Mirza Muhammad Ghufran
A Chitrali Courtier, Historiographer and Poet 1857—1926
By Hidayat ur Rahman
Notes: This article is basically a summary of the research study on the given topic conducted by the researcher. Full-fledged and elaborate research paper will be published in some historical journal.
(All rights is reserved by the author)
Mirza Muhammad Ghufran is generally known as Mirza Ghufran. His ancestors, originally from Kosht, had settled in Mastuj, but some unknown reasons they settled in Kari a village just above Chitral town. He was born when Mehtar Aman-ul-Mulk ascended the Chitral throne in 1857 (Ghufran 1921: 339). His father’s name was Muhammad Rasool a literary man and mother who belonged to Danin village. A famous state official Aksakal Mirza Khan (d 1918) was his maternal cousin who supported him in ups and downs of courtly conspiracies. He received his early education from his father. Still in his teens; he left Chitral for Peshwar. This was due to the dispute with a tribal elder called Mehtarjou Nizrab Shah or Mizrab Shah (Ghufran 1921: 337). Ghufran spent eight years in Peshawar, learning Fiqah (an expansion of the Sharia Islamic law-based directly on the Quran and Sunnah) and Tafseer (an explanation of the Quran). Somebody commended his calligraphy to the Mehtar. Mehtar than put him into his court but for further education he went back to Peshawar. After some time Mehtar put pressure on his father to bring back Ghufran to the court. His brothers tried to persuade Ghufran to come back but they failed. Eventually as a result of the Mehtar’s pressure Aksakal Muhammad Latif Badakshani who was in Peshawar with Shahzada Abdur Rahim Khan Qoqandi asked him to return to the Mehtar’s court. In 1882, on his return, the Mehtar restored some of his properties confiscated by Mehtarjou Mizrab Shah (Ibid). When his father-in-law died Mehtar had given him the post of his father-in-law as Mir Munshi. Then he was responsible for writing all letters of importance and Isnads (edicts) for internal matters (Ghufran 1921: 338). He was given official duties such as writing letters to surrounding countries and keeping the State revenue records. After the death of Aman-ul-Mulk his son, Afzal-ul-Mulk ascended the throne for a short period. During this time Mehtar had not a liking for him as he considered him to be allied with his brother Nizam ul Mulk but Mirza Khan Aksakal his cousin was very close to Afzal ul Mulk who managed to remove the Mehtar’s grudges against Ghufran and a good relationship was thus established with Mehtar. Mehtar ordered Ghufran to write a short history of Chitral. Actually this order was issued by British officials stationed at Gilgit (Ghufran 1919).
In 1911 Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk (1895-1936) had ordered Ghufran to write a book on Chitral history. The Mehtar also had given him jigir (fief) of Sin and Singur in 1915 (Ghufran 1921: 339). He received 320 maunds of wheat from the jagir annually, besides some other customary rights of revenue and Begar (forced labor). Ghufran received considerable tracts of land at different parts of Chitral during the reign of Shuja-ul-Mulk. During his tenure of State service he had vinegary relations with the Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk for sometimes. His work on the history came to the end in 1919 with the completion of Tarikh-i-Chitrar (Ghufran 1919).
Tarikh-i-Chitrar was compiled and finalized in 1921 by Mirza Muhammad Ghufran on the order of Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk (1895-1936). It is a landmark work for the history Chitral and Hindu Kosh region as well. The book was written in Persian between 1911 to 1919. In 1921 it was published somewhere in India. After its publication Mehtar ordered to burn all its copies. He also imposed ban on historiography (Ghulam Murtaza 1953). Some copies survived in Peshawar and two copies with the Mehtar himself. Mehtar gifted one copy to Mir Ghayas-ud-Din the later the commerce minister of the State of Chitral. One copy remained with Shahzada Mata-ul-Mulk of Shoghore (Ibid). This book remained clandestinely in Chitral until the author recovered a copy. Ghulam Murtaza who was one of the author’s sons gave the reasons as there were no objectionable narrations for the burning of the copies of Tarikh-i-Chitrar nothing was there for legitimate criticism but the Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk was capricious and egotist (Ghulam Murtaza; 1953). He also called it “Tarihk-i-Shujayia” (Ghulam Murtaza 1955:1).
