The 1857 rebellion intensified nativist anti-colonial identities, particularly among Muslims and Hindus, but also among Punjabi Sikhs and other minorities. For many of the mujahid Sepoys in the twilight of Moghul rule in India, participation in the 1857 revolt gave an outlet to anti-colonial feelings and stirred a new sense of the possibilities of a new Islamic future. Although they hated native Hindus for being 'pagans', and the conquering Muslims were hated in turn by the Hindus for their persecution and violence against them, in the 1857 rebellion they learned they could successfully turn their East India Company's guns against the Europeans (for a time). The Hindu Sepoys also gained a proto-nationalism in which they could dream of a future without the British East India Company or the subsequent the British Raj.
Participants in the rebellion were united in the goal of killing all the Europeans they encountered, including unarmed women and children, with the objective of driving all of them out of India. The East India Company had inadvertently brought the crisis upon themselves by their choice of the Enfield rifle as the replacement of the outdated Brown Bess. They required greased paper cartridges that the native soldiers had to bite before use (nine of ten soldiers in British India were non-European). They contained either cow, pig, or sheep tallow. Muslims could not ingest pig fat, and Hindus could not ingest cow products for religious reasons. The mistake was quickly rectified but that did not stop the uprising which was obviously more deeply rooted in the perceived injustice of foreign rule.