In our region, lands of Islam, there lived a Muslimah whom the young and old, Muslims and non-Muslims, all alike, fondly called by her Kunya ‘Bi-Amma’. If you were to ask the elderly whether they knew of ‘Bi-Amma’, you would receive the reply: “yes, we used to call the mother of Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali as ‘Bi-Amma’.” Thus she was the mother of the leaders of the Khilafah movement.
Abadi Bano Begum was the native of Rampur, Utter Pradesh, born in 1852, of a generation that inherited 1,000 years of Muslim ruling within Indian Subcontinent, interrupted by the British Occupation which began in 1757. In 1857 when Muslims rebelled against the unlawful rule of the British, she was just five years old. Because of that she could not be properly educated in school and college, but was highly cultured in Islam with chaste manners, which is the best of all knowledge. She cherished great love for Allah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم. She was ever ready to sacrifice her life and all for the cause of Islam. She adhered to Islam. She was respectful towards her elders and ‘simple living and high thinking’ was her motto in life. She was married to Abdul Ali Khan who was a senior official of Rampur State. She had one daughter and four sons including Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar. ‘Bi-Amma’ had four sons, Nawazish Ali, Zul Fiqar Ali, Shaukat Ali and Muhammad Ali. Of these, Nawazish Ali died in infancy. The other three grew up in age. In their early childhood their father died thus she became a widow at the age of thirty. The responsibility of bringing up and educating these children fell on ‘Bi-Amma’ alone. She educated them superbly.
When her eldest son, Nawazish Ali, died, people came to give her condolences over the sad demise of her son. They found her bearing the tragedy with exemplary fortitude. She said to them: “We should all submit to the Will of Allah. Allah hath power over all things. Whatever He has entrusted to us, He has power to take it back when He pleases. Our life and death are indeed in His hands.” When ‘Bi-Amma’ went for Hajj, she caught hold of the ‘Ghilaf’ (cover) of the Ka’ba, and made the following dua: ‘O Allah! By Thy Grace my children have now grown upon. I beseech Thee to make them true Muslims.’
Although she did not have any formal education, she was deeply convinced of the advantages of acquiring modem education for the Muslims of the Indo-Pakistan sub- continent she educated her sons at Aligarh and Oxford; for that she pawned her jewellery to pay for her son’s education. Of the three surviving sons, two earned great renown. The youngest son, Muhammad Ali, acquired exceptional qualities of head and heart. He was extremely courageous and no one could hold him in awe. The whole world recognized the superiority of his accomplishments. While on the subject, consider one interesting and exemplary dialogue: One gentleman praised Maulana Muhammad Ali in the presence of his mother and said: “It is your untiring effort and tender care that has shaped him (Maulana Muhammad Ali) to such towering eminence and capability.” Bi-Amma replied, “You are wrong. The fact is, all this is the result of the Grace of Allah on us. Allah endows with honour whom He pleases and brings low whom He pleases.”
Under the British Occupation, some Muslims became seduced by the Westernized way of life. To these people ‘Bi-Amma’ cautioned: “Countrymen! Give up the way of life of these foreigners. Stick to the traditional way of life of your ancestors. Serve not these foreigners, nor accept honours from them because these people are very crafty and fraudulent.” During the sessions of the All India Muslim League in 1917, at the age of 62, she delivered the most touching and forceful speech which left a lasting effect on the Muslims. By Allah’s Grace, following her noble example, Maulana Shaukat Ali (ra) and Maulana Muhammad Ali (ra) became such true Muslims that they submitted to none, save Allah. It was Allah alone that they feared. Both the brothers fought against the British throughout their lives and worked to prevent the British from destroying the Khilafah. When Englishmen used to arrest and imprison them, ‘Bi-Amma’ used to be overwhelmed with excitement. She used to go to the jail and tell her sons: “My sons! Hold fast to Islam with all your might. Never mind even if your life is sacrificed in the cause of Islam.”
While her sons were still in jail this bold and venerable mother kept alive the fervour for the Khilafat Movement. She toured the country, addressed large gatherings of people, which flocked to hear her and exhorted them to follow the footsteps of her great sons in their struggle for the unity and fraternity of the Muslim Ummah. She replaced her illustrious sons in popularity and leadership and the famous Urdu couplet “Boli Amma Muhammad Ali Ki Jaan Baita Khilafat Pay De Do” (“The mother of Muhammad Ali said, give your life for Khilafah my son”) became household words and were sung in every nook and corner of the Sub-continent by all sections of people irrespective of caste or creed.
After the abolition of the Khilafah in March 1924, Bi Amma, did not survive for long and died on November 13, 1924. Her death was a great loss to the Ummah, but Muslim women who had come out to work with Bi Amma were to become a political force to reckon with. Their activities were a necessary prelude to their active participation in the struggle to establish Pakistan in the name of Islam. It is their legacy which has spawned a generation of good women today, who nurture their children upon Islam from their lap, propelling the Muslims of today to demand Shariah as the law of Pakistan and call openly and widely for the return of the Khilafah.
This was ‘Bi-Amma’, the mother of the two illustrious sons of India, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Muhammad Ali Johar. May Allah shower His choicest bounties on all three of them.