He started his religious and political career in 1916. His speeches were entertaining, eloquent, lucid and full of witty anecdots and stories from Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Punjabi, and Multani. He graphically portrayed the sorrows and sufferings of the poor, and would promise his audience that the end of their sufferings would come about with the end of British rule. He was an exceptional leader who travelled across the length and breadth of the country yet never made any statements to the press. He had been greatly influenced by the Jallianwalla Bagh tragedy of 1919, which had intensified rebellious feelings within him, like many other of his generation. He delivered a stirring speech at the Khilafat Conference held at Amritsar in December 1919. As the first step of his political career, he began to participate in the movements of the Indian National Congress in 1921 from Kolkata and here again he delivered a very impressive and impassioned speech. Soon his popularity soared high, and turned him into a known leader, though he was arrested on 27 March 1921 because of that speech. Bukhari believed in attaining independence through non-violent and constitutional means, and as an active Indian National Congress member, toured the country, often purporting to be an emissary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. He combined his politics with missionary zeal, and followed the injunctions of Quran as a devotee throughout his life. He became an eyesore to the administration, and an official view about him said: Ata Ullah Shah is a man, who it is better to lock up in jail, away from Congress leaders than to parley with. He has spent a considerable part of his life preaching sedition. He is an amusing apeaker, who can influence a crowd. His influence on a future generation of speakers and writers was immense, as was borne out by Agha Shorish Kashmiri, his colleague and biographer, who himself turned out to be an activist of versatile dimensions and emulated Bukhari’s style of oratory and writings. After Nehru report Bukhari created All India Majlis-e-Ahrar-e-Islam with Maulana Mazhar Ali Azhar, Chaudhry Afzal Haq, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Ludhianvi, Sheikh Hissam-ud-Din, Master Taj-uj-Din Ansari and Maulana Zafar Ali Khan in December 29, 1929.Later on the prominent Brelvi oratersyed faiz ul hasan shah also joined them to fight together against Qadianies.Due to his significant role in this movement the important religious figures choose him as the Ameer-e-Shariat in 1930. He was also the founding father of Majlis-e-Ahrar, Indian nationalist Muslim political movement in India. He led a movement against Ahmadis and held a Ahrar Tableegh Conference at Qadian in 21–23 of October 1934. Bukhari was a central figure in the Khatme Nabuwwat Movement of 1953, which demanded that government of Pakistan declare the Ahmadis as non-Muslims. He was accused and for inciting the violence against Ahmadis. He lead the anti-Pakistan movement while hand in hand with Indian National Congress.
He became known for his oratory. He was also a poet and most of his poetry was in Persian. His poetic verses was compiled by his eldest son Syed Abuzar Bukhari in 1956 under the name of Sawati-ul-ilham.
Bukhari died on August 21, 1961. A crowd of above 200,000 (two lac people) attended his Namaz-e-Janazah (funeral prayer) in Multan.
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