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

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Last Updated on 6th May 2022

The Review of Religions [English], March, April & May, 1922

[Ahmad Nur, the eyewitness]
Hazrat Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheedra

Sahibzada Abdul Latif, “The Martyr of Kabul” was the resident of Saidgah, a small village on the bank of the river Shaml, in Khost, [Afghanistan]. He was a Sayad by caste. From his forefathers, he was [one of] the greatest Rais [chief] in his country (Khost), [Afghanistan]. At the time he met with his death in Kabul, his age was between 60 and 70. 

Sahibzada Abdul Latif was famous for his hospitality. He was very fond of the Quran and had the greatest love for the Holy Prophet Mohamed, may peace and blessings of God be upon him. Some 30 to 40 persons including myself (the eye witness) used to live in his guest room and were always busy talking over religious subjects. The guests were supplied with food by the Sahibzada Sahib. Sahibzada Sahib Mulla Abdul Latif had also a Baitakh (male-apartment) by the side of his mosque. In that Baitakh, some 200 people could take their seats. The people who used to gather for prayers first came into the Baitakh and there they used to talk about religion and when the time for prayer came, they used to go into the mosque and after saying their prayers used to go home. Before and after the prayers, there used to be absolutely no talk in the mosque. In the compound of the mosque, there were many Hujras (cloisters) in which Mulla Abdul Latif’s disciples used to live. To the north of the mosque there ran a canal of water from west to east which passed through the compound of his residence which went by the name of Saidgah. 

Whenever famine broke out in the country Mulla Abdul Latif used to help the poor with his own grain. He was the owner of a few villages in Khost and also had much land in Bannu under the British Government.

He had received his education in India and was well versed in the current sciences of theology. He always used to teach Hadis and Quran and he knew many thousand Ahadis by heart – so much so that Amir Abdur Rahman of Kabul admitted of his piety and used to say that there was only one person in his kingdom who in addition to his being learned and pious remembered so many Ahadis

Whoever was appointed Governor of Khost from Kabul was always obedient to Mulla Abdul Latif and used to live under him as his own child. Sahibzada Sahib was very fond of and an expert in using gun. He used to receive eleven hundred rupees as an annuity from the Kabul Darbar – Amir Abdur Rahman had appointed him along with the Governor of Khost to demarcate the boundary line between Khost and Para Chanar with the English. At most times he used to take part in the work of demarcation single handed with the English officers. 

Amir Abdur Rahman during the last days of his reign had sent for Mulla Abdul Latif and his family to reside at Kabul, where he had taught Quran and Hadis for some years. I was also along with him at Kabul. At one time, his disciples asked him why he addressed Ahmad Nur (the writer of the account) in particular whenever he wished to say anything. Mulla Sahib replied that Ahmad Nur was his true companion. This system of teaching Hadis and Quran was carried on in the mosque of Mirza Muhammad Husain Khan who was the greatest Governor of the time of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan. Mulla Abdul Latif had also told his disciples that when he used to begin teaching the lessons of Bukhari Sharif, Ahmad Nur appeared to him assuming the shape of a valley and that the lesson of Hadis ran into it like water and therefore he used to address Ahmad Nur. 

When Amir Abdur Rahman died in 1901, his son Amir Habib Ullah Khan succeeded him. When all the grandees had come to swear an oath of allegiance, the Amir sent for Sahibzada Sahib Abdul Latif, that he should also do his Baiat. But before the Amir administered an oath to him, he (the Amir) of his own accord announced his intention of never departing from the laws of Islam. The Sahibzada Sahib was moreover, called to Kabul to do the Dastar Bandi to the ruler in token of blessing him. When the Dastar was tied on the head of the Amir and only 2 or 3 coils remained, then Qazi-ul-Quzat requested that these 2 or 3 coils be left for him to tie to seek the blessings and accordingly be was allowed to tie the remaining coils on the head of the Amir. 

Sometime after the Sahibzada Sahib sent his family to Khost and sent me along with them. Two or three months after this, the Sahibzada Sahib asked the permission of the Amir to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. The Amir gladly permitted him to go and gave him many camels and horses and some money. Reaching Khost, Mulla Abdul Latif started on pilgrimage via Bannu to India. When he reached Lakki Marwat, he had a talk with a person about the Promised Messiah, peace be with him. The man was a learned person and it appeared as if that man had believed in the Messiah and expressed a kind of pleasure. On learning this and feeling the pleasure which the man had expressed, the martyr of Kabul (Mulla Abdul Latif) bestowed upon that man the horse of his own riding. 

