Ahmad Shah Durrani

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Ahmad Shah Durrani bigraphy, stories - Founder of the state of Afghanistan

Ahmad Shah Durrani : biography

1722 – 16 October 1772

Ahmad Shāh Durrānī (1722 – 16 October 1772) (Pashto/), also known as Ahmad Khān Abdālī (Pashto/Persian: احمد خان ابدالي), was the founder of the Durrani Empire and is regarded to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.

Ahmad Shah enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose to become a commander of four thousand Abdali Pashtun soldiers. After the death of Nader Shah Afshar of Persia in June 1747, Abdali became the Emir of Khorasan. Rallying his Pashtun tribes and allies, he pushed east towards the Mughal and the Maratha Empire of India, west towards the disintegrating Afsharid Empire of Persia, and north toward the Khanate of Bukhara. Within a few years, he extended Afghan control from Khorasan in the west to Kashmir and North India in the east, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south. Ahmad Shah’s mausoleum is located at Kandahar, Afghanistan, adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak of Prophet Muhammad in the center of the city. The Afghans often refer to him as Ahmad Shāh Bābā ("Ahmad Shah the Father").

Ahmad Shah’s poetry

Ahmad Shah wrote a collection of odes in his native Pashto language. He was also the author of several poems in Persian. The most famous Pashto poem he wrote was Love of a Nation:

Rise to power

In October 1747, the chiefs of the Abdali tribes met near Kandahar for a Loya Jirga to choose a leader. For nine days serious discussions were held among the candidates in the Argah. Ahmad Shah kept silent by not campaigning for himself. At last Sabir Shah, a religious figure from the area, came out of his sanctuary and stood before those in the Jirga and said, "He found no one worthy for leadership except Ahmah Shah. He is the most trustworthy and talented for the job. He had Sabir’s blessing for the nomination because only his shoulders could carry this responsibility". The leaders and everyone agreed unanimously. Ahmad Shah was chosen to lead the Afghan tribes. Coins where struck after his coronation as King occurred near the tomb of Shaikh Surkh, adjacent to Nader Abad Fort.

Despite being younger than other claimants, Ahmad Shah had several overriding factors in his favour:

  • He was a direct descendant of Sado, patriarch of the Sadozai clan, the most prominent tribe amongst the Pashtuns at the time;
  • He was unquestionably a charismatic leader and seasoned warrior who had at his disposal a trained, mobile force of several thousand cavalrymen;
  • Haji Ajmal Khan, the chief of the Mohammedzais (also known as Barakzais) which were rivals of the Sadodzais, already withdrew out of the election

One of Ahmad Shah’s first acts as chief was to adopt the titles Padishah-i-Ghazi ("victorious emperor"), and Durr-i-Durrani ("pearl of pearls" or "pearl of the age").

Death and legacy

Ahmad Shah Durrani died on 16 October 1772 in Kandahar Province. He was buried in the center of Kandahar city adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak, where a large mausoleum was built. It has been described in the following way:

In his tomb his epitaph is written:

Ahmad Shah’s victory over the Marathas influenced the history of the subcontinent and, in particular, British policy in the region. His refusal to continue his campaigns deeper into India prevented a clash with the East India Company and allowed them to continue to acquire power and influence after their acquisition of Bengal in 1757. However, fear of another Afghan invasion was to haunt British policy for almost half a century after the battle of Panipat. The acknowledgment of Abdali’s military accomplishments is reflected in a British intelligence report on the Battle of Panipat, which referred to Ahmad Shah as the ‘King of Kings’. This fear led in 1798 to a British envoy being sent to the Persian court in part to instigate the Persians in their claims on Herat to forestall an Afghan invasion of British India. Mountstuart Elphinstone wrote of Ahmad Shah: