Saidu Baba

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Akhund Abdul Ghaffur
Saidu Baba
Saidu Baba
Tomb of Saidu Baba
Jabrai, Matta, Upper Swat
Resting placeSaidu Sharif
Known forRuling Swat area
ChildrenMashar Baba, Kashar Baba, Myajur Baba

Akhūnd Abdul Ghaffūr (Pashto: اخوند عبدالغفور‎; 1793–1878), commonly known as Saidū Bābā (Pashto: سيدو بابا‎) or the Akhund of Swat, was a prominent religious saint or priest, and Emir of the former Yusufzai State of Swat.

Saidu Baba was an influential saint and his residence in Swat was the destination for numerous pilgrimages by his disciples to consult him. He was succeeded by a notable line of other mullahs and theologians. The Saidu Sharif city in Swat District is named after him.


Saidu Baba was born at Jabrai, Baghdheri Matta, Upper Swat valley in 1793 AD. He belonged to Khatana clan of Gujjars. He got his early education from Mian Brangola. Later, he went to Mardan, Nowshehra and Peshawar for completion of his education. In 1835, he returned to Swat and settled in Baligram (now Saidu Sharif). In 1836, when the East India Company tried to annex Swat valley, at that time Saidu Baba united the people against them and called for Jihad of Ambela, which discouraged the British expansion to the region.

Battles against Sikh and British forces[edit]

In 1831, when the Muslim activist Syed Ahmad Barelvi was killed by the Sikhs along with hundreds of Barelvi's mujahideen in the battle of Balakot, many of his mujahideen stayed in Buner under the protection of Saidu Baba. They started a new uprising against the British Empire under Saidu Baba's leadership in 1862.[1]: 42 

In 1834, Saidu Baba cooperated with the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai in the battle against the Sikh Empire and brought a number of Ghazis and Talib al-'Ilm to the battle of Peshawar. In return, the Afghan Emir awarded Saidu Baba with lands in Swat, Lundkhwar and Mardan among the Yusufzai Afghans. Eventually, when Saidu Baba was about 43 years old, he permanently settled in Saidu Sharif and gradually turned it into a thriving city.

In 1863, Saidu Baba led the Yusufzai and other groups in a battle at the Ambela Pass against the British forces (see Ambela Campaign).[2]

Establishment of a united Yusufzai State of Swat[edit]

Saidu Baba conferred a scheme for a united throne of Swat. In 1849, he nominated Sayyid Akbar Shah, a descendant of Pir Baba, as the emir of the Yusufzai State of Swat. After Akbar Shah's death in 1857, Saidu Baba assumed control of the state himself till his own death in 1878.[1]: 40 

Religious rivalry[edit]

Saidu Baba's greatest conflict was with Sayyid Maruf Bey Kotah Mullah, a supporter of the British-supported Emir Shah Shujah who had opposed the Barakzai Emir Dost Mohammad in the battle against the Sikhs. Saidu Baba referred to Kotah Mullah as a practitioner of heretical rituals, and managed to convince the Yusufzai of Buner to push Kotah Mullah out of the village where he was being hosted.[1]: 45 

See also[edit]

Literary allusions[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Haroon, Sana (2011). Frontier of Faith: Islam, in the Indo-Afghan Borderland. Hurst Publishers. ISBN 978-1849041836.
  2. ^ Sabir, Muhammad Shafee (2005). "Akhund Sahib Swat". Khyber.ORG. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016.

External links[edit]

  • Anon, "The (British Raj) Indian Frontier", The Times, Issue 29100, (15 November 1877); p. 4; col D.
  • Our own Correspondent, "India", (Article contains the text: "The death of the Akhoond of Swat is announced"), The Times, No.29157, (Monday 21 January 1878), p. 5; col A.