The Afghans are the Ten Lost Tribes

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The Afghans are the Ten Lost Tribes  (1885) 
by Abdur Rahman Khan
Written by the Emir of Afghanistan and published in the Pall Mall Gazette

Next to the authorship of the Junius Letters, and the identity of the Man in the Iron Mask the subject that most excites the curiosity of those who delight in ransacking the waste-paper basket of history is the discovery of the Lost Tribes of Israel. There is quite a school of Englishmen - the "Anglo-Israelites" - whose happiness in life depends upon the conviction that they are the direct descendants of the ten tribes. But the accepted belief is that they are to be found in Afghanistan, and the following proclamation issued in 1882 by the Ameer Abdurrahman, which has never hitherto been published, may be accepted as a unique piece of evidence as to the reality; of the conviction with which some Afghans claim to be of Jewish origin. The character of the Afghans, who often speak of themselves as Beni Israel, has much in common with that of the Jews as depicted in the Old Testament,and the resemblance between the character of Shere Ali and Saul has often been noted. The proclamation is also exceedingly interesting as giving the present Ameer's version of recent Afghan history, and the side light which it throws upon the character of the ruler whose possessions alone intervene between our frontier and the Russian outposts.


After praise to God and blessings on the Prophet.

O you nation, the inhabitants of Afghanistan, O you the present tribes of this delightful banquet, according to the words of God, "reserve or select a company of yourselves to invite people towards good and command them towards righteousness;" it is, therefore, necessary for the wise men of the age and the sages of nature to conduct the ignorant and wanderers in the desert of uncer

tainty with good advice into the straight path, and to fulfil the duties of sympathy with their co-tribesmen, which is one of the conditions of Islam: "to be patriotic is a sign of good faith."

I, therefore, bring to the notice of the nobles and commons several sayings for your observance. I hope you will remove the cotton of negligence from your ears and listen to my speech. Should my advice be acceptable to you, act accordingly ; if not consider me as one of your tribesmen and think my speech preposterous, and throw it into the field of for- getfulness.

O my tribesmen, it is known to you that you are a noble race and your pedigree is traced from Jacob the prophet. The Creator of mankind treated your ancestors with favor and you are mentioned in the Koran with respect, as follows: "O Children of Israel, remember my benevolence that I have granted unto you, and verily I have exalted you above other creatures."

In the time when the nations of the world and most of the children of Adam were wandering in the wilderness of perversion and were worshipping idols, you were the chosen nation of God, the possessors of the Book, and believed in one God ; also you were honored and respected in the whole world.

After the death of Joseph you committed vicious acts and broke the chain of friendship and union among yourselves and became jealous and malicious against each other.

On this account, although you were about six lakhs of people, you became subordinate to the Copts and the Egyptians, your property was plundered and your male children were massacred by the accursed Pharaoh. Then some of your pious men having been disgraced beyond measure by the strange nation awoke from their sleep of negligence and turned the face of supplication towards their Creator. The arrow of their prayers reached the target of response. Then Moses, may peace be on him, was selected from your nation, and by the strength of his prophecy, intellect, and great qualifications he emancipated you from captivity and the slavery of the Copts and the Pharaohs, and selected the provinces of Egypt and Syria for your abode. Manna and quails were sent to you from the secret blessed table and all temporal enjoyments were granted to you.

After that you again forgot the promises of God, and fora time, yielding to the tempting of Smari, you worshipped a calf. Another time while fighting against tyrant nations you behaved treacherously to your prophet. Again God poured out his anger on you. Manna and quails and other blessings ceased.

When you started for Syria you were all confused and bewildered in the desert of Teeh. The distance was not more than 250 miles ; this small distance you could not accomplish in forty years.

Moses and Aaron, on account of your thankless behavior, then left you and were free from your evil hearts and your trouble.

You wandered in the desert of perversion until you ceased committing vicious acts and turned the face of refuge towards the threshold of the Creator. Then God selected Yusha Bin Noon (Joshua) from among you, by whose prayers and blessings and acceptance of your repentance you were released from the desert of bewilderment, and by the strength of your arms the tyrant nations were made contemptible and miserable.

You then by reason of your thanksgiving to God, comfortably enjoyed the gardens and buildings of the province of Syria. After a long time you again were conquered by negligence of duty to God, and became idolaters and did not remember to preserve unity. Then God being wrathful made a tyrant nation rule over you ; they plundered most of your property and killed the rebellious people of your nation, and you, on account of your malice against each other, would not in any way defend yourselves against your enemy.

Eventually you could find no remedy except in repentance, and being feeble and no longer able to endure you hastened towards the Judge of your necessities. He then selected Tanloot (Saul) from among you, who was physically powerful and materially full of intellect, and made him your Amir, and through him all your enemies were defeated, and the standards of your victories were firmly hoisted.

In the time of Solomon when you believed and obeyed God to ihe best of your knowledge, and when malice and intrigue were cast away from among you, all at once you became rulers over the land and sea, and your orders were obeyed by the demons and fairies.

Then your learned men (Olama) became degraded, and the seeds of jealousy and malice began to sprout in the ground of your hearts, you forgot the blessings of God, and would not listen to your learned men, nor would you take example by your own experiences ; you did not respect your chiefs, and did not wipe the rust from off the mirror of your hearts by the polish of friendship ; therefore again the storm of the anger of God confronted you in the image of Bukht-n-Nasir (Nebuchadnezzar ); all your property and treasures which you had stored up were plundered by his troops, your men and women were made captives and taken to Babylon, which is now called Bagdad. He destroyed Baitul Makudas, the sacred house,

Jerusalem, and drove you from the gardens of Syria, and for a length of time you were captives to the tyrant until he departed to the desert of hell. Then you, leaving the countries of Arabia, came to the hills of Ghour and settled yourselves there.

