By Nasim Yousaf for New Age Islam
04 November 2016
On Ataturk’s 78th Death Anniversary
Inayatullah Khan (famously known as Allama
Mashriqi) and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were contemporaries who are regarded as two
of the great leaders of the 20th century. Throughout his lifetime, Mashriqi
expressed a fondness for Turkey and Ataturk. On Ataturk’s 78th death anniversary,
it is worth remembering how these two leaders were connected.
Ataturk and Mashriqi were born in the 1880s, Mashriqi in Amritsar (British
India) and Ataturk in Thessaloniki, Greece. Mashriqi’s fondness for Turkey and
Ataturk stemmed from Mashriqi’s father, Khan Ata Mohammad Khan (who was also a
recipient of the Turkish medal “Mejidie”). Khan Ata owned a well-known and
highly regarded newspaper called Vakil (started in 1895 from Amritsar), which
included reports on the Turkish Ottomans (among other subjects). According to
the book entitled Indian Muslims and Partition of India, “...enthusiasm for
Turkey had been created by…the Vakil...” Vakil also had a Book Depot, which
issued publications related to developments in Ottoman Turkey. Mashriqi’s father’s
affinity for Turkey also influenced his own views.
Mashriqi’s affection for Turkey and Ataturk
was evident from the early years of his life. As a student at the University of
Cambridge, Mashriqi used to wear a Turkish Fez (hat). Then, in July of 1924,
Mashriqi gifted his famous book, Tazkirah, to Ataturk. Later, in 1930, when
Mashriqi launched the Khaksar Tehrik, his party’s flag was similar to the
Turkish flag. Also, Mashriqi’s weekly journal Al-Islah (1934-1947) used to
include information on Turkish political, military, and other activities.
Ataturk is also mentioned in Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik’s materials (e.g.
Isharat and Tazkirah). In the 1930’s, Ataturk’s photos also appeared in the
Khaksar Tehrik’s historic photo album, along with photos of Turkish soldiers.
And on December 30, 1935, the Khaksars, in the presence of Mashriqi and other
leaders, honoured Ataturk with a salute at a grand Khaksar Camp in Delhi
(Source: Al-Islah, January 10, 1936).
Mashriqi and Ataturk gained increasing prominence in their respective
countries, the parallels between the two leaders became more apparent. Both
made significant contributions in politics; Mashriqi created South Asia’s most
disciplined (and largest) private army and led the freedom movement of the
Indian sub-continent (now Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan). Meanwhile, Ataturk
is recognized to have saved his country from complete disintegration to emerge
as the founder of modern Turkey. Both leaders were bestowed with prestigious
titles; Inayatullah Khan was given the title “Allama Mashriqi” (Wise Man of the
East) by the famous Al-Azhar University (Islamic seat of learning) in Egypt,
whereas Mustafa Kemal was given the title of “Ataturk” by the Grand National
Assembly of Turkey.
Along with their political activities, the two
men also shared similarities in their general philosophies. Both fought for
freedom and equality for all and believed in women’s active participation in
nation building. Both advocated for developments in science and industrialization.
And both believed in freedom of religion, regardless of one’s faith.
Additionally, both did not support the Khilafat Movement. Mashriqi, while
sympathetic to Turkey, considered the said movement to be highly disorganized
(he predicted its failure). Ataturk’s lack of support for the movement is also
evident from the fact that he refused to meet with its leaders.
Despite their similarities, Mashriqi and
Ataturk certainly did not agree on everything. Differences in their approaches
and thought process can be better understood by reading Mashriqi’s speech to
the International Caliphate Conference in Cairo in May of 1926 and his letter
(with proposals) to Ataturk dated October 18, 1925.
Ataturk died on November 10, 1938, the Khaksar Tehrik flag at its headquarters
(Idara-i-Aliya) was lowered to half-mast (from November 10 to November
20, 1938). And on November 20, 1938, the flag remained at half-mast for 6 six
hours at Khaksar offices all over India. The front page of Al-Islah (November
18, 1938) was also dedicated to Ataturk, with condolence messages on behalf of
Mashriqi and the Khaksar Tehrik for the fallen Turkish leader.
Facebook page named “Allama Mashriqi and Kemal Atatürk” has been dedicated to
the two leaders.
Nasim Yousaf, grandson of Mashriqi,
is a researcher based in the USA. He has been featured in various American
publications, including Who's Who in the World. He has written 15 books and
digitized files of rare documents related to South Asian history. His articles
have been published in many countries around the world and in peer-reviewed
publications in the US (Harvard Asia Quarterly, Pakistaniaat, World History
Encyclopaedia, and Education About Asia).
Copyright © 2016 Nasim Yousaf