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Final Project – Sayyid Ahmad Shahid

A Call to Worship


Hark, my Sisters and Brothers,

True believers of justice and God,

Heed not the words of others,

whose false feet on our land now trod.


Heed not the language of England,

Nor the Christian faith it promotes,

But reclaim for Muslims our Hind-land,

To which we must devote.


Heed not the ideas of the impure, but

Return to the original, true faith –

That which Muhammad made perfectly whole,

Yet some would dare now to change.


So take arms! First we battle

‘gainst the nation of the Sikhs,

so truly we may show which faith

is strong, and which is weak.


In response to Freeland Abbott’s article, “The Jihad of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid,” I wrote this poem entitled “A Call to Worship.”  In the poem, the speaker, in the voice of the Sayyid, is calling upon his Muslim Brothers and Sisters to take up arms in jihad against the Sikhs, as well to reject the teachings of the English and of Christianity, to reclaim India for Muslims and return to the “true faith.”  This coincides with the article, which discusses the role of the Sayyid in a period of Muslim revival movements in the early nineteenth century.  As the British began to encroach into India and establish their rule, thus diminishing the rule of Muslims in the subcontinent, many Muslims in South Asia began to question their faith.  Until that point, political rule was though to coincide with proper faith, such that Muslims, following the proper faith of Islam and thus being God’s chosen people, were the rightful and just ruling class.  With the loss of political power, then, many Muslims assumed that they had strayed from the just path, and were being punished for it, thus advocating for reforms within Muslim cultural and religious practices. The Sayyid, however, disagreed with many of these reform policies, denouncing any changes to the religion, and sought to restore the original, perfect form of Islam that Muhammad had created. To do this, he advocated jihad, warfare in the name of Islam against Sikhs as well as any other non-Muslims that he believed would form a solid political unit and bring Muslims back to prominence.  Thus, the poem reflects all these sentiments in a form of rhetoric I believe he would use, in calling his fellow Muslims to arms.

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