Library Chats #9 – The US Influenced Ottoman-Inspired 1915 Mutiny of the Indian Sepoys of Singapore

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Miss min. he'll

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sit on Wiley Kumar amateur law he obata cuttwood hamdu Lillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah Allah Allah, He will be here woman while I'm about. It's been a while since we have library chat. So inshallah I thought I do another one. By the way, I don't dress up like this at home, I just came back from an event. So I thought I may just do a while I'm still before I move into casual clothing, J. So today I wanted to do something very different. I haven't done something about history. And I wanted to begin the the topic of history by something that

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is well known incident, while after this lecture will be even more well known. That happened around 100 years ago. And that is the infamous Singapore mutiny of 1915. The backstory for me personally, a number of years ago, I saw a YouTube video of some Muslim soldiers in Singapore that were being court martialed and executed by firing squad, and the caption says, and you'll still find that on YouTube, the caption said that, you know, they were, they were refusing to fight the Ottoman Empire in 1915. And so they prefer to die rather than go to the the in fight against the Muslim brethren. And I thought to myself, that's a very interesting story. And I filed it somewhere in my brain. I

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said one day, I want to do it, I want to do research on the story, because it was very intriguing for me. And the idea kept on coming to me that I wanted to find out more until I think, was it two months ago or something I said, you know, I'm still I haven't answered, you know, that question. I wanted to know more about that. And so I started reading and researching. And actually, this proved to be far more fascinating, far more convoluted than the simplistic video that was online. And so I ended up reading academic papers, ordering a few books online, going back to original newspapers, because it was very intriguing. This is just a brief summary. Unfortunately, I haven't written

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anything I don't have time or plan to, but these are my thoughts that inshallah I have. And I apologize, I had to make some small errors here and there prescription but in childhood, the point is to get the conversation going, and to have you all start thinking and doing your own research. And perhaps one of you can write a more, you know, a broader book or a piece about this, this story for me, was particularly fascinating, because it has all of the elements of a drama that we need to understand a global drama, you know, you have the Ottoman Empire, you have the Indian Muslim, still under the yoke of British colonization, you have a very interesting twist here. Trouble from

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America, I did not know this angle at all. We're going to talk a little bit about that there was trouble from America, there was a direct American line straight to the mutineers, you have a dose of religious fanaticism, and you have a huge amount of chaos and misunderstanding. And the net result of all of this was what, in the early part of 1915, Singapore held its largest mass public execution in its history. And of course, all the people that were executed, were Muslims. May Allah have mercy on them. And we're going to discuss their story today. Actually, we have some footage or some, some pictures of that. So let me see if I can put that picture on right now. So this is one of the

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pictures one of the main pictures that we have a right before the the execution. So how did all of this happen? That's going to be our library chat for today. And again, as usual, it says summary to set up the story we're talking about 1914 1950 105 years ago. And of course, the British Empire was pretty much you know, at its Pinnacle, but of course, the decline had begun. I shouldn't say at its Pinnacle, the pinnacle would have been before this, but the decline had begun. But still the sun did not set on the British Empire at this point in time, the entire globe there were protectorates the Brits controlled like a fourth of the entire globe at this point in time, and most significantly for

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us, India and Singapore, India and Singapore are both British territories, World War One has just begun. Remember, you should know your basic history that in World War One, Germany and the Austria, Austria Hungary, a Hungarian Empire were together and they then coaxed in one day, we will inshallah talk about this because it's a very important part of our history. They coaxed in the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman Empire did not have to join the lahoma shaft what happened happened, but the Ottoman Empire did decide to join. And of course, the rest, as they say is history. We have already spoken about that, and the video of 1914 that I did, and the making of the modern Muslim world, but

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the point is World War One has begun. And remember, Great Britain with the allies are on the other side of Germany, and Germany is pulling in the Ottoman Empire. So you have great britain on one side and the Ottoman Empire on the other other Hence, the majority of the Muslim world is going to follow the Ottoman Empire the bulk of Islam does the bulk of it.

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the lands of Islam are looking to the Ottoman Holly for the Ottoman Sorbonne. And by default, they're simply siding with the Ottoman Empire because, of course, the Ottoman Khalifa is the the titular head of the Muslim world. But the question arises, how about the British Muslims, right? The remember now, England had many territories, especially India, where you have hundreds of millions of Muslims. In fact, roughly 270 million Muslims were under nominal British rule that is around a fourth of the entire Muslims of the globe. So three fourths were kind of sort of nominally attached to the Ottoman Empire. Remember, nominally not every single, you know, independent result entered or

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whatnot is, is strongly attached. But still, roughly the majority of the Muslim world is with the Ottoman Empire. And then one fourth of the lands of Islam are basically under nominal British control. So what's going to happen? These are the recipes for disaster that's going to take place and this mutiny of Singapore is but one indication of this tension. Now, of course, one other incident or one other thing to lay the stage and this is a very important part of our history. I really want to talk about this in another lecture because but it's very sensitive as we will see, the Germans manipulated manipulated the Ottoman Empire to issue a fatwa by the shithole Islam, the

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Ottomans had a share called Islam. The Ottomans had a obviously the the chief, you know, Chef, they called them scheffel. Islam means the Grand Mufti in our terms, we call it the Grand Mufti. And the the Germans maneuvered put pressure and did various things, such that the Sultan gave the command that two factors should be given from the, from the shareholder Islam. So the shareholder Islam issued a very famous photo, again, it is translated, you can find it online, it was actually officially you know, delivered, you actually have video footage, there's also a video footage of that somewhere online, very briefly a video footage of that the shareholders time gave effect to

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that it is the religious duty of Muslims around the globe to side with Germany, right. And he called this global conflict of jihad. And again, hindsight 2020 or the Ottoman Empire did not have to join the Ottoman Empire could have remained neutral. And of course, it happened in happen. Of course, the what if question always comes even though we shouldn't go down that the what if question always comes up, what if the Ottoman Empire had not joined But anyway, the Lila home run gun Ama fula, that was bound to happen, because it will it was a loss other nonetheless. The shithole Islam then gave a fatwa stating that the Muslims around the globe must side with the German side. And of course,

