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Muntakhabu-l Lubab

Muntakhabu-l Lubab by Muhammad Hashim, Khafi Khan.  A history of the Mughal period.
In The History of India as Told by its own HistoriansThe Posthumous Papers of the Late Sir H. M. Elliot. John Dowson, ed. 1st ed. 1867. 2nd ed., Calcutta: Susil Gupta, 1956, vol. 11.

  1. Overview

The Muntakhabu-l Lubâb is a history of the Moghul period, ending with the fourteenth year of the reign of Muhammad Shah (c.1733), which presumably was toward the end of the life of the author, Muhammad Hashim, Khafi Khan.  Originally from Khwâf in Khurasan, his history is often considered one of the finest examples of the Persian historical tradition.  It is particularly valuable for the study of the later Mogul period, especially the first three decades of the eighteenth century, the events of which occurred during the lifetime of the author.

The first excerpt concerns conflict between the Sikhs and the Moghuls during the short reign of Muhammad Farrukhsiyar, who reigned from 1713 to 1715 CE.  War between the Sikhs and Moghuls occurred sporadically during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the Sikhs gained increasing power and influence in the Punjab; a power the Moghuls struggled to curtail, given the strategic and economic importance of this region.  Ultimately they failed, for the Sikhs power waxed while the Moghul’s waned.  By the close of the eighteenth century the Sikhs had created a powerful independent state under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1839), by which point the Moghuls ruled in name only.  The “guru” in question here is not one of the ten great gurus of Sikhism, the last of whim, Guru Gobind Singh, passed away in 1708 CE, six years before the battle described here occurred.

The second excerpt deals with religious unrest in Kashmir, which evidently occurred during the years of unrest which occurred between the death of Bahadur Shah in 1712 CE and the ascension to the throne of Muhammad Shah in 1719.  It probably occurred during the short reign of Farrukhsiyar; it may have been triggered by Farrukhsiyar’s ineffective attempt to re-impose the jizya tax on non-Muslims in 1715.

  1. Excerpts

1. War with the Sikhs
2. Religious Unrest in Kashmir1.

[p. 67]

FOURTH YEAR OF THE REIGN [of Sultan Muhammad Farrukhsiyar]

(1126 A.H., An. 1714)

War with the Sikhs1

The violence (of the Sikhs) passed all bounds. The injuries and indignities they inflicted on Musulmans, and the destruction of mosques and tombs, were looked upon by them as righteous meritorious acts.  They had built a fort at Gurdaspur in the Panjab, ten or twelve days’ journey from Dehli, and extended its limits so that fifty or sixty thousand horse and foot could find [p. 68] protection.  They strengthened the towers and walls of the place, took possession of all the cultivated land around and ravaged the country from Lahore to Sihrind, otherwise called Sirhind.  ‘Abdu-s Samad Khan Diler Jang was appointed subadar of Lahore, and was sent thither with a select army and artillery.  ‘Abdu-s Samad

engaged the vast army of the Guru near his fort.  The infidels fought so fiercely that the army of Islam was nearly overpowered; and they over and over again showed the greatest daring.  Great numbers were killed on both sides; but Mughal valour at length prevailed, and the Infidels were defeated and driven to their stronghold.

The infidels on several occasions showed the greatest boldness and daring, and made nocturnal attacks upon the Imperial forces. ‘Abdu-s Samad Diler Jang, while lying in front of their Poor fortress, was obliged to throw up an intrenchment for the defence of his force. He raised batteries; and pushed forward his approaches. The siege lasted a long time, and the enemy exhibited great courage and daring. They frequently made sallies into the trenches, and killed many of the besiegers. To relate all the struggles and exertions of ‘Abdu-s Samad and his companions in armies would exceed our bounds. Suffice it to say that the royal army in course of time succeeded in cutting off from the enemy his supplies of corn and fodder, and the stores in the fort were exhausted.

Being reduced to the last extremity, and despairing of life the Sikhs offered to Surrender on condition of their lives being spared.  Diler Jang at first refused to grant quarter; but at length he advised them to beg pardon of their crimes and offences from the Emperor. Their Chief Guru2 with his son of seven or eight Years old, his diwan, and three or four thousand persons, became prisoners, and received the pre-destined recompense for their deeds. [p. 69] ‘Abdu-s Samad had three or four thousand of them put to the sword, and he filled that extensive plain with blood as if it had been a dish. Their heads were stuffed with hay and stuck upon spears. Those who escaped the sword were sent in collars and chains to the Emperor … ‘Abdu-s Samad sent nearly two thousand heads stuffed with hay and a thousand persons bound with iron chains in charge of his son, Zakariya Khan, and others to the Emperor .

In the month of Muharram, the prisoners and the stuffed heads arrived at Delhi. The Bakhshi I’timadu-d daula Muhammad Amin Khan received orders to go out of the city, to blacken the faces and put wooden caps on the heads of the prisoners; to ride himself upon an elephant, place the prisoners on camels, and the heads on spears, and thus enter the city, to give a warning to all spectators.  After they had entered the city, and passed before the Emperor, orders were given for confining the Guru, his son and two or three of his principal companions, in the fort.  As to the lest of the prisoners it was ordered that two or three hundred of the miserable wretches should be put to death every day before the kotwal’s office and in the streets of the bazar.  The men of the Khatri caste, who were secretly members of the sect, and followers of the Guru sought by the offer of large sums of money to Muhammad Amin Khan and other mediators to save the life of the Guru, but they were unsuccessful.  After all the Guru’s companions had been killed, an order was given that his son should be slain in his presence, or rather that the boy should be killed by his own hands, in requital of the cruelty which that accursed one had shown in the slaughter of the sons of others. Afterwards he himself was killed.


