Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari

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Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari
Born Syed Ata Ullah Shah
September 23, 1892
Patna, British India
Died August 21, 1961(1961-08-21) (aged 69)
Pen name Shah jee
Nationality Indian
Citizenship Pakistani
Subject Sunni Islam
Literary movement Khatme Nabuwwat

Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari[1] (September 23, 1892 - August 21, 1961), was a Muslim Hanafi Deobandi Scholar, religious and senior political leader[2] from the Indian subcontinent. He was one of the Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam's founding members. His biographer, Agha Shorish Kashmiri, states that Bukhari's greatest contribution had been his germination of strong anti-British feelings among the Indian Muslims.[3]

Birth and education[edit]

Born in Patna, British India, in 1892, he received his early religious education in Gujarat (NAGRIAN) and learned the Qur'an by heart from his father Hafiz Syed Ziauddin[4] at the age of 10 years. He migrated to Amritsar in 1914 when he was 22 years old. He completed his early education here by subscribing to a purist view of Islam, and remained associated with the Deoband School in Saharanpur district. He believed in traditional Islamic, madrasa-based learning, and considered ‘teaching of English’ as irreligious; a commonly held view amongst his contemporary Muslims. Bukhari began his career as a religious preacher in a small mosque in Amritsar, and taught the Quran for the next 40 years. He became one of the best reciters of the Qur'an of his time.[5] He shared friendship with a section of socialists and communists but did not accept their ideology completely, as to him the ultimate and only guide was the Quran and not materialism.[6] He was ‘imbued with a brilliant exposition of romantic socialism, and led Muslims to a restlessness activism’.[7] He studied the Sahih Bukhari[8] in jail when he was imprisoned for an anti-government religious speech.

Religious and political career[edit]

He started his religious and political career in 1916. His speeches were entertaining, eloquent, lucid and full of witty anecdots and stories from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, and Multani. He graphically portrayed the sorrows and sufferings of the poor, and would promise his audience that the end of their sufferings would come about with the end of British rule. He was an exceptional leader who travelled across the length and breadth of the country yet never made any statements to the press. He had been greatly influenced by the Jallianwalla Bagh tragedy of 1919, which had intensified rebellious feelings within him, like many other of his generation. He delivered a stirring speech at the Khilafat Conference held at Amritsar in December 1919.[9] As the first step of his political career, he began to participate in the movements of the Indian National Congress in 1921 from Kolkata and here again he delivered a very impressive and impassioned speech. Soon his popularity soared high, and turned him into a known leader, though he was arrested on 27 March 1921 because of that speech. Bukhari believed in attaining independence through non-violent and constitutional means, and as an active Indian National Congress member, toured the country, often purporting to be an emissary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He combined his politics with missionary zeal, and followed the injunctions of Quran as a devotee throughout his life. He became an eyesore to the administration, and an official view about him said: Ata Ullah Shah is a man, who it is better to lock up in jail, away from Congress leaders than to parley with. He has spent a considerable part of his life preaching sedition. He is an amusing apeaker, who can influence a crowd.[10] His influence on a future generation of speakers and writers was immense, as was borne out by Agha Shorish Kashmiri,[11] his colleague and biographer, who himself turned out to be an activist of versatile dimensions and emulated Bukhari's style of oratory and writings.[12] After Nehru report[13] Bukhari created All India Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam[14] with Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, Chaudhry Afzal Haq, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, Sheikh Hissam-ud-Din, Master Taj-uj-Din Ansari and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan in December 29, 1929.Later on the prominent Brelvi oratersyed faiz ul hasan shah also joined them to fight together against Qadianies.Due to his significant role in this movement the important religious figures choose him as the Ameer-e-Shariat in 1930. He was also the founding father of Majlis-e-Ahrar, Indian nationalist Muslim political movement in India. He led a movement against Ahmadis and held a Ahrar Tableegh Conference at Qadian in 21–23 of October 1934. Bukhari was a central figure in the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement of 1953,[15] which demanded that government of Pakistan declare the Ahmadis as non-Muslims. He was accused and for inciting the violence against Ahmadis. He lead the anti-Pakistan movement while hand in hand with Indian National Congress.

Oratory and poetry[edit]

He became known for his oratory. He was also a poet and most of his poetry was in Persian. His poetic verses was compiled by his eldest son Syed Abuzar Bukhari in 1956 under the name of Sawati-ul-ilham.[16]


Bukhari died on August 21, 1961.[17] A crowd of above 200,000 (two lac people) attended his Namaz-e-Janazah (funeral prayer) in Multan.


  1. ^ Syedah Umm-e-Kafeel, Syedi-wa -abi,(Multan: Maktabah Ahrar, Bukhari academy, 2007) vol.1, P.5
  2. ^ Chaudhry Afzal Haq, Tarikh-e-Ahrar , (Lahore:Maktabah Majlis-e-Ahrar, 1940) P.47
  3. ^ Samina Awan, Political islam in colonial Punjab Majlis-e-Ahrar 1929-1949 , P.153, Politics of Islamic symbolism, The MAI: Politics of Personalities, Oxford university Press
  4. ^ Shorish Kashmiri, Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari (Lahore: Maktaba-i-Chattan, 1969), vol. 1, p. 19.
  5. ^ Shorish Kashmiri, Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari (Lahore: Chattan, 1978)
  6. ^ Samina Awan, Political islam in colonial Punjab Majlis-e-Ahrar 1929-1949, P.154 , Politics of Islamic symbolism, The MAI: Politics of Personalities, Oxford university Press
  7. ^ Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Modern Islam in India, p. 277.
  8. ^ Janbaz Mirza, hayat-e-ameer-e-shariyat , (Lahore: Maktaba-i-Tabsra, 1968), p. 14.
  9. ^ Abdul Latif Khalid Cheema , Prof.Abbas Najmi, Syed-ul-Ahrar , p.98 (Maktabah Tehreek-e-Talba-e-Islam, Chichawatni, 1977).
  10. ^ See REPORT of THE COURT OF INQUIRY constituted under PUNJAB ACT II OF 1954 to enquire into the PUNJAB DISTURBANCES OF 1953 (Lahore: National archives of Pakistan, 1954).
  11. ^ Samina Awan, Political islam in colonial Punjab Majlis-e-Ahrar 1929-1949, P.154 , Politics of Islamic symbolism, The MAI: Politics of Personalities,Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhai, Oxford university Press
  12. ^ Shorish Kashmiri, Pas-i-dewar-i-zindan (Lahore: Chattan, 1971).
  13. ^ Janbaz Mirza, Karvan-i-Ahrar (Lahore: Maktaba-i-Tabsra, 1968), vol. 1, p. 80.
  14. ^ "Syed Ata Ullah Shah Bukhari or Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  15. ^ REPORT of THE COURT OF INQUIRY constituted under PUNJAB ACT II OF 1954 to enquire into the PUNJAB DISTURBANCES OF 1953
  16. ^ Syedah Umm-e-Kafeel, Syedi-wa -abi,(Multan:Maktabah Ahrar, Bukhari academy, 2007) , P.156
  17. ^ Janbaz Mirza, last chapter, hayat-e-ameer-e-Shariyat