Sardar Abdul Qudoos

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Sardar Abdul Qudoos, R. D. McChesney
Published in Khyber.ORG on Thursday, December 22 2005 (

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Sardar Abdul Qudoos

R. D. McChesney

Encyclopaedia Iranica

Publishing Date: Thursday, December 22 2005

Sardar Abdul Qudoos b. Sultan Muhammad b. Sultan Painda Muhammadzai., prominent Afghan military and political figure of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born about 1840, a nephew of the Amir Dust Mohammad Khan, and was associated early with Abdul Rahman b. Mohammad Afzal b. Dust Mohammad. In the late 1860s he was governor of Tashqorghan while Afghan Turkestan was under Abdul Rahman's control. He appears to have been with Abdul Rahman during the latter's exile in Russian Central Asia (1869-80). After Abdul Rahman's accession to the emirate of Afghanistan under British protection, Abdul Qudoos was briefly subordinate to the amir's cousin, Mohammad Eshaq b. Mohammad A'zam, in Afghan Turkestan.

In the 1881 struggle between Abdul Rahman & Muhammad Ayub, son of a previous amir, Sir Ali Khan, for Qandahar, Abdul Qudoos was sent by Mohammad Eshaq to seize Herat on Abdul Rahman's behalf. Herat was Mohammad Ayub's headquarters, but in his absence his supporters surrendered the city to Abdul Qudoos in Dhul Qid'a, 1298 (October, 1881). Abdul Qudoos stayed on as governor of the city until 15 Dhul Qid'a 1299 (28 September 1882). He was repeatedly reprimanded by the amir for what was seen in Kabul as administrative malfeasance. Recalled to Kabul, he was placed under house arrest until Eid-ul Fitr 1304 (23 June 1887), when he was rehabilitated and appointed administrator of the Sanduq-e Adalat (an institution of public welfare by which government disbursements to the indigent were regularized; Seraj al-Tawarikh, p. 437). He appears to have held this post until Dhul Qid'a 1307 (June-July, 1890), when Abdul Rahman, then in Mazar-e Sharif, ordered him to lead an expeditionary force into the Hazarajat and bring that region under the control of Kabul. In Moharram, 1308 (August-September, 1890) he was in Bamian, where he was ordered to rebuild the ancient Shahr-e Gholghola as an army base. In the course of excavating, a number of archeological finds were made. Three types of buildings (Se Bab-e Khana) were unearthed, each measuring thirty dar in length, ten dar in width, and ten dar in height. A 700-year-old document (qabala) was also discovered. It was sent to the amir who gave it to his son, Habiballah (Seraj al-tawarikh, p. 698).

The subsequent war against the Hazaras, in which Abdul Qudoos was heavily involved, was a long and difficult one with racial, religious, and economic over-tones. Abdul Qudoos's policies from the beginning were ineffective in exploiting the strong support for the Kabul government that had long existed in many areas of the Hazarajat. His officials imposed burdensome provisioning requirements on the loyal Hazara populace, and his subordinates treated the people as a conquered population and publicly taunted them as Kafir's for their adherence to Etna- Ashari Shiism. Moreover, Abdul Qudoos himself outraged the moral sensibilities of the Hazaras of Oruzgan, the chief city of the Hazarajat, by taking Hazara women into concubinage, a practice that his officers also adopted. He remained in the vicinity of Oruzgan for nearly a year but was then recalled to Kabul in Rabi I, 1310 (October, 1892), partly because of his incapacitation as a result of illness and partly as a result of his inept policies which by this time had alienated loyal Hazaras and brought the region into open armed resistance to Kabul.

On his return, Abdul Rahman appointed him court chamberlain, in which position he remained for the next decade. After Abdul Rahman's death in 1901 and the accession of his son, Habiballah, Abdul Qudoos became the latter's closest advisor. In 1905, during the Afghan-Anglo negotiations carried out by Habiballah Khan and Louis W. Dane, Abdul Qudoos's influence was crucial in gaining favourable terms for the Afghan side. He maintained an intensely nationalistic posture in all his policy recommendations, including his decisive advocacy of Afghan neutrality during the First World War.

In 1919, after the assassination of the Amir Habiballah Khan, Abdul Qudoos was named prime minister by his successor, Amanallah Khan. In the Anglo-Afghan War of the same year, he commanded the Afghan troops at Qandahar. And in 1924, although in his mid-eighties, he took part in the suppression of the Mangal uprising in Khost. He died on March 18, 1928. The title Etimad-al-Dawla, conferred on him by Habiballah Khan, was adopted by his descendants, the Etemadi family.


  1. For the career of Abdul Qudoos to 1892, Fayz Mohammad Kateb, Seraj al-tawarikh, Kabul, 1333/1915, vol. III offers the most information.
  2. After 1901, many references to Abdul Qudoos are to be found in British records.
  3. See especially citations in L. Adamec, Afghanistan 1900-1923, Berkeley, 1967.
  4. Idem. Afghanistan's Foreign Affairs to the Mid-Twentieth Century, Tucson, 1974.
  5. Idem, Historical and Political Who's Who of Afghanistan, Graz, 1975.
  6. See also V. M. Masson and V. A. Romodin, Istoriya Afganistana, Moscow, 1965, II, pp. 273, 381, 388.


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Sardar Abdul Qudoos, R. D. McChesney
Published in Khyber.ORG on Thursday, December 22 2005 (