Afzal Khan Khattak b 1664-65

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Afzal Khan Khattak b 1664-65, J. Enevoldsen
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (

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Afzal Khan Khattak b 1664-65

J. Enevoldsen

Encyclopaedia Iranica

Publishing Date: Friday, September 16 2005

Afzal Khan Khattak; chief of the Khattak tribe, Pashto poet, and author of Tarikh-e-morassa was the eldest son of Ashraf Khan "Hejri" (1044-1105/1635 to 1693-94). In 1083/1672-73 Ashraf succeeded his father Khoshal Khan in the chieftaincy of the Khattak tribe, but in 1092/1681 he was betrayed into the hands of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb by his brother Bahram and died in captivity.

Afzal Khan was arrested by the Mughals in 1098/1686-87 and carried to Kabul. He returned two years after the death of Khoshal Khan (1100/1689) to assume the chieftainship of the Khattak tribe, which he held for sixty-one years. Based on a reading of a tarikh in the divan of Afzal's son Kazem Khan Sayda, Sidiqullah Rishtin and A. Habibi (Paxtane su 'ara, Kabul, 1941-42, I, pp. 229-30) gave the date of Afzal's death as 1183/1769-70, but this divan had already been put into final form in 1181. Thus the date of his death is uncertain.

H. G. Raverty's statement (Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, London, 1867, p. 269) that Afzal, upon the assumption of the chieftainship, put his uncle (and rival) Abdul Qader to death does not bear examination; the latter translated the Golestan of Sheikh Saadi in 1124/1712. Another uncle of Afzal's; Gawhar Khan's writing in 1120/1708, gives testimony to Afzal's good chieftainship and to his consuming literary interests, which were aimed at

  1. Collecting his illustrious grandfather's works and having them copied to save them from oblivion, and
  2. Inspiring Gawhar Khan and other members of the family to use their talents in translating into Pashto some of the great works in Persian and Arabic.

Afzal himself made a number of translations chiefly historical when he had ruled for twenty-five years and was fifty three years old; the Tarikh of A`tam Kufi, the Siar of Mullah Mo'in, and a tafsir of the Koran. He began a translation of the Iar-e danes; Abu'l-Fazl's simplified Persian version of the Anwar-e Sohayly by Hosayn Wa`ez Kashefi, which was completed in 1128/1716 under the name 'Flmkana da Danes.

Afzal Khan Khattak began writing his main work, the Tarikh-e morassa, about 1120/1708. It is an uneven history of the Afghans in Pashto, compiled from various sources. The first and last parts are translations from the Persian work Makhzan-e Afgani (or Tarikh-e-Khan Jahani) written by Niamatullah in 1020/1611. The second part (about half the volume) contains an account of the Yousafzai's and kindred tribes, based mainly upon the Tazkirat-ul Abrar by Akhund Darweza, the Tabaqat-e-Akbari, the Jahangir-nama, and other Persian sources, and an extensive account of the history of the Khattaks, particularly of the author's grandfather.

It includes long extracts from the bayaz (notebook) of Khushal Khan and relates events up to the year 1136/1723-24. This part of the book was used by H. G. Raverty as source material for his Notes on Afghanistan (London, 1888). Afzal Khan Khattak is buried in Ziarat Kaka Saheb near Nowshera.


  1. Afzal Khan, Tarikh-e-morassa', ed. D. M. K. Mohmand, Peshawar, 1976;
  2. Excerpt in H. G. Raverty, Gulshan-i Koh, London, 1860, pp. 1-54;
    repeated in T. P. Hughes, The Kalid-i Afghani, 2nd ed., Lahore, 1893, pp. 205-40;
    tr. in T. C. Plowden, Translation of the Kalid-i Afghani, Lahore, 1893, pp. 167-208.
  3. Selection from `Iar-e danes: B. Dorn, A Chrestomathy of the Pushtu or Afghan Language, St. Petersburgh, 1847, pp. 1-23.
    See also Gawhar Khan Khattak, Qalb al-sir (ms. in Peshawar Museum).
  4. J. F. Blumhardt and D. N. MacKenzie, Catalogue of Pashto Manuscripts in the Libraries of the British Isles, London, 1965, no. 46, 157; on Ashraf Khan, see no. 79, and Raverty, Selections, pp. 249-70.


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Afzal Khan Khattak b 1664-65, J. Enevoldsen
Published in Khyber.ORG on Friday, September 16 2005 (