Imam Shamil: The great warrior of Dagestan
The Muslims of the Caucasian region is still grateful to a legendary man who united them and saved their identities. This man was a true Muslim and a war hero. His name is Imam Shamil.
Imam Shamil remarkably united the Muslims of Dagestan and Chechnya to fight against Imperialist Russia. The Tsardom of Russian was deeply disturbed by his constant resistance which lasted for 25 years. Besides being a skillful leader and warrior, he was also a learned scholar and a true Muslim.
The childhood of this great warrior
Imam Shamil was born in the year 1797 to a deeply pious Islam family in a village named Gimry. The village is presently in Dagestan. His first name was Ali. He was a sick child from the beginning. His parents were very worried about his health, so they renamed him Shamil and left him in the hands of almighty Allah. The word Shamil means fulfilled. For the love of Allah, he began to heal.
Despite being physically weak, Ali was witty and intelligent if not clever. Also, he was a voracious reader. His teacher was Jamaluddin al-Ghumuqi. Jamaluddin followed the Naqshbandi Sufi order. So, Imam grew in his companionship. Jamaluddin taught him Arabic grammar, law, logic, rhetoric, and literature.
When Imam Shamil came of age, he went to study religion and religious history in Damascus. He became highly educated in the religious sciences. But he always faced harassment due to his weak health. The strong students used to bully him. One particular incident of bullying left him severely wounded. At that time, he became determined that he will be strong.
He sustained difficult physical training thoroughly. As a result, in his later age, it was said that none can swim, run or fight like Imam Shamil.
The leader Imam Shamil
In 1813, the Russian officially conquered Dagestan, but the resistance did not stop. Imam Shamil returned to Gimry to participate in the resistance movement against the Tsar of Russia. At that time, the movement was led by his friend Ghazi Muhammad. That was the inception of Imam’s battle against imperial Russia. In the year 1834, Imam Shamil was elected as the third Imam of Dagestan.
As a leader, Imam Shamil was minute and mindful. He destroyed the Caucasian feudal system and united the Muslims under one Shariah. He worked endlessly to reform and eliminate the corruption of society. Also, he built Madrasas and mosques to enlighten the Muslims. Under his leadership, Islam boosted in the Caucuses. The Muslims got fierce confidence which shook the base of imperial Russia.
It is said, If Imam Shamil was not there, the Muslims of Dagestan would have dissolved in the Russian entity. Islam would have been lost.
The spirituality of Imam Shamil
Shamil was a Sufi and he followed Naqshbandi Tariqa. He always encouraged studying Islam. He himself has studied Tafseer, hadith, literature, history, and science. These gave him the ideas and sights to preserve Islam in Dagestan. He was a great orator. His strength of character won the hearts and minds of Muslims as well as non-Muslims of that time.
He wrote a letter to Tsar King Nicholas I that he will not recognize Nichola’s authority in the Caucasian mountains. He openly wrote, “I am an honest Muslim who swears not to exchange the protection of Allah for the lordship of the Tsar.”
Later life of this great leader
Imam Shamil was sent into exile in Russia in 1859. He was respected and aided by the Tsar and the Russians. He was kept under strict but not overly burdened surveillance. In 1869, he went for Hajj to the holy city of Mecca. After completing the hajj, he met Allah in Medinah in the year 1871. His grave can be found in the historical graveyard of Jannatul Baqi.
Imam Shamil dedicated his life to revive Islam, thus Allah allowed him a death so beautiful to the believers.