To be able to understand the contributions of Allama Shibli Nomani to the Turkish cause, I first read his Travelogue titled Safarnama-e-Room-o-Misro-Sham. This was my maiden Urdu book which I read cover-to-cover.

On the advise of my professor, Dr. Arshad ul Islam, I then started reading his marvelous biography written by his protege and student, the great Syed Sulaiman Nadwi. I went straight to the section which dealt directly with his love for Turks and his untiring efforts in aiding the Turkish war-efforts, despite strictures from the ruling British authorities in India.

A scanned copy of the book is available online from this link.

Here are a few paragraphs from the aforesaid section which I have attempted to translate into English, knowing fully-well my limited skills in both Urdu and English.

“During his time, it was only in Turkey, in whose government, he could still see traces of the glory of Islam. It was this aspect that endeared Turkey to him and led him to love the Turks passionately.

In 1876, when Allama Shibli was still young, Russia attacked Turkey. In this war, the Muslims in India, nay, Muslims all over the world sided wholeheartedly with Turkey.

Indian Muslims conducted many fund collection drives to financially support the Turks. Even the Ulema took part in these drives. The funds thus collected were repatriated to Turkey.

Allama Shibli participated in the fund collection, and was able to send, on behalf of his city, several thousand Rupees to Constantinople, through the then Turkish ambassador stationed in Bombay (Mumbai). It is this event that made inroads into the heart of Shibli, leading him to love Turks. It was this undiluted love that led him to undertake a momentous journey to Turkey. The love that was implanted through words he heard, rose manifold after what his eyes saw in Turkey.

In the glorious star of Turkey (كوكب جلال), he visualized (saw glimpses of)  the battles of Badr and Hunain.

In those days it was considered a big crime in the eyes of the British rulers to even mention the name of Turkey in favourable terms. Allama Shibli had breached this code in the eyes of the then ruling colonial power. This despite the fact that the Allama was careful not to broach the subject of Turkish politics in his travelogue—confining his observations mainly to academic and educational activities of the Turks that he witnessed there. The British authorities accused him of being a Turkish agent and kept a strict vigil on his activities, having him constantly followed by secret police.

This reached its limits when Maulana Abdul Razak Kanpuri wrote a review of Allama Shibli’s travelogue (Safarnama-e-Room-o-Misr-o-Sham) in his paper Musannif al Baramaka. The maulana was summoned by the District Collector who reprimanded him saying, how could he, being a British subject, praise the Sultan of Turkey. Maulvi Saheb had to tender an apology.

During 1895 and 1896, the Western press was blowing the Armenian-Turkish civil war out of all proportion, vilifying the Turks and accusing them of carrying out a genocide. When these exaggerated reports started appearing in the Indian newspapers as well, Allama could not restrain himself.

On 21 February 1896, in the Azad newspaper of Lucknow, Allama Shibli wrote a scathing response, in which he unveiled the real truth and nailed the canard being spread by the Western press.”

God willing, I will publish the translation of the aforesaid section from his biography in full in a couple of days.