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because the Ottomans was on their sight, and they could not side with the British, okay, and the European authorities were trying their best as well to get fat towards from Obama on the Indian side. And, of course, the entire midazolam issue and also comes into play at this point in time, but they're trying to get not just him that had plenty of people in their side trying to give to us that you should be siding with the British, you know, and against the and against the Ottomans. So there's this game going on. And as usual, many Muslim lands and unfortunately, some Muslim scholars are being taken up as pawns in this entire game between the superpowers. Now all of this is

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secondary to our actual story, I'm just laying the ground setting up the stage. In Let's begin our actual story in March 1914. The British issued a command to some of the the Indian troops, they were called sepoys. The sepoys are basically Indians that are working for the British. So the the the British issued a command to take certain troops, certain regiments from India to their other colony of Singapore, so they needed troops in Singapore. And so in March 1914, that command goes out. And one particular regiment called the fifth regiment of the light infantry, okay, they have their names, they have their small, their groups and whatnot. So the fifth regiment of the light infantry

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was one of those that was asked to migrate from or to move, troops not migrate to to move from India to Singapore. And the fifth regiment was primarily based in Madras. And for some reason, the bulk of the fifth regiment were from Muslim backgrounds, okay, they were rajputs they were protons, they were all from Muslim backgrounds. And so

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around 1000, a little bit less than 1000 soldiers of the fifth regiment were transported there were more than the fifth regiment that the mutiny was from the fifth remember this point, of course, multiple regiments and contingents went but the fifth regiment was the one that mutinied and for some reason, this was pretty much almost completely a Muslim Regiment, and so many hundreds upon not less than 1000 came from the fifth regiment were transported from Madras to Singapore, and this took place in the mid to the end of 1914. And of course, World War One has just also begun at the same time. Now the Indian troops this

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Suppose the Muslims when they arrived in Singapore, it life turned out to be far more difficult for these soldiers. Many of these soldiers had never been away from their families, their parents or their extended families. Many of them almost all of them had never stepped foot outside of India. And so there was a culture shock. And there was also a lot of discontent as well, primarily because the the British commanders were extremely incompetent in dealing with the problems and in fact, the British commander at the time that his name is Colonel Martin. Colonel Martin was actually eventually reprimanded for the entire episode, he was partially blamed for the mutiny because of his

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incompetence, and told to let go he retired and basically lived a private life after this, because of the incident of the mutiny. Colonel Martin was the commanding officer. And he was the the quintessential, you know, arrogant, bumbling idiot of the of the British upper class completely disconnected from the problems that his own troops were facing. And in fact, compounding the problems with his own sheer arrogance. Within a few months, and Albarn occurred, it was in July of that year, and so the hottest month, and the soldiers face the double issue of fasting, away from home on rations that were extremely poor. And in fact, we have record recorded documents of them

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complaining to their superiors that they're not able to even eat the regular food. In fact, there's one complaint that says that, you know, we were accustomed to having, you know, large meals for the so who wouldn't they have thought at home, but now basically, because their salary is the same, their salaries in Indian rupees, right, their salary is the same, but the price of food is double, triple quadruple, the price is much higher in Singapore. And so they complain that we're used to eating meat, and now we're eating diet and stuff for the law. And you know, no, gosh, the no salad and no chicken, you know, for for food, and they're fasting on top of that. And so there's this

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whole notion of being away from home, being under fed. And then of course, hard work, because they are troops, they're going to have to build the barracks, whatever they have to do. They're in a new land that they have been, you know, this is their job, they're getting paid money. Remember, these are voluntary troops, they've signed up to be sea boys, they've signed up to be with the British Army. And so they have a job to do. And the commanding officers really were not sympathetic to their plight, they requested less work, they requested more food, none of this was given to them. In fact, Colonel, the colonel Martin and whatnot, he found some motivation. There's always a few of those. He

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bought them in some motivic by the name of Fazal Rahman, who, sorry, sorry, I don't know the name of the movie, the guy who objected It was a scrub that nut was removed, they brought in some molvi, who gave the federal to the troops that they did not have to fast that they should basically obey the British and they did not have to fast pause your technical footnote, I can see actually a filthy argument that if they are travelers, and I don't know what they consider the I don't know, their their whole paradigm. But I don't know was that the argument that he used or not, but if they are actual travelers, for legitimate cause now, that's the big issue, would this be a legitimate cause

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or not, but that's besides the point. Nonetheless, a Maulvi was brought in by the colonel to teach or to preach to the troops that they don't have to fast Ramadan. And so don't worry about Ramadan and a certain private by the name of Fazal Rahman stood up, we have records of this. And he caused this scene in public and he said that, you know, you on your movies can, you know, go whatever, he was very vulgar and very clear what he thought about this movie, and he refused to give up his right to fast and whatnot. And this you know, he was loudly you know, clapped and you know, appreciated sentiment was appreciated. And of course, in return for that incident, first Redmond was fired on

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the spot and sent it back to to India. And of course, would you you can imagine the sentiment the pain or the the frustration is going to be added all jokes aside, and I don't mean to diminish the issues, they definitely, you know, it's something that's typical British arrogance typical, the British do not learn from 1857 even the unfilled rifle, the Enfield rifle scandal that took place in the 1857 mutiny, the British are notorious for their complete incompetence when it comes to assessing the the the tempo of their own peoples and they just have this superiority, attitude about dealing with their, the locals and whatnot. And this was definitely one of the major factors even

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the internal government trial and the internal government surveys that took place afterwards. Quite a lot of blame was placed on Colonel Martin and on the internal you know, superior commanding officers about how they dealt with the precursors to the entire mutiny. Jokes aside. In fact, we do have reports some of the British doctors themselves, express their concerns that the troops are malnourished. In fact, a number of them even said that these are walking skeleton

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I mean they're not being fed properly and in fact one of them advised that they be given a leave of absence be taken back to India for a month or two and then brought back nonetheless, as usual the the commanding officers completely ignored this and basically made some sarcastic remarks of Indians being thin anyway and you know, hard work, etc, etc. And so they dismissed these concerns. We also have, by the way, documented cases of high rates of troops fainting on the job. So the heat of Singapore the humidity is obviously very different as well. They're malnourished, they're not getting the typical food, the work is worse for them they're not taking the concession to not fast

