100 Years Ago… – The story of ‘The Martyr of Kabul’ by an eyewitness – Part III


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[Syed Ahmad Nur, the eyewitness]
Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed
Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheedra standing in the middle

[The return of the blessed martyr of Kabul from Qadian to Saidgah, Afghanistan]

When the blessed martyr reached Saidgah (his residence), the Raises of the vicinity came to see him with great delight thinking that the Sahibzada Sahib had returned from the pilgrimage of Mecca. But the blessed martyr plainly told them that he could not start to Mecca for a pilgrimage, but that he was detained at Qadian, a place in the Punjab, and that there he had seen a person who had laid claim to prophethood and who said that he was sent from God for the reformation of the world and that he had appeared at the appointed time according to the divine word and the words of the [Holy] Prophet[sa] and that he had seen that person (the Promised Messiah[as]) and that he had made every enquiry about him and found his words, deeds and claims correct according to the Quran and the traditions – and that they should also accept him and reap the benefit. Of course, they were at liberty to decide for themselves but he on his part had accepted him and believed in him. 

The Raises requested the blessed martyr not to talk of such things and told him that the former Amir of Kabul, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, had taken these things very ill, and had therefore murdered his disciple Maulvi Abdur Rahman of the Mongal tribe, in 1901. The blessed martyr told these people that they had two gods whereas he believed only in One and that they were afraid of the Amir to the extent of their fear of God. How could he give up the order of God for the sake of the Amir and renounce the Quran and Hadis for his sake? He for one could never do so, even if the hell made its appearance before him and that he would go on talking these things. The Governor of Khost also came to him and requested him not to talk of these things and his relatives and relations also wrote to him to sever connection with the Ahmadiyya movement and asked him to desist from his propaganda, but the blessed martyr never desisted and was firm as a rock in his resolution. 

Not-withstanding his being in such a critical position, he wrote five letters to the five grandees of the Kabul Darbar. One letter was addressed to Mirza Mohammad Hussain Khan, Governor of Kabul, another to Mirza Abdul Rahim Khan Daftri, 3rd to Shah Ghashi Abdul Qadus Khan, 4th to Haji Bashi (a person who is in-charge of the outgoing pilgrims for Mecca), and the 5th letter to a very big man, most probably the Qazi-ul-Quzat

The subject matter of these 5 letters was as follows: 

“I had left the country for pilgrimage to Mecca, but on reaching India, I went to a place named Qadian. There lives a person named Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[as] who claims that he has been sent by God for the reformation of this age and that he has made his appearance at the appointed time according to the Quran and Hadis, and that his claim was exactly according to the word of God and of the prophet and that he was sent by God and his prophet for serving the religion of his master, Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, at this troublesome time. 

“I passed three months at Qadian to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears the conduct and claims of this man and test their truth in every possible way. I found him and his claims all in perfect accordance with the Quran and Hadis and by seeing him and living with him, I grew nearer to God and the [Holy] Prophet[sa]

“Therefore, I inform you people that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[as] of Qadian was sent from God and that he was the same person about whom Muhammad[sa], the prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, had prophesied and that he was the same person for whom we were waiting. I have accepted him and that you should do the same so that you may be saved from the kindling wrath of God and that good may be done to you. You are at liberty, but it was my duty to inform you of his mission and after conveying this message to you I absolve myself of the duties laid upon my shoulders.” 

When these letters were written, the blessed martyr of Kabul called on one of his men to carry them to Kabul to the 5 persons named, and hand them over to them. That man asked permission to take clothes, etc., with him as it was winter time. Hearing this, the martyr of blessed memory was displeased and took back all the letters from him and said that he was not fit to do this duty. Meanwhile another of his disciples, named Abdul Ghafar (brother of Maulvi Abdus Sattar) who later on migrated to Qadian and who now lies buried in the [Bahishti Maqbarah] “Celestial Cemetery,” rose up and readily offered his services for the conveyance of those letters to Kabul and their deliverance to the persons concerned. The martyr was pleased at it and made over all the letters to Abdul Ghaffar. 