Ghufran’s second book Tarikh-i-Chitrar is in Persian language. Mirza Muhammad Ghufran invariably followed the traditional pattern of Persian histories produced in Iran, Transoxiana (Ma’wara-an Nahr), Afghanistan and India. As they begin with a Hamd (is a poem or song in praise of God), followed by praises and eulogies for the Holy Prophet and of the king or the patrons at whose instance the work was undertaken or to whom it was dedicated. However, the Persian histories produced in Chitral deviate in some respects from the traditional norm. In the East, particularly in Iran, a historian wrote at the behest of a ruler, a minister or a powerful courtier or a feudal lord. Gufran did fallow same traditional pattern of historiography, when he was writing Tarikh-i-Chitrar (Ghufran 1921).
He was also a poet. Though Ghufran’s poetry is related to Islamic topics and Chitral history, he wrote ghazals and other romantic poetry in Persian as well. Some people believe that he has some poems in Khowar. He has described the events of history in verse firm which have been widely used in Tarihk-i-Chitral of Aziz-ud-Din, Tarikh-i-Chitrar and his son’s Nai Tarikh-i-Chitral (Aziz-ud-Din 1897: Ghufran 1921: Ghulam Murtaza 1962).
Timeline of Mirza Muhammad Ghufran.
Date of Birth 1857
Leaving Chitral to Peshawar for Education 1872
First Service in the Mehtar’s court 1880
Second departure for Education 1881
Return to Chitral and appointment as a Mirza in the court Aman ul Mulk 1882
Marriage with the daughter of Wazir Muzafar Khan of Shali 1885
Appointment of Ghufran as Mir Munshi on the post vacant at the death his father in law 1885
Birth of his first son Ghulam Mustafa 1886
Mehtar issuance a Sanad for prohibition of his family for certain customary service to the State. 1887
Mehtar Sher Afzal’s order of killing Mirza Muhammad Ghufran but He survived. 1892
Birth of his second son Ghulam Murtaza. 1892
Writing of Mosavedaye-i-Tarikh-i-Chitrar 1893
Endorsement of Sanad from above by Mehtar Sardar Nizam ul Mulk 1893
Sanad of above endorsed by Captain B.E.M Gurdon A.P.A Chitral 1898
Imprisonment for some months at Malakand 1898/99
Visit with Mehtar to the Culkata, India 1899
Land given at Qaziyandeh Chitrar endorsed and sanctioned by Captain B.E.M Gurdon 1901
Fostering of Shahzada Muzafar-ul-Mulk 1901
Writing of Towzih-i-Mowliya 1902
Marriage of his daughter to Abdur Rahim Khan of Jughore 1905
Fixing Rozina (monthly salary) for the State service. 1905
Member and Mir Munshi in Judicial Council Chitral 1909
Dismissal from State Service 1910
Mehtar Shuja-ul-Mulk’s order to re-write Tarikh-i-Chitrar. 1911
Writing a detailed enquiry report of the murder of Wafadar Khan 1912
Thanking address to the British officials on the behalf of Chitral in the Durbar held on annexation of Mastuj into Chitral. 1914
Giving by Mehtar the Jagir (fief) of villages of Sen and Singur 1915
Dismissal from the Sate service. 1918
Presenting the manuscript of Tarikh-i-Chitrar. 1919
President State Judicial Council Chitral 1919
Publication of the Tarikh-i-Chitrar. 1921
Confiscation Jagir Sin and Singur 1921
Writing Firq-i-Batiniya 1924
Death of Ghulam Mustafa 1924
Death of Ghufran 1926
Ghufran was also an Islamic scholar; he wrote many religious books. All of them have not yet been published. Ghufran’s famous book on religion was Towzih-i-Mowlaya. It deals Ismaili history and practices. All his books are concerned with the religion of Islam apart from three historical works (Ghufran 1921: Ghulam Murtaza 1962) (See Figure 2).
List of Mirza Muhammad Ghufran’s published and un published books
S.No Name of Book Date of writing or Publishing
1. Tarikh-i-Chitrar 1893
2. Tashrih ul Aqawil 1892 c
3. Durjul Ali fi sharhul amali n.d
4. Hawashi fiqah-i-akber n.d
5. Towzih-ul-mowlaiya 1902
6. Tarikh-i-Khalafi-i-Rashideen wa safarnameh-i-Hindustan. n.d
7. Tarikh-i-Chitral (Farsi) 1921
8. Ferqai-i-Batiniya 1925
9. Khodnawisht 1919
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