I am indebted to brother Jawwad Ali, a research student in the International Islamic University Malaysia for sharing with me the works of Dr. Atif Suhail Siddiqui, founder president of Deoband Institute of Islamic Thought (DIIT). Dr. Atif has dealt with the role of Imam Nanawtawi, the founder of Darul Uloom Deoband, in supporting the Turks, in his article titled “Al-Nānawtawī’s Islamic Political Ideology: Paradigms from Rūdād, Sawānaḥ Qāsmī, and Other Selected Writings, Islamic Literature Review, An Int Journal of Islamic Revival, V. 1. No.2, Jun-Dec. 2014, DIIT, Deoband, India.
I am reproducing below some excerpts from the aforesaid awe-inspiring article:
In 1874 CE (1294 AH), Imam Mohammed Qasim Al-Nanawtawi wrote a religious decree for supporting Ottomans against the Russian Empire. A report (ruddad) was compiled regarding the efforts of the ‘ulama for collecting funds to support the Mujahidin in Balkan. These Mujahidin were part of the Ottoman Empire and were fighting a war against Russian aggression in the Balkan territories of the Ottoman empire.
In the first step, this report mentioned Russian attempts on Turkish-Ottoman territories and its negative impacts including the killings of Muslim men, women and children. Later, this report mentioned the importance of the Caliph’s authority, which is very important for the safety and dignity of the two Holy Shrines of Islam in Makkah and Madinah. This report forecasted the global harm of the Muslim community if the Muslim community decentralized; this centrality exists due to the Caliph’s regime. Thus to support the Caliphate is must and compulsory. It is a religious obligation and duty, which every Muslim must fulfill. If the centrality of the Muslims is decentralized, the entire Islamic world will face the severe consequences.
In the opinion of Al-Nanawtawi, his disciples and colleagues at that time, the most important task was to support Turk forces against Russian aggression and this task was more important than building the mosques and supporting the educational institutions. Even according to them, any other religious obligation became secondary against the support of Turks. Initiatives like building mosques and supporting educational institutions were not considered as important as to support Turkish forces, because they were seen as the catalysts that could help to maintain Islamic centrality and unity.
Al-Nanawtawi decided to raise two steps in support of Turk forces and the regional Muslims in the fighting zones of the Turkish Empire. First was to provide financial support to the Mujahidin and the armed forces of Turkish Empire including the widows and orphans of the army personnel and common Muslims in Eastern Europe. This support, according to Al-Nanawtawi, would boost them on moral grounds and they will not feel themselves alone in their struggle and hardship. They should realize that their Muslim brothers in India are with them in their hardship and time of sorrow.
Al-Nanawtawi was the first person who donated the first amount for the Turk forces. He donated the jewelry of his wife. This donation was given immediately after his marriage with the fair consent of his wife.
The biographer of Al-Nanawtawi ManāÐir Ahsan Gīlānī describes this event as:
“At the first night after his marriage, he (Al-Nanawtawi) persuaded his wife for donating all her jewelry with the noble purpose to support Turkish forces. His wife donated all her ornaments immediately at that night. When his wife went to her father’s home and her father saw her without even a single piece of ornament, he questioned about the matter. When he knew about the fact, he purchased new jewelry for the daughter. But Al-Nanawtawi did the same with new ones.”
The full article can be read here.