The Martyrdom of Sahibzada Abdul Latif Shaheed
by Prof. Khalil-ur-Rahman
In Search of Ahmadiyyat
“That is the grace of Allah; He gives it to whom he pleases. And Allah is the Lord of mighty grace.” (The Holy Quran, 57:21)
The Honour of Becoming an Ahmadi:
When Allah decides to bless and have mercy on someone, He creates unexpected and strange opportunities for that person’s guidance. The opportunity, and great honour of entering into the discipleship of the Promised Messiah, was afforded to Hazrat Sahibzada by the demarcation of the Durand Line. The demarcation of the border between Afghanistan and British India took place in 1893 under the supervision of an Englishman, Mortimer Durand, after whom the border came to be called Durand Line. Those accompanying Durand on the British side included Sahibzada Abdul Qayum, the founder of Islamia College, Peshawar, and the Afghan Commission included Sardar Shirin Dil Khan and Hazrat Sahibzada.
During the course of the demarcation, Hazrat Sahibzada saw Sahibzada Abdul Qayum put two demarcation stones on the side of Afghanistan so that the British territory may get extended. On seeing this, Hazrat Sahibzada addressed Sahibzada Abdul Qayum and said:
“Look here Qayum! By putting these two stones on the side of Afghanistan, you are making a place for yourself in hell.”
On the face of it, this incident may appear trivial but it provides visible proof of his perception, sense of justice, courage, God-fearing nature, and loyalty to his country and government — the same government that dyed its hands with his blood and thereby invoked the displeasure of Allah.
As the work of demarcation progressed, Hazrat Sahibzada met an individual who told him that a person in the village of Qadian in Punjab had claimed to be the Promised Messiah and Mahdi (rightly guided one). On hearing this, Hazrat Sahibzada exclaimed in astonishment,
“Has that person come? We have been waiting for him since a long time.”
He was also told that the Ulama (learned religious scholars) of India were unable to refute the arguments that he presented in support of his claims. The informant then made a request to him,
“We have heard that you too are a great intellectual and scholar and a person close to God. I have brought along some books of this claimant. Kindly read them and write a suitable rebuttal.”
Hazrat Sahibzada took these books with great sincerity and eagerness. The books were given to him with the intention that after reading them, he, too, would issue a verdict declaring, God forbid, Hazrat Mirza to be a kafir (disbeliever). Little did Hazrat Sahibzada know that these books would become the means for him to achieve the elevated status of a martyr.
When the demarcation of Durand Line was completed, he came back straight to his village Syedgah, and immediately started reading these books in the privacy of his study, adjoining his house. After the evening prayer, his wife told him to rest a little as he must be tired from his journey. He replied,
“You people go to sleep, I too will retire after a little while.”
However, there was such a magnetic attraction and spiritual light in the works of the God-ordained man of the time, that Hazrat Sahibzada read through the night, until it was time for morning prayers. He slept only after the morning prayers. Hazrat Sahibzada had the following to say about these books:
“I had already been informed in a vision that a grand mujaddid (reformer) was about to appear in the present time and, at times, I suspected that I may be that person. However, when I read the books of Hazrat Mirza Sahib, my heart instantly bore testimony that this was the person for whose appearance all the preparations were afoot in the spiritual world. On reading the books with greater attention, the truth manifested itself completely.”1
After studying these books, his enthusiasm increased further and he proceeded with investigations to verify the truth and reality of Hazrat Mirza’s claims. For this purpose, he dispatched some of his trusted disciples, which included Maulvi Abdur Rahman Shaheed, to Qadian and also sent a letter with them for Hazrat Mirza. After staying for a few weeks in Qadian, these people returned back to Khost, and bore testimony to the truth of Hazrat Mirza’s claim. They brought back with them the response to Hazrat Sahibzada’s letter by Hazrat Mirza, in which he had sent his salutations to him. After reading this letter, Hazrat Sahibzada said that further enquiries should be made so that he could make a decision about taking a pledge to join the Ahmadiyya Movement.
Propagation of Ahmadiyyat and the Martyrdom of Maulvi Abdur Rahman:
Accordingly, at his directive, Maulvi2 Abdur Rahman made two or three visits to Qadian, each several months in duration. During his stay, he had the honour to listen to Hazrat Mirza’s arguments and to benefit from his company. His belief and faith in Hazrat Mirza increased to the extent where the desire to propagate Ahmadiyyat became an obsession. On his last visit to Khost, he testified strongly before Hazrat Sahibzada to the veracity of Hazrat Mirza’s claim that he was the Promised Messiah. He then began to vigorously propagate Ahmadiyyat in Kabul. The Mullahs (religious priests) of Kabul complained to Ameer Abdur Rahman, the ruler, about the propagation of “Qadianiat”,3 by Maulvi Abdur Rahman and said that this would create problems for the Ameer. They further alleged that he was bent upon destroying his kingdom. Accordingly, Maulvi Abdur Rahman was proclaimed a kafir, arrested and sent to prison. There, on orders of Ameer Abdur Rahman, he was strangulated to death and took his place among the ranks of martyrs.
Historical records indicate that the martyrdom of Maulvi Abdur Rahman took place in 1901, the same year in which Ameer Abdur Rahman died. No cruel and despotic person who has dyed his hands with the blood of innocent and guiltless men of God has gone unpunished by His wrath and retribution in the past, nor will they ever in the future.
The Martyr’s Vision about Himself:
During the rule of Ameer Abdur Rahman, Hazrat Sahibzada occupied the high position of chief judge and because of his piety and great knowledge, he was greatly esteemed by the king. Many important affairs of the state were decided only after seeking his advise. For this reason, most of his time was spent in the court at Kabul but sometimes he would return to Khost. He performed this journey either on foot or horseback and one of his students, Maulvi Abdul Jalil, accompanied him as his travelling companion. Maulvi Abdul Jalil narrates that once, during the journey, Hazrat Sahibzada addressed him and said,
“I see these stones reddened with my blood. It appears that this land is asking me for the sacrifice of blood.”
At the time of this incident, there was no such sign, as Hazrat Sahibzada held a reputation of eminence in Kabul and was a confidante of the King. However, the incident was a sign from God of the coming events.
The Death of Ameer Abdur Rahman and the Coronation of Habibullah:
Ameer Abdur Rahman died in 1901. The news of his death was announced before the full court by Hazrat Sahibzada as nobody else had the courage to do so, because of their fear of the King. On several previous occasions, the Ameer had himself started rumours of his death in order to identify those who expressed satisfaction at the news. Such people were then ordered by him to be assassinated.
After the death of Ameer Abdur Rahman, a struggle for succession took place between his two sons, Habibullah and Nasrullah. Because Nasrullah was the older, he considered himself to be the legitimate heir to the throne. When the dispute was presented before Hazrat Sahibzada, he gave his verdict in favour of Habibullah, and at the coronation, he placed the crown on the King’s head with his own blessed hands.
Nasrullah became an arch enemy of Hazrat Sahibzada and started to wait for a suitable opportunity to take revenge.
- Mujaddid-e-Azam, by Dr. Basharat Ahmad, vol. 2, page 939, Footnote 1. ↩
- A learned man of religion. ↩
- A name by which the Ahmadiyya Movement was frequently referred to because of its origin from Qadian. Later, after the split in the Ahmadiyya Movement in 1914, the part of the Ahmadiyya group that kept its headquarters in Qadian came to be known by this name as distinct from the other group that moved their headquarters to Lahore and came to be known as Lahori Ahmadis. ↩