Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Farmuli Afghans

By Khan Barmazid

Raverty states that the Farmulis or Parmulis are named after the village of Parmul or Farmul (f and p being interchangeable) which is situated on the river Farmul, also known as Tochi,  and that they claim to be Afghans but Afghans generally do not admit their claim. ("Notes on Afghanistan", p-30 and p-86). Though it is commonly held that Farmuli nobles of the Lodi period of India were Afghans because of their settlement in the country of the Afghans ; they had adopted local customs and, therefore, looked like the Afghans. ("Some aspects of Afghan despotism", p-7). The Farmulis treated themselves as sub-division of Ghurghashti ; yet their claim to this status was not recognized in the genealogies recorded by Naimatullah ("Evolution of the Afghan tribal system" by Irfan Habib). As far back as the time of Sultan Sher Shah Sur, some objection was raised to the inhabitants of Farmul or Parmul being considered Pashtuns.  ("Notes on Afghanistan", p-486)

According to Makhzan-i-Afghani ;
" They (Farmulis) are inhabitants of a place called Farmul, which is originally the name of a river running between the confines of river Kabul and Ghaznin ; and whoever lives on its banks is called Farmuli . The ancestors of the Farmulis were guided to Islam by Shaikh Muhammad Musalman , a great saint among the Afghans ; and having passed some time in the service of this saint, they (Farmulis) style themselves Afghans. They however confess,  that their forefathers came from the quarters of Khata and Khotan , and that inhabitants of those regions acknowledged them to be Afghans " (History of Afghans, B.Dorn, II, p-57).

Emperor Babur speaks repeatedly of 'Farmul' in his description of Kabul. He explicitly states that the "Shaikhzadas, the descendants of Shaikh Muhammad Musalman, who were so much in favour during the Afghan period in Hindustan , came originally from Farmul. He tells us that Farmul was one of the 14 divisions of Kabul. It lies south-east of Ghazni. Its principle village was Urghun.

Sir Clements Markhan tells us that the " valley of Farmul is at the back of Khost , which is watered by the Tochi in its upper course" and that the "Tajiks who now inhabit it have one village called Urghun". (Proceedings of Royal Geographical society, 1879, pp-47-48)

Muhammad Hayat Khan in 1868 says,  " Most of the Farmulis are cultivators or merchants , but those settled in Argun make vessels of iron and take them through out western Afghanistan for sale. With the Kharoti (Ghilzais), in whose midst they live, they have a most bitter enmity" (("Afghanistan and its inhabitants", translated from Hayat-i-Afghani, p-302))

Waqiat-i-Mushtaqi also throws some light on the origin of Farmulis when it refers to Said Khan Lodi's (Yusuf Khel) remarks against Masnad-i-ali Mian Hussain Farmuli that Said Khan said to Rana Sanga about the Masnad-i-ali;
"They are the Shaikhzadas like the Brahmans among you. We have raised them. We are the brethren of the king. According to the customs of the Afghans, sovereignty will either rest with the Shahu Khel or the Yusuf Khel. The rest are the servants"

The Farmuli nobles were held in high esteem and confidence by the Lodi Sultans. Mian Muhammad Farmuli, the famous muqta of Awadh and Bahraich, was Sultan Bahlul's sister's son (nephew). During the Sultan Ibrahim's reign Mian Mustafa Farmuli and his younger brother, Bayazid Farmuli, rendered important services to the Sultan by fighting against the rebel amirs.

According to Waqiat-i-Mushtaqi, "half of the kingdom (under Sikander Lodi) was held by the Farmulis. They (Farmulis) and the Nuhanis were dominant"

List of high-ranking Farmuli nobles in the service of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi 

1-  Shaikhzada Muhammad Farmuli   (commander of 30,000 to 40,000 cavalry, governor of Awadh and Lakhnau)

2- Miyan Hussain Farmuli  (previously governor of Saran and Champaran)

3- Miyan Maruf Farmuli 

4- Miyan Taha Farmuli   ( a captain of war, brother of Miyan Maruf )

5- Miyan Muhammad known as Kalapahar Farmuli  (governor of Bahraich)

6- Miyan Sulieman Farmuli  (commander of 5,000 cavalry, governor/muqta of Indri)

7- Shaikhzada Mahmud Farmuli  (a captain of war)

8- Masnad-i-ali Bhikan Khan Farmuli  (a captain of war)

9- Khan-i-Khanan Farmuli (a captain of war)

10- Shaikhzada Manjhu Farmuli  (governor of Chanderi)

11- Shaikh Said Farmuli (muqta of Harianah and Daisuya)

12- Shaikh Bayazid Farmuli