Hanumangarhi Temple Incident in Ayodhya 1855 India


June 18, 2012


Hanumangarhi  Temple and Shia/Sunni Conflict in Ayodhya in 1855 ,India

(Based on excerpt from Book- “Sacred Space and Holy War by Juan Cole who in turn wrote this from  records from British)

In 1850, a very bizarre claim was made by Sunni group lead by Shah Ghulam Husain that a Hindu temple HanumanGarhi was built over an ancient mosque. Claim was bizarre as temple was built on land donated by Shi’ite Muslim rulers- Nawab Shuja` al-Dawla (1754-1775) and there was never a reference to this ancient mosque in history books written by Islamic rulers themselves.

History of Nawab Dynasty

Awadh, located between Delhi and Bengal, consisted of Lucknow ,Faizabad and surrounding areas , was ruled by Iran based Shi’ite rulers –the Nawabs. Nawab dynasty was originally from Nishapuri dynasty(1722-1856)  of Iran and first Nawab was Burhan al-Mulk –first Nawab of Awadh. He came to the Mughal Empire from eastern Iran in 1708 and rose rapidly in government service. He became governor of Awadh in 1722, and was awarded Awadh by Nadir Shah who also left behind a substantial contingent of Shi`ite Qizilbash cavalrymen, who joined the Awadh military. The Nawabs gradually consolidated their hold on Awadh, and began in a minor way to build up local Shi`ite constituencies and institutions.

Demographic component of Awadh in 1855

  • Total population 10 million population,
    •  88% Hindu (Peasant class and few merchants)
    • 12% Muslims.
      • Majority Sunnis living in urban residents
      • Butchers, Tailors, Petty Clerks, Middle Managers,Troops and Officers in Army
      • Out of 100%Muslims, only 3-10% Shiite-Occupied high government office and controlled Judiciary.
      • Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was 10th and last Nawab of Awadh before British Annexation when HanumanGarhi conflict rose.

Hindu Status in 1850 India per Islamic Laws

  • At Best, Hindus were at best a protected minority (Dhimmis) regardless of Population Composition (provided they submitted to the political authority of the Muslims)
    • North India was surviving under this clause by paying Jaziya- a religious tax.
    • At worst, Hindus were Idolaters who deserved only a choice between death and conversion.
    • Islam Prohibits Idol worship in any form, and any country ruled by Islamist, Idol worship should not happen.
    • Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Claim- Hindus were a protected minority, Dhimmis, and that it was not lawful for Muslims to attack them, and that in any case Shi`ite law maintained that holy war no longer was permissible during the Occultation of the Imam.

HanumanGarhi Claim and Violence in 1855

  • It was large, well maintained temple supported by Rs 50,000 annual revenue from Awadh Ruler Nawab Shuja` al-Dawla (1754-1775). No Mussalman was permitted enter its walls and revenue absorbed by 500 residents, Sanyasis, and Hindu Pilgrims
  • Major General Out Ram –Calcutta Resident in Lucknow, wrote to Nawab Wajid Ali Shah about situation and asked to take precautionary measures. British arrested Shah Ghulam and a Maulawi two but released them after 3 months
  • 28th July 1855, 500 Muslims attacked 8,000 hindu men while they were trying to remove Hanumangarhi temple,80 person killed on each side according to Alexander Orr – representative in Faizabad of British Frontier Police. After such provocation action, Muslims tried to take shelter in Mosque but were still attacked.
  • To placate Hindus and Muslims, Wajid Ali proposed to Hindus that a mosque be built on Hanuamgarhi site with shared on wall so that sanctity of temple can be maintained-needless to say, this movement was opposed vehemently by Sanyasis
  • He later denied thathe had ever pledged to build a mosque adjacent to the Hindu temple, though Amir `Ali and the Sunni activists insisted that he had
  • On 2 October, the Officiating Resident handed the shah a note warning that he would be held personally responsible if he should attempt to build the mosque or if Muslims attacked Hindus. The shaken monarch agreed to do his duty.  British officials suspected that Vajid `Ali had counted on being able to employ British troops to quell the Hindus in the last instance, and his government had already broached the possibility of using them to put down Amir `Ali’s forces.

British had setup an independent commission earlier to enquire true origins of Temple , and later any presence of Mosque on that same old earlier was proved baseless. Muslims in 1855 wanted to instigate a riot and destroy temple on flimsiest of excuses.


Shi’ite Army on 7th December 1850 Prevents Jihad under British Pressure

On 7 November, Amir `Ali and his forces attempted to advance toward Faizabad, but were met and defeated by Shi`ite army troops along with soldiers supplied by Shi`ite great landlords such as Mahmudabad. Some 400 activists died, among them Amir `Ali, against 12 dead and 70 wounded among government troops

Famed Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb of Awadh

Study of “unbiased” British records show that Shiite wives of these rulers were Muslims in only name but continued practicing their ancient rites from Hinduism- like invoking Kali(Mata Sheetala Devi) in Smallpox, proficient in Astrology and worshipped “Hindu idols” . Britishers couldn’t fathom that these poor women were either forcibly converted or married against their will to Shiite rulers as Islam explicitly forbids worshipping of Idols in any form.  Admitting that they saw Women worshipping Hindu Idols or even their presence at their homes is tantamount  to admitting that they were originally Hindus.

Due to women able to mix in those religion (their parent and converted one), an existence of new culture took place which mixed in elements from Iranian/Persian civilization and Hinduism.


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