Examination of the Pluralism of India – Study of the Kidwai family of Barabanki, Lucknow [7]

September 8, 2008  |  History

Excerpted from “Pluralism to Seperatism Qasbas in Colonial Awadh”
Mushirul Hasan – Oxford University Press

Born a year before the Indian National Congress’s founding session in December 1885, Wilayat Ali belonged to the Kidwai gentry that trace its descent to a Turkish immigrant, Kidwatuddin, who came to India in the wake of Shahabuddin Ghori’s invasions in 11-91-92 (1). Brother of the sultan of Rum and the kingdom’s qazi, Kidwatuddin’s conflict with the king drove him into exile with his wife and son. He wandered across many lands before coming to the saint of Ajmer, Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti (1142-1236). The Khwaja’s influence won him preferment in the Delhi sultanate. His descendants claimed that Ghori had received him with full honours on the outskirts of Delhi (2). Similar stories lend credence to the belief that he, and adventurer, managed to make his way up the social ladder.

Qazi Kidwa (Kidwai means ‘elevate in Arabic’, as Kidwatuddin had come to be called, led an expedition to Awadh against refractory Bhar chieftens (3). In 1201, he attacked the Bhar Raja of Jagdeopur, the modern Juggaur, seizing a large tract of fifty-two villages that became his jagir. These became known as Qidwara, and Masauli is one of them (4). In the early twentieth century this tiny village had a primary school, but nothing else of any significance (5). Today, it has a Rafi Memorial Junior High School, a railway station called Rafinagar, and an elaborately built mausoleum constructed over Rafi Ahmed Kidwai’s grave. From a few hundred in the early twentieth century, Masauli’s population has increased to approximately 13,000.

Qazi Kidwai reached Ayodhya in 1205. This is when his success story begins. He is said to have converted several Hindu groups to Islam, and settled in a locality later designated as Kidwai Mohalla. He died three years later; his tomb, now destroyed, stood close to Aurangzeb’s mosque. His descendants took advantage of Qazi Kidwai’s reputation, and used his connections to rise to high poisitions in the service of the Delhi Sultans and the Awadh Nawabs. His son, Qazi Azizuddin, married Qazi Fakhrul Islam’s daughter at the court of Qutubuddin Aibak (r. 1206-10). Burried in Satrikh, an area Azaizuddin administered, his tomb still exists in the mango grove known as Qazi Ashraf’s Bagh.

During the reign of Aibak’s successor Iltutmish (r.1211-36), contemporary sources recorded continuous ‘holy wars’ against the refractory tribes, and the overthrow of a chief named Bartu, ‘beneath whose sword about a hundred and twenty thousand Mussalmans had attained martyrdom’ (6). This was roughly the period when the Kidwai Sheykhs of Juggaur began moving into Bara Banki, occupied Dewa and other places in the west and acquired estates. Salar Ahmad’s family of Juggaur, fourth in descent from Qazi Kidwa, acquired the Gadia taluqa in 1843, and later extended its holdings in Dewa, Nawabganj, and Partapganj.

The Kidwais of Juggaur were related to the Jasmara families, who were descendants of Qazi Qeyamudding. Among them Qazi Abdul Malik, Muhammad Hamid, and Fakhrullah figure prominently under the Mughals. Their resilience and staying power was amazing. While many of their fellow taluqdars declined for one reason or the other, the Kidwai Sheykhs of Juggaur managed to retain most of their estates until the abolition of zamindari in free India (8).

(1) According to another version, he was Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna’s contemporary, came to India with one of his contingents, and settled in Ayodhya. A.M. Dariabadi (Aap-biti Lucknow, 1989 p24)

(2) Anis Kidwai, Ghubar-e karawaan p. 29

(3) An ‘aboriginal race’ which at one time dominated the eastern half of Awadh. Their earliest habitat was Bahraich, which is said to owe its name to them. Crooke, Tribes and Castes Vol 2. pp 1-11; Sleeman Journey Through the Kingdom of Oude pp.246-7) According to Faizabad’s district gazetteer, ‘they remained here and there till the days of the Janpur kingdom and then vanished, becoming either Hindus or proselytes to Islam’. H.R. Nevill, Fyzabad: A Gazetteer, Vol xliii (Allahabad, 1928) p 150

(4) Zarina Bhatty, ‘Status and Pwoer in a Muslim Dominated Village of Uttar Pradesh’, Imtiaz Ahmad (ed), Caste and Social Stratification Amoung Muslims in India (New Delhi, 1978) p 212.

(5) DG, Bara Banki 1904 p 231.

(6) ABM Habibullah, The Foudnation of Muslim Rule in India (Allahabad, 1961 2nd rev edn), p 104.

(7) DG, Bara Banki, 1904, p 103.

(8) DG, Bara Banki, 1904, p 155.


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