Persecution Prophecies

Martyrs of Afghanistan

Habibullah Khan and ascertain whether the Amir would permit him to proceed to Kabul to pay his respects to him. The Amir sent back w o rd that he should proceed to Kabul by all means and personally explain everything to the Amir to enable him to decide whether the claim of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam A h m a d( a s ) was true, in which case he himself would also accept him. Sahibzada Abdul Latif( r a ) p ro – ceeded to his home in Khost, and shortly after was summoned to Kabul under guard. On his arrival t h e re he found that the Amir was much incensed against him. Without any inquiry from him, the Amir directed that he should be committed to a cell in the citadel in which the Amir himself was residing and should be kept in durance vile pending the pleasure of the Amir. His person was s e c u re d with heavy chains and fetters. He passed f o u r months in a wre t c h e d condition in this cell. On several occasions it was intimated to him that if he would repudiate the claim of Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam A h m a d( a s ) that he was the Pro m i s e d Messiah, he would be set at liberty, and would be re s t o red to all the privileges, dignities and honour that he had previously enjoyed. But the Sahibzada Sahib remained firm in his belief and each time sent back the reply that he was an intelligent and knowledgable person who was equipped by God with the faculty of distinguishing between t ruth and falsehood. He was convinced after full study and investigation that Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad( a s ) was the P romised Messiah. He realised that in making this affirmation he was putting his life in jeopardy and was inviting the ruin of his family, but he held his faith above every worldly comfort and consideration. The Sahibzada Sahib had held a very high position in the country and had up to then passed his life in great comfort. He had a large family and a great number of followers. The con- ditions of his imprisonment were painful in the extreme, but all the privations and pains and discomfort that he suffered over this long period did not in the least shake his determination to adhere firmly to his faith. It appears that the Amir himself did not consider that the Sahibzada Sahib had been guilty of any serious offence and was anxious to find, if possible, some excuse to deal gently with him, but was afraid of a head-on 8 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 collision with the orthodox divines to whom the Sahibzada Sahib’s newly accepted doctrine was anathema and who were determined to bring about his ruin. The Amir had directed the i n c a rceration of the Sahibzada Sahib in the citadel in which he himself resided so that he should have no difficulty in approaching the Sahibzada Sahib himself, or t h rough his emissaries, for the purpose of persuading him to repudiate his erroneous doctrine. His continuous efforts in that behalf did not, however, have the least effect upon the Sahibzada Sahib. One matter that must have upset the Amir was that the Sahibzada Sahib during his imprisonment did not hesitate to affirm that there was no justification in the pre s e n t time to carry on Jihad with the s w o rd and that the teaching of the P romised Messiah ( a s ) in this context was that this was the time of propagating Islam thro u g h reason and argument and that the concept of Jihad by the sword that was current among the Muslims was not in accord with the teachings of Islam. After the expiry of four months the Amir summoned the Sahibzada Sahib into his presence and a d j u red him publicly that if he would repudiate the claim of the Qadiani pretender and his teachings, his life would be spare d and he would be set at liberty with h o n o u r. The Sahibzada Sahib replied that it was not possible for him to resile from the truth and that the torment that a gov- ernment could inflict upon him would end with his death, but that he could not offend Him Whose torment would be everlasting. He urged, however, that the divines who were opposed to his belief should enter into a discussion with him on the question of the c o r rectness of the doctrines to which they objected, and that if the arguments in support of his belief were effectively refuted he could be condemned and pun- ished. The Amir approved of his suggestion and Khan Mulla Khan and eight Muftis were selected to enter into discussion with the Sahibzada Sahib. A doctor from the Punjab, of the name of Abdul Ghani, who was bitterly opposed to the Promised Messiah’s( a s ) claim and teachings was appointed as umpire. The discussion started at 2 a.m. and continued till 3.00 p.m. There was a large