A dangerous conspiracy hatched by the English government was that it set the Hindus against the Muslims. The Muslims once had Political importance and supremacy in India. The English now, under their policy, pushed up the Hindus and brought down the Muslims. When the Hindus advanced in the economic and political fields, the English prompted them towards the path of religious superiority and prepared them to break lance with the Muslims, and provided the opportuni*ties for this, that the Hindus polemize with the Muslims openly.
Then, on May 8, 1876, a "Fair for God-Consciousness" was held at Chandapur village, near Shahjahanpur (U.P.), under the auspices of the local Zamindar, Piyare Lal Kabir-panthi, under the management of Father Knowles, and with the support and permission of the collector of Shahjahanpur, Mr. Robert George. Representatives of all the three religions, Christian, Hindu and Muslim, were invited through posters to attend and prove the truthfulness of their respective religions. At the suggestion of Maulana Muhammad Munir Nanautawi and Maulawi Ilahi Bakhsh Rangin Bareillwi, Maulana Qasim Nanotawi, accompanied by Maulana Mahmud Hasan, Maulana Raheemullah Bijnori and Maulana Fakhrul-Hasan, reached the fair. Besides Maulana Qasim Nanotawi, Maulana Abul Mansoor Dehlawi, Mirza Mujid Jullunduri, Maulawi Ahmed Ali Dehlawi, Mir Haider Dehlawi, Maulawi Nau'man bin Luqman and Maulana Rangin Bareillwi also parti*cipated. All these Ulama delivered speeches at this fair, causing the desired effect. In repudiation of the Doctrine of Trinity and Polytheism, and on affirmation of Divine Unity (Monotheism), Maulana Qasim Nanotawi spoke so well that the audience, both those who were against and those who were for him, were convinced.
One newspaper writes: *
"In the gathering of 8th May of the current year (1876), Maulana Muhammad Qasim gave a lecture and stated the merits of Islam. The Padre Sahib explained the Trinity in a strange manner, saying that in a line are found three attributes: length, breadth and depth, and thus Trinity is proven in every way. The said Maulawi Sahib confuted it promptly. Then, while the Padre Sahib and the Maulawi Sahib were debating regarding the speech, the meeting broke up, and in the vicinity and on all sides arose the outcry that the Muslims had won. Wherever a religious divine of Islam stood, thousands of men would gather around him. In the meeting of the first day the Christians did not reply to the objections raised by the followers of Islam, while the Muslims replied the Christians word by word and won”
Next year this "fair" was held again in March, 1877. This time Munshi Indraman Moradabodi and Pandit Dayanand (d. 1882/1301), the founder of the Arya Samaj, also participated. Dayanandji spoke in San*stritized Hindi. Padre Knowles had called one Padre Scot also. Hadhrat Nanautawi's speeches were delivered on Theism, Monotheism, and inter*polation in Religion, and proved very successful.
The duties of providing board and lodging to the Ulama of Islam were discharged this time by Muhammad Tahir Moti Mian.
Maulana Qasim Nanotawi, participating both the years in the said fair, frustrated the Christians conspiracy. On this occasion, Prof. Muhammad Ayyub Qadiri, writing in Maulana Ahmed Hasan Nanautawi's biography, says that:
"One thing specially deserves deliberation here that the fair for God consciousness at Shahjahanpur was held consecutively for two years with announcement and publicity, throwing in a way. A challenge to the religion of Islam and yet one does not find a clue to any interest the Ulama of Bareilly and Badaun, the two districts so near, almost conti*guous to Shahjahanpur, may have evinced in this fair."
THE POLEMIC AT ROORKEE
In Shawwal, 1294/1877, Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotawi, with a party of eminent Ulama went for hajj and returned from there in Rabiul Awwal, 1295/1877. On his way back, he fell ill at Jeddah. After reaching his native-place, he recovered somewhat but the disease was not fully cured. The same year, in Sha'ban AH. 1295, he received infor*mation from Roorkee that Pandit Dayanandji had reached there and was leveling objections against Islam. Maulana Qasim Nanotawi, despite his weakness and illness, went to Roorkee and however much he wished to have a debate with Panditji in a public gathering, the latter did not agree and left Roorkee, Then, at Maulana Qasim Nanotawi's instance, Maulana Fakharul Hasan Gangohi and Maulana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi deli*vered lectures in public meetings and threw a challenge to Panditji. Maulana Qasim Nanotawi gave replies to his objections in public meetings and, thereafter, wrote a treatise on "Istaqbal-e Qibla" (the direction of the holy Ka'ba towards which the Muslims turn their faces in prayer but do not actually worship it).
