Ismael, Haji

Ismael, Haji a Mussulman reformer, was born on the 28th of Shawal, 1196 of the Hegira (Sept. 11, 1781), in the village of Pholah, district of Delhi. His family had furnished quite a number of distinguished theologians, and Ismael began early to preach and write against the superstitious practices which had been introduced into the Mohammedan worship in Hindustan. In 1819 he became connected with Ahmed Shah, a Mohammedan of a family of Syeds of Bareilly, in Upper India, who was at this time attracting a great deal of attention at Delhi by superior sanctity, and by his denunciations of the corrupt forms of worship then prevalent. In 1822, he and another Miussulman of some learning set out with Ahmed Shah on a visit to Arabia and Turkey. In all the great cities large congregations gathered about these new reformers, who sought to enforce attention to the precepts of the Koran independent of the opinions Of the high dignitaries of the Moslem Church. After traveling about for more than four years they returned to Delhi, determined to establish a theocratic form of government in India, and to restore Islamism to its original simplicity. The reformers inaugurated a general war against the unbelieving, and laying particular stress on the doctrine of the unity of God, they soon succeeded in gaining considerable power by the great number of their adherents. The Sikhs (q.v.) became their chief opponents, and with them a protracted struggle ensued. Driven from Delhi by the civil authorities, they retired in 1827 to Punjtar (situated in the Eusofzai hills, between Peshawur and the Indus), where they found an ally in Omar, khan Afghan of Punjtar. At first these united forces were successful in their wars against the Sikhs, but the Afghans soon grew weary of these conquests for strange allies, and Ahmed and Ismael being left alone, removed to the left bank of the Ildus, and there, amid rugged mountains, continued for a time the desultory warfare. Early in May 1831, however, they were surprised at a place called Balakot, in the mountains of Pahkli, and slain.

The followers of Ahmed and Ismael are called Tharicati Mohammediyat, and bear some resemblance in their doctrines to the Sunnites (q.v.). Ismael composed for the benefit of the sect, and at the instigation of Ahmed, the Tukvia ul-Inzmi, or "Basis of the Faith," in the Urdu, or vernacular language of Upper India, and it was printed at Calcutta. "It is divided into two portions, of which the first only is understood to be the work of Ismael, the second part (the Sirat Almostakim, published in. Persian at Calcutta, and translated in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal) being inferior, and the production of another person. In the preface Ismael 'deprecates the opinion' that the wise and learned alone can comprehend God's Word. God himself had said a prophet had been raised up among the rude and ignorant for their instruction, and that he, the Lord, had rendered obedience easy. There were two things essential: a belief in the unity of God, which was to know no other, and a knowledge of the Prophet, which was obedience to the law. Many held the sayings of the saints to be their guide, but the Word of God was alone to be attended to, although the writings of the pious which agreed with the Scriptures might be read for edification.' The first chapter treats of the unity of God, and in it the writer deprecates the supplication of saints, angels, etc., as impious. He declares the reasons given for such worship to be futile, and to show an utter ignorance of God's Word. The ancient idolaters had likewise said that they merely venerated powers and divinities, and did not regard them as the equal of the Almighty; but God himself had answered these heathens. Likewise the Christians had been admonished for giving to dead monks and friars the honor due to the Lord. God is alone, and companion he has none; prostration and adoration are due to him, and to no other.' Ismael proceeds in a similar strain, but assumes some doubtful positions, as that Mohammed says God is one, and man learns from his parents that he was born; he believes his mother, and yet he distrusts the apostle; or that an evil-doer who has faith is a better man than the most pious idolater" (Cunningham, History of the Sikhs, p. 190, foot-note t). The work was translated in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain (1852), 13:317-367. See Garcin de Tassv, Hist. de la Litt. hindoustane, 1, 251; Hoefer, Nouv. Biogr. Géneralé, 26:81. (J.H. W.)

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