The month of July is reminiscent of a very sad event from the history of the Jamaat. A great and pious man by the name of Sahibzada Abdul Latif Sahibra was martyred mercilessly by Amir Abdur Rahman of Kabul on 14 July 1903.
Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra, who was one of the very close associates of the Amir, a highly esteemed scholar and who had performed the Dastar Bandi (placing a turban on the new Amir’s head as part of his coronation) when the Amir had come to power, was mercilessly stoned to death only because he had accepted the long-awaited Messiah.
An introduction to the book Tazkira-tush-Shahadatain is included in this issue of Al Hakam where the Promised Messiahas gives a detailed description of the series of events of his martyrdom.
Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra, being one of the confidants of the Amir, was part of the commission set up by the latter to negotiate with the delegation of Sir Mortimer Durand in relation to the demarcation of the Afghan boundary with the North-West Province of India (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan). This border is more commonly known by its metonym as the Durand Line.
Going through the papers of Sir Mortimer Durand in the India Office Records, it was a pleasant surprise to come across photographs of both the Afghan and British delegations that were instrumental in this demarcation. Before my eyes were sharp and clear photos of Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheedra; the photo that we had always seen as a blurry, fuzzy and a dim image.
Copies were obtained from the British Library and are hereby presented for the readers of Al Hakam.
Here, I would like to mention that Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid Sahib, the Historian of the Jamaat, had chanced upon these photos in the 1980s during his visit to London. I had the privilege to go through digitised records, which makes work a lot easier, but Maulana Sahib must have gone through a much more painstaking process to get to this historic treasure of our Jamaat that sits in the record rooms of the India Office section of the British Library. The images around thirty-something years ago could obviously not be copied in the quality that we can obtain today, hence the blurriness. Alhamdolillah, we now have the best quality photographs of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra.
Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid Sahib showed the photographs to various people to attest and verify that this was the true image of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra. The most authentic attestation came from the daughter-in-law of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra (wife of his eldest son, Sahibzada Saeed Jan Sahib) who stated that that, unambiguously, was the photo of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra.
Abdur Rahim Diyanat Sahib (Darvesh Qadian) narrated to Maulana Dost Muhammad Shahid Sahib that he would often ask his father, Hazrat Miyan Fazl Muhammadra of Harsian – who had accompanied the Promised Messiahas and Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra on a journey – about what Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra looked like. He stated that Hazrat Ghulam Muhammad Sahibra Khan Bahadur (Political Agent in Gilgit and a companion of the Promised Messiahas) was an almost exact resemblance of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra.
The late Bashir Ahmad Khan Rafiq, former Imam of the London Mosque, was of the opinion that this might not be the photograph of Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra. (His article was published in Al Fazl Rabwah, 4 October 1990).
He based his opinion on the point that Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra held such high stature in the court of the Amir that he would have been seated among those on chairs and not on the ground. Secondly, he referred to the memoirs of Hazrat Qazi Muhammad Yousuf Sahib who had seen Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra during his visit to Qadian, who related that Hazrat Sahibzada Sahibra had only a few grey hairs in his beard. If his beard was such in 1903, when he visited Qadian, it could not be as grey as it is seen in this photograph taken in 1894.
This difference of opinion is hereby recorded in Al Hakam to invite any more valuable information that our readers might have. Please do send your research to firstname.lastname@example.org