gathering in the 9 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 mosque where the discussion was being held, but the exchange of views was carried on in writing and nothing was said orally. At the end of the written discussion the Sahibzada Sahib was asked that if this Qadiani was the Promised Messiah(as), what did he think about the second coming of J e s u s( a s )? The Sahibzada Sahib affirmed stoutly that Jesus(as) had died and would not appear again, and that the Holy Qur’an proclaimed his death and stood in the way of his coming again. Upon this the Muftis burst out in abuse against him and proclaimed that no doubt was left of his infidelity; and they prepared and subscribed to the formal decla- ration of his apostacy. Thereafter Sahibzada Sahib was returned to his cell burdened with his heavy chains and fetters. Throughout the course of the discussion eight guards with drawn swords had stood around the Sahibzada Sahib. The declaration of the Muftis was submitted to the Amir at night without the re c o rd of the discussion, which is a stro n g indication that the Muftis had not been able to refute the arg u m e n t s of Sahibzada Sahib. The Amir acting solely upon the declaration of the Muftis passed the sentence of death on him. This was a most irre s p o n s i b l e action for which the Amir laid himself open to serious blame. Indeed the whole procedure was most unjust and tyrannical. T h e re was not the slightest justification for subjecting the Sahibzada Sahib to the torment of the most painful kind of durance for a period of four months without charging him with an o ffence and aff o rding him an opportunity of clearing himself. When at long last such an opportunity was granted, he was brought to the trial, if it can be so described, loaded with his heavy chains and fetters and eight guards with drawn swords kept watch over him, so that he might be overawed and handicapped in replying to the charges preferred against him. The Amir realised that the discussion might lead to the loss of the life of an innocent person, he should, therefore, have been present himself in the course of the discussion; but not having done so he should have insisted that the written re c o rd of the discussion should be submitted to 10 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 him. Indeed, not only should he have himself perused the record of the discussion to satisfy himself of the guilt of the accused person, he should have directed the publication of the entire record to show that the Sahibzada Sahib had failed to set forth any proof in support of the claim of the Qadiani Promised Messiah(as), or in support of the prohibition of Jihad by the sword, or in support of the death of Jesus(as). He should at least have inquired from the Muftis on what was their condemnation of the Sahibzada based, and whether, in view of the d i ff e rences that divided the various sects of Muslims, all of them, except one, should be similarly condemned. The next morning the Sahibzada Sahib was summoned to the Salam Khana where a large crowd was gathered. The Amir left the citadel and on his way to the Salam Khana noticed the Sahibzada Sahib at one place and asked him what had been decided in the discussion. He returned no answer to the Amir’s query, but one of the guards said that he had been condemned. When the Amir arrived in the Salam Khana he called for Sahibzada Sahib and said to him: ‘You have been d e c l a red an apostate. Will you now repent, or will you submit to the penalty?’ He replied that he could not repent of the truth and would not subscribe to falsehood to save his life. The Amir urged him again to repent and promised to let him go free if he would recant. The Sahibzada Sahib firmly declined and said that he would never give up the truth. The Amir then wrote out an order in his own hand, and basing himself on the declaration of the Muftis condemned Sahibzada Sahib to death by stoning. This document was suspended round Sahibzada Sahib’s neck and the Amir directed that a hole should be bored through his nose and a rope should be run t h rough it and he should in this manner be led to the place of execution. This painful operation was carried out and Sahibzada Sahib was led outside the town to the place appointed for his execution, through the re v i l i n g and cursing crowd. The Amir also p roceeded to the place of execution accompanied by his courtiers, Qazis, Muftis and other high officials. At the place of execution a pit had been dug and Sahibzada Sahib was made to stand in it and it was then filled up to his waist. The 11 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 A m i r, his brother Sard a r N a s rullah Khan and the Chief Qazi and commandant Abdul Ahad were mounted