100 Years Ago… – An Ahmadi martyr in Kabul


The Review of Religions [English], November 1921

Below, we give a description of Shahzada Abdul Latif’s martyrdom at the hands of Amir Habibullah Khan, the late Amir of Kabul, who some two years back was assassinated mysteriously at Jalalabad. The extract is taken from a book named “Under the Absolute Amir” by Frank A Martin, Engineer-in-Chief to the late Amirs of Kabul. It is to be found in the Chapter XII under the heading of “Life of Europeans in Kabul” [Editor, The Review of Religions, 1921]:

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“The prince’s fear, as also that of the Amir, had a reason, however, which intensified their usual dread of the disease, and it came about in this way. 

“One of the chief and most influential of the mullahs in the country started on the Haj (holy pilgrimage to Mecca) in the beginning of that year, and while going down through India, on his way to the sea-port where he intended embarking for Medina, he heard of a holy man who preached the second coming of Christ – one who said that he, like another St. John, had been sent on to prepare the way, and make Christ’s coming known. The mullah went to see this man, of whom many and wonderful things were told by the natives about, and the words of the self-styled prophet were so convincing that the mullah was converted, and came to believe in the man being what he said he was. 

“One day, it being known that the mullah was going on the Haj, the ‘prophet’ took him into an inner room, and there, the mullah afterwards stated, the two together visited Mecca, and he saw himself one of the multitude of pilgrims at the holy shrine, and visited the inner court, and saw all there was to see, and said all the prayers prescribed in the different places before reaching the inner sanctuary. Whether mesmeric, or other influence, would account for this hallucination of the mullah is a matter for conjecture, but even death could not shake the mullah’s belief that he had been to Mecca, and that his guide was a true prophet. 

“The Mohammedans believe that the religion preached by various prophets (Moses, Christ, Mohammed) are the true religions for the time being, and that God inspires a new religion as it becomes necessary to the advanced needs of mankind, and that, therefore, the Jewish religion was the true religion until Christ came, and the religion Christ preached was the true religion until Mohammed came. This new man, therefore, if his preaching was listened to, would upset Mohammedanism, and as he preached that Mussulmans must regard Christians as brothers, and not as infidels, this would render useless the Amir’s chief weapon, Jihad (religious war), in case of English or Russian aggression. So, the Amir, when he heard of all this, sent word to the mullah to return, and the mullah did so, preaching the new religion as he came, and as soon as he was well within the boundaries of the country, he was made prisoner and brought to Kabul. Here he was examined by the Amir, but the Amir could find in the mullah’s clever replies nothing against the true religion which would make him an infidel, and therefore worthy of death, for a Mussulman, according to the Koran, who becomes an apostate, must be stoned to death. 

“He was then sent for examination to Sirdar Nasrullah Khan, who is regarded as more than a mullah in knowledge of his religion, but the prince could not convict the man out of his own mouth, and so a jury of twelve of the most learned mullahs was convened, and even their examination of the accused could elicit nothing on which the man might be killed, and they reported this to the Amir. But the Amir said the man must be convicted, and so he was again sent to the mullahs, who were told that they must sign a paper, saying the man was an apostate and worthy of death. Again, the majority of the mullahs made affirmation that he was innocent of anything against their religion, but two of the mullahs, who were friends of Sirdar Nasrullah Khan, and had been talked over by him, gave their verdict for death, and on the finding of these two mullahs the man was condemned by the Amir and stoned to death. 

“Before being led away from the Amir’s presence to be killed, the mullah prophesied that a great calamity would overtake the country, and that both the Amir and the Sirdar would suffer. About nine o’clock at night the day the mullah was killed, a great storm of wind suddenly rose and raged with violence for half an hour, and then stopped as suddenly as it came. Such a wind at night was altogether unusual, so the people said that this was the passing of the soul of the mullah. Then cholera came, and, according to former outbreaks, another visitation was not due for four years to come, and this was also regarded as part of the fulfilment of the mullah’s prophecy, and hence the great fear of the Amir and the prince, who thought they saw in all this their own death, and it accounts also for the prince losing control of himself when his favourite wife died. 

“The murdered mullah was a man with a large and powerful following, and the two mullahs who gave the verdict for his death lived in constant fear of the retaliation of his followers, who had sworn to avenge him. One of them got cholera, and almost died of it.”

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original in The Review of Religions [English], November 1921)

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