Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi

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Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Tarzi (born Kandahar, April 30, 1830 – 1900/1901)[1] son of Sardar Rahim Dil Khan (and grandson of Sardar Painda Khan Mohammadizi) was the ruler of Kandahar and Baluchistan.[citation needed] He was a soldier, poet, and military leader in Afghanistan.[2] In addition, he is often given credit for developing the family name 'Tarzi,' which would go on to play a critical role in the history of Afghanistan.[3]


Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi's family belonged to the royal sub-tribe known as the Mohamedzai, the most powerful and prominent of the Barakzai Dynasty. A soldier in his youth, he later took up poetry. Soon after, he was integrated, by Amir Dost Muhammad, into the community of state princes and learned scholars. Tarzi was related to both Amir Dost Muhammad and his successor, Amir Sher Ali Khan.[4]

Politically, there is evidence which shows Tarzi as a Chief in southern Afghanistan, most likely holding the majority of the region his father held. In a report from the Bombay foreign Secretary to the government of India regarding Tarzi, it was written that:

"Sardar Gholam Mohammad of Kandahar is the eldest son of Sardar Rahimdel. Our scant information indicates that at one time he was a prominent chief but there is no actual evidence that he held an important post in Afghanistan at this time. His cousin, the governor does not have a good opinion of him. As far as we know, he has never rendered a service to the British government and therefore we are in no way indebted to him.[4]"

The latter part of the letter has been confirmed, as it is known that Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi was a nationalist. The sentence regarding how his cousin did not have a good opinion of him was because the cousin was loyal to the British at the time.

Tarzi, a Pashtun leader participated and led his men into battle in the Second Anglo-Afghan War. However, as soon as the war was over, he became one of the Sardars (leaders) whom the Amir accused of rebellion. He was expelled from Afghanistan in 1881. He would move to Karachi and then to India. There, he would again begin writing poetry and toured many major cities in India, and was welcomed by the anti-monarchs in the country. Ghulam Muhammad took the pen-name "Tarzi" (the stylist/the intellectual) as he wrote a large body of religious, mystic and secular poetry with his personal style that was well known from Syria to Turkmenistan to India. After he grew tired of India, he moved his family to Baghdad, as invited guests of Sheikh Abdul-adar Ghilani. British controlled India was happy to see him leave, as the British did not count him as a supporter. Soon thereafter, they would make another move to Istanbul, Turkey, where the Sultan bestowed upon the family all royal favours and had them stay at a government house with a large monthly allowance. During their stay as imperial guests, they met most of the ministers and other dignitaries. After a long tenure, they made their final move to Damascus. Tarzi was known for his intimate gatherings with city leaders to talk philosophy and ethics on daily basis.[5]

Tarzi would later in his life re-establish contact with Amir Abdur Rahman Khan and exchanged many ideas. Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi's name and his works were and are still well known in the eastern countries, from Iran to India to even China. He, and his son Mahmud Tarzi, would become valuable academic sources in Western countries as well in the early 19th century.

In 1897, Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi for the last time made the pilgrimage to Mecca. It was on December 8, 1900, he died in Damascus, Syria,[1] where he had come for vacation. Formal funeral arrangements were made by the Syrian authorities. He was buried in the Hazrat Dahdah cemetery in Damascus, with country leaders paying respects from over ten nations/empires.


  • Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi is the father of the famed Afghan leader Mahmud Tarzi who did not only become a poet, but Ambassador and Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.
  • Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi married 5 times, leaving 11 sons and 6 daughters[1]
  • There is no exact date of death for Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi. His fame and the political instability in Afghanistan 1988-1919 may be the reason for hiding the date. Speculated to be 5 February 1901.[1]
  • Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi's granddaughter, Soraya Tarzi, would go on to become Queen of Afghanistan and an international women's leader.


  1. ^ a b c d Royal Ark
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of the Developing World: Volume Three, pg. 1...Link
  3. ^ Royal Arc: Ruling Houses of Afghanistan: Tarzi...Link
  4. ^ Official Web-site of Mahmud Tarzi: Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi...Link

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