Thereafter Panditji reached Meerut and there too he adopted the same manner. At the request of the Muslims of Meerut, Maulana Qasim Nanotawi went to Meerut. There also Panditji did not agree to have a debate, So, Maulana Qasim Nanotawi, gave replies to his objections in a forceful speech he delivered in a public meeting at Meerut.
REFORMATIVE MOVEMENT FOR WIDOW RE-MARRIAGE
Bringing into currency the re-marriage of widows is also a glorious social and reformative achievement of his. Until the end of the thirteenth century Hijri the re-marriage of widows was considered very reproachful. People used to feel its disgracefulness but no one had the courage to put an end to it. By the laudable efforts of Syed Ahmed Shaheed, Mau*lana Muhammad IsmaiI Shaheed Dehlawi, Maulana Mamlook Ali Nanautawi, Maulana Muzaffar Husain Kandhlawi, Maulana Muhammad Ahsan Nanautawi and Hadhrat Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanautawi, the re*marriage of widows came very much into vogue. Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotawi, making his widowed sister, who was much older than himself and had become quite old, prepared for re-marriage, broke up this disgraceful custom in such a way that now no one knows that such a custom once prevailed here,
PARTICIPATION IN THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM
Taking manly part in the battle for independence in 1857, he captured the tehsil of Shamli in Muzaffarnagar district but the corrupted political atmosphere prevailing did not let him advance further from Shamli. This incident of re-counter at Shamli is so well-known that it need not be repeated here.
Maulana Qasim Nanotwi has left behind more than two-dozen books to perpetuate his memory. In his time he set his pen to paper on those questions which were mostly on the tapes then. All his books have been written in response to one query or the other. Munshi Mumtaz Ali, pro*prietor of Matba-e Mujtabai, Delhi, in 1292/1875, had chalked out a programme to publish all of Maulana Qasim Nanotwi's works. In the advertisement of this programme printed by him, he had stated:*
"Many gentlemen must know Maulawi Muhammad Qasim Sahib. He avoids contention and disputation and passes an independent life in a condition of detachment. If some one sent him a query regarding some difficult proposition from distant land, he would write its answer, otherwise he has not anything to do with anyone. Moreover, why should he have, for he has no trace of carnality in him? This slave is enamored of his independent way of life and fond of his disquisitional writ*ings. For a long time I was contemplating to secure his writings some* how and having printed them, show the Tamasha of divine omnipo*tence to the high-minded people of the time. He had a prodig*ious talent in proving the religio-legal propositions with rational argu*ments and in refuting the philosopher’s propositions also with the same rational arguments".
From Qasim to Qasim:A Brief Survey of Islamic Orthodoxy in the Indian Subcontinent
A Brief Survey of Islamic Orthodoxy in the Indian Subcontinent from the Warrior Muhammad ibn Qasim to the Philosopher-Theologian Muhammad Qasim Nanotwi
By Ali Altaf Mian
Islam Reaches India
A unique civilization, encompassing many sub-civilizations, is suffused in the Indian Subcontinent. Many of the world’s famous religions flourish in this part of the world. India is home to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and became a receptive host for the Abrahamic religions as well. The apostlehood of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Qur’an were, notes Stanley Wolpert, “destined to divert fundamentally the course of Indian history.” Expeditions aimed at India were deliberated, and to some extent carried out, without ever materializing, during the reign of the second Caliph of Islam, Umar ibn al-Khattab. Historians of India report that the first Arab attack was on the coastal regions near present-day Mumbai around the year 636. In 660, when Ali ibn Abi Talib was the Caliph, there was another attempt to seize Sind, and again in 664, Muawiya, the first Umayyad ruler, sent Abdullah ibn Sawad with a “more organized expedition” that was “repulsed by the Hindus.” In 711, Muhammad ibn Qasim led the first successful expedition towards India responding to the “piratic plundering of a richly laden Arab ship as it passed the mouth of the Indus.” Ibn Qasim’s conquest resulted in the incorporation of Sind into the Umayyad Empire and marked the beginning of Islam’s strong foothold in the Indian Subcontinent. It was not until the invasions from Transoxiana in the tenth century, however, that Islam would spread throughout North India.
