An Offering for Kings


Tuḥfat al-mulūk (An offering for kings) is a collection of dicta that was written by order of ʻAbd al-Rahman Khan (also seen as Abdur Rahman Khan), who ruled Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901. The work consists of an introduction and 40 miniature “chapters,” with each chapter containing a moral precept on improving religious, political, and social life. Chapter One states: “Four things lead to the preservation of the kingdom: the protecting of religion and concern for its well-being, a trustworthy vizier, the safe-guarding of resolve, [and] the safe-guarding of confidence.” Subsequent chapters use the same four-part structure: Chapter Three proclaims: “Four [classes of] things require four others: Rulers [require] righteous viziers; warriors, weapons; horses, the whip; [and] the blade, the scabbard.” The fortieth and final chapter states: “Four things are the source of bliss in this world and the hereafter: obeying God and [his] Messenger, serving one’s parents, deference for learned men of religion, [and] charity to God’s creatures.” In its subject matter, Tuḥfat al-mulūk recalls the “mirror for princes” genre of Islamic literature and so takes as its theme the problems of kingship, government, and justice. The publication of this short and entirely conventional work was likely more a ceremonial matter recognizing the prestige associated with traditional learning and sagacity, rather than a matter of practical advice for the ruler and his subjects. The book was published in the Dar al-Saltanah press in Kabul on the 27th of Ramadan, 1312 AH (March 24, 1895). The author, Gul Muhammad Khan Muhammadza'i Durrani, is known for other literary publications in Persian that appeared in the same period.

Last updated: July 15, 2016