Sunday, July 30, 2017

Khirqa Sharif, Kandahar



"The most significant aspect of the Afghan-Bukharan treaty of 1768, namely the surrender by Shah Murad of the khirqa , or mantle , of the Prophet to Ahmad Shah Durrani , was completely missed by European historians in the last century. In order to avoid a confrontation with the Afghans, the Manghit ruler of Bukhara agreed to hand over this most sacred of relics after the Afghan amir requested it as part of the terms of peace. The khirqa was a powerful religious symbol, visible evidence of a cult as popular as the 'Alid Shrine at Mazar-i-Sharif'. As in medieval Europe , the possession of relics directly associated with , or which had been in the possession of, the founders of Christianity, was a means of legitimizing sovereignty, so the transfer of the khirqa from Bukhara to Ahmad Shah, provided the nascent Durrani state with the credibility it lacked. The khirqa had been in the possession of the dominant Hanafi power in Central Asia for over five centuries, and its surrender signified a dramatic shift in regional balance of power in favour of the Afghans. The glory, as it were, had departed, and with it, by implication, went the divine sanction which had maintained Chingizids in power .

Its no wonder that Ahmad Shah Durrani made the most of this acquisition. The relic's progress to Qandahar was accompanied by an extraordinary show of religious devotion, donations and pageantry and the establishment of qadamga at every stage to act as reminder to all and sundry of its passing. When it finally arrived in Qandahar, at that period still the Afghan capital, Ahmad Shah commissioned a building  which was to house both the khirqa and his own body after he died. However, it seems that the mantle was never actually placed in the mausoleum , for the ulama of the city opposed the use of such an important relic as a political tool."

 [Reference:  The "Ancient Supremacy": Bukhara, Afghanistan and the Battle for Balkh, 1731-1901", By Jonathan L. Lee, p-91]



Khirqa Sharif, Kandahar, 1880