Mahmud Ghaznawi to Akbar
The Abbasid caliphs, who had replaced the Umayyads and had shifted the Muslim capital from Damascus to Baghdad, had begun enlisting large numbers of central Asians into their army. One of them was Alptigin, “who seized the Afghan fortress of Ghazni in 962,” thereby becoming the founder of the first Turkish Islamic kingdom. His grandson, Mahmud (971-1030), led many attacks on the Northwestern part of India, finally incorporating a large portion of North India into the Muslim World. For the next century and a half, the Ghaznavids ruled parts of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were sacked when “Sultan Muhammad of Ghur and his slave lieutenant Qutb-ud-din Aybak led their first raid into India in 1175, destroying the Ghaznavid garrison at Peshawar in 1179, capturing Lahore in 1186 and Delhi in 1193.” Qutb al-Din Aybak became the ruler of this kingdom in 1206, and the founding of his “‘Slave’ (Mamluk) dynasty transformed North India into Dar-ul-Islam (“Land of Submission”) from Dar-ul-Harb (“Land of War”).” For about the next 300 years, the Delhi Sultanate (1193-1556), encompassing “five successive Turko-Afghan dynasties,” were to rule most of North India.
The brief historical sketch above paints only the political side of the story, the more important part of this fascinating page of history entails the spiritual aspects, which were more efficacious in Islamicizing India. The comprehensive approach to studying Islam in India includes the political side of history as well as the spiritual side of culture. Annemarie Schimmel is thus quite accurate in the following excerpt:
The history of Indian Islam is, however, not only a history of political facts, of conquests and wars, of expansion and breakdown, but is a spiritual history as well. It is the history of the century-long conflict between the Islamic concept of tauhid, strict monotheism, and Hinduism in its different manifestations which constituted, in the eyes of the pious Muslims, the very essence of idolatry and polytheism which had been condemned by the Quran.
It was thus Divine decree to open new fields for, in the language of Shah Wali Allah, Qur’anic polemics (Ilm al-mukhasima) to address its convincing argument (hujjat) towards proper addressees. As a result, millions of Hindus submitted to the Qur’an, manifesting once more the victory of this Holy Scripture.
Conquest served as the initial of the four processes through which Islam solidified in India. As Khaliq Ahmad Nizami has pointed out, “The growth of Muslim society in India took place through four processes—conquest, conversion, colonization and migration.” India and its inhabitants welcomed the sufis à bras ouverts (“with open arms”). Mass conversions to Islam, and sometimes instruction “without demanding formal conversion,” was common from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries. “Muslim society grew in India through conversions which took place voluntarily at tribal levels, and often through the peaceful persuasions of Muslim mystics,” writes Nizami, summarizing how Islam permeated India. The spiritual teachings, universal parables, charismatic style of reformation, and lessons of love of the sufis attracted a large number of Hindus to Islam. It was not the Muslim rulers who drew the masses to Islam, but the spiritual sages. Sufism was the first Islamic discipline to undergo a process of synthesizing institutionalization in India. Indian Muslims also excelled in disciplines such as Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), and hadith studies (ulum al-hadith).
Returning to the political side of the story—the impact of the great Mongol invasions cannot be undermined at this juncture. The political landscape that resulted from the Mongol invasions and conversion of their progeny to Islam shaped much of the Islamic world for the next three centuries. The Mongol invasion led to the formation of three kingdoms, all with their origins in the Mongols and Turks: the Ottomans in present-day Turkey, the Safavids in Persia, and the Moghuls in India. India saw the beginning of the Moghul Empire in 1526 when Babur (1483-1530) conquered Delhi. Babur’s son, Humayun (1508-1556), and his son, Akbar (1542-1605), would extend Mughal rule over much of India. This empire lasted, in various sizes, until 1857.
 Stanley Wolpert, A New History of India (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 105.
 Mawlana Said Ahmad Akbarabadi, Musalmano ka uruj-o zawal (Lahore: Idara Islamiyyat, n.d.), 212. Aziz Ahmad, Studies in Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), 3.
 Mawlan Sayyid Sulayman Nadwi, Arab va Hind ke taalluqat (Karachi: Karim Sons, 1972), 14.