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so you know, it was a very difficult Ramadan you know, for them, imagine the sentiment they're going to feel imagine how the thing is going to build up now. This is the psychological makeup of these sick boys. To make matters worse, to other important factors are being put in Okay, the first of them

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the The first of them is that the main Mosque of the the city would the main Mosque of the city of Singapore, had a preacher by the name of Nord, Ireland, Shah Nur Alam Shah had a share for a Mufti nor alum Shah. And this new album, Shah was a member of a secret and outlawed party by the name of the huddled party. It was a political It was a political party that had branches around the world. And of course, the word huddle goes back to the mutiny of 1857, the British called the mutiny of 1857, the big order, the mutiny, and this party wanted to resurrect the mutiny, it wanted to bring back the mutiny and genuinely succeed this time around by getting rid of British dominion. So the

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other party was an outlawed party. And it had obviously as branches across the globe, the sheriff or the Imam of the masjid there was actually a member of the other party. And so he was an Of course, he was stationed there before the British and so he's there on his own. He's the, you know, the the Singaporean mom. And he was very anti British, obviously, he is a very anti British mom. And he would be preaching to the troops, that it was not allowed for them to be with the British, and that he was telling them that they should revolt, and they should lead a mutiny, and that the Ottoman halifa was secretly going to support to them. And so this ship, or this Imam promised them that if

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they revolted, the Ottoman halifa, which he said he was in direct touch with, the Ottoman Khalifa would send troops and help them overcome the British. And he also claimed that he was in direct communication with the Germans, which was a complete lie, or maybe somebody lied to him. We're not exactly sure, but there is no indication that an Imam in Singapore would be in communication with the Kaiser, and that the Kaiser had promised him as well that a warship would come and aid the mutineers. And so he's feeding them these, you know, Miss Miss truths, right, whether it was an intention, a lie, or whether his own deluded or whether he was lied to, but the share of this

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community, which they're going to for Juma and they know him to be the senior, the leader. So he's telling them that if they revolt against the British, both the Ottomans and the Germans are going to come to their aid. And he was actually writing letters to the Ottoman sovann pledging his allegiance in Singapore, saying that he speaks on behalf of the Muslim community and saying that, you know, he wants to help of the Sultan. So it is a one way we do not have any indication that this will find actually ever responded as of yet. We don't know if somebody finds out then tell me but the books that I've read, there is no indication that there was any official response. He felt the self

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appointed, he felt that I'm going to bring in you know, the the Ottoman troops and the Sultan is listening to me. And of course, little did he know that he was being spied on. And every single message that he sent was intercepted and read by the British before whatever they did to him, maybe even it, didn't he resourceful thought, I don't know. Nonetheless, no, no, Adam Shah was one of the main religious, if you like preachers, who was telling these Muslims that suppose that it was their religious obligation to revolt against the British and to join the German side, it's not as if he was like Muslim versus COVID. He was Germany versus England. And he said that the German side is

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basically the side of the Ottoman Empire. So we are obliged to join the German side and to not fight with the British now, nude album shot was not the actual brains behind the mutiny itself because he did not give a concrete plan. However, he was an instigator. And so he was later on, you know, castigated and charged by the British but he wasn't a part of the actual plot of the mutiny. Along with the shift along with the the cleric. There was also a number of community leaders and activists who were also very active in their anti British sentiment and one of the main leaders of

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The Muslim community in Singapore was a Gujarati by the name of gossamer smile. Mansoor, he was a, from Surah, Gujarat, and he was a very rich merchant, he was a social, you know, elite. And he owned coffee shops. And he had plenty of businesses, one of the wealthiest, you know, people on the island, and he was extremely active in spreading negative feelings and sentiments amongst the Muslims against the British presence on the island. And these leaders, especially costumes, made Massoud, he felt that World War One was an ideal circumstance to ally with Germany, against England, and to achieve independence for Singapore, again, these are people that are born in India, but they

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have become, you know, Singaporean. And of course, if you've been to Singapore, of course, is a very beautiful, very nice eclectic mix of people all over the Malays, the Chinese, the Indians, very, very nice land, by the way, in them, very expensive center, they're very little tall buildings, but very interesting country to go to no doubt. But the point is that he felt himself to be basically I don't know how many how long he was in Singapore before this incident, but he felt himself to be a local now. And he felt that to the British should not be there. And he wanted to overthrow the British in the land in the island of Singapore. Now, this is the locals of Singapore, they had a

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strong anti British sentiment, you had the religious, you have the nationalist, you have all of them coming together. And now the troops are listening to them, the troops have direct contact with these individuals. Okay? The plot thickens. And this is the real plot twist that I had no idea about until I read, you know, just literally, I found this out less than two months ago, and I started doing my readings. I read one paragraph somewhere. And then I found that very intriguing. And I looked that up and spent quite a while searching for the details about this particular issue. Very interesting. There's an entire book written about this issue. What is this issue? This is the American

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connection. This is the connection of American, not American Indians, Indian Americans. Okay, this is a very interesting twist here, take a step back.

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Immigration to America, of course, was primarily, you know, not too loud for people of a brown skin and yellow skin as you're aware, but small batches did come. And there was a small vibrant community of Indian expatriates in America in the 1900s, and 1910s. Not a lot, a few 100 at max. But generally speaking, these few 100, they did have quite a lot of weight, and they had quite a lot of clout. By the way, one amongst them became the first, the first congressman back in the 40s or 50s, go look him up, I forgot his name, I just, but you can look him up an actual Indian Punjabi congressman from California, back in the 40s and 50s. And he was very highly honored because he was the first quote

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unquote Asian American, the first dc basically an Asian American to be a congressman born and raised in Punjab, and then came to America and then worked his way up very impressive story from a Sikh background. Most of these were Sikhs, some Hindus and some Muslims, nonetheless, back to our story. So there is a vibrant Indian or DC community in North America, primarily in California, also in Portland. And they are generally farmers, that's where they're where they're given opportunities to own land and to and to farm, the farm the land. And one amongst them a certain Mr. Nevada Han, he came to North America in 1906. And he began publishing journals with titles like free Hindustan, and

