SAIYID ZAHEER HUSAIN JAFRI*
The Profile of a Saintly Rebel - MaulaviAhmadullah Shah
Maulavi Ahmadullah Shah happens to be a well known figure of the Rebellion of 1857. British Officers who had performed the task of crushing the uprising in the province of Awadh speak in respectful terms of his personal qualities, and organising capacity. Apart from these memoirs, the despatches of British officials on the day-today occurances bear out the exceptional courage and valour displayed by him during the years 1857-8.1 Most modern studies tend to rely heavily on these accounts.2 Little attempt had been made to utilize his versified biography3 in Urdu and to have a substansive idea of his career during these years. Similarly, the reports in the contemporary newspapers and the short notices in the lesser known works of the contemporaries has also escaped the notice of the historians.4
From documentary and literary evidence in Arabic and Urdu one can reconstruct an account of Ahmadullah Shah' s life, and obtain many details, not otherwise known, of his role in the Rebellion. This will also be of help in understanding the character of the popular uprising.
Saiyid Ahmad Ali Khan alias Ziauddin, titled Dilawar Jang, was a son of Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan of Chinapattan (Madras). Born in the second decade of the 19th century, he received, as a prince, the best education of the time. We are told that during his childhood he won warm commendations of his teachers for the exceptional memory, intelligence and industry. After the completion of studies in classical languages and traditional Islamic sciences he received extensive training in the art of warfare.5 He seems to have acquired some knowledge of English. As an enterprising young prince his fame reached far and wide.
* Reader, Delhi University, New Delhi
Social Scientist, Vol. 26, Nos. 1 - 4, Jan. - Apr. 1998