Syed Abdul Lateef Shaheed

From WikiAhmadiyya, the free encyclopedia on Islam and Ahmadiyyat

Syed Abdul Lateef (1853-1903) or Sahibzada Abdul Latif was the Royal Islamic Scholar to Abdur Rahman Khan and Habibullah Khan, the kings of Afghanistan between the late 19th century and early 20th century. It is believed Lateef helped King Abdur Rahman Khan during the negotiation of the Durand Line Agreement with the British India in 1893. He is remembered as being among the first martyrs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.


Lateef was a learned man fluent in Persian, Pashto, and Arabic. It is also claimed that he owned a large piece of land in his native Khost Province. He became the leading Islamic scholar of Afghanistan and had thousands of students across central Asia and had risen to such great prominence that he was asked to crown Habibullah Khan at his coronation in 1901.

In 1889 Lateef heard of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, British India, who claimed to be the Imam Mahdi whose advent was foretold by Muhammadsa. He sent one of his students, Maulvi Abdur Rahman, to Qadian. Abdur Rahman returned after having accepted Ahmad, and having joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He brought with him some books written by Ahmad. After Abdul Lateef read one such book, he too accepted Ahmad. 


Lateef visited Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in Qadian in 1902. On his return to Afghanistan, news reached the king of his conversion. The British Chief Engineer to the Afghan government at the time would write in 1907 of the events which followed:

One of the chief and most influential of the mullahs [cleric] in the country started on the Hajj in the beginning of that year and while going through India he heard of a holy man who preached the second coming of Christ. The mullah went to see this man, of whom many wonderful things were told by the natives. The words of the self-styled prophet were so convincing that the mullah was converted and came to believe in the man.

One day, it being known the mullah was going on the Hajj, the 'prophet' took the mullah into an inner room and there, the mullah afterwards stated the two visited Mecca and he saw himself one of the multitude of pilgrims at the holy shrine. Whether mesmeric or other influence would account for this hallucination of the mullah is a matter for conjecture, but even death could not shake the mullah's belief that he had been to Mecca and that his guide was a true prophet.

So the king, when he heard of all this, sent word to the mullah to return and the mullah did so, preaching the new religion as he came, and as soon as he was well within the boundaries of the country, he was made prisoner and brought to Kabul. Here he was examined by the king, but the king could find in the mullah's clever replies nothing against the true religion which would make him an infidel and therefore worthy of death, for a Muslim who becomes an apostate must be stoned to death [according to Afghanistan's laws, this ruling is rejected as entirely unIslamic by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community].

He was then sent for examination to Nasrullah Khan, but the prince could not convict the man on his own, so a jury of twelve of the most learned mullahs was convened and even their examination of the accused could elicit nothing on which the man might be killed and they reported this to the King, but the King said the man must be convicted and so he was again sent to the mullahs, who were told that they must sign a paper, saying the man was an apostate and worthy of death. Again, the majority of the mullahs made the affirmation that he was innocent of anything against their religion, but two of the mullahs gave their verdict of death. The man was condemned by the King and stoned to death.

Before being led away from the king's presence to be killed, the mullah prophesied that a great calamity would overtake the country and that both the king and the prince would suffer. About nine o'clock at night the day the mullah was killed, a great storm of wind suddenly rose and raged with violence for half an hour and then stopped as suddenly as it came. Such a wind at night was altogether unusual so the people said that this was the passing of the soul of the mullah. Then cholera came and according to the former outbreaks another visitation was not due for four years to come and this was also regarded as part of the fulfillment of the mullah's prophecy, hence the great fear of the king and the prince and it accounts for the prince losing control of himself when his favourite wife died.

Frank A. Martin, Under the Absolute Amir


Following news of Lateef's murder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote:

The land of Kabul shall suffer the consequences of this brutality. Prior to this tragedy there had also occurred the murder of Mian Abdul Rahman, one of my followers, on which God had kept quiet, but He will not overlook this brutality and the terrible consequences of this event shall be witnessed. It has been reported that after the killing of the deceased martyr by thousands of stones, an epidemic of cholera broke out in Kabul and a great number of people, including prominent men and dignitaries of the state and a number of the King's relatives, perished. But that is not all. This was a most merciless murder which has no parallel under heaven. Alas, what a pity! What has this ignorant King done? He has brutally killed such an incomparable, innocent and righteous man and has ensured his own ruin. O land of Kabul! you are a witness to the heinous crime committed on your soil. O miserable land! you have, in the sight of Allah, been condemned as you are the scene of this most atrocious crime.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, The Narrative of the Two Martyrdoms

Following Ahmad's prophecy, several members of the King's family suddenly died before he and every single one of his successors was assassinated in turn. Finally, the dynasty came to an end in the 1970s but Afghanistan continued to be plagued by a devastating series of wars which are ongoing to this day.

See also