The Martyrdom of Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed

by Prof. Khalil-ur-Rahman

Family History after Martyrdom

How the Family Fared after Martyrdom:

The family of Hazrat Sahibzada was not spared after his martyrdom. Habibullah Khan feared a revolt because the deceased martyr, on account of his piety, purity, knowledge, generosity, and care of the masses, was an influential and popular personality of the kingdom. His disciples, followers, and admirers were spread throughout Afghanistan. At the slightest signal from the family, tremendous bloodshed would have ensued. Out of this fear, the Ameer gave orders to exile the four largest Sahibzada households, including Hazrat Sahibzada’s, to Turkistan. This happened during the months of October and November, when heavy snowfalls close the tortuous, mountain roads in Afghanistan. All four heads of the households, therefore, petitioned that the orders be kept in abeyance till the spring, when they would leave for exile in Turkistan. The governor of Khost conveyed this request to Habibullah Khan, who consented to the postponement.

When spring arrived, in accordance with their pledged word, the four families left on foot, on horses, and on camels for exile. When this caravan of innocent and guiltless people, with the few possessions they could carry with them, left Syedgah for Turkistan, hundreds of Afghans accompanied them to Ghalai to bid them farewell. In Ghalai, Sahibzada Muhammad Saeed and Sahibzada Muhammad Muzzammal requested them to go back. A barber read some verses in Pushto, which expressed the following sentiment:

‘The time to depart from you has arrived. We would more readily accept death than separation from you. We bid you farewell with greatly sorrowing hearts.’

This scene of affection was worth witnessing. Many people fainted. Sahibzada Muhammad Saeed and Sahibzada Muhammad Muzzammal comforted them by saying,

“This separation is only temporary. God willing, we will return back to you very soon.”

With tears in their eyes, the people went home.

The journey from Afghanistan to Turkistan takes about a month and a half, and covers a route over very difficult terrain and poor roads. As a result, many children in the party fell sick. On arrival in Turkistan, they had to face many difficulties and problems. Once, there was a time when they spent their life in ease and luxury. They slept in bedding of silk and hundreds of people ate with them at their meals, but now their situation was so straitened that they longed even for barley bread. The government gave them some land for their subsistence, but they had no money to develop and cultivate it. The first year or two were spent in extreme distress and poverty, but after that their financial situation began to improve gradually.

Because of poverty and poor medical facilities, tuberculosis was common in Turkistan, and many people died from it. It is a miracle of God, that the children of the deceased martyr remained free from all serious diseases. A very pious and sincere sister of Hazrat Sahibzada used to say:

“God protected us and our honour in such a way that nobody even saw the end of my head covering.”1

This was a special blessing of the prayers of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement and of the deceased martyr that his family escaped every unbearable hardship. The other three families exiled with them had to face considerably greater difficulties.

After spending eight years of exile in Turkistan with varying fortunes, Ameer Habibullah gave orders for the deceased martyr’s family to come to Kabul, and the other three families to return to Khost. In Kabul, the family was lodged in a house on Qazi street, and a stipend was approved by the government for subsistence. They also started to receive income from their lands in Khost. Two traders, Khan Ameer and Khaista Meer, who traded between Kabul and Peshawar, collected the ownership share of Hazrat Sahibzada’s family from the tenants and brought it to them, along with other necessities. The financial condition of the family thus improved. In Kabul there were several Ahmadi families, as well. However, some restrictions were placed on Hazrat Sahibzada’s family by the government. No member of the family could travel outside a five mile radius, and one person had to report to the Police Station every day that the entire family was present.

In those days, an unfortunate person came to Kabul from Punjab. He was arrested on the suspicion of being a spy for the British. During investigation, he claimed acquaintance with a member of Hazrat Sahibzada’s family, and as a result, the Police arrested four sons of the deceased martyr and took them away. The oldest son had gone out to the bazaar at the time. When he learnt of the arrest of his brothers, he set out in their search. On the way, somebody informed him, in confidence, that his brothers had been taken to the Ann-ud-Daula guest house. When he reached there, he too was placed under arrest. After two months, they were transferred from Ann-ud-Daula to Sherpur Jail, which was extremely filthy. They were put in fetters, and kept there for nine months. The oldest two sons of Hazrat Sahibzada, Sahibzada Muhammad Saeed and Sahibzada Muhammad Umar died of typhus.

