Khushal Khan Khattak was neither a Turk nor a hermit

The article is in response to an article published on these pages on Oct 26, 2019.

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Akhundzada Arif Hasan Khan, a self-proclaimed Tajik from Shabqadar (Charsada), has made some mind warping claims in his latest article “Pashtuns and Gandhara: on Pashtun-Afghan ethnogenesis”[1]. He has made a startling claim that 17th century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak was a Turk by race and he lived a life of mendicant (faqir/darwesh). He believes that Khushal Khattak made immense contributions to Pashto language only at the behest of Mughals. In this post i will point out some serious errors in the last paragraph of his carelessly written article.

Akhundzada Arif Hasan has confused Khushal Khan Khattak with his elder brother Jamil Beg who was a hermit (faqir/darwesh) and a mureed of Shaikh Rahamkar [2]. The descendants of Jamil Beg are known as Faqir Khels [3]. It is unknown why family members of Khushal Khan carried the title of Beg but it could be a title given to them by their Mughal overlords, just like the Hindu Rajput ruler Jai Singh of Ambar and his successors received the title of Mirza from their Mughal overlords [4]. Similarly the name of Mirza Khan Ansari (grandson of Pir Roshan) should not confuse someone into thinking that he was a Turk.

The claim that Khushal Khan promoted Pashto at the behest of Mughals, is totally baseless and downright ridiculous. There is not a single instance in history in which Mughals have taken any step to promote Pashto language. And the claim that Mughals encouraged Pashto in the region to undermine the legacy of “Tajiks” (he is referring to Swatis here), is nothing more than the creativity of a conspiracy theorist’s mind. Swatis are barely mentioned by Mughal sources , let alone seen as a threat of the magnitude which Akhundzada is imagining. Contrary to the wishful imaginations of Akhundzada, Swatis were most likely already Pashtunized during the life time of Khushal Khattak. Swatis were speaking Pashto, had habits and manners of Pashtuns and were counted among Pashtuns during the lifetime of Hafiz Rahmat Khan (1708-1774). [5]

Akhundzada writes about Pata Khazana: “But it was carelessly written with a heavy vocabulary of Arabic words which is a later characteristic, and in an Eighteenth Century style. It is also written in Pashto’s Perso-Arabic alphabet, which is known to have been invented in the Seventeenth Century by the Burki fanatic Pir Rokhan!”. Pata Khazana is claimed to be compiled and authored in 18th century, not before the times of Pir Roshan as Akhundzada assumes. The alleged compiler and author of Pata Khazana , Muhammad Hotak bin Daud, introduces himself as a courtier of Shah Hussain Hotak, the ruler of Kandahar (r.1725-1738) [6]. Now i don’t know whether Pata Khazana is written in an eighteenth century style or not but if it is indeed the case then it is an invalid argument against Pata Khazana as the work is claimed to be written in 18th century and is expected to be written in an eighteenth century style. I am convinced that Akhundzada Arif has not opened Pata Khazana at all. He thinks Pata Khazana is an epic poem (a long, narrative poem) while its actually prose (biographical accounts of poets) + poetry (anthology of poems by various poets from 8th century to 18th century). Moreover Akhundzada mentions Pir Roshan as a 17th century person. This is incorrect, he was a 16th century person. According to Akhund Darweza, Pir Roshan died in 1573-1574 A.D [7]. These errors show Akhundzada’s poor attention to facts and his laziness in research. Readers should watch out while reading Akhundzada Arif Hasan Khan.




3- Report of the regular settlement of the Peshawar district of the Punjab, Volume 1, by Edward George G. Hastings, 1878, p-128.

4- “Rajasthan Through the Ages By R.K. Gupta, S.R. Bakshi, p-123

5- “History of the Afghans: Translated from the Persian of Neamet Ullah”, Volume 2, p-131

6- Pata Khazana, translated into English by Khushal Habibi, p-55

7- “Bayazid Ansari and Roushaniya Movement: A Conservative Cult or a Nationalist Endeavor?” by Himayatullah Yaqubi

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