It was a dreary winter and the mountains were covered with snow which fell in great quantity. Abdul Ghaffar took the letters and conveyed them to Kabul to the persons named as he was very well acquainted with those persons on account of the great personality of the blessed martyr. Abdul Ghaffar asked those persons to hand over to him the reply of those letters, but Mirza Muhammad Hussain Khan Sahib, Governor of Kabul, told him to go back and informed him that the reply will be sent to the blessed martyr by post. Eventually, all those 5 letters were made over to the Amir who sent for all his trusted Maulvis and asked them what they thought of those letters. The said Maulvis said that the man who laid claim to the Promised Messiahship partly disbelieved the Holy Quran and so he was a Kafir [disbeliever] and that whoever believed in him was also a Kafir and a renegade, and that if Sahibzada Abdul Latif was free to preach this mission, many persons would turn heretics and renegades. On this, the Amir of Kabul sent an order to the Governor of Khost to arrest the Sahibzada Sahib forthwith and send him to Kabul with a guard of 50 horsemen and that he should not be allowed to talk to anybody and that nobody should be allowed to talk to him or see him. 

Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar, who had carried the letters to Kabul, had returned to Saidgah some 3 weeks before the issue of these orders and had informed the martyr that no reply was handed over to him and that Mirza Muhammad Hussain Khan, Governor of Kabul, had informed him that the reply would be sent by post. Maulvi Abdul Ghaffar also said to the blessed martyr that in all this he apprehended danger. But the blessed martyr did not care in the least for all this apprehension of danger. For three weeks no reply was received. 

One day, the blessed martyr, his servant Abdul Jalil, and I were going out for a walk when the blessed martyr looked at his own hands and said, “Have you the power to wear handcuffs?” And then addressing me said, “When I am killed, you should convey the news of my being done to death to the Promised Messiah[as].” On hearing this, tears came out of my eyes and I told him that I was with him and would not leave him. On this, the martyr of blessed memory said that “It could not be,” for when I had asked the Promised Messiah[as] that I could not go out of Qadian, the Promised Messiah[as] had told me that I should accompany the blessed martyr home and then come back, therefore, he said, “the order of the Promised Messiah[as] was clear” about me but not about him, i.e., (the Martyr of Kabul). 

Meanwhile, no orders about the arrest of the martyr had, as yet, been received from the Kabul Darbar. Many friends of the blessed martyr came to him and said that if he wished to go to Bannu, they would accompany him and escort him there for they apprehended danger. On this, the blessed martyr said that he could not do so. He would not go to Bannu, because he very often received the following revelation, “Go to Pharoah.” It mattered little if he was killed for much good would accrue to them from his death and that they would receive much help from God. That is why he never thought of going to Bannu. 

On the day the 50 sawars [horsemen] arrived at Khost from Kabul for the arrest of the blessed martyr, he had written a letter to the Promised Messiah[as] about the despatch of those letters which he had addressed to the 5 grandees of Kabul, [and] the manner in which they were delivered and received and eventually presented to the Amir. As the letter was addressed in very pleasing terms to the Promised Messiah[as], I requested the blessed martyr to hand over the letter to me promising that [I] would return it to him after keeping a copy of it. The blessed martyr put the letter into his pocket and told me that the letter will come into my possession. 

When the time of the afternoon prayer came, those 50 sawars began to come one by one. The blessed martyr conducted the prayers. When they were finished the sawars came to him and said that the Governor of Khost desired to see him and wanted to know whether the martyr himself would come or the Governor should present himself. On this, the blessed martyr replied that the Governor was his superior and that therefore he would go himself. He ordered a horse to be saddled for going to the Governor, but one of the sawars got down and offered his own horse for the purpose. The martyr mounted this horse and made over to me the letter referred to above and did not say anything more. I followed the martyr and when we had gone out of the village, the martyr told me that when I had first met him, he had thought that an eagle had come into his possession and that he had become very glad and talked to me on this topic at great length. When I went along with him for a long distance, the martyr told me to go home, but I requested him to allow me to accompany him for attendance on him. At this, the blessed martyr forbade me directly and said that my going alone with him was forbidden and referred me to the Quranic text:

لَا‭ ‬تُلۡقُوۡا‭ ‬بِاَيۡدِيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬اِلَي‭ ‬التَّهۡلُكَةِ

“Do not throw yourself knowingly into the mouth of death,” and ordered me to leave that place for home. Accordingly, I started for home and the martyr went with the sawars to the Khost cantonment. On reaching there, the Governor informed him that orders from Kabul regarding him were to the effect that no one should see or talk to him and that he also should not look at or talk to anyone and therefore for this purpose a separate house was given to him and a guard was appointed to watch that house. 

