Currently while there is a dearth of visionary, committed and selfless Muslim scholars who could lead the disillusioned and misguided Muslim youth to serving Islam, Pakistan and overall humanity in a constructive manner, it is pertinent to present a description of the life, contributions and works of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi.
In Maulana Sindhi’s person, we have one of the most impressive representatives of the Deobandi ideology and its services to Islam and the subcontinent. LUBP readers will appreciate that Maulana Sindhi’s ideology is way different from a violent sectarian and jihadi agenda currently adopted by some Deobandis scholars in Pakistan (e.g., Jamaat-e-Islami, JUI, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jaish-e-Muhammad etc).
We hope that all Muslims, particularly those influenced by a violent Talibanic (jihadi and sectarian) agenda, will take out some time to read this article, to develop a non-violent, non-sectarian and future-oriented understanding of the Deobandi school of though. (Abdul Nishapuri)
Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi (10 March 1872-22 August 1944) was a noted pan-Islamic leader a political activist of the Indian independence movement.
Ubaidullah was born on March 10, 1872 to a Sikh family at Chilanwali, in the district of Sialkot (now in Pakistan). His father Ram Singh Zargar died 4 months Ubaidullah was born, and the child Unaidullah 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 his maternal grandfather’s house.
Ubaidullah, was after sometime, entrusted to the care of his uncle at Jampur when his grandfather died. It was at Jampur that young Ubaidullah received his initial secular education.
Islam and Deoband
Ubaidullah converted to Islam early in his life and later enrolled in the Darul Uloom Deoband.
When he was at school, a Hindu friend gave him a book “Tuhfatul Hind” to read. It was written by a convert scholar Maulan Ubaidullah of Malerkotla. After reading this book and others, Ubaidullah’s interest in Islam grew, leading eventually to his conversion to Islam.
In 1887, the year os his conversion, he left for Sindh where he was taken as a student by Hafiz Muhammad Siddque of Chawinda. 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 Sukkhur, and started teaching in Amrote Shareef. 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 l909, 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 alieniating 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.
Pan-Islamic Movement and the Focus on Freedom of India
Ubaidullah 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-Islmaic 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 till 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 fourteen years learning and pondering over the philosophy of Islam especially in the light of Shah Waliullah’s works.
He was one of the most active and prominent members of the faction of Indian Freedom Movement led by Muslim Clergy chiefly from Islamic School of Deoband. Ubaidullah Sindhi died on August 22, 1944. (Source: Wikipedia)
With the onset of the 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.
Mahmud al Hasan, left India to seek the help of Galib Pasha, the Turkish governor of Hijaz, while at Hasan’s directions Ubaidullah Sindhi proceeded to Kabul to seek the Emir Habibullah’s support. The initial 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.
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. Ubaidullah’s proposed to the Afghan Emir that he declare war against Britain.
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, Ubaidallah 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.
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. Mahendra 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. It obtained support from Galib Pasha and proclaimed Jihad against Britain. Recognition was sought from Tsarist Russia, Republican China and Japan.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.
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.
Russia and Turkey
Ubaidullah proceeded to Soviet 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.
In 1936, the Indian National Congress requested his return to India and subsequently permitted to return. He remained at Delhi, where he began a programme teaching Shah Waliullah’s Hujjatullahil Baalighah to Maulana 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 August 1944 at Deen Pur (location: Khanpur,Near Rahim Yar Khan, District Bahawalpur).
(Adapted from Wikipedia)
Comments by Maulana Saeed Ahmed Akbarabadi
Maulana Saeed Ahmed Akbarabadi describes the return of Maulana Ubaidullah to Delhi after his exile thus:
“All the people proceeded to the Delhi station to await his arrival. I had conjured up an image of Maulana by looking at the present leaders. I expected him to have a turban on his head and to be wearing a juba (robe). He would be a passenger of the first class, he would at least have one servant with him, at least 2-3 heavy suitcases, a heavy bedding, 2-3 flasks, 3 -4 heavy receptacles of food and majesty and grandeur apparent on his countenance. However, when the train reached, all these thoughts were left stagnant. The people frantically began searching the first and second -class coaches. Meanwhile, a man with nothing on his head, wearing a kurta of coarse cotton cloth with a coarse sheet around his neck emerged from the third class. Those who recognised him immediately ran towards him. This was Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi. The hair of his beard and head was completely white. He was about 65 years old. People began searching for his goods, but where did he have any luggage? Whatever was on his body was all that he owned. I have not seen a person and probably will not see in future one who has renounced material pleasures so totally”.
