The Wahabi Movement offered the most serious and the well-planned challenge to the British supremacy in India in the 19th century. Syed Ahmed of Rae Barreily, the leader was influenced by the teaching of Abdul Wahab of Arabia and the preaching of Delhi saint Shah Walliullah. The Wahabi movement by Syed Ahmed condemned all accretions to and innovations in Islam. The Wahabi Movement was primarily a revivalist movement aimed for return to the pure Islam and society of Arabia of the Prophet`s time. The motto of the Wahabi Movement organized by Syed Ahmed was that the return to the true spirit of Islam was the only way to get rid of the socio- political oppression.
To materialize the desired objectives of the Wahabi Movement Syed Ahmed looked for the right leader, a proper organization, a safe territory, wherefrom to launch his jihad. Syed Ahmed was declared as the desired leader or Imam. He built up a countrywide organization with an elaborate secret code. The organization worked under four spiritual associate trustees called Khalifas. The missions of the Wahabis were mainly concentrated in the region of Hyderabad, Madras, Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bombay.
The Wahabis played diplomatically with the solemn aim to establish their supremacy. Therefore the Wahabis first launched a jihad against the Sikh kingdom in Punjab. In 1830 they occupied Peshwar. But in the following year Syed Ahmed lost his life in his fighting against the Sikhs. After the overthrow of the Sikh ruler and the incorporation of Punjab into the dominion of the east India Company, the sole target of the Wahabis` attack was the English dominion in India. During the revolt of 1857, the Wahabis played a notable role in spreading the anti-British sentiments. However the historians have opined that though the Wahabis spread the anti-British sentiments, yet they did not had exact participation in the anti- British Military activities.