When the blessed martyr was engaged in the work of demarcation on the frontier with the English, a man came to him and gave him a book آئینہ‭ ‬كمالاتِ‭ ‬اسلام (Aenai Kamalati Islam) of the Promised Messiah[as]. He was pleased to get the book and gave the person some reward in token of his being pleased with the offer of the book. He read that book, he liked it very much, and read it to certain selected persons in his guest room. He told them that the writer of the book was the expected person or the promised one for whom the world had been looking and that the promised one had come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[as] of Qadian. He said that though this was the time of the Reformer and that he had looked on every side but he had found no trace of the Reformer, and then he looked to himself and saw that the Quran revealed all its secret and hidden meanings to him and sometimes in an embodied form revealed its meaning to him, and then he thought that perhaps God was going to raise him up as a Reformer, but the study of that book, Aenai Kamalati Islam, showed that the Reformer was sent by God and that he who was pre-ordained to come had come, and therefore, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad[as] of Qadian was the same person about whom the [Holy] Prophet, may peace and the blessings of God be upon him, had solemnly enjoined that whenever he should come, the people should run to him and convey to him the Prophet’s greetings. The Martyr of Kabul also said, whether he himself lived or died, everyone who listened to him, should run to the Promised Messiah[as]. Many times did he exhort his pupils to find out the Messiah and his abode and see how the matter stood. Sayad Abdul Sattar Sahib who nowadays lives at Qadian as a Mahajir had visited Qadian many times. His other pupils who had been to Qadian expressed certain doubts about the Promised Messiah[as]. But he would remove their doubts and tell them that that person was the true one and that they were only mistaken. 

After this, “The Martyr of Kabul” sent his pupil, Maulvi Abdur Rahman of the Mangal tribe who received 240 rupees as an annuity from the Amir of Kabul, with some other pupils to the Promised Messiah, peace be with him. He gave his letter of Baiat and I too my own letter of Baiat to them to be delivered to the Promised Messiah[as]. “The Martyr of Kabul” also sent certain Khilaats through Maulvi Abdur Rahman of the Mangal tribe to the Promised Messiah[as] and enjoined him to deliver them to the Promised One. 

The said Maulvi Abdur Rahman Sahib after delivering those letters of Baiat and Khilaats to the Promised Messiah[as] stopped at Qadian for a few days. He returned to Khost after some time with certain books of the Promised Messiah[as] and making them over to “The Martyr of Kabul”, he returned to his own house in the Mangal country. 

Meanwhile, someone had reported to Amir Abdur Rahman of Kabul, that Maulvi Abdur Rahman of Mangal tribe who had received 240 rupees per annum had been to some foreign country. Upon this, the Amir sent orders to the Governor of Khost for the arrest of Maulvi Abdur Rahman. The Governor of Khost informed “The Martyr of Kabul” of blessed memory that orders from the Amir of Kabul were received for the arrest of Maulvi Abdur Rahman. When Maulvi Abdur Rahman heard of it, he hid himself somewhere. After this, another order was received that the property of the said Maulvi be confiscated and that his wife and children be sent away to Kabul. When the property was confiscated and the family was sent to Kabul, Maulvi Abdur Rahman of his own accord went to Kabul and presented himself to the Amir who asked him why he had gone to the foreign territory. The Maulvi replied that he had gone for His Majesty’s sake to Qadian and had brought with him for His Majesty the books of a person who had claimed to be the Promised Messiah[as]. The Amir took the books from him and sent the Maulvi to the dungeon. Since then, nothing has been heard of Maulvi Abdur Rahman of the Mangal tribe and no one knows what became of him and when and how he disappeared. Only God knows. The rumour goes that a pillow was pressed hard against his mouth and he was suffocated to death. 

Amir Abdur Rahman had come to know of the visit of Maulvi Abdur Rahman of the Mangal tribe to Qadian, for as soon as “The Martyr of Kabul” received the books of the Promised Messiah[as], he informed all the officers and governors, great and small, that the Promised Reformer had made his appearance in Qadian. For this reason, great many Fatwas of Kufr were pronounced against “The Martyr of Kabul”, Sayad Abdul Latif, may his soul rest in peace.

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

Click here for Part II

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