On the Obedience of the Ruler in Pashto


Risālah-i Puṣhto It̤āʻat-i ūlā al-amr (On the obedience of the ruler in Pashto) is a tract meant to encourage obedience to the ruler of Afghanistan. The expression ūlā al-amr refers to one who is foremost in authority, and the title of the book references a Qur’anic verse (5:59), “Oh Believers! Obey the Lord and the Prophet and those who are foremost in authority amongst you,” which is quoted at the beginning of the work. Numerous quotes from the hadith literature (primarily from the collection of al-Bukhari) follow. The Arabic text of each hadith is followed by an explanation in Pashto, several of which equate disobedience with jahāla (ignorance, i.e. of religious precepts) and contrast it with shahāda (bearing testimony or witness to Islam). The aim of the work is thus plainly the garnering of legitimacy and authority for the then-ruling Afghan emir, Habibullah Khan (reigned 1901–19). The Persian original of this work was composed by Maulawi ʻAbd al-Rabb Khan (1878 or 1879–1919), who, ironically, appears to have been jailed for his involvement in the constitutional movement in the early 1900s against the authoritarianism of Habibullah Khan. By the time he composed the It̤āʻat-i ūlā al-amr, ʻAbd al-Rabb Khan was serving Habibullah Khan in the role of mullā-i darbār (court theologian). Both ʻAbd al-Rabb Khan and the translator, Salih Muhammad, were teachers at the Habibiya School founded by Habibullah Khan. The Pashto translation of It̤āʻat-i ūlā al-amr was printed by the Dar al-Saltanah press in Kabul. The cover states that it is the first Pashto work printed in Afghanistan, and that it was meant to be distributed free of charge.

Last updated: September 30, 2016