Section 5

On the accession of ʿAbd al-Karim Khan to the imperial throne

It is thus narrated in the words of the trustworthy that ʿAbd al-Karim Khan, the second son of ʿAbd al-Rashid Khan, was raised up as Khan according to the old custom. After two days Sufi Sultan came from Kashgar and lodged at the orda. They had arranged that the sultan would go in unaccompanied, so the sultan went before the Khanim alone and a meeting took place. ʿAbd al-Karim Khan said to Sufi Sultan: ‘Oh brother, they appointed me Khan in the traditional way, but if you wish to be Khan, here is the kingdom! I will not stand in your way for the world.’ After that the Khanim said: ‘Dear me! In relation to you, ʿAbd al-Karim Khan’s mother stands in the position of the father. The old custom of the Moghul kings is such that they recognise whomever is elder in years as Khan and have faith in him. According to the old custom we have raised up ʿAbd al-Karim Khan as Khan. What do you think?’ Sufi Sultan got up at once and stood before his mother and brother, and said ‘I acknowledge ʿAbd al-Karim Khan in our father’s stead, and with my heart and soul I will be loyal to him,’ and he pledged his allegiance. He entrusted the government of Kashgar and Yangihissar to Sufi Sultan, and gave him permission to go back.

He sent Quraysh Sultan to rule in Hotan, and then he ordered Mirza Muhammad Barlas and Mirza Ahmad Barlas into exile. Jan Muhammad Mirza took the exile command to them. They had three thousand armed men ready at hand, and they were all dismissed.

The khutba and the coinage were adorned with the titles of ʿAbd al-Karim Khan, and the country fell into his hands. The Khan strived for justice and fairness. ʿAbd al-Karim Khan was the best of the kings of the age and the most noble of that kingdom. He was a pious man, dedicated and just. Some of his companions wrote that when he had grown up and reached the stage of maturity, until the end of his life he never missed the five daily prayers and Friday prayer. Instead of doing make-up prayers he would always accomplish them on time. The Khan’s habit was that for two days each week he would grant an audience to the common people. He would summon the Qadi and the Mufti and he would also call the amirs who were involved with the affairs of the country and would employ them in the public affairs of the Muslims. The oppressed would bring their complaints about those tyrannising them. If their complaint was a matter for the shariʿa, the Qadi and the Mufti would consult, and if it came within the scope of the törä it would be referred to the amirs. Khoja Ubaydullah, Firuz Mirza Barlas, Mirza Muhammad Ya’qub Dughlat and Mirza Satqin Ishikagha would make enquiries and bring the suit to a conclusion. The Khan would sit and listen, and he would carry out justice without the slightest error. At that time in Mecca they used to recite a fatiha for the health of ʿAbd al-Karim the Just at the end of every prayer. (16) According to widely circulating books, after the level of the apostles (Peace be upon them!), three types of people are equal in rank. The first is the Pole (quṭb), who is called the Ghaws; the second is the Highest Martyr (shahīd-i aʿlā), and the third is the Just King (pādshāh-i ʿādil). On the day of justice God (May He be glorified and exalted!) will ask his servants questions about their performance of prayer after [asking about their] faith, but he will ask the kings about their justice after [asking about their] faith. In so far as Anushirvan was unparalled in justice and uniquely equitable, as a consequence the Lord of the Universe (May the best prayers and praises be upon him!) used to boast that “I was born at the time of the Just Sultan.”

A Masnavi:

At the time of Nushirvan, when the apostle, 
Lit up the eye and the torch of the world,
He would say “I am free from all injustice,
Because I was born at the time of Nushirvan.”
How well that well-wishing councillor spoke,
In the ear of the heart of that unjust Shah:
“Have a care for your cruelty,
And try your hand at justice,
If justice proves no wiser than tyranny,
Then set out on the road of injustice again.”

According to the chronicles God instructed David to say to his own people that they should not speak ill of the kings of Iran and vilify them, since they had cultivated the earth with justice so that His servants could live on it.

An Excerpt:

Know that justice and humanity is not a question of belief or disbelief,
But whatever is of benefit in the guardianship of the realm.
For the ordering of the world, justice without religion
Is better than the tyranny of a pious king.

During the course of his reign Abd al-Karim Khan never once mobilised troops. He divided the provinces among his brothers, and all the wealth and weaponry that was left from his illustrious father was inherited by his brothers according to the letter of the glorious shariʿa. (17) ʿAbd al-Karim Khan never took a single step that was not sanctified, and under him religious affairs attained the highest summit.