[p. 102]

Religious Troubles in Kashmir

Mahbub Khan, otherwise called ‘Abdu-n Nabi Kashmiri, had a long-standing enmity [p. 103] against the Hindus in Kashmir.  He had gathered round him many restless Muhammadans, with whom he went to the deputy of the subadar and to the kazi, and, presenting certain legal opinions, he demanded that the Hindus should be interdicted from riding on horses, from wearing coats (jama), from putting on turbans and arm our (chira o yarak), from going out for excursions in the fields and gardens, and from bathing on certain days.  Upon this matter he was very virulent.  The officials, in answer, said that they would act upon the rules laid down by the Emperor, and by the chief lawyers, in respect of the treatment of zimmis (protected unbelievers) throughout the provinces of the empire.  Mahbub Khan was greatly offended, and, being supported by a party of Musulmans, he annoyed and insulted Hindus wherever he met them.  A Hindu could not pass through any market or street without being subjected to indignity.

One day Majlis Rai, a respected Hindu of Kashmir, went out with a party to ramble in the fields and gardens, and they feasted Brahmans.  Mahbub Khan collected ten or twelve thousand Musulmans, came upon them unawares, and began to beat, bind and kill them.  Majlis Rai escaped, and fled with some others to Ahmad Khan.  Mahbub Khan, with all his followers, went to the house of Majlis Rai and the Hindu quarter, and began to plunder and to fire the houses.  The Hindus and Musulmans who interfered to prevent this were killed and wounded.  After that they proceeded to the house of Mir Ahmad Khan, where they set to work beating, throwing stones and bricks, and shooting arrows and bullets.  Every man they found they detained and subjected to various indignities.  Some they killed, others they wounded and plundered.  Mir Ahmad Khan for a day and night was unable to drive them from his house or to stop their violence, but had to employ many artifices to escape from them.  Next day he got together a force, and, with Mir Shahur Khan Bakhshi and other officials, they took horse and went against Mahbub Khan.  The rioters collected, as on the preceding day, and resisted Ahmad Khan.  A party got in his rear and burnt the [p. 104] bridge over which he had crossed.  They set fire to both sides of the street through which he had passed, and from in front and from the roofs and walls of the houses, they discharged arrows and muskets and cast stones and bricks.   Women and children flung filth, dirt, and whatever they could lay hands on.  A fierce fight continued, in which….  and several others were killed or wounded.  Mir Ahmad Khan was in a great strait, for he could neither retire no advance; so he was obliged to ask for mercy, and escaped from his dangerous position amid volleys of gibes and insults.

Mahbub Khan proceeded to the Hindu quarter, and burnt and gutted the houses which remained.  Again he proceeded to the house of Mir Ahmad Khan, and dragged out of it with insult Majlis Rai and a number of other persons who had taken refuge there.  He and his follower cut off their ears and noses, circumcised them, and in some instances cut off the organ of generation.  Another day they went tumultuously to the great mosque, degraded Mir Ahmad Khan from his office of deputy of the subadar, and having given the prime cause of the disturbance the title of Dindar Khan, they appointed him to act as ruler of the Musulmans, and to enforce the commands of the law, and the decisions of the kazis until a new deputy subadar should come from the Court.  For five months Mir Ahmad Khan was deprived of power, and remained in retirement.  Dindar Khan acted as ruler, and, taking his seat in the mosque, discharged the government business.

Upon intelligence of this outbreak reaching Court, Mumin Khan was sent to act as deputy of ‘Inayatu-llah Khan, the subadar…. At the end of Shawwal he halted three kos from Kashmir.  Mahbub Khan was ashamed of his unrighteous deeds, so he went to Khwaja ‘Abdu-llah who was highly respected in Kashmir, and begged him to go out with a number of the principal and most respectable Muhammadans to meet the new deputy, and bring him into the city with honour…. Khwaja ‘Abdu-llah advised him in a friendly way to go to Mir Shahur Khan Bakhshi and apologise for what had passed.  If he did so, they would [p. 105] go out with him to meet the deputy.  In accordance with this advice, Mahbub Khan went to the house of Shahur Khan, and having made a statement to him, rose to depart, alleging he had some necessary business to attend to.  The bakhshi, acting on the Khwaja’s advice, had called a number of people from the Charbeli and Kahkaran quarters of the city, and concealed them about his house.  They watched for Mahbub Khan, and fell upon him unawares.  First, before his eyes, they ripped up the bellies of his two young boys, who always accompanied him, and they killed him with great cruelty.

Next day the Musulmans went to the Charbeli quarter, to exact retaliation for blood.  This quarter was inhabited by Shi’as.  There they began to beat, to bind, to kill, and to burn the houses.  For two days the fight was kept up, but the assailants then prevailed.  Two or three thousand people who were in that quarter, including a large number of Mughal travelers, were killed with their wives and families.  Property to the value of lacs was plundered, and the war raged for two or three days.  It is impossible to commit to writing all that I have heard about this outbreak.  After this destruction, the rioters went to the houses of the kazi nd the bakshi.  Shahur Khan concealed himself and the kazi escaped in disguise. They pulled down the kazi’s house to the foundations, and carried the bricks of it away in their hands.  Mumin Khan, after entering the city, sent Mir Ahmad Khan under an escort to Imanabad, and then had to take severe measures with the people of Kashmir.


  1. Or, as the author expresses it, “Extermination of the hellish good-for-nothing Guru”.
  2. His name was Banda.