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Maulana Mohammad Ismail Sambhali: Scholar, Freedom Fighter and Politician


Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi

One of the oldest places in Uttar Pradesh is Sambhal in District Moradabad, has a long list of people in its history who confronted with British and posed great resistance with their historic acts of gallantry. Abdul Qaiyyum, Lala Prem Pal, Qari Abdul Haq, Maqsood Turki, Chaudhary Riyasat Ali, Lala Chandulal, Lala Roop Kishor, Maulvi Noorul Hasan, Sheikh Abdul Raheem, Chetan Swaroop, Radhey Lal Poddar, Munshi Moinuddin, Ml. Sultan Ahmad,Maulvi Abdul Waheed are prominent among such people.

The exact date of birth of Maulana Ismail Sambhli is not known however, he might have taken birth in 1899 at Mohallah Deepa Sarai. He belonged to the Sarwar Waley family of Turk community. His father, Munshi Kifayatullah was considered among the educated people of the area and was famous with the nickname 'Munshiji'. His grandfather's name was Sarwar Husain who was a native to village Mundha in J. P. Nagar. Later he shifted to Sambhal. His family surname, Sarwar Waley was due to his grandfather's name.

He received primary education at Madrasatul Mohammadia, Deepa Sarai and was admitted to class VI to continue further education in English against his mother's wish. She wanted him to get Arabic education and finally her will prevailed. Meanwhile, his father passed away and he was sent to his elder brother at Bahawalpur where he had the honour to receive education from Maulana Farooq Ahmad, Sheikhul Hadees and Head, Jamia Usmania. Maulana Farooq Ahmad was the disciple of Shaikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan and relative of Maulana Mansoor Ansari who was put on exile on the pretext of abetting and participating in the freedom movement. He was extremely unhappy with British and a staunch supporter of freedom struggle. It was his company that helped instill a sense of nationalism in the heart of Maulana Ismail Sambhli and inspired him to participate in the freedom struggle.

After completing education at Bahawalpur, Maulana Ismail Sambhli returned back to his native place, Sambhal and continued with his education at Madrasa Sirajul Uloom. In the meantime the barbaric incident of Jalianwala Bagh took place that put the whole of India on fire. A protest strike was observed in Sambhal as well and a mass gathering 0f all communities was organized at the gardens of Gul Chhatar. Maulana Ismail Sambhli delivered a very inspiring lecture at the mass convention. Maulana was the youngest among all orators yet his oration impressed the public most and thus his national and political life began. Maylana gained popularity as Raees-ul Muqarrareen (master orator).

When the British defeated Turkey, the resulting loss and the sense of defeat made the Muslims furious. On November 22, 1919 the Khilafat Committee was founded and the Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind took birth in Delhi. The Khilafat Movement was pronounced through out the country. Just months after the sad demise of Sheikhul Hind Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan, Maulana Ismail Sambhli took admission in Darul Uloom Deoband where his nationalist ideas and concepts received firmness. He started partaking in the nationalist activities with much vigour and zeal and despite him being a student he was arrested on February 22, 1921 for his radical ideas and inflammatory speeches. After two - three days his case was heard at Moradabad Jail and he was sentenced to two years' rigorous imprisonment. Then the political detainees were generally subject to extreme brutalities. Maulana and his companions borne all types of atrocities. They were put under penal servitude, were imprisoned in small cages and were compelled to sleep handcuffed. Precisely, they were put to all types of brutalities but did not tender apology. Finally, he was released after the term of his punishment was over. Back to home he concentrated on completing his education. After completing courses at Darul Uloom Deoband he joined Jamia Qasmia Madrasa Shahi, Moradabad as a teacher in later 1924. The country's condition had changed by the time, Khilafat had come to an end, there were communal disturbances through out the country and Congress had suspended its Civil Disobedience Movement. Mahatma Gandhi was imprisoned for six years. People were feeling let down but Maulana Sambhali kept moving ahead with full confidence.

In 1930 when Congress proclaimed for complete freedom. On March 13 Mahatma Gandhi commenced his famous Dandi march in violation of the laws of salt. A Civil Disobedience Movement was also commenced.

The Britishers put the nationalist people to extreme brutalities. They were mercilessly beaten, shot by guns and imprisoned. The Jamiatul Ulema sense the need of the hour and vowed to support Congress in its Civil Disobedience Movement. It established a Daira-e-Harabia (Circle of War). Mufti Kifayatullah, Maulana Ahmad Saeed, Maulana Husain Ahmad and Maulana Mubarak Husain Sambhli were arrested one by one. Maulana Mohammad Ismail Sambhli was the seventh in this order to be arrested and was sentenced to six months' rigorous imprisonment.

When the time came for Provincial Assembly elections, the Muslim League Parliamentary Board came to existence. On behalf of Maulana Ahmad Saeed, Nazim of Jamiatul Ulema Mohammad Ali Jinnah was given the right to nominate members to the parliamentary board. Mr. Jinnah nominated 22 members from 56 out of which 20 were of Jamiatul Ulema and two of Ahrar. The Provincial Boards were under the control of Central Board. Maulana Ismail Sambhli was admitted to UP Board. He was also declared candidate from Sambhal of Moradabad and Tehsil Bilari constituencies. Those days the land lords, nawabs, kings and English title holders enjoyed great immunity and British supported people were considered prominent in the society. The nationalists participated in the election to defeat the pro-British candidates.

In 1939, the war in Europe started and the Indian government without taking the members in confidence sent the Indian army to war. The Congress opposed the move and boycotted the Assembly. It convened its session at Ramgarh on March 20-21, 1940 under the president ship of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. The Civil Disobedience Movement was pronounced in the session and finally in the last of 1940 the non-violent civil disobedience movement commenced. A programme was chalked out for individual speeches. Maulana Ismail Sambhli was arrested in Moradabad during the movement and was sentenced for nine months' imprisonment. In August 1942, Congress gave the famous 'Leave India' slogan. Mahatma Gandhi was arrested and sent to Sabarmati Jail. There were arrests every where in the country. Maulana Ismail Sambhli was again arrested in Sambhal and was put under house arrest at Moradabad Jail for indefinite period. Later he was released after one year.

In 1946, when elections were declared, the tussle between Congress and Muslim League was at its peak. Maulana Sambhli was elected, remained MLA till 1952.

Maulana Ismail Sambhli did not participate in the 1952 elections and stationed at Delhi as the Nazim-e-Ala of Jamiatul Ulema. He served Jamiat for four years and remained busy in social and political affairs. In 1957 he resigned from Jamiat and returned to Sambhal.

In 1962, he was appointed as Sheikhul Hadees at Madrasa Imdadia, Moradabad and served there for about three years.. In 1974, he shunned the idea of service and returned back to Sambhal and engaged himself in the literary work only to complete the half hatched books. "Maqalat-e-Tasawwuf", "Akhbarul Tanzeel" (the Quranic prophesies) and "Taquleed-e-Aimma" are some important books authored by him. Meanwhile he went to Mawana, Meerut and taught Quran's translation for eight months. In his last age, he spent a few Ramadhan months in Bombay delivering lectures on the translation and analysis of Quran every night after Taraweeh. He fell sick in the last Ramadhan of his life yet, and after returning to Sambhal he breathed his last on 23rd November 1975 after one and half months' prolonged illness. (