Shah Shujah Durrani
|Shuja Shah Durrani Khan شاه شجاع خان دورانی|
|Ruler of the Durrani Empire|
An old sketch work showing Shah-Shuja-ul-Mulk
|5th Durrani ruler|
13 July 1803– 3 May 1809 (First reign)|
7 August 1839– 5 April 1842 (Second reign)
|Coronation||13 July 1803|
|Predecessor||Mahmud Shah Durrani|
|Successor||Ali Shah Durrani|
|Born||4 November 1785|
5 April 1842 (aged 56)|
Kabul, Durrani Empire, now Afghanistan
|Issue||Abdul Samad Khan|
|Father||Timur Shah Durrani|
Part of a series on the
|History of Afghanistan|
|Associated Historical Regions|
Shuja Shah Durrani Khan (also known as Shāh Shujāʻ, Shah Shuja, Shoja Shah, Shuja al-Mulk) (4 November 1785 – 5 April 1842) was ruler of the Durrani Empire from 1803 to 1809. He then ruled from 1839 until his death in 1842. Shuja Shah was of the Sadduzai line of the Abdali group of Pashtuns. He became the fifth Emir of Afghanistan.
King of Afghanistan
Shuja Shah was the governor of Herat and Peshawar from 1798 to 1801. He proclaimed himself as King of Afghanistan in October 1801 (after the deposition of his brother Zaman Shah), but only properly ascended to the throne on July 13, 1803. In Afghanistan, a blind man by tradition cannot be Emir, and so Shuja had his brother Zaman blinded, however not killed. After coming to power in 1803, Shuja ended the blood feud with the powerful Barakzai family and also forgave them. To create an alliance with them, he married their "sister" Wa'fa Begum.
Shuja allied Afghanistan with the United Kingdom in 1809, as a means of defending against an invasion of Afghanistan and The Punjab by Russia. In 1809, a British diplomatic mission was sent to Afghanistan, which at the time was to the British a remote and mysterious part of Asia. According to Mountstuart Elphinstone, "The King of Kabul [Shah Shuja] was a handsome man". He also wrote "of an olive complexion with a thick black beard ... his voice clear, his address princely." Shuja wore the Koh-i-Noor ("Mountain of Light") diamond in one of his bracelets when Elphinstone visited him. William Fraser, who accompanied Elphinstone to meet Shah Shuja was "struck with the dignity of his appearance and the romantic Oriental awe." Fraser also judged him to be "about five feet six inches (168 cm) tall" and his skin colour was "very fair, but dead...his beard was thick jet black and shortened a little by the obliquely upwards, but turned again at the corners ... The eyelashes and the edges of his eyelids were blackened with antimony." He also described Shuja's voice as "loud and sonorous".
In June 1809, he was overthrown by his predecessor Mahmud Shah and went into exile in The Punjab, where he was captured by Jahandad Khan Bamizai and imprisoned at Attock (1811–1812) and then taken to Kashmir (1812–1813) by Atta Muhammad Khan. When Mahmud Shah's vizier Fateh Khan invaded Kashmir alongside Maharaja Ranjit Singh's army, he chose to leave with the Sikh army. He stayed in Lahore from 1813 to 1814. During his time in India, Shuja lost the Koh-i-Noor diamond to Maharaja Singh. He stayed with Singh so that later on he could strike a deal for their support to attack Dost Mohammad Khan.
From 1818 onward, Shuja who liked to live in a lavish style with his wives and concubines had collected a pension from the East India Company, which thought he might prove useful one day. Shuja stayed first in Punjab and later in Ludhiana with Zaman Shah. The place where he stayed in Ludhiana is presently occupied by the Main Post Office near Mata Rani Chowk and inside it there is a white marble stone commemorating his stay there.