You were in that country when the mercy of God supported you, and through Kais and the good acts of Khalid-bin-Walid you were ennobled by being converted to Islam.

A very long time after that, by reason of enmity between yourselves, you were like beasts wandering in the hills of Ghour, and were continually plundering each other. In the meantime you were constantly being trampled upon by the horses of the sowars of Ghazni and Ghour, and in the reign of the Persians you used to obey the common Turks, until by the perseverance and efforts of Ahmad Shah, Abdali, your malice and alienation were converted into friendship : then you were freed from obedience to strangers.

Through his prosperous luck and suitable deeds on your part, you slumbered in the cradle of safety. You took possession of the provinces of India, the borders of Turkestan, and some parts of Persia, and brought to your own country all the riches of those places, and with it you built new cities and good houses. You continued in the enjoyment of the blessings of God until you again forgot to submit your thanks to God and again became jealous and malicious to each other, and much bloodshed and fighting took place among you. When this ungrateful conduct of yours towards the bounty of God exceeded the utmost limit, the sea of the anger of God began to rise and He sent the British nation from a corner of this world to twist your ears, and they inflicted on you all sorts of punishment until smoke rose up from your race and your lamentation and clamors reached the sky. Eventually your prayers were accepted by God ; after much opposition and fighting you got released from the hands of such a powerful enemy and twisted the wrist of that brave nation by the force of your daylight prayers and your midnight sighs.

For a long time you slumbered in the cradle of safety and comfort under the shadow of my grandfather. When my noble grandfather, being on the expedition against Herat, found the mercy of God (died) and closed his worldly eyes on the administration of the affairs of this earth, my late uncle, the Amir Sher Ali Khan, sat on the throne of sovereignty. My noble father, who saw the bad results of enmity, notwithstanding his great influence and position, abstained from malice and animosity, and wrote to him in a friendly way. That unjust man (Sher Ali) byway of violence and a perverse mind, imprisoned my father, which act compelled me to fight with him, and I succeeded in releasing my father, and I brought him to the throne of my ancestors.

After the death of my father, when the world played a treacherous game with me, I did not wish to remain in Afghanistan lest on my account the country should suffer disturbance and destruction ; consequently I exiled myself in a strange country, and spent thirteen years waiting fora suitable opportunity.

By reason of your domestic disturbances and local contests the anger of God increased and the waves of His wrath became violent, then you suffered by earthquakes, cholera, and unexpected floods. Still you did not awake from the sleep of negligence and were intoxicated with the wine of folly and remained in shame.

The English army again after forty years girded their loins against you, and through the cowardice of the man who was Governor at the time and through want of arrangements you were defeated by a slight attack.

For some time, in order that you might expiate your unworthy acts, you suffered hundreds of sorts of injuries and tasted a thousand species of poisons and misfortunes, so much that, eventually, through scarcity of grain and attacks of misfortunes and blight, your business ended in your losing your lives, and the knife of the enemy reached your bones. Your sighs and cries reached even to the blue sky.

In accordance with the covenant that God had made with your ancestors, the arrow of your prayers reached the target of acceptance, and I whom He kept under his guardianship for thirteen years was sent for your release, and by my fortunate efforts the High and Respected G9d emancipated you from the allegiance to the strange nation. The drops of blessings were poured on you, famine was ended, the highway robbers at once despaired of their lives, those who were the cause of the destruction of the country were imprisoned, and disturbances were quelled in your country.

I made a suitable remission of your revenue, and added to your pensions so far as was proper. I shut my eyes to the former contest between us, and never listened to your enemies. I opened the gate of my Durbar to you, and spread my tablecloth before you. By your own counsel I made peace with the English Government, and I obtained from them a considerable sum for the advancement of your welfare, and night and day I prepare war ma

terials for you, and am procuring the implements which will procure name and repute for you. I have not slumbered a moment on account of my anxiety to improve your affairs ; I have not rested for a second in advancing the duties of the faith and of the State.

I trust you will thank God for this great blessing and will not be ungrateful for His gracious bounties, that according to His words, " those who give thanks for what they receive will receive more," the blessings of God will daily be increased. But if you should be ungrateful for such copious blessings, I see with my eyes that a dreadful plague has opened its mouth to devour you and me, and a teirible enemy (Russia) has turned his eyes towards you, and the time has almost come when your property will be in possession of the enemies and your families will be captives in the hands of unbelievers (Kafirs), and you, as in the times of Bukht-u-Nasir, will be exiled from your homes and will suffer many troubles.

You may.be certain that as long as my soul remains in my body I shall endeavor as much as is in my power to resist and repulse the enemies of the Faith, and will try to introduce civilization amongst you. I shall consider your enemies to be my own enemies, and will fight against them with heart and life ; but sovereignty is like a house. I am the architect who makes the plan, officers of the army are the masons, and the people are the workmen ; if any of these three distinct classes neglect their respective duties, this building will not be constructed, but if every one attend to his respective duty, in a short time a firm foundation will be laid.

I pray to God for your welfare and prosperity, and do you pray for me to be firm in justice and in the laws of God's prophet.

My last advice to you is this, that if any one of my officials oppress you, or extort more than the fixed revenue, bring it to my notice without fear, and I xvill see justice done to you. I will not be partial even if my son should be in question.— Pall Mall Gazette.