 Aziz Ahmad, 3.
 Wolpert, 106.
 Wolpert, 107.
 Wolpert, 108-9.
 Wolpert, 110.
 Wolpert, 110.
 Annemarie Schimmel, Pain and Grace: A Study of Two Mystical Writers of Eighteenth-Century Muslim India (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976), 3.
 See Shah Wali Allah, Al-Fauz al-Kabir fī usul al-tafsir: The Principles of Quran Commentary. Islamabad: National Hijra Council, 1985.
 Khaliq Ahmad Nizami, “Hind, v. –Islam.” EI, 3: 428. The last quote is also from this source.
 Nizami, “Hind, v. –Islam.” EI, 3: 428.
 Hindu conversions to Islam are not a thing of the past, until today Islam holds an appeal for those suffering from untouchability within the caste system. For recent conversions, see Abdul Malik Mujahid, Conversion to Islam: Untouchables’s Strategy for Protest in India (Chambersburg, PA: Anima Books, 1989).
 For a detailed study of sufism in the Indian Subcontinent, see Athar Abbas Rizvi, A History of Sufism in India. 2 vols (Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983).
 An analysis of the intellectual contributions of Indian Muslims can be found in Aziz Ahmad, An Intellectual History of Islam in India (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Unviersity Press, 1969).
The Mujaddid Alf Thani
During the reign of Akbar (1556-1605), the mission of the Prophet Muhammad reached its first millennium. The start of the second millennium posed a challenge to all Muslims; they were introduced to new ideas that demanded serious rethinking of the creedal tenets of Islam as mentioned in the Qur’an and explicated by the Prophet. Akbar suggested a rough, underdeveloped, adulterated vision for the second millennium: the concept of din-i ilahi or divine religion, which was a mixture of Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, and Zoroastrianism. Aziz Ahmad has noted that Akbar himself, as well as his disciples, was not really serious about this heretical worldview. Akbar’s syncretism was countered on the orthodox side by Mujaddid Alf-i Thani (“The Reviver of the Second Millennium”) Shaykh Ahmad Sirhidni (1564-1624). Sirhindi’s revivalist efforts included correcting the beliefs of the Muslims, a great stress of sharia, reprimanding reverential prostration (sajda al-tazimi) in front of Kings and sufis, outlawing mystical audition (sama), and disapproving the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday (milad). His presence was felt at all levels of medieval Indian society, and within a short span of time, his sufi tradition, the Naqshbandiyya-Mujadidiyya, etched out a permanent place for itself in the sufi landscape of not only South Asia, but also present-day Turkey and parts of central Asia.
In the political realm, the main addressee of the Mujaddid was not Akbar, but his son Jahangir. Earlier in his reign, Jahangir had imprisoned Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi, a decision he later reversed, after which he revered the Mujaddid as a great protégé of Allah (wali Allah) and bestowed gifts upon him. The fact that Jahangīr did not adhere to his father’s din-i ilahi suffices to illustrate that the Mujaddid had become victorious in the battle between orthodoxy and heresy. The teachings of the Mujaddid and his likes reached their climax when they were strictly adhered to by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (1659-1707). At the same time, signs indicating the decay of Muslim power appeared in the last years of Alamgir’s rule and became fully manifested after his demise. As Muslim power saw deterioration, their religious life and tradition also experienced its consequences. In these chaotic times, Indian Muslims had to rethink how to maintain their allegiance of their ideal Islamic lifestyle. These conditions paved the way for Shah Wali Allah of Delhi, the eminent Islamic reviver of eighteenth-century Muslim India. Kenneth W. Jones points out that Wali Allah “linked the decline of Muslim power and morality to ignorance that resulted in an inability to comprehend the true nature of Islam.”
