is being run according to the laws of Islam.


In 1936, the Indian National Congress requested his return to India and the British Raj subsequently permitted him to return. He remained at Delhi, where he began a programme teaching Shah Waliullah’s Hujjatullahil Baalighah to Akbarabadi, who would then write an exegesis in his own words. Ubaidullah left for Lahore to visit his daughter in 1944. At Lahore, he was taken seriously ill and died on 22 of August 1944 at Lahore. His body was then taken to his native village named Deen pur and he was buried in the graveyard adjacent to the grave of his Mentors. (Deen pur is one KM before the Khanpur and almost 8 km from Lal Pir by pass, Near Rahim Yar Khan District, Punjab, Pakistan)


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