ʿABD-AL-QODDŪS B. SOLṬĀN MOḤAMMAD B. SOLṬĀN PĀYANDA MOḤAMMADZĀY SARDĀR, called ŠAGASĪ, prominent Afghan military and political figure of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was born around 1840, a nephew of the Amīr Dūst Moḥammad Khan, and was associated early with ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Moḥammad Afżal b. Dūst Moḥammad. In the late 1860s he was governor of Tāšqorḡān while Afghan Turkestan was under ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān’s control. He appears to have been with ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān during the latter’s exile in Russian Central Asia (1869-80). After ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān’s accession to the amirate of Afghanistan under British protection, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs was briefly subordinate to the amir’s cousin, Moḥammad Esḥāq b. Moḥammad Aʿẓam, in Afghan Turkestan. In the 1881 struggle between ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān and Moḥammad Ayyūb, son of a previous amir, Šīr ʿAlī Khan, for Qandahār, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs was sent by Moḥammad Esḥāq to seize Herat on ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān’s behalf. Herat was Moḥammad Ayyūb’s headquarters, but in his absence his supporters surrendered the city to ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs in Ḏu’l-qaʿda, 1298/October, 1881. ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs stayed on as governor of the city until 15 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1299/28 September 1882. He was repeatedly reprimanded by the amir for what was seen in Kabul as administrative malfeasance. Recalled to Kabul, he was placed under house arrest until ʿĪd al-Feṭr 1304/23 June 1887, when he was rehabilitated and appointed administrator of the ṣandūq-e ʿadālat (an institution of public welfare by which government disbursements to the indigent were regularized; Serāǰ al-tawārīḵ, p. 437). He appears to have held this post until Ḏu’l-qaʿda, 1307/June-July, 1890, when ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, then in Mazār-e Šarīf, ordered him to lead an expeditionary force into the Hazāraǰāt and bring that region under the control of Kabul. In Moḥarram, 1308/August-September, 1890 he was in Bāmīān, where he was ordered to rebuild an ancient Šahr-e Ḡolḡola as an army base. In the course of excavating, a number of archeological finds were made. Three types of buildings (se bāb-e ḵāna) were unearthed, each measuring thirty ḏaṛʿ in length, ten ḏaṛʿ in width, and ten ḏaṛʿ in height. A 700-year-old document (qabāla) was also discovered. It was sent to the amir who gave it to his son, Ḥabīballāh (Serāǰ al-tawārīḵ, p. 698).
The subsequent war against the Hazāras, in which ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs was heavily involved, was a long and difficult one with racial, religious, and economic overtones. ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs’ policies from the beginning were ineffective in exploiting the strong support for the Kabul government that had long existed in many areas of the Hazāraǰāt. His officials imposed burdensome provisioning requirements on the loyal Hazāra population, and his subordinates treated the people as a conquered population and publicly taunted them as koffār for their adherence to Eṯnā-ʿašarī Shiʿism. Moreover, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs himself outraged the moral sensibilities of the Hazāras of Orūzgān, the chief city of the Hazāraǰāt, by taking Hazāra women into concubinage, a practice that his officers also adopted. He remained in the vicinity of Orūzgān for nearly a year but was then recalled to Kabul in Rabīʿ I, 1310/October, 1892, partly because of his incapacitation as a result of illness and partly as a result of his inept policies which by this time had alienated loyal Hazāras and brought the region into open armed resistance to Kabul.
On his return, ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān appointed him court chamberlain (īšīk āqāsī, whence apparently the soubriquet Šagasī), in which position he remained for the next decade. After ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān’s death in 1901 and the accession of his son, Ḥabīballāh, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs became the latter’s closest advisor. In 1905, during the Afghan-Anglo negotiations carried out by Ḥabīballāh Khan and Louis W. Dane, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs’s influence was crucial in gaining favorable terms for the Afghan side. He maintained an intensely nationalistic posture in all his policy recommendations, including his decisive advocacy of Afghan neutrality during the First World War.
In 1919, after the assassination of the Amīr Ḥabīballāh Khan, ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs was named prime minister (ṣadr-e aʿẓam) by his successor, Amīnallāh Khan. In the Anglo-Afghan war of the same year, he commanded the Afghan troops at Qandahār. And in 1924, although in his mid-eighties, he took part in the suppression of the Mangal uprising in Ḵūst. He died on March 18, 1928. The title eʿtemād-al-dawla, conferred on him by Ḥabīballāh Khan, was adopted by his descendants, the Eʿtemādī family.
For the career of ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs to 1892, Fayż Moḥammad Kāteb, Serāǰ al-tawārīḵ, Kabul, 1333/1915, vol. III offers the most information.
After 1901, many references to ʿAbd-al-Qoddūs are to be found in British records.
See especially citations in L. Adamec, Afghanistan’s Foreign Affairs to the Mid-Twentieth Century, Tuscon, 1974.
Idem, Historical and Political Who’s Who of Afghanistan, Graz, 1975.
See also V. M. Masson and V. A. Romodin, Istoriya Afganistana, Moscow, 1965, II, pp. 273, 381, 388.
(R. D. McChesney)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, pp. 137-138
R. D. McChesney, “'Abd-Al-Qoddus B. Soltan Mohammad,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, pp. 137-138; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-qoddus-b-soltan-mohammad-prominent-afghan-late-19th-early-20th-cents (accessed on 16 January 2014).