on their horses, and everyone else was on foot. The Amir again approached Sahibzada Sahib and told him that if he repudiated the Qadiani Promised Messiah(as) even now, he would be delivered from death. He adjured him to have mercy on himself and the members of his family and comply with the Amir’s suggestion. The Sahibzada Sahib affirmed he could in no w i s e deny the truth and could not abjure his faith to save his own life and to s a f e g u a rd the members of his f a m i l y. Thereupon the Qazis and jurists raised a clamour that he was an infidel and should be destro y e d forthwith. Thereupon the Amir d i rected the Chief Qazi to thro w the first stone. The Qazi said that the Amir should do so, as he was the sovereign. The Amir re j o i n e d that the Qazi was the repository of the law and that it was his sentence that was to be carried out. The Qazi then dismounted and aimed a stone at Sahibzada Sahib which s t ruck him with great force and made him lower his head. The Amir then aimed another stone at him and thereupon stones began to be hurled at him from every d i rection till a mound of stones ro s e up above him. The day of execution was 14 July 1903. The Promised Messiah( a s ) expressed himself in the following terms about this tragic event: ‘The martyrdom that was appointed for Sahibzada Abdul L a t i f( r a ) was thus accomplished. The recompense of the tyrant is now awaited: “The portion of him who comes to his Lord a sinner is hell; he shall neither die therein nor live” [20:75]. The Amir placed himself within the operation of the verse: “Whoso kills a believer d e l i b e r a t e l y, his re w a rd shall be hell, wherein he shall abide and Allah will be wroth with him and cast him away and will p re p a re for him a gre a t punishment.” The Amir cast aside the fear of God and became guilty of killing a believer who had no equal in the whole of Afghanistan. He was one of those who laid down their lives with full sincerity in the cause of faith and truth and have no care for wife and childre n . ‘I call down a thousand blessings on you, O Abdul Latif, that you proved your 12 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 sincerity in my lifetime, for I do not know how those of my Community will behave who will survive me.’ [Tadhkaratush Shahadatain, p p . 4 7 – 5 8 1 ] The Promised Messiah(as) further observed: ‘The merciless killing of Sahibzada Abdul Latif(ra) is a most grievous event; but it is also full of blessings that will be manifested with the passage of time and the land of Afghanistan will see what consequences the shedding of his blood will entail. His blood will not go waste. Before this, poor Abdur Rahman ( r a ), a member of my Community, was unjustly killed, and God took no action. But after this tragedy He will not re m a i n silent, and grave conse- quences will manifest themselves. It is understood that soon after the martyrdom of the Sahibzada a severe epi- demic of cholera broke out in Kabul and many notable 13 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 Map of Afghanistan and surrounding territories people, including some near relatives of the Amir, passed out of this world. This was a most merciless killing which has no match in this age. What folly has this Amir committed that he has ruined himself by his merciless killing of such an innocent person. O land of Afghanistan, bear witness that a grave offence has been committed in thee. O unfortunate land, thou hast fallen in the estimation of God in that this great tragedy was enacted in thee.’ [Tadhkaratush Shahadatain, p.72] Sahibzada Abdul Latif ( r a ) l e f t behind his widow and five sons. They were all subjected to severe persecution and torment at the instance and under the direction of the government of Afghanistan for nearly a quarter of a century, yet they all remained steadfast in their faith. Two of his sons died of fever in jail in Afghanistan. Eventually his widow, three sons, a sister and some of his g r a n d c h i l d ren moved out of Afghanistan on 2 February 1926, and came to Bannu, in British Indian territory, where there was some property belonging to the family. The assassination of Sahibzada Abdul Latif(ra) was followed by a number of significant events. On the day of his execution a fierce storm of extraordinary violence passed over certain parts of the country, a little after sunset. On the following day a severe epidemic of cholera broke out in the city of Kabul and its environs which carried away larg e numbers of people everyday over a period of weeks. The wife of Sardar Nasrullah Khan and one of his sons and several members of the royal family died of cholera, and also some of the Muftis who had condemned the Sahibzada Sahib. The Punjabis who had been