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with titles like leather. So he's also joining the leather movement, and beginning to foment basically an ideology. And again, I'm not opposed to it. I'm just telling you the truth, don't read in my own views right now, towards the end, I'll conclude and I'll give my thoughts and feel free to disagree with my opinions on on all of this, but you haven't many prominent DC, Americans at the time. And of course, America doesn't mind this per se, because this is anti British. It's not necessarily I mean, you know, it's not they don't view this as being potentially dangerous because they're talking about just like the the Irishman in Boston, for example, in America turned a blind

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eye, generally speaking to what the Irish are doing in the 70s and 80s. With regards to supporting of the IRA or whatever. So, the Indian Americans, not the American Indians, the Indian Americans banded together, and they began publishing pamphlets and materials that were sent around the globe, especially to expatriate communities, encouraging them to revolt and in fact, very interestingly, there were explicit commands for Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus to unite together. There was one pamphlet called a Ilana Jang the the the the call to war and the A Ilana Jang was literally it said on it, that all Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs we are one in contrast to the British. And you should know by

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the way, footnote here, there were two primary strands of anti British sentiment. One of them was like the RSS, which became the BJP, in which it's viewed India as being a pure Hindu land and it was

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Those people of course, who eventually assassinated Gandhi, okay, there was the other strand that felt that India was abroad land with multiple ethnicities and multiple religions. And all of them should come together for a greater India and kick the British out. So generally speaking, obviously the expat community here in North America, generally speaking, they were of the the camp that said, all of us are one compared to the British. There were a few, by the way, who are part of the RSS type the you know, the precursor to the BJP, these days is the exact opposite will almost die in amongst the Indian community. But that's besides the point.

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So, generally speaking, the Indians of America and Canada, I forgot to mention there was a group in Canada and Vancouver as well. So Vancouver, the south coast, basically, right. So the sorry, the West Coast, the west coast of America, that you have the Vancouver, Oregon, California, you have an entire strip, and this is in the 1910s 1950s. They are publishing materials, because America allows them to do so and exporting them around the globe to communities and even smuggling they're being smuggled into India, as well. Now, an incident happened here that caused these groups to issue a particularly harsh a number of pamphlets, including the anti junk I talked about, and that incident

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is again, separate to our story. But believe it or not, it actually seems to have repercussions all the way in Singapore. And that is that ship arrived from India to Vancouver. Remember, Canada's under British, you know is a British territory right now in India is British territory. So technically speaking, the there was this notion of you're able to go back and forth, and an entire shipload of Indian immigrants arrived in Vancouver, with the general expectation of starting a new life, hundreds families, children, they're all coming to Vancouver, under circumstances somewhat obscure, this is not the time to get into that place. But they were denied entry they were held

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outside for a few months or so situation on the boat became extremely terrible. They almost you know, dysentery, malaria, whatever, they're outside Canada, literally the docks of Canada, Vancouver, and then the government decides Tough luck, we're not letting you in, go back to India. Now, this caused a huge ripple in the Indian American communities in California, in Portland in Vancouver, they tried to raise funds, they tried to appeal to the Canadian government. But the Canadian government, whatever at the time refused, of course, the Canadian government meaning here, the British Canadian government, they refused. And the ship was in fact sent all the way back to

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India. Now, you can imagine there must have been families of people. Because in those days, when one person immigrated, they brought their immediate friends and families. It caused a huge wave of anti British sentiment because again, Canada's British territory. And this this caused them to release some extremely harsh pamphlets in which they cited once again, with Germany against the British, this is now not necessarily linked to Singapore from their mindset. But the pamphlets arrived in Singapore. And that incendiary language, some of those pamphlets or some of those publications were actually found in the belongings of the mutineers. And so clearly, that type of thought, is also

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playing a role in Singapore. And in fact, there's even one particular individual who was a part of this movement in California, and then, you know, came to Singapore. And he was spreading these ideas as well in Singapore. So there is a linkage, believe it or not, from America, all the way to Singapore. Now, all of this is the perfect recipe for disaster. The perfect storm is brewing all of the ingredients, or most of the ingredients that I mentioned to you basically, there were more Besides this, put them together, soldiers are tired, they're hungry, they're overworked, they're in a strange land away from their families. On top of that, you have the religious preacher telling

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them that this is a holy war if they do this, and it was gonna, you know, never get never forgive them for joining with the British they have to revolt and then promising them the Ottoman Empire the kaisers help, okay, on top of this world war one is at its feet, it was just very beginning and their notion of you know, a new beginning is going to come on top of this you have the well well connected wealthy community leaders, you know, you have the costumes, telling them as well that we're on your side we're going to help you and of course the those people are linked to transnational political parties. And of course, you have the American instigators, you always have

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to have the American instigators, all of this taking place. Within these few months. You can just imagine what's going on in the minds of the soldiers. All that is required is One Spark. And what was that spark? The recipe is all there right that the firewood is all there that now months have gone they've been in Singapore for was it now what, seven, eight months, right? 890 not even a year. They have not even been in Singapore a full year. But life is difficult. And you know, those months were very torturous, along with all of these ideas that they're being exposed to. Just needs one match. What was that match? In February 1915. The regiment received orders that they would be moving

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to Hong Kong. Colonel Martin called up the battalion leaders to his office to his house and told them that

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Within a week, the entire fifth regiment is going to move to Hong Kong. And as the news spread amongst the supporters, again, they're already tired. They're already frustrated. All of these things are there. As the news spreads amongst the fifth Regiment, somebody remarked that this is a plot. This is a ploy. This is a trick. This is a tactic. Rather, they're not sending us to Hong Kong. No, they're sending us to Egypt in order to fight against the Ottoman Empire on behalf of the British against the Germans. And of course, later on now, we now know this was a complete and utter unsubstantiated misinformation, it was a rumor that had zero basis whatsoever 105 years have gone

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by, there is no cover up anymore. Nobody. We know everything now about what is going on. There was never the notion to send these troops to the Ottomans. And the British were hesitant what to do with the Muslim soldiers. And especially at this stage, it would, it's just impossible in early 1950s, they would never have sent, you know, Muslim, Indian sepoys, to fight against the Ottoman Empire at this stage. It's just way too early in the game, even if they wanted to do that later on. And all the documents we have, and they're all public records. Now all the documents we have, it's very clear, they were going to Hong Kong, just basically, you know, wrap up here and go to another

