Mirwais Hotak

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Mirwais Hotak
مير ويس خان هوتک
Emir of Greater Afghanistan
Emir of Afghanistan
ReignHotak Empire: 1709–1715
CoronationApril 1709
PredecessorGurgin Khan
Bahadur Shah I as Emperor of the Mughal Empire
SuccessorAbdul Aziz Hotak
Kandahar, Safavid Iran
DiedNovember 1715 (aged 41–42)
Kandahar, Hotak dynasty
Kokaran, Kandahar, Afghanistan
SpouseKhanzada Sadozai
Hajji Muhammad Ismail Mirwais Khan Hotaki
Mirwais ibn Shah Alam Hotaki[1]
DynastyHotak dynasty
FatherSalim Khan
MotherNazo Tokhi
ReligionSunni Islam

Mirwais Khan Hotak (Pashto/Dari: مير ويس خان هوتک)[2] , (1673–1715), was an influential Pashtun (Ghilji tribe) [3][4][5] from Kandahar, Afghanistan, who was the founder of the Hotak dynasty that existed from 1709 to 1738.[6]

After revolting and assassinating the Safavid Persian governor over the region, Gurgin Khan, in April 1709, he declared the Loy Kandahar ("Greater Kandahar") region in what is now southern Afghanistan independent.[7] He is widely known as Mīrwais Nīkə (ميرويس نيکه) or Mīrwais Bābā (ميرويس بابا, "Mirwais the father") in the Pashto language.[8][9]

Rise to power[edit]

In 1707, Kandahar was under the control of the Shi'a Safavid state of Persia.[10]

Mirwais Khan, a Powerful and intelligent Pashtun tribal chief whose influence with his fellow-tribesmen made him an object of suspicion, was held as a political prisoner by Gurgin Khan, the Georgian governor of the Safavids in the region of Southern and western Afghanistan, who then sent him to the Safavid court at Isfahan. He was later freed and even allowed to meet with the Shah, Sultan Husayn, on a regular basis.

Having ingratiated himself with the Persian court, Mirwais sought and obtained permission to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca in the Ottoman Empire (after which he was known as Hajji). At that time the once powerful Safavids were declining politically and militarily, riven by internal strife, royal intrigues, and endless wars against their arch rivals, the Ottomans. During his time in Persia, Mirwais tried to learn all the military weaknesses of the Safavids.[5][7]

The Greater Kandahar region (Candahar) during the Safavid dynasty and Mughal period

While in Mecca, he sought a fatwa from the leading religious authorities against the foreign rulers who were persecuting his people in his homeland.

The Pashtun tribes rankled under the ruling Safavids because of their continued attempts to forcefully convert them from Sunni to Shia Islam.[5] The fatwa was granted and he carried it with him to Iṣfahan and subsequently to Kandahar, with permission to return and strong recommendations to Gurgin Khan.

on April 1709, he began organizing Pashtun tribesmen for a major uprising when a large part of the Persian garrison was on an expedition outside the city, he and his followers fell on the remainder and killed the majority of them, including Gurgin Khan.[7]

With the death of Gurgin Khan, the Hotak soldiers took control of the city and then the province.[9] Mirwais entered Kandahar and made an important speech to its inhabitants:

"If there are any amongst you, who have not the courage to enjoy this precious gift of liberty now dropped down to you from Heaven, let him declare himself; no harm shall be done to him: he shall be permitted to go in search of some new tyrant beyond the frontier of this happy state."[11]

— Mirwais Hotak, April 1709

Mirwais and his forces then defeated a large Persian army that was sent to regain control over the area.

