Mahmud al-Hasan

Not to be confused with Mahmudul Hasan.
Mahmud al-Hasan
محمود الحسن
Born 1851
Bareilly, British India
Died 30 November 1920
British India
Resting place Graveyard of Darul Uloom Deoband
Ethnicity Indian
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Hanafi
Movement Deobandi
Notable idea(s) Fatwa on non-cooperation with British
Alma mater Darul Uloom Deoband
Sufi order Chishtiya-Sabiriya-Imdadiya
Disciple of Rashid Ahmad Gangohi
Haji Imdadullah

Mahmud al-Hasan (Urdu: محمود الحسن, Maḥmūdu'l-Ḥasan) also known as Mahmud Hasan (1851  30 November 1920) was a Deobandi Sunni Muslim scholar who was active against British rule in India. For his efforts and scholarship he was given the title "Shaykh al-Hind" ("Shaykh of India") by the Central Khilafat Committee.

Early life

Mahmud al-Hasan was born in 1851 in the town of Bareilly (in modern Uttar Pradesh, India) to a family with a scholarly background.[1] His father, Maulana Muhammad Zulfiqar Ali, was a scholar of the Arabic language and worked in the education department of the British East India Company's administration in the region.[2]

As a child, Mahmud al-Hasan was with his father in Meerut during the Mutiny of 1857.[1]

Mahmud al-Hasan received a traditional Islamic education with a strong emphasis on the study of Islam, the Persian language and Urdu.[2] His primary education was under Maulana Mongeri, Maulana Abdul Latif, and later, his uncle, Maulana Mahtab Ali.[1] While Mahmud al-Hasan was studying the books Mukhtasar al-Quduri and Sharh-i-Tahdhib, Darul Uloom Deoband was opened. His father sent him to the newly established school, where he was the first student. He completed his basic studies in 1286 AH (1869/1870), after which he lived in attendance to Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi, with whom he studied hadith. After that, he studied higher level books under his father. He graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband in 1873.[3]

In 1874, Mahmud al-Hasan joined Darul Uloom Deoband as a teacher.

Revolutionary activities

Although focused on his work at the school, Maulana Mahmud al-Hasan developed an interest in the political environment of British India and the world. When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I against the British Empire, Muslims across the world were concerned of the future of the Sultan of Ottoman Empire, who was the caliph of Islam and spiritual leader of the global Muslim community. Known as the Khilafat struggle, its leaders Mohammad Ali and Shaukat Ali organised protests across the country (see: partitioning of the Ottoman Empire). Mahmud al-Hasan was fervently active in encouraging Muslim students to join the movement. Hasan organised efforts to start an armed revolution against British rule from both within and outside India. He launched a programme to train volunteers from among his disciples in India and abroad who joined this movement in a large number. The most eminent among them were Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi and Maulana Mohammad Mian Mansoor Ansari. Sending Sindhi to Kabul and Ansari to the North-West Frontier Province to mobilize popular support and recruit volunteers, Mahmud al-Hasan himself travelled to Hijaz to secure Turkish support. Obtaining the Turkish governor Ghalib Pasha's signature on a declaration of war against the British, Mahmud al-Hasan planned to return to India via Baghdad and Balochistan to start the rebellion. The plan, referred to as the Silk Letter Conspiracy, however, was captured by Punjab CID, and he was arrested in Mecca. He was imprisoned in Malta, for more than three years before his release in 1920.


Mahmud al-Hasan's endeavours won him the admiration not only of Muslims but also of Indians across the religious and political spectrum. He became an icon of the Indian independence movement, and was given the title of "Shaykh al-Hind" by the Central Khilafat Committee.[1]

Upon his release, Mahmud al-Hasan returned to India to find the nation on the verge of revolt over the Rowlatt Acts. Hasan issued a fatwa making it the duty of all Indian Muslims to support and participate with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, who had prescribed a policy of non-cooperation mass civil disobedience through non-violence.[1]

He laid the foundation stone of the Jamia Millia Islamia, a university founded by Indian nationalists Hakim Ajmal Khan, Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari to develop an institution independent of British control. He also wrote a well known translation of the Quran, the commentary of which was written by one of his students, Shabbir Ahmad Usmani. Mahmud al-Hasan died on 30 November 1920.

related article


He co-wrote an Urdu exegesis (Tafsir) of the Qur'an, called Tafsir-e-Usmani, with Shabbir Ahmad Usmani.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Tabassum, Farhat (2006). Deoband Ulema's Movement for the Freedom of India (1st ed.). New Delhi: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind in association with Manak Publications. p. 98. ISBN 81-7827-147-8.
  2. 1 2 "Maulana Mehmud Hasan" (PDF). Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Mysore. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  3. "Sadrul Mudarriseen (Principals)". Darul Uloom Deoband. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  4. Online Version of Tafsir-e-Usmani
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