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British outpost and then do whatever needed to be done over there. Nonetheless, the rumors spread like wildfire. And given all that had happened in the last basically 10 months or so helaas. That's it, some people basically snapped and they gather together and they decided to mutiny, they decided to revolt against their own officers and try to take over the entire island. Now of course, it took a few days of this talk and during these few days, you had a few people, you know the murmurings are going to go back to the elders, they're gonna go back to the elite. And so the discontent reaches the ears of the commanders. But with all of the typical arrogance of the British elites, never

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having learned even one lesson from the from the mutiny of 1857, which is, by the way, one of my favorite topics and maybe one day, we'll summarize that because that's a long topic. But again, that's a fascinating episode in Indian history, fascinating episode, and, and so much to learn from the big mutiny, the first war of independence of 1857. British did not learn from their mistake at all, they refused to address these rumors, they refuse to quell the discontent. And they simply reissued the order. And they said, We are moving to Hong Kong in a week. Okay, that's it and the story, you know, this is your job, your sepoys, your, your soldiers, you're going to follow orders.

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All of this proved too much. And the plot was hatched to basically amongst the fifth regiment to basically revolt, mutiny, and kill the British soldiers and take over the island of Singapore. And they firmly believe that as soon as they did that, a German ship would just you know, waltz in or the Ottomans would send not paratroopers, but they would just send there and they would just basically take over and you know, loaded everything would be absolutely fine. After they did that. Well, they decided to

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choose a particular time when ammunitions would be transferred from the storage room onto the ship. They're loading, the dogs are getting they're transferring to Hong Kong. And so the the large storage room that was full of ammunitions and full of whatever weapons and military equipment that when that was going to be moved, they decided to enact or to start the mutiny so that they'd have access to the ammunition of that, that locked chamber. And so on the 15th of February in the year 1915. That's 105 years ago, as I speak right now 15th, February 1915, at precisely 3pm, an Indian boy by the name of his smile, Han fired the first shot. And that was the signal, over 400 soldiers,

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all of the Muslim maybe one or two Hindus, but pretty much all of the Muslim, over 400 soldiers had already been in on the plot. And they participated in this mutiny, they charged the ammunition room, and then they began marching, you know, to the army barracks and you know, killing as many British soldiers as they could. And then they began marching outside the barracks into the city into Singapore proper itself and marched into the harbor and began shooting any British person that they found anybody from British background, even civilians, because again, this is military rule. I mean that every British around the island is basically connected to, to what is going on here. And they

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went to the German prison because there were some prisoners of world war one that had been captured and they're in there in Singapore jail, and they released to them swearing their allegiance to the Kaiser, okay, so they're saying the Kaiser is now our leader and not, you know, His Majesty's Government.

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Unfortunately, and this is one of the big negatives.

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Typical, typical, you know, typical reality of our circumstance, they did not have a concrete plan, they did not actually sit through and plan, what exactly are they going to do. In fact, to make matters worse, they didn't even have one unified leader. It was just, we're gonna revolt and we're gonna kill the British. And then that's it. They didn't even have an actual one unified leader, they did not even think two steps ahead. So what's going to happen? Complete, chaos ensued. And by the way, deja vu 1857, the exact same thing. I mean, again, I don't want to start there, because that's a very interesting story. But so panela, the entire country of India could have easily gotten rid of

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the British in 1857. If they had unity, the number of soldiers were minimal compared to the people who did not want them there. But again, multiple issues, multiple issues, and one of them was a complete lack of unified leadership. There's nobody there that's going to make a decisive decision that everybody's going to actually follow. And also a lack of a plan, there was not a plan about what is to be done. They didn't think two three steps ahead. Same thing happened again in 1915. So they go around, you know, the streets of Singapore, literally stopping cars at random making sure there's no British in there. If there is they pulled them out, and they shoot them on the spot in

00:36:27--> 00:37:06

the next day or two, around 40 British soldiers and military civilians again, there's no actual civilians or maybe one or two were killed as well holiday or vacation you but the basically the default is that everybody on the island that's British is basically working for the government, soldiers and military civilians over 40 were killed. In fact, they even went to some houses of prominent people and made sure that there were no British people in there. They did not kill any woman or child intentionally. One lady who was the wife of a colonel was killed unintentionally when they tried to shoot the colonel and she jumped to try to save her husband and that ended up killing

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the both of them but they did not kill any lady or child intentionally. Interesting story as well by the one of the books I was reading is that they stopped a car that had a Caucasian man in it and they were about to kill him. And he goes in his in his accent, which I'm not going to even try to imitate. He goes What do you think you're doing? I'm Irish. Okay, I'm not British. So when they figured out his Irish they apologize and they let him go even they recognize to the plight of the Irish Our hearts are with you Irish people. We know what happened to her definitely. You are very we were on your side. Don't worry. So and Ireland is a one of the most beautiful countries I've visited

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and the people honestly one of the friendliest countries I've been in my life has been Ireland and I look forward to each other going again. Sometime nonetheless. So interesting story. They let the Irishman go when he goes, I'm not I'm, I'm on your side. I'm not I'm not on their side, even though technically is working for them. But his heart was not, you know, with the British anyway. So to compound this, the 15th of February 1915, was at the very end of the Chinese New Year's celebration. And so the whole island was in a festive spirit. The whole island was really not prepared for having a military coup or a mutiny. And so the British were caught, as they say, with their pants down

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completely surprised, complete confusion, complete, unexpected. And many of the officers were on leave, there was no, as we already said there was no strong internal leadership even amongst their ranks. And so in a very, very bizarre twist of affairs, it wasn't the British who began clamping down on the mutineers. Actually, Russian and Japanese troops intervened. And they got involved to arrest some of the mutineers, and they're sent in their troops on behalf of the British Can you believe right? And what was most insulting to the British, even the French sent in their warships as a sign of support against the mutineers and with the British? And of course, if you know anything

