Hakeem Mohammad Hassan Qureshi

In 1912, when I passed matriculation examination and intended to go to Lahore for further studies, my brother told me, “You will meet a special friend along with the extra-ordinary activities at Lahore.” I was surprised as to who can be my friend there?

My brother gave me the details and said, “There you will have the privilege to meet Zafar Ali Khan whose newspaper ‘Zameendar’ you read so fervently. What to talk of me, every child, young and old is fond of ‘Zameendar’ now.”

Due to the War of Balqan, sentiments of Muslims were already offensive. People sought satisfaction in the exuberant essays and exhilarating poems of Maulana Zafar Ali Khan.   Britain was the first to concede the command of Italy on Tripoli. Prime Minister Mr. Eskoeth and Foreign Minister Mr. Advired Grey were dreaming to inaugurate the Christian Gate on account of the victory of Balqanese states. Maulana Zafar Ali Khan, in his thought provoking writings and thrilling speeches, out rightly devastated the statements of Eskoeth and Grey.

When I reached Lahore, I found Lahore overwhelmed by Zafar Ali Khan with his exhilarating speeches. Daily, there was a gathering of more than Fifteen to Twenty Thousand people in the garden of Mochi Gate who gathered to engross themselves with the captivating speeches of Maulana for hours. When he used to recount the cruelty of Italy and Balqani States( Bulgaria and Serbia) over Trapoli and Baqan, the crowd would burst out in resentment and they yelled so loud , that the  Government house and the supporters of British rule would tremble with fear in their homes, Trapoli was at that time under the domination of Turky.

Zafar Ali Khan, himself, would deliver his address in Mochi Gate. Sometimes he would invite other leaders. In one of the meetings, Maulana Mohammad Ali and in another Khwaja Ghulam-us-Saqlain participated. In a meeting Allama Iqbal was invited and he recited his famous poem, “Jwab-e-Shikwa”. Before Allama Iqbal started the recitation , Zafar Ali Khan addressed the people and said, “We also write poems but Allama has a uniqueness of his own. He rarely composes a poem but when he writes,  it is augmented with the flight of Gabriel.” In those days Dr. Iqbal had  written  his very famous poem, “Fatima Bint-e-Abdullah”. Its first verse is presented as:-

Besides this he recited a poem, “Khoon-e-Shuhada” in Shahi Mosque which aroused a pandemonium in the mosque.

These activities of Maulana disturbed the government of Panjab, and earlier it had already remained upset due to the activities of Lala Rajpat Roy, Sufi Pershad, Chaudri Shahab-uddin, Lala Banke Dial, Lala Deena Nath and Sardar Rajeet Singh. Lala Rajpat Roy had started Independence Movement in Panjab. He was an important pillar of Independence Movement in India. The movement of Congress had culminated into aggression in Bengal and Maharashter. A few British were killed in the violence of Lokmania Tilak in Maharashter. British and their allies were being killed in Bengal by anarchists.

The three members, Bal, Pal, and Lal ( Bal Ganga Dar Tilak, Ben Chandar Pal, Lala Lajpat Roy) were considered responsible for this Movement and the government wanted to take action against them. Therefore Tilak was sent to jail for 6 years, Pal was also arrested, Lala Lajpat Roy was playing a safe game but finally he had to face the brunt.

In 1904, the government of Panjab announced a pact. According to this pact, strict restrictions were imposed on agriculturists. Riots commenced in the entire Punjab. Lala Banke Dial wrote a poem. Its main stanza was;

He used to sing the poem in the rural style and danced at the rhythm. Some people think that it was written by Chaudri Shahab-uddin(late) the Ex. Speaker Panjab Legislative Assembly. This poem worked as an electric current in the agriculturist. On the other end, speeches of Lala Lajpat Roy added fuel to the fire and a common fear developed that Muslim and Sikh forces might turn to agitation. At last this law was abolished by the interruption of Lord Quiches. The government arrested Lala Lajpat Roy in a very dramatic manner due to the fear that had developed from him. On that day a huge armed force was summoned from Lahore Cantt, and they were posted on each barrier. Machine guns were displayed every where and Lala Lajpat Roy was sent to Mandhe in a special train, where he remained under custody for a long time.  His friends, Sufi Parshad and Sardar Ajeet Singh flew away to Iran and some were arrested and imprisoned.

Now Maulana Zafar Ali Khan was a threatening figure for the government as he was a leader of the Muslim World and he might turn the situation from bad to worse in Punjab. At that time, this Muslim Movement was run by three leaders; Maulana Zafar Ali Khan in Punjab, Maulana Mohammad Ali in Delhi, and Maulana Abu-al-Klam in Calcuta. The greatest fear for the government was Zafar Ali Khan. The government did not want to disrupt the system of the most secured province. Since the war was expected in Europe, and government had a strong trust in the soldiers of Rawalpindi and Jehlam.The Qasar of Germany responded in an aggressive manner to the Christianized statements  of Esquith and Pope and threatened, “The nations that are against Turkey must realize that they will have to face the united forces of Germany”.

When Maulana Zafar Ali Khan came to Lahore, and ‘Zameendar’ newspaper started gaining popularity in the public, the former newspapers launched a movement of condemnation against it, on the other hand, the cohorts of the government were also disconcerted by the articles of ‘Zameendar’. Zafar Ali Khan was fighting on four fronts. The Sirs and Khan Bahaders started reprimanding ‘Zameendar on the pretext that it was instigating an uprising among the Muslims. In response Maulana wrote these verses:

Zafar Ali Khan was greatly influenced by the guidance of his father who had reverence for Islam and devotion for Freedom.  The environment of Aligarh also influenced him to a great extent. The general opinion of Hindus was,  that the intelligent and capable students of Aligarh had a great charm in looking for a reasonable job, but Aligarh produced such young men who did not follow the old prototype traditions of past and explored more effective and positive occupations; among them were the pioneers like Hasrat Mohani, Zafar Ali Khan, and Mohammad Ali Johar. In fact these young men toiled hard throughout their life and thanks to their endeavors; the strongest Empire of the British had been traumatized by them. Maulana was attached to the Educational Movement of Sir Sayyad Ahamd Khan,  and at the same time he was highly enthralled by political perception and belief of Sayyad Jamaluddin  Afghani.