Several half-hearted attempts to subdue the rebellious city having failed, the Persian Government despatched Khusraw Khán, nephew of the late Gurgín Khán, with an army of 30,000 men to effect its subjugation, but in spite of an initial success, which led the Afgháns to offer to surrender on terms, his uncompromising attitude impelled them to make a fresh desperate effort, resulting in the complete defeat of the Persian army (of whom only some 700 escaped) and the death of their general. Two years later, in A.D. 1713, another Persian army commanded by Rustam Khán was also defeated by the rebels, who thus secured possession of the whole province of Qandahár.[7]

— Edward G. Browne, 1924

Mirwais Khan never proclaimed himself king, but simply Wakil (governor or regent) of the Greater Kandahar region.[12][13] To the northwest were more Pashtuns of another tribe (Abdalis/Durranis) and to the east lay the Moghul Empire.

Refusing the title of king, Mirwais was referred to as "Prince of Qandahár and General of the national troops" by his tribesmen.[14]

Death and legacy[edit]

The mausoleum of Mirwais Hotak in the Kokaran section of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Mirwais remained in power until his death in November 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was later killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud, allegedly for planning to give Kandahar's sovereignty back to Persia.[13] In 1717, Mahmud took advantage of the political weakness of the Persian Shah (Sultan Husayn) and briefly conquered large parts Persia.

Mirwais is buried in his mausoleum in the Kokaran section of Kandahar, which is in the western end of the city.[15] He is regarded as one of Afghanistan's greatest national heroes and admired by many Afghans, especially the Pashtuns. Steven Otfinoski referred to him as Afghanistan's George Washington in his 2004 book Afghanistan.[9]

There is a neighborhood called Mirwais Mina as well as a hospital called Mirwais Hospital, a high school and a business center named after him in Kandahar. There are also schools and a number of institutions or places across Afghanistan built to honor him. A few direct descendants of Mirwais are living today among the Hotak tribe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lockhart, Laurence (1958). The Fall of the Safavi Dynasty and the Afghan Occupation of Persia. Cambridge University Press. p. 85. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  2. ^ Dupree, Louis (1980). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. p. 322. ISBN 0-691-03006-5. Mirwais Khan Hotak, the Hotaki Ghilzai chieftain and nominal mayor of Qandahar was a much more formidable rival than Mir Samander.
  3. ^ Bellew, Henry Walter (1891). An Inquiry Into the Ethnography of Afghanistan: Prepared and Presented to the Ninth International Congress of Orientalists (London, September, 1891). The Ghilji of Afghanistan , called also Ghalzoe , Khalaja , and Khalachi , are said to be a Turk tribe from beyond the Jaxartes , and of the Khilichi , or “ Swordsmen " tribe of Turk .: Oriental university institute.
  4. ^ Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 227. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  5. ^ a b c Ewans, Martin; Sir Martin Ewans (2002). Afghanistan: a short history of its people and politics. New York: Perennial. p. 30. ISBN 0060505087. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  6. ^ Axworthy, Michael (2006). Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant. New York: I.B. Tauris. p. 186. ISBN 1850437068. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  7. ^ a b c d "AN OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF PERSIA DURING THE LAST TWO CENTURIES (A.D. 1722–1922)". Edward Granville Browne. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  8. ^ "Mirwais Neeka".
  9. ^ a b c Otfinoski, Steven (2004). Afghanistan. Infobase Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 0816050562. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  10. ^ Matthee, Rudi (2008). "SAFAVID DYNASTY". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  11. ^ Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 227; 459. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  12. ^ Dupree, Louis (1980). Afghanistan. Princeton University Press. p. 324. ISBN 0-691-03006-5. He never proclaimed himself king, but simply Vakil (Governor or Regent) of Qandahar
  13. ^ a b Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 234. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  14. ^ "AN OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF PERSIA DURING THE LAST TWO CENTURIES (A.D. 1722–1922)". Edward Granville Browne. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  15. ^ "Mir Wais Hotak (1709–1715)". Nancy Hatch Dupree. Retrieved 2010-10-01.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gurgin Khan
Emir of Afghanistan
April 1709 – November 1715
Succeeded by
Abdul Aziz Hotak