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about your French and British history, you know how awkward that conversation would have been when the French kept on reminding the British about that. And by the way, all of these groups, right, they're not friends of one another, generally speaking, but when it came to the mutineers that said, well, home Jimmy and Hulu home shatta that Yes, that is true yet when it comes to us, they are all going to be gathered together. And you know, they did help each other to track down the mutineers, some nutrients By the way, they did try their best to flee the island. Some of them actually, I think, one ship, one, they took a ship, and they ended up in Malaysia. And so they they they fled

00:39:47--> 00:39:59

after the mutiny. However, the Sultan of Johor, which is a province in Malaysia, the Sultan of Johor was loyal to the British and so he had his troops round up, this this contingent and then sent them back to

00:40:00--> 00:40:40

British authorities, essentially all of the the the mutineers, pretty much all of them. They were either killed in battle to get them back in the next three days and three days The island was captured back. So the mutiny did not last more than 75 hours, basically 76 hours. So in three days, all of the ministry mutineers were captured, some of them died, of course, you know, in the process of getting arrested, more than 200 were court martialed, around 100 or so were given life sentences without the possibility of parole with hard labor, by the way, that's May Allah protect us what an evil, it's a very evil thing that would happen back then that they would just send you to a desert

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island or whatever. And for the rest of your life without any possibility of giving, of leaving, you would just have to do ridiculous things like pick up rocks and go in a circle or, you know, just, you know, go to the mines, or do whatever, just hard labor. So it's like a punishment every single day, for the rest of your lives in, you know, I think over 100 of them were given that sentence, 47 of them were given the death penalty, you already saw the picture, I will show it again, at the end as well. 47 of them were executed by the firing squad and the largest mass execution in the history of Singapore. And they were executed outside of the prison of the prison wall. So the the prison

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that they were in the wall that you see that's the outside of the prison wall, the socialite costume and sue the Gujarati coffee man, he too, was arrested. And of course, he's a civilian. And so he thought he would be able to sue his way out he hired the best lawyers because he has plenty of wealth. And he thought that at least he'd be let off or at least not be charged enough with the death penalty. Nonetheless, eventually he too was tried after all the troops because obviously he's a civilian. He he lost the case because the letter that he sent to the soul bond that was used as treason because treason has the death penalty in England, and in British territories, even for

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civilians. And so that letter was used to indicate that he was conspiring against His Majesty's Crown by reaching out to other leaders. And so he was hanged to death as well costume and sewer.

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Colonel Martin himself the quintessential, stereotypical obnoxious British commander, and he even has the mustache I mean, literally the quintessential, you know, essence of British command, Colonel Martin himself, that arrogant pompous, let me just stop here. The he was found incompetent, he was actually reprimanded by his superiors, he was told that he was severely negligent, and he was forced to retire the army in shame and lived an obscure life to the rest of his days. The British, by the way, tried to downplay the entire mutiny. And in fact, for over a decade or two, the details of the mutiny were classified. Why, why, because they did not want to spark these ideas in other British

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lands. And in fact, they claimed that the entire mutiny was not actually against the British Empire, it was just

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excuse me disgruntled troops, they were angry at the you know, whatever food and whatnot. So, they tried to downplay the the notion of a mutiny because they did not want this to happen across other territories. Other countries of course, did not have that locked down so we can read about you know, their, their interpretations and newspaper articles about what exactly happened. Interestingly enough, was small footnote here three mutineers dodge Han Ismail Han and Pharaohs had no relation to one another three of them actually did escape. They made their way to Bangkok, and they are never heard from again. I'm sure to this day there are their great great grandchildren of these three,

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living in somewhere in whatever Thailand or whatever your country for Eastern country without any clue about to their own ancestors and where they came from. As a result of the mutiny the entire fifth Light Infantry the entire regiment was slowly just disbanded, ostentatious ostentatiously as a restructuring of the army but of course it left a bad taste right when the entire infantry, mutineer, so there is no longer in the British Army. The fifth Light Infantry is no longer there because of this, this incident. And of course, as a result of this incident, the Muslims of Singapore also faced a backlash, they had to send a very strongly worded message to the crown. And

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in fact, the mass ceremony was held you know, by the the by the British vice chairman of Singapore that he invited the Muslim leaders of Singapore and they affirm their loyalty to the king. And they disavow any knowledge of the plot. And they said that they will be loyal citizens and by and large, that was true. The British sorry, the Muslims of this of the island of Singapore were not really involved in the mutiny other than these few people, otherwise, generally speaking, it's true. They were not involved in this mutiny. The Western press also had a field trip, The New York Times portrayed this uprising as the greatest threat to British power since 1857. I mean, what an

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exaggeration a bunch of I mean, they would not have been able to do anything, but again, this this overplaying of what you

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It was a again it was it from their perspective, definitely a big tragedy. I mean, you know, 200 soldiers is not a trivial amount sorry, not to 400 400 soldiers is not a trivial amount to Muti and for them to kill, you know, 14

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British soldiers and, you know, to take over the island for a day or two, that's definitely, definitely not a trivial matter at the same time to claim that, you know, England is it isn't an existential crisis, nor once again, that fear mongering that you know, you cannot trust the Muslims and the Muslims are going to do this and that the Times of London, the same echoes of the history of 1857 You know, that's another very interesting episode and the mutiny happened in 1857. The Times of London was worse than Fox News in our times. And the way that they portrayed the the Indians who mutated as if they're all a bunch of savages wanting to rape white women is always a motif, right?

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brown and black, you know, skin, wanting to harm our white women, this is a common motif and the times was in charge of that. And so we had a little bit of that one lady was accidentally killed, it was very clear everybody knows this is when it was an accident, you know, the gun was aimed at the colonel and she jumped in the way to try to protect it to try to stop but the the bullet, you know, I mean, it was already fired or whatever. So she was not it was not, it was an unintentional thing. But again, to exaggerate this the killing of women and children, there was no there was no killing of women and children intent and there was no child killed in the entire three days. Nonetheless, so

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again, all of this demonstrates, uh, you know, one, we're gonna get to our thoughts. I'm gonna get my thoughts at the end. But before I get there, let me see if I can play for you a very interesting video I discovered on YouTube. There is actually a video of an eyewitness as an older man, let me see if I can put this on here.

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Okay, so I found this video online is crown colony of Singapore 25th Of March 1915.

