Ahrar Movement

The Ahrar Movement is one of the most significant chapters in the history of India’s Independence Movement. The primary purpose of the movement was active participation in the nationalist movement. It stood in contrast to the loyalist politics of the Aligarh movement. The participants of the Ahrar Movement were also motivated by modern ideas of self-governance.

This history of the movement and its origin is essential for the history section of the UPSC exam.

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Ahrar Movement Founder

The movement was founded in 1910 under the leadership of Maulana Muhammad Ali Mohamed, Ajmal Hikmal Khan. Other leaders of the movement were Iqbal, CR Das, Sir Mian Muhammad Shafi, and others. These leaders were strictly against the Lucknow pact, which favoured the representation of religious minorities in provincial legislatures. This weightage formula of the Lucknow pact paved the way for the Muslim majority by the late 1920s.

From Movement to a Political Party

The movement paved the way for the formation of Majlis-e-Ahrar-e Islam(MAI), a conservative Sunni political party that participated in the Indian National Movement. The party was fuelled by an anti-imperialist, anti-feudal, and nationalist ideology. This party was initially part of the failed Khilafat Movement and merged as a religiopolitical party after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in 1919 and the Khilafat Movement in 1922.

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Various Leaders and the Rise of the Party

The party had a variety of leaders from the beginning. There was parliamentarian Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar (son of a Shia literary family from Batala), Ch. Afzal Haq, a well-known writer and an intellectual, Ch. Abdur Rahman, son of a Rajput family of Jalandhar, orators like Syed Ata Ullah Sha Bukhari, sheik Husam-ud-Din, and Maulana Habibur Rahman Ludhianwi. Ch. Afzal Haq said that Ahrar had Sunnis, Shias, Barelvis, Deobandis, and Wahabis.

The party was highly active in Punjab province. It significantly impacted Amritsar, Lahore, Sialkot, Multan, Sialkot, Multan, Gurdaspur, and Ludhiana. By the early 1930s, it had become an essential political party in the province of Punjab. Moreover, the party focused on social-religious issues in Punjab. Apart from these involvements, Ahrar also participated in the mainstream political development of British India between 1931 and 1947.

As a party, their first test was the Kashmir Movement in 1931. They had to face opposition from the All India Kashmir Committee, headed by Mirza Basheer-ud-Din Mahmood. He was the leader of the Ahmadiyya Community. There was a committee of 12 members, which had the likes of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, Fazil-i-Hussain, Muhammed Iqbal, Ghulam Rasool Mehr, Syed Mohsin Shah, and Khawaja Hassan Nizami. The principal office of the committee was in Qadian. In a few months, with the help of Jail Bharo campaigns, the trained agitators of Ahrar mobilized the Punjabis and Kashmiris. They launched sharp condemnation of Muslim leaders who blindly accepted the leadership of Mirza Sahib.

Relationship with Mohammad Ali Jinnah

Initially, the party was in sharp opposition to Mohammad Ali Jinnah. However, later the relationship between them strengthened. Several meetings were held before the 1937 elections, where talks between MAI leaders and Jinnah were successful.

Jinnah announced the All India Muslim League(AIML) Parliamentary Board that had four MAI leaders-Afzal Haq, Sheikh Hassam U din, Abdul Aziz bestowal, and Khawaja Ghulam Hussain. However, because of some disputes between MAI and AIML, the alliance could not last more than 5 months. However, despite the Congress and the Ahrars being losers in Punjab, the party revisited its policies, which was reflected in the historic Jinnah-Sikander Pact(1937), and opened spaces for growth in Punjab.

Dismantling of the Party

On 15th September 1938, the British government introduced a defence of India bill, which stated that no one could launch propaganda against recruitment in the British army. Despite the amendment, the harasser launched an anti-recruitment campaign immediately. Congress didn’t back Ahrars up because they supported ministries in seven provinces, leaving the Ahrars in a dismal state. Surprisingly, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose supported Ahrars on this issue. After the creation of Pakistan, the Ahrar was disbanded. Till December 1939, 7500 Ahrar volunteers were arrested, including their president Shiekh Hassamud Din from India.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Ahrar Movement

When did the Ahrar Movement take place?

The Ahrar Movement took place in 1910.

Who was the founder of the Ahrar Movement?

The Ahrar Movement was founded by Ajmal Hikmal Khan.

What was the purpose of the Ahrar Movement?

The purpose of the Ahrar Movement was to participate in the Independence Movement.

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