i n s t rumental in inciting the Afghan Mullas against the Sahibzada Sahib were thre e b rothers, Dr. Abdul Ghani, Maulvi Najaf Ali and Muhammad Charagh. Amir Habibullah Khan condemned them to 11 years’ imprisonment for treason. Dr. Abdul Ghani had been the umpire in the discussion between Sahibzada Abdul Latif(ra) and the Muftis. He was still in prison when his wife died in Landi Kotal and his grown up son was m u rd e red in broad daylight in Kabul. After he had served out his 14 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 sentence he was expelled from the country. His brother Maulvi Najaf Ali was declared an infidel and an apostate in the time of Nadir Shah and was sentenced to be stoned to death, but was permitted to return to India through the intervention of the British Ambassador in Kabul. His brother Muhammad Charagh was also expelled along with him. The condemnation of Sahibzada Sahib had been certified by Qazi Abdur Razzaq and Qazi Abdur Rauf, of whom the former was the superintendent of schools and was the Mullah in attendance upon the A m i r. He was subsequently charged with some offence and having been found guilty forfeited all his pro p e r t y, and his limbs were cut off bit by bit in public till in great torment only his torso was left. It was then skinned and he finally perished. Qazi Abdur Rauf left Kabul and his son, Qazi Abdul Wase, who was appointed his successor, was cru e l l y murdered in 1929. Sardar Nasrullah Khan, brother of Amir Habibullah Khan, had behind the scenes taken keen interest in the incarceration and condemnation of Sahibzada Sahib. He was also present at his execution. He was later suspected of treason and was brought to Kabul in chains by the order of Amir Amanullah Khan and was committed to prison. The shock upset his mind and sometime later he was killed in his cell by suffocation. One of his sons had died of cholera which followed on the martrydom of Sahibzada Sahib and another son was assassinated after his father ’ s death. Amir Habibullah Khan himself was shot dead by some person unknown on 20 February 1919 at night in his camp near Jalalabad and was buried there. The rebels of Shinwar raided Jalalabad and stoned his grave. His son Sardar Hayatullah Khan was subsequently secretly hanged under the order of Bacha Saquao. The Promised Messiah(as) set out in some detail the particulars of the two martyrdoms of Maulvi Abdur Rahman(ra) and Sahibzada Abdul Latif ( r a ) in his book Tadhkaratush Shahadatain which was published in 1903. In this book he admonished the members of his Community in the following terms: ‘If you will adhere to truth and faith, angels will instruct you, heavenly comfort will descend 15 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003 upon you, you will be helped by the Holy Spirit, God will be with you at every step and no one will be able to overcome you. Await the grace of God s t e a d f a s t l y. Listen to abuse and keep silent. Endure being beaten and be steadfast. As far as possible do not resist evil, so that you may be accounted acceptable in heaven.’ At the end of the book he announced: ‘Harken, all ye people. This is a p rophecy of Him Who had created heaven and earth. He will spread this Community of His in all countries and will make it supreme over all, through reason and arguments. The days are coming, indeed they are near, when this will be the only religion which will be held in honour. God will bestow extraordinary blessings on this religion and Movement. He will frustrate everyone who seeks to destroy it. This s u p remacy will last till the Judgment Day. R e m e m b e r, that no one will descend from heaven. All our opponents who are alive today will die and no one will see J e s u s( a s ) son of Mary ( a s ) descending from heaven. Then their next generation will pass away and no one of them will see this spectacle. Then the generation next after that will pass away without seeing the son of Mary (as) descending from heaven. Then God will make them anxious that though the time of the supremacy of the cross had passed away and the world had undergone gre a t changes, yet the son of Mary(as) had not descended fro m heaven. Then the wise people will suddenly discard this belief. The third century after today will not yet have come to a close when those who hold this belief, whether Muslims or Christians, will lose all hope and will give up this belief in disgust. There will then be only one religion that will prevail in the world and only one leader. I have come only to sow the seed, which has been sown by my hand. Now it will sprout and grow and flourish and no one can arrest its growth. [Tadhkaratush Shadatain, pp.54- 61]. 16 Martyrs of Afghanistan The Review of Religions – June 2003