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on the slopes of a golf course, a large crowd is gathered.

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It includes the island socially, British expatriates, diplomats, army officers and civil servants.

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This is still a public park right now. Stand the non Europeans, Chinese, Malays and Indians. There is a carnival atmosphere. public executions were common throughout history among the crowd is a six year old Chinese boy. john john Whoa.

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The guy unbelievable.

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So take a long time.

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john john, who joined 15,000 spectators to witness the British Army's largest mass execution of the first world that's the jail they're standing what do you do Indian soldiers of the fifth Light Infantry faced a firing squad of 122 this is first batch was another batch responsible for defending the island had moved to

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Singapore had been taken by surprise and nearly overwhelmed.

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Officially, the mutiny was dismissed as a little local difficulty. But as this film will reveal, it was part of a conspiracy by Indian revolutionaries to win their country's freedom by inciting the Indian Army to rise up against the British Raj land backed by Britain's wartime enemy German, that's a bit of exaggeration Germany Wasn't she would force the British government to revise their whole attitude to Indian self government. Again, it's a bit of exaggeration.

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Okay, so very interesting, right? I don't know when that was done. And also, by the way, there is a documentary out there somewhere, I tried my best to obtain it. I wasn't able, I wasn't able to do that. If one of you is able to do that, please, you know, send me a message about where I can get the documentary done. will be very interesting to see that. Okay. thoughts. Now, this was basically an interesting episode from 105 years ago from 1915. About the Muslim rebellion of 1950, the support rebellion.

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What are some of my thoughts about this? Well, I think one of the main things here is that we really do need to study history. We have this notion now the way that the YouTube video when I first saw it was that these are people who loyally bravely you know, stood against the the commands to fight the Ottoman Empire. They refused to be a part of, you know, anything to do with the the Ottomans and they fought for their lives until they finally died.

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I mean, it's a romanticization of the entire episode, you know, I mean, there's no question that there

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British cause some of the worst havoc in the world, you know, pre modernity or early modernity, there's no question that the damage that the British did to the world and to the Muslim world and lands. It's immense. Nobody's justifying any of that. But it's awkward for us to come to terms with the fact that these people who lost their lives, they were not even being sent to fight Ottoman lands. And so we get to this very, very difficult question. I mean, what should they have done? Was it really worth it for them? I mean, remember, remember, they signed up to fight with the with the British, I mean, in the sense, they are soldiers, there's their voluntary job, they signed up, they

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went through the training, they're getting a salary, these aren't forced prisoners, right. These are people who have adopted, you know, this lifestyle, they want to be soldiers for the British. And for whatever reason, they they had this notion that they're being sent against the Muslim Empire end. I mean, of course, we hope for their inshallah Shahada, their forgiveness No, no doubt there are Muslim brothers. But I mean, are we not going to learn from emotional overreacting I mean, the sheer chaos the the no idea of what they're planning just anger and whatnot and again, this is not to criticize them, they have gone on till Komodo called harlot. It's something for us to to to really

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think and ponder is that

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what was gained by this entire episode, what what was the the tomato, what exactly happened? And, again, now, you could argue, you could argue that this mutiny uplifted the spirits of the hunter movement, and that it, you know, caused a spark across the globe that eventually Gandhi and others would write, there's no evidence for this. But still, yeah, if you wanted to, it's a perspective, you know, I mean, you can say, this was yet another nail in the coffin of the British Empire. But you know,

00:51:52--> 00:52:33

it's awkward, but let's be honest here. They didn't have an accurate perception of what's going on. And they reacted in a manner that, you know, and again, this is one of our problems here is that history, that's one of the reasons I wanted to bring up this this whole day one, one example, by the way is that history is one of the least studied sciences amongst our clerical class, right, amongst the Islamic institutions. Hardly any, in fact, let me just say this, I am not aware of any mud that I sir, or john mayer, or, you know, scholarship producing institution that actually teaches history in a thorough manner, even in a cursory manner. What we do, even if it's in Medina University is

00:52:33--> 00:52:38

very literally just the very final Class A little bit of all my years, a little bit of money, you know,

00:52:39--> 00:53:20

nothing to the items we don't there's no study when I was there, and I know it hasn't changed at all as well. There's a complete gap of, you know, 700 600 years, and even the history that is taught, and not just in the institution I came from, but in almost all institutions that I'm aware of, it's a very sanitized, triumphalist ik history frankly, it is more of a mythological like hagiography, where you're trying to prove you know, the the gallant nature of every single person you study. And you don't study the other side, a picture is painted, that is far rosier than actual reality. Now, if you're giving a children's tale, no problem, go ahead and do that. But if you want to teach

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serious students of knowledge, you want to teach people who are going to become Roma and community leaders and thinkers, you know, if you teach them a mythology, if you sanitize your own history, you know what happened in Romania time I busted out what happened across the Muslim oma, if you present a picture that's not real, well, then you're going to cause problems down the line. If you have a romanticized version of, of earlier times, you know, it's easier to fall prey to ideas that are also on the more harsh side or the fanatical side. And again, this needs to be said, it's very awkward, that you will never join these types of radical movements or the jihadist movements, you're never

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going to join them. Unless you have a totally skewed understanding of the past, the notion of, you know, a glorious past in which everybody you know, was living peaceful lives in the halifa took charge and one more Kazuma becomes like a complete trope of the entire 14 centuries, and you don't see the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly look, no doubt our history is glorious. I say this as somebody who is not a specialist, but I love history. I say this, as somebody who studies a little bit of history, dabble. I'm an amateur. And I'm saying I'm an expert. But I have no doubt that our Islamic history is the most interesting and the most glorious history of any civilization,

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especially early Islam. I have no doubt about that. But that doesn't mean that everything that happened was rosy and beautiful. There are very, very important lessons to learn from history. And if you're not willing to learn them, and you have a very skewed vision, well then it's very easy to fall prey to susceptible it

00:55:00--> 00:55:40

ideas that are going to then lead you down a road of fanaticism of romantic idealism of sloganeering with groups that are just I mean, that's something if you study history, you really do broaden your horizons and you just fluttered down back to flooded on back to Earth that doesn't, you're not going to be easily swayed by visions or versions or movements that are claiming that if you just do this, and everything's gonna be fine. It doesn't work that way. History, political politics, it's just a very, very different arena, and that I strongly encourage any student of knowledge, and especially graduates of any madrasa, any institution that they'll have to study history on the side. And the

