The Popalzai Family: It’s Role in Various Religio-Political Movements in British North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), 1927- 1940


  • Javed Khan, Prof. Dr. Fakhr-ul Islam


The present Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the former North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) has served as base camp for various religio-political movements in the colonial period. Besides Pukhtun socio-political intelligentsia, the local ulama have extensively served during those campaigns. The Popalzai family, based in Peshawar was popular among the local Pukhtuns for its Islamic scholarship from Deoband, India. During the postFirst World War period, the Deobandi Ulama went from active resistance to non-violent constitutional activism under Jamiat-ul Ulama-i-Hind (JUH) this stance was followed by the Pukhtun ulama in Peshawar. Maulana Abdul ×akim Popalzai, Maulana Abd-ur-Rahim Popalzai, and Maulana Abdul Qaiyum Popalzai, the prominent members of the Popalzai family supported the Deobandi ulama in the politics of NWFP. Jamiat-ul Ulamai-Sarhad (JUS) was formed and Maulana Abdul ×akim Popalzai was elected its president in 1927, who organized the local ulama on the platform of JUS. In 1929, he followed the instructions of JUH in agitating against the Sardah Act in NWFP and mobilized the local ulama and the masses from the platform of JUS to support the agitation. Abd-ur-Rahim, under the influence of Shah Waliullah and revolutionary thoughts of Maulana Ubaidullah Sindhi, earned himself the title of ‘IshterÉki Mullah’ (Socialist Religious Scholar) for his involvement in popular agitation and championing the rights of the oppressed class such as KisÉn (peasants), Mazdur (labourers,) and the KhÉkrobs (sweepers). Maulana Abdul Qaiyum Popalzai campaigned and struggled for the passage of the ‘Shariat Bill’ from the Legislative Council of NWFP under the guidance of Mufti Kifayatullah Delhvi. Abdul Qaiyum as the founding member of the Frontier Majlis-iAhrar contributed towards the anti-Qadiyani and anti-Khaksar struggle in NWFP. Lastly, these ulama worked hard for the reformation of the Pukhtun riwÉj (culture) and led various movements to gain constitutional cover for Islamic principles under the campaign for Muslim Personal Law and to end the exploitation of the oppressed classes.




How to Cite

Javed Khan, Prof. Dr. Fakhr-ul Islam. (2021). The Popalzai Family: It’s Role in Various Religio-Political Movements in British North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), 1927- 1940 . Quarterly Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society, 69(2). Retrieved from