During his time in exile, Shuja indulged his cruelty by removing the noses, ears, tongues, penises, and testicles of his courtiers and slaves when they displeased him in the slightest. When the American adventurer Dr. Josiah Harlan visited Shuja's court in exile he noted that all of Shuja's courtiers and slaves were missing some part of their bodies as all had in some way displeased their master at some point along the line, to whom they were all slavishly devoted to despite his abuse of them as Harlan noted that there was an "earless assemblage of mutes and eunuchs in the ex-king's service". When Shuja went out for picnic with his four wives and the wind blew down his tent, Shuja flew into a rage and he had the man responsible for putting up his tent, Khwajah Mika-a slave from East Africa who had already had his ears chopped off-to be castrated on the spot as punishment for not erecting his tent more firmly, much to Harlan's horror. Shuja's grand vizier, Mullah Shakur had grown his hair long to cover up that both his ears had been chopped off while he spoke in the distinctive high-pitched voice of a eunuch; Harlan noted he was lucky as the rest of his body was still intact. Despite or perhaps because he was mutilated, Shuja's grand vizier took a great deal of pleasure in mutilating others and was always inciting his master to have somebody mutilated. Harlan noted all of the men around Shuja were missing at least one part of their bodies, if not more, and all seemed extremely afraid of their master, who was apt to fly into a rage whenever he did not get his way with anything, and when he was angry, body parts tended to get severed. Harlan commend on "the grace and dignity of His Highness's demeanor", observing the sense of power he projected, but also that "years of disappointment had created in the countenance of the ex-King an appearance of melancholy and resignation." Harlan, a man without much military experience and knowledge of Pashto, offered to lead an invasion of Afghanistan to restore Shuja, an offer that led the former monarch to break "into a poetical effusion in praise of Kabul" and its gardens, its trees laden with fruits, and its music culminating with "Kabul is called the Crown of the Air. I pray for the possession of those pleasures which my native country alone can afford". When Harlan pressed him on whatever he wanted to accept his offer or not, Shuja agreed. Harlan had a tailor sew up an American flag, which Harlan hosted up in Ludhiana, and started to recruit mercenaries for the invasion of Afghanistan, suggesting that he was working for the U.S. government (which he was not). Harlan ultimately grew disillusioned with Shuja, writing he did not view him as the "legitimate monarch, the victim of treasonable practices", but rather as "a wayward tyrant, inflexible in moods, vindictive in his enmities, faithless in his attachments, unnatural in his affections. He remembered his misfortunes only to avenge them".
In 1833 he struck a deal with Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab: He was allowed to march his troops through Punjab, and in return he would cede Peshawar to the Sikhs if they could manage to take it. In a concerted campaign the following year, Shuja marched on Kandahar while the Sikhs, commanded by General Hari Singh Nalwa attacked Peshawar. In July, Shuja Shah was narrowly defeated at Kandahar by the Afghans under Dost Mohammad Khan and fled. The Sikhs on their part reclaimed Peshawar.
Restoration of power
In 1838 he had gained the support of the British and the Sikh Maharaja Ranjit Singh for wresting power from Dost Mohammad Khan. George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, believed that most Afghans would welcome the return of Shuja as their rightful ruler, but in fact by 1838, most people in Afghanistan could not remember him, and those that did remembered him as a cruel, tyrannical ruler whom they absolutely hated. During the march on Kabul, the main British camp was attacked by a force of Ghazis, of whom 50 were captured. When the prisoners were brought before Shuja, one of them used a knife he had hidden in his robes to stab to death one of Shuja's ministers, causing Shuja to fly into one of his rages and to order all 50 prisoners to be beheaded on the spot. The British historian Sir John William Kaye wrote the "wanton barbarity" of the mass execution as all 50 prisoners were beheaded strained the campaign, stating the "shrill cry" of the prisoners as they waited to be executed was the "funeral wail" of the "unholy policy" of attempting to restore Shuja. Shuja was restored to the throne by the British on August 7, 1839, 30 years after his deposition, but did not remain in power when the British left. Upon being restored, Shuja announced that he considered his own people to be "dogs" who needed to be taught to be obedient to their master, and spent his time exacting bloody vengeance on those Afghans whom he felt had betrayed him, making him extremely unpopular with his people. He shut himself away in the Bala Hissar, Kabul, and on leaving it he was assassinated by Shuja ud-Daula, at the insistence of Wazir Akbar Khan on April 5, 1842.
- Encyclopædia Britannica – Shah Shoja
- Perry 2005, p. 111.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 23.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 5.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 18.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 20.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 21.
- Dalrymple 2012, p. 27.
- Macintyre 2002, p. 29.
- Macintyre 2002, p. 33.
- Macintyre 2002, p. 30.
- Macintyre 2002, p. 32.
- Macintyre 2002, pp. 170–171.
- Perry 2005, p. 112.
- Perry 2005, p. 117.
- Moon 1989, p. 515.
- Perry 2005, p. 121.
- Moon 1989, p. 552.
- Buckland, C. E. (1968). Dictionary of Indian Biography. Haskell House Publishers ltd. p. 385. ISBN 978-0838302774.
- Dalrymple, William (2012). Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-408-8183-05.
- Macintyre, Ben (2002). The Man Who Would Be King. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. ISBN 978-0374529574.
- Moon, Penderel (1989). The British Conquest and Dominion of India. London: Duckworth. ISBN 978-0253338365.
- Perry, James (2005). Arrogant Armies. Edison, New Jersey: CastleBooks. ISBN 978-0471119760.
- Divan-i-Shuja (1825)
- Memoirs of Shuja ul-Mulk Shah, King of Afghanistan (1826)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shuja Shah Durrani.|
- Encyclopædia Britannica – Shah Shoja
- The British Library – Afghanistan 1809-1838: Sources in the India Office Records
| Emir of Afghanistan
13 July 1803– 3 May 1809
Dost Mohammad Khan
| Emir of Afghanistan
7 August 1839– 5 April 1842