What Changed Qazi Noor Mohammad’s Mind?
Qazi Noor Mohammad’s name is well known in Sikh history due to his eye witness account of Sikhs fighting Abdali and giving him crushing defeat in 1765. He came with Abdali from Afghanistan to India. He was a fanatic Muslim engrossed in religious animosity and bigotry. He hated all non-Muslims and spewed his hatred towards those who opposed the tyrant Muslim rule. He wrote about the Sikhs using most hateful and insulting words he could find in a language. Even then he couldn’t keep away from mentioning Sikhs’ bravery. He writes:
“When they(Sikhs) take up a musket in hand at the time of battle, they come to the field fiercely springing and roaring like lions and immediately split many a breast and make the blood of many others spill in the dust. You may say that this musket was invented by these dogs (Sikhs). Though guns are possessed in large numbers by others, yet nobody knows them better. These bad-tempered people discharge hundreds of bullets on the enemy on the right and left and in front and on the back. If you disbelieve in what I say, enquire from the brave warriors who will tell you more than what I have said and would have nothing but praise for their art of war. The witness of my statement are those thirsty thousand heroes who fought with them.”
In the above quotes, he calls Sikhs “dogs” and doesn’t even consider them moral human beings. He also calls them brave because only thirty Sikhs fought against thirty thousand Pathans yet he doesn’t show any likeness towards the Sikhs. Then something happens and he writes:
“Do not call the dogs (the Sikhs) dogs, because they are lions (and) are courageous like lions in the battlefield. How can a hero, who roars like a lion be called a dog? (Moreover) like lions they spread terror in the field of battle. If you wish to learn the art of war, come face to face with them in the battlefield. O, Swordsman! if you want to learn the modes of fighting, learn from them how to face the foe like a hero and how to come unscathed from the battle. You may know that their title is Singh and it is injustice to call them dogs. O, youth! If you are ignorant of the Hindi language (I can tell you that) the meaning of Singh is lion.” – Jangnama” – an eye-witness account of Ahmed Shah Durrani’s invasion of 1764
One wonders how all of the sudden, the Qazi is praising Sikhs and takes his insulting remarks back. It wasn’t simply the bravery of the Sikhs which changed his perspective because he had already witnessed it when he first entered Punjab. What changed his mind was his personal experience with the Sikhs. It happened when the Afghan army was resting at a place and preparing to fight the Sikhs. Qazi Noor Mohammad was taking a walk and wandering just outside the circles of the pitched tents when he noticed that a small group of Sikhs appeared on the scene and were getting ready for a guerilla attack. Qazi Noor Mohammad quickly hid himself in the bushes and started observing the Sikhs. Shouting “Sat Sri Akal” Sikhs withdrew their swords and attacked the first tent. As soon as they entered, all of the Sikhs just froze with their swords still in the air. To their surprise they had entered the tent of Muslim women. All of the women (as described by Qazi) were most beautiful, wearing gold, diamonds and pearls. Qazi thought these “kafirs” (Sikhs) would not spare any woman and their dishonor was a sure thing. On the other hand, the Sikhs put the swords back in the sheaths and their jathedar said, “Khalsa Ji, this is the tent for women. Let’s go from here and attack the army. No woman is to be touched.” Saying this, the Sikhs exited the tent leaving women unharmed and attacked the next tent. In no time, they killed many of the Afghans and took away ammunitions and rations. By the time the rest of the army arrived the Sikhs had disappeared in thick jungle. Everyone was left dumbfounded.
Qazi Noor Mohammad was so impressed by the character and valor of the Sikhs that he showered words of praise about them in his work. He called them true Singhs not “dogs” and considered them the true rulers of Punjab. He is astonished by the fact that there is not a single thief in their group nor is there anyone who commits adultery and takes intoxicants. They have no greed for gold, diamonds and money. They are not appeased by worldly pleasures and they consider no one their “own”(personal) enemy. This shows why Sikhs were praised even by their worst enemy. It was their character, bravery, honesty and most important of all faithfulness to Gurmat (path of the Guru) that earned them the respect. As long as Sikhs live by the principles of Sikhi, they will be praised by the entire world and one day will establish true ‘halemi raaj’ and guide the humanity to the path of ultimate peace.
“If you are not acquainted with their religion, I tell you that the Sikhs are the disciples of the Guru – that glorious Guru lived at Chak (Amritsar). The ways and manners of these people were laid down by Nanak who showed these Sikhs a separate path. He was succeeded by Guru Gobind Singh from whom they received the title of Singh. They are not part of the Hindus, who have a separate religion of their own.” – Jangnama – an eye-witness account of Ahmed Shah Durrani’s invasion of 1764