Shah Wali Allah of Delhi
The ancestors of Shah Wali Allah were among the Quraish-ite families to settle in India during the reign of the Delhi Sultans. The family had the honor of serving as religious judges (qadis) in royal courts. His father, Shah Abd al-Rahim, was a genuine Muslim theologian and sufi, who, according to Wali Allah, was blessed with many divine inspirations and frequently had the honor of the Prophet’s visit in his dreams. Wali Allah notes in Anfas al-arifin that his father had been informed through divine inspiration that their spiritual descendants will survive until the Day of Judgment. The indelible impact of Wali Allah’s religious contributions, fresh thought, and harmonizing method etches out a monumental place for him as the Muslim philosopher for contemporary times. His unique understanding of the Qur’an and Sunna offers promising solutions to the multi-dimensional problems of contemporary Muslims. Wali Allah’s worldview, notes Akbar Ahmed, “were to shape the Islamic college at Deoband and influence Muslims of all opinions.” Describing the relationship between the Deobandi theologians and Wali Allah, Hafeez Malik states, “The Deoband School, as the institution is known in the subcontinent, stood for definite religio-political goals. Shah Waliullah was their religious mentor, his works their textbooks. Their plan was to train enough ulama to be able to send them out into the country where they would teach Shah Waliullah’s philosophy in the mosques.”
The efforts of Shah Wali Allah’s family saw overwhelming success at the theoretical level, they were instrumental in safeguarding Muslim tradition and theology and attenuated immediate consequences of British imperialism; moreover, they led to institutionalizing the systematic study of Qur’an and Hadith. In the political domain, however, his successors saw no immediate fruition, but their jihad movement in northwest India did “forecast the ideology of Pakistan.” The British had seized most of India by divide et impera. By 1857, the year of the Mutiny, majority of the Indian subcontinent was under British rule. The Muslims, who had ruled Delhi for about the past eight centuries, feared that their religious life would soon fall prey to annihilation. This fear was felt even before 1857. The famous verdict (fatwa) of Shah Abd al-Aziz (1746-1824) describes India’s shift from dar al-Islam to partibus infidelium:
In this city [of Delhi] the Imam al-Muslimin wields no authority, while the decrees of the Christian leaders are obeyed without [fear of consequences]. Promulgation of the command of kufr means that in the matter of administration and the control of the people, in the levy of land-tax, tributes, tolls and customs, in the punishment of thieves and robbers, in the settlement of disputes, in the punishment of offences, the kafirs act according to their discretion. There are indeed certain Islamic rituals…with which they do not interfere. But that is of no account. The basic principle of these rituals is of no value to them, for they demolish mosques without the least hesitation and no Muslim or dhimmi can enter the city or its suburbs except with their permission...From here [Delhi] to Calcutta, the Christians are in complete control.”
When the jihad efforts of two of the main successors of Shah Abd al-Aziz, Sayyid Ahmad Shahid of Bareilly and Shah Ismail Shahid, did not yield immediate results, Muslims of colonial India turned to the mediums of education and instruction in moral tutelage for the preservation of Muslim tradition. The deteriorating Muslim power and degenerating Muslim life created the grounds for new Islamic revival movements.
 See Aziz Ahmad’s treatment of the whole episode, Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment, 167-181.
 For biographical material, see Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Tarikh-i Dawat-o Azimat, volume 4; Mawlana Muhammad Manzur Numani, Tazkira-i Imam-i Rabbani Mujaddid Alf-i Sani (Karachi: Dar al-Ishat, n.d.); Mawlana Sayyid Muhammad Mian, Ulama-i Hind ka shandar madi, volume I (Karachi: Maktaba-i Rashidiyya, 1991); Muhammad Abdul Haq Ansari, Sufism and Shari‘ah: A Study of Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi’s Effort to Reform Sufism (Leicester: Islamic Foundation, 1986); and Yohannan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000).
 Kenneth W. Jones, Socio-Religious Reform Movements in British India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 18.
 For detailed surveys of the life and thought of Shah Wali Allah, see Mawlana Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Tarikh-i Dawat-o Azimat, volume 5; J. M. S. Baljon, Religion and Thought of Shah Wali Allah Dihlawi, 1703-1762. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1986; Ghulam Hussain Jalbani, Life of Shah Waliyullah. Lahore: Ashraf, 1967; Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi. Shah Wali-Allah and His Times. Canberra: Marifat Publishing House, 1980; and Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi. Islamic Renaissance in South Asia (1707-1867): The Role of Shah Waliallah and His Successors. New Delhi: Adam Publishers, 2004.
 Akbar Ahmed, Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society (London: Routledge, 2002), 78.
 Hafeez Malik, Moslem Nationalism in India and Pakistan (Washington: Public Affairs Press,
 Aziz Ahmad, Islamic Culture in the Indian Environment, 217.
 Quoted in Barbara Daly Metcalf, Islamic Revival in British India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), 46.