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sad reality is that most of our history, even as it's written, it is triumphalist ik IE nitpicking the positives, reading in far more making these nice beautiful meta narratives, and then not really getting to the nitty gritty of, of the reality and slowly but surely, I will plan to do this even in this in this series that I'm doing here. But again, this is one example here that our brothers may Allah have mercy on them who passed away in this, you know, difficult matter who were executed and killed, we hope for their Shahada. But they were mistaken and what the meaning their perception, I'm not saying whether, you know, the end, by the way, even whether they should have done what they

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signed up to the to the British Army again, let's be clear here, if they really felt that the British were that way, I'm not saying they shouldn't have I'm not a supporter of the British at all. But at the same time, then why did you sign up if that's the way you felt, you should have just stayed in your farms or doing whatever even be a part of the resistance movement in a manner that's not going to get you accused of, you know, signing up and being a mutineer that way. I mean, that's like, it's you, you don't blame, you know, the other side for executing and for being harsh, because you signed up, you claim to be a part of us, you're getting our salary, and then you you do what you

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do. So, point being that history is something that that broadens your horizon, it makes you understand the good and the bad, the positive, the negative. And also, by the way, one final note before I conclude, is that also one of the ways to study history is that you really cannot just rely on one source or one reference, especially when that source is written from this triumph holistic narrative, okay, it's it's not going to work. If you want to study history, you really have to, firstly study how to study history, I'm just giving you a brief example, for this brief lecture that I gave. And again, I apologize if you find a small mistake here and there. I mean, this is all just

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from our own readings, I'm not planning to write because I don't have the time or the need to write papers. I'm not interested in that. I just want to do this for myself. I didn't even plan to do a library chat on this until I discovered the American connection and the misinformation that I thought is very interesting. Otherwise, I was just doing this for my own, for my own interest. But even for this, by the way, I just wanted to give you an example that I'm not going to try to brag or boast. But even for this brief foray, I must have read at least a dozen articles. I actually went back to some newspapers, you know, Singapore newspapers and

00:58:00--> 00:58:30

New York Times and others that actually mentioned this to see 1915 see what they said about this, I read, you know, a number of articles from different sources article written by a Japanese man in English, I don't read Japanese to talk about his perspective. And what happened. Singapore as well, somebody from Singapore has an article academic article that, you know, from their perspective, this is like the first resistance against the British because again, the British eventually did leave after World War Two. So from their perspective, they have a way of looking at this as well. I didn't find anything from the Indian side, because I don't read Hindi or Sanskrit. But I mean, if you

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really wanted to, you would have to find something from that paradigm as well. Also very important to read multiple sources and books, I mean, actually ordered a book from England here.

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You can see this or not, is one of the books I read. Our name is mutiny by Maj. Bhatia, the global revolt against the Raj in the Hidden History of the Singapore mutiny. It's a very nice book. It's a again, one book is ultra multiple, each one has bits and pieces. Also, by the way, me personally, the way my mind works is that when I come across something that is really intriguing, I literally just closed the article or book and then go down that tangent and come back. And so in one article I read this was two months ago, there was a brief reference of the American connection and that I just found it so fascinating. I literally, you know, shut that article. And I spent a few days of my this

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is my free time, I'm not going full time in just a few days, trying to tech whatever I could, there is an entire book written by the way about the that notion of that movement, only a few 100 people but again, very fascinating. I don't have time to read the entire book, I skim through it, just get a bits and pieces because again, it's not my I don't have a passion to that level of reading 50 books with this one, isn't it but again, that's how you study history, multiple sources, multiple narratives, multiple angles, and then you think about it, you do independent research, you go back to multiple, again, news articles, whatnot, if it's modern, if it's pre modern, then still, there's

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more that needs to be done. But there's a method of studying history of analyzing of deriving the lessons and then the end of the day, interpretations are subjective. I mean, I personally

01:00:00--> 01:00:42

Again, I mean, I feel again, may Allah bless and have mercy on their souls. I am not sympathetic to what they did. And I'm not sympathetic to the conclusions. Now, having said that, or their their perception, of course, our initial instinct and this is our problem here. Because this emotionalism, we want to side with our folks all the time, to no matter what happens, we want to be sympathetic, especially when they were executed. You know, that's emotionalism. I mean, should they have done that? And they were misinformed. They they allowed their emotions to to take over. And the biggest thing is that really, I mean, who you signed up for this? I mean, why did you do that? They should

01:00:42--> 01:01:21

have just, you know, like, Mr. President, you know, he stood up and he, he challenged the authority, and then he was sent back to India, that actually makes sense to me, right? In any case, all of this leads us to the final conclusion for this hope you found a little bit of interest in this. Look, our history is very beautiful, very glorious. There's some really, really amazing lessons to learn. But our history is also very, very human. We have the good, we have the bad, we have the beautiful, we have the ugly, all of it is there. And if you really want to be a thinker, you want to be somebody who benefits we have Mashallah 14 centuries of history, and that's just our history. There's world

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history as well. There's other civilizations as well. And the less of what data tells us in the Quran to look at the nations before to look at what happened before before us, right. And a lot of religion asks us to find out from this and from this, even whodunnit, always have derived that we should be studying history. And we should be deriving lessons from the past. And therefore, I encourage everybody who wants to really be a person of knowledge. And even if you're not planning to be an atom or a chef, but just to be a well rounded person to start taking an interest in human history, and especially in Islamic history, but make sure you study it properly. And you don't study

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it the way that unfortunately, many of our you know, writers and whatnot do, which is not really, it's not really the type of history that we're interested in. Because if you don't learn the lessons from history, you're going to be repeating them over and over again. The wise person learns from the mistakes of others, the wise person learns from what has happened before so that they don't repeat them. Today inshallah, with that, we will conclude I hope that was of some benefit is that Kamala Harris said on Monday Rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Library Chats #9 - The US Influenced Ottoman-Inspired 1915 Mutiny of the Indian Sepoys of Singapore
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