The History of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and the Khudai Khidmatgar

The following was taken from an article written by Patrick J Ryan at America Magazine, which delves into the nonviolent work of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (or Bacha Khan) which was firmly based in Islam to resist British colonial rule. Click here to read the full article.

In the pre-independence era, starting in 1929, Bacha Khan had intimidated the British colonial authorities by creating a nonviolent, red-shirted army of his own normally rather violent fellow Pashtuns. That unarmed militia he called Khudai Khidmatgar, “God’s Servants.” Counterintuitive as it was, the oath of the Khudai Khidmatgar harnessed the militancy of the Pashtuns in a non-violent direction that many had previously thought impossible:

“I am a Khudai Khidmatgar; and as God needs no service, but serving his creation is serving him, I promise to serve humanity in the name of God. I promise to refrain       from violence and from taking revenge. I promise to forgive those who oppress me or treat me with cruelty. I promise to refrain from taking part in feuds and quarrels and from creating enmity. I promise to treat every Pashtun as my brother and friend. I promise to refrain from antisocial customs and practices. I promise to lead a simple life, to practice virtue and to refrain from evil. I promise to practice good manners and good behavior and not to lead a life of idleness. I promise to devote at least two hours a day to social work.”

There were several notable demonstrations of Khudai Khidmatgar’s nonviolent resistance of continuing British occupation of India; the Khudai Khidmatgar kept their vow of nonviolence even when the panicked British military mowed them down with machine guns.    

How did Bacha Khan justify such a nonviolent program in Islamic terms? Read more.

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