Once Maulana came from Okla to Delhi (a distance of approximately 8 miles) on foot during a hot day. He returned on foot as well because he did not have sufficient money to board the bus. Maulana Saeed Akbarabadi comments that he (Maulana Ubaidullah) did not mention this to anyone nor could they realize this from his countenance. Someone who came by bus saw him walking and when Maulana was asked if he had indeed come walking, he admitted doing so. In addition, because of having to travel on foot he had to leave very early that day. As the food was not yet ready when he departed, he had to forgo the meal, which he only had after Asar in Delhi. This is the mettle, which he was made of. He made a programme of teaching Shah Waliullah’s Hujjatullahil Baalighah to Maulana Akbarabadi who would then write an exegesis in his own words. Thereafter he had to leave for Lahore to visit his daughter. Here he fell seriously ill and died on 22 August 1944.
Ubaidullah Sindh’s Writings
حکومت الہیہ کے مدعیوں سے ایک سوال
میں ہندوستان کی مختلف مسلمان جماعتوں سےایک سوال کرنا چاہتا ہوں۔مجھے اس بات کا اعتراف ہے کہ ان میں سے ھر ایک جماعت اس امر میں کوشاں ہے کہ وہ قرآن کے اصولوں پر ہندوستان میں حکومت الہیہ قائم کرے۔لیکن سوال یہ ہے کہ اس قرآنی حکومت کا ان کے ذہن میں تصور کیا ہے۔گزشتہ ادوار میں مسلمانوں کی یہاں جو ھکومت تھی وہ باہر سے آنے والے مسلمانوں کےبل پر عمل میں آئ تھی اور انہی کی ضرورتوں کے مطابق ان کا قانون تھا۔جب باہر سے آنے والے ان مسلمانوں کی طاقت ختم ہوگئ اور ان کانافذ کردہ قانون بحی برسر پیکار نہ رہا۔تو اب جس نئ حکومت کو بنانے میں ہماری یہ مسلمان جماعتیں کوشاں ہیں اسے خیال سے عمل میں لانےمیں کون سا معاشرہ اور طبقہ ممد و معاون ہوگا۔ظاہر ہے یہ نئی اسلامی حکومت ہندوستانی مسلمانوں ہی کی مدد سے بن سکتی ہے اور واقعہ یہ ہے کہ ان کی بیشتر تعداد یہاں کے اصل باشندوں کی ہے،جو مسلمان ہوگئے ہیں،اب اگر کسی جماعت کو سچے دل سے اس ملک میں اسلامی حکومت بنانے کی دھن ہے تو اس کے لئے لازمی ہے کہ وہ یہاں کے مسلمانوں کے فطری رجحانات اور آج کے زمانے کی ضروریات کو سمجھے اور ان کے مطابق قرآنی حکومت کی تفصیلات پیش کرے۔جب تک یہ نہیں ہوگا ہندوستان میں اسلامی اصولوں پو کسی نظام کا قائم کرنا ممکنات میں سے نہیں۔
اورمیں یہ کوئی انہونی بات نہیں کہ رہا تاریخ اسلام میں قومی رجحانات شروع ہی سے موجود رہے ہیں۔ایک مشہور حدیث ہے کہ الائمۃ من القریش یعنی امام قریش میں سے ہوں ،
امام شاہ ولی اللہ کے نزدیک رسول اکرم صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم کی بعثت کی دو حیثیتیں ہیں۔
ایک نبوت عمومی اور دوسری اس کے ذریعے قریش کی سعادت و سربلندی۔قومی رجحانات و خصوصیات کا انکار فطرت کا انکار ہے اور جو نظام اس قدرتی جذبے کا خیال نہیں رکحتا’وہ کبھی دیرپا ثابت نہیں ہوتا۔
از افادات و ملفو ظات مولانا سندھی مطبوعہ سندہ ساگر اکادمی لاہور
Ubaidullah Sindhi – by Sultan Imran
Mawlānā ʻUbayd Allāh Sindhī : Hālāt-i zandagī, taʻlīmāt awr siyāsī afkār
by Muḥammad Sarwar. Publisher: Lahore, 
Khutbāt o maqālāt-i Maulānā ʻUbaidullāh Sindhī. murattib Muḥammad Sarwar. Lahore: Sindh Sagar Academy