But the Governor made this concession in his favour that his sons and relatives could come to this house and see him. And when his disciples and relatives came to see him, they requested him to allow them to take him and his family, saying that their number was so large that the men of the Governor would not be able to resist them. But the martyr; Sahibzada Abdul Latif, on this occasion said that he hoped that God would certainly utilise him for some divine end and he forbade his disciples to do anything against the Government; so that no harm be done to him in the house where he was stationed. 

The blessed martyr was detained in Khost simply for the reason that the Governor had thought that if he sent him to Kabul forthwith, his disciples would attack the escort in the way and getting him released will take him away. But when after two or three weeks, the Governor found out that the martyr himself had forbidden the people to do any such thing, he sent him to Kabul with a guard composed of a few horsemen. The horsemen relate, though I cannot vouch for its truth, that on his way to Kabul the blessed martyr disappeared twice and then reappeared in the same riding posture again. The story goes that the blessed martyr then told the horsemen that they could not take him to Kabul but that he was going there of his own accord. The horsemen further relate that they took him with great respect and reverence to Kabul. 

When the blessed martyr reached Kabul, he was taken before Sardar Nasrullah Khan, the brother of the Amir of Kabul. Sardar Nasrullah Khan without any conversation with the blessed martyr ordered that all his property be looted. On this, the horse, luggage and the way money of the blessed martyr was wrested from him by force and then it was ordered that he should be sent to the dungeon of Arq where great men are imprisoned. In that dungeon, the blessed martyr was put to a great deal of hardship but never swerved from the path of rectitude, and he always recited the Quran [and] remembered his God. He remained in that dungeon for about 4 months. 

Once when I was in Saidgah during the time of the blessed martyr’s imprisonment, the news was received that he stood in need of money for his expenses. The members of the family of the blessed martyr informed me that he had stood in need of money to meet his expenses and that there was no one to take the money to him; hence they asked me whether I would take the money to him. I replied that I would certainly do it. It was winter and the way was mountainous. However, I started alone with the money. When I reached the country of Mangal, I saw that heavy rain was coming from my rear. I was very much frightened seeing that the rain was heavy, the way was rough and the season was extremely cold, and I thought that I should very likely die on the way on account of cold. When I was in this condition, I addressed the coming rain as follows:

“Today two servants of the Promised Messiah[as] are in difficulty – one is in the dungeon, while the other is taking for him his expenses. You are sent by God and we are also God’s creatures. I beseech you not to rain on me but keep at a distance from me.” 

Then I walked on and the rain followed me at the distance of some 18 or 20 paces. I walked on for 8 kos in this condition till I gained the house of one of my friends. When I put my foot in, the rain began to fall in torrents and so I passed the night there. 

In the morning, I started again because the rain had stopped. At night when I reached a place named Gharak, I saw that goats and camels of the Kuchi people were lying dead in hundreds in the way on account of heavy rain and the fall of snow. 

I had to reach Khushai, a station away from Gharak, but when I reached the mountain of Gharak, the shades of night were already falling. Khushai was far away but I had to reach it for there was no other place to stop in. Here also rain and hail-stones began to fall and I ran on for protection to a cave and hid myself in it. After a short time, the rain stopped, the clouds dispersed and the sun appeared in the heaven and began to shine. Then I prayed to God to enable me to reach Khushai at sunset as the place was still very distant and there was no hope of my reaching it. My prayer was heard and accordingly I reached the place in time. God be thanked for this. 

At night I stopped in a mosque of Khushai and the next day I reached Kabul after finishing this hard journey. I stopped with Haji Bashi for two days and through him I sent the money to the blessed martyr. Haji Bashi was a special friend of the blessed martyr. 

(Transcribed by Al Hakam from the original published in The Review of Religions, March, April & May, 1922)

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