“Surely we are Allah’s, and to Him we shall return.”

During that time, Habibullah Khan was murdered and celebrations started for the coronation of his son, Amanullah Khan. All the leading nobles of Afghanistan gathered for the coronation, including Babrak Khan, the older brother of Syed Akbar Khan. On this occasion, the nobles told Amanullah Khan:

“The family of Sahibzada Abdul Latif, who are confined to Kabul for the last eight years, are innocent citizens and very straightforward Muslims. What is their crime that they are kept in this condition? Unless you free them, we will not participate in your celebrations.”

Amanullah assured them that he would review their case. After the festivities, true to his promise, Amanullah announced that the family could go back to Syedgah. After sixteen years of exile, the family returned to their former glory in Syedgah. On seeing this, the opponents of this family became extremely jealous, and started secretly to conspire against it. Whenever there were disturbances or problems anywhere in Afghanistan, these people claimed that it was because of the family of Sahibzada Abdul Latif. Thereby, they tried to create hatred against this family.

After the return of the family to Syedgah, the first Governor appointed to the post in Khost ordered the sons of Hazrat Sahibzada to appear before him. Probably, he was influenced by the opponents of the family or was acting on direction of the government in Kabul. It so happened that both the sons of Hazrat Sahibzada had gone to Bannu a few days beforehand. A message was sent to them that very night about the Governor’s order. They returned to present themselves before the Governor. After meeting and conversing with them, the Governor was so impressed that he stated under oath that if there was a family to be respected in Khost, it was their family.

However, the opponents did not desist from their mischief. They incited the Judge of the area, who was known as the Mad Judge, to pass orders that all “Qadianis” should be jailed. In accordance with these orders, the father of Sahibzada Abdul Qudus, Sahibzada Meer Akbar, and Sahibzada Abu-al-Hassan were arrested and imprisoned in Darband Jail. They were beaten and tormented during their imprisonment, which was to last for eighteen months. In this way, it was made impossible for them to stay in Khost and the family decided to migrate from Afghanistan.

Some male members of the family went to visit the two imprisoned Sahibzadas in Darband Jail and broached the idea of emigrating from Afghanistan. With great courage and steadfastness, both gave the advise to proceed with the plan and not to worry about them. They would face whatever came their way.

In 1924, a revolt started against Ameer Amanullah Khan, and amongst the numerous charges brought against him, one of the charge was that he was a Qadiani. The most effective way of inciting the masses against anybody was and still is to allege that the person is a Qadiani. This method has been used from the beginning of the Movement, and is still being used. The reason for calling Amanullah Khan a Qadiani may be that he freed the Sahibzada family from captivity, and restored their privileges. This was not acceptable to the opponents of the family, who were benefiting from their absence. Amanullah crushed this revolt. However, this gave rise to the fear that the persecution of Ahmadis may intensify and the opponents may create greater mischief. In view of this, the family, along with a few tenants, left Syedgah stealthily at night and went to Dargai, where they lived for about a year and a half. The people of Dargai had pledged to the government that the family would stay there and would not be allowed to leave Dargai. Once, they tried to leave but the government functionaries learnt about it, and they were stopped. After waiting for two or three months, a second attempt succeeded miraculously. This is how it happened. After the family had left, a woman came to the house, and on finding it empty, she told a person named Abdul Baqi to inform the local administrator. He went to the Administrator’s orderly to give him the message. It was night time and the orderly was sleeping. He woke up the orderly and gave him the message, but instead of taking the message to the Administrator, he went back to sleep. When he got up, the day had dawned. He ran to the Administrator with the message, but it was too late. The family had already crossed the border into British India. On January 1, 1926, the family reached Miran Shah from Afghanistan. From there they went to Bannu and then on to Sarai Naurang, where they have lived ever since.

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Footnotes:

  1. An expression meant to denote that they always had the means to subsist.

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