Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi (1797– 20 August 1861) was one of the main figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. He was a philosopher, an author, a poet, a religious scholar, but is most remembered for issuing a fatwa in favour of Jihad against the 'English' in 1857.
Khairabadi had been a chief judge in Lucknow. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857 failed, believing himself covered by an amnesty Khairabadi surrendered himself to the British authorities on 30 January 1859 at Khairabad. He was tried and found guilty of encouraging murder and taking a leadership role in the rebellion. He had chosen to be his own counsel and defended himself. His arguments and the way he defended his case was so convincing that the presiding magistrate was writing his judgement, exonerating him, when he confessed to giving the fatwa' declaring that he could not lie. He was sentenced for life to the prison at Kalapani (Cellular Jail) on Andaman island with confiscation of his property by the Judicial Commissioner, Awadh Court. He reached Andaman on 8 October 1859 aboard the Steam Frigate “Fire Queen”.
His son, Abdul-ul-Haq, managed to obtain the release order of his father, through a petition and subsequent pardon granted by Queen Victoria. He reached Port Blair on 13 February 1861, with the written pardon but was too late. When he landed he saw a funeral procession and on enquiring as to whose was it, he was told that it was of Allama Fazl Haq— Khairabadi had already been hanged on February 12.
Besides being a scholar of Islamic studies and theology, he was also a literary persona, especially of Urdu, Arabic and Persian literature. He edited the first diwan of Mirza Ghalib on his request. On account of his deep knowledge and erudition he was called Allama and later was venerated as a great Sufi. He was also bestowed with the title Imam hikmat and Kalaam (The imam of logic, philosophy and literature). He was considered the final authority on issuing fatwas or religious rulings.
He possessed a great presence of mind and was very witty. There are many stories about his repartee with Mirza Ghalib and other contemporary eminent poets, writers and intellectuals.
Fatwa of Jihad
|“||The English prepared a scheme to Christianize all the Indian inhabitants. It was their belief that the Indians would not be able to find any helper and cooperator, and therefore save submit and obey, they would not have the nerve to defy them. The English had thoroughly realized that the ruler’s variance from the ruled on the basis of religion would be a great stumbling block in the way of domination and possession. Hence they began to indulge in all sorts of wiles and chicanery with complete diligence and assiduity, in their willful attempt to obliterate religion and the sense of nationhood. To teach small children and the ignorant and to inculcate their language and religion, they established schools in towns and villages and made an all out effort to wipe out the old sciences and academic attainments.||”|
Criticism of Wahabi Ideology
Khairabadi was at the forefront of issuing fatwas against Wahabi or Salafis. He also argued against the idea of Non Finality of Prophethood. He wrote that, according to the Qur’an and Hadith, the prophet Muhammad is the final prophet, and there can be no other prophet or "messenger" after him. To believe that there can be another Muhammad would necessitate that Allah did something apart from what He has stated in the Qur’an, that is, that Allah has lied. Lying is a flaw and it is impossible for Allah to have a flaw.
One of his sons. Abdul Haque was also a leading and respected scholar. His grandson is Muztar Khairabadi. Jan Nisar Akhtar is his great-grandson, and Javed Akhtar and Salman Akhtar are his great-great-grandsons. His next generation is Farhan Akhtar, Mohammad Taheer Ahmed, Syed Vaqar Ahmed, Mohammad Maaz Rizvi and Muawwaz Ahmed Rizvi. The main next generation of Allamafazle Haq Iqbal Ahmad Khairabadi, Nuhul Haq, Moinul Haq, Saiful Haq. Javed Akhtar, Farhan Akhtar, Salman Akhtar, Mohammad Taheer Ahmed, Syed Vaqar Ahmed, Mohammad Maaz Rizvi and Muawwaz Ahmed Rizvi also relative of Fazl-e-Haq Khairabad because Muztar Khairabadi was cousin of Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi.
Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi died on 1861 while Darool uloom Deoband foundation stone was laid in 1866. In his Fatwa of Jihad, from "old sciences and academic attainments" he meant the Maktab System of education which was prevailing at that time, not of Darul Uloom Deoband.
- Bates, Crispin; Carter, Marina (2009). "Religion and Retribution in the Indian Rebellion of 1857". Leidschrif. Empire and Resistance. Religious beliefs versus the ruling power 24 (1): 51–68.
- Malik, Jamal (2006). "Letters, prison sketches and autobiographical literature: The case of Fadl-e Haqq Khairabadi in the Andaman Penal Colony". Indian Economic Social History Review 43 (77).