The “Convert or Die” Campaign in 1895-96 in Afghanistan against the Polytheists of Kafiristan

| April 10, 2012 | Comments (0)

What was Kafiristan?

1.It is now called Nuristan or “Land of Light” and Kafiristan means “Land of the Unbelievers/Infidels”.The word “kafir” is Arabic and “stan” is Persian for “land,country”,so we have Afghanistan,Pakistan,Tajikistan,Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan,Kazakhstan,Rajastan in India and Kighizstan.In 1896 the name of Kafiristan was changed to Nuristan.

2.It is a region in the northeast region of Afghanistan,in the area called the “Hindu Kush”,a Persian world meaning “Killer of Hindus”.When Muslim invaded India they would capture many Hindus and take them out of India.Many died crossing the mountains which became known as the “killer of Hindus”.

The people of Kafiristan were attacked by Mahmud of Ghazni

Who was Mahmud of Ghazni(971-1030)?

1.He was the sultan of a vast region, with its capital in Samarkand.

2.He made 17 pillaging raids on India between 1000 and 1026, destroying many Hindu temples,robbing alot of treasure.

3.According to Abu Nasr Muhammad Utbi, the secretary and chronicler of Mahmud,he at one time took 500,000 Hindus as slaves,men and women, back with him.

4.The Muslims destroyed about 2,000 temples in India throughout history.

Mahmud of Ghazni

The Three Objectives of Mahmoud of Ghazni

1.To enslave Hindus or kill them.

2.To obtain alot of money from the rich Hindu temples.

3.To destroy Hindu temples,if possible.

Mahmoud destroyed two of most holy temples of Hinduism

1.According to Hinduism Krishna,one of the most beloved of Hindu gods, was born in Mathura.There they had the Temple of Krishna,which was destroyed in 1018 by the Muslim king Mahmud of Ghazni(971-1030). Mahmud estimated that the Temple of Krishna had taken 200 years to build.It was astonishingly beautiful and had 5 statues of gold with jewels as eyes,and they were 5 feet in height.Mahmud ordered the it to be utterly destroyed.Read:

“The Temple of Krishna in Mathura,his Birthplace,one of the Holiest in Hinduism,was Destroyed by Muslims”

Somnath Temple

2.Mahmud also destroyed the Temple of Somnath,dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva,one of the most holy in Hinduism,in 1025.It has been destroyed 6 times in history by Muslims.Read:

“One of the Most Sacred Hindu Temples,that of Shiva in Somnath,was Destroyed 6 Times by the Muslims”

Here is about Mahmoud of Ghazni’s war against Kafiristan

Another crusade against the non-Muslims and their beliefs was decided and Mahmud led the seventh one against Nardain, the then boundary of India, or the eastern part of the Hindu Kush; separating the countries of Hindustan and Turkistan and remarkable for its excellent fruit. The country into which the army of Ghazni marched was Kafiristan, where the inhabitants were polytheists.In Nardain there was a temple, which the army of Ghazni destroyed, and brought from there a stone covered with certain inscriptions, which were according to the Hindus, of great antiquity.

The “Convert or Die” Campaign against the people of Kafiristan in 1895-1896

George Scott Robertson, medical officer during the Second Anglo-Afghan War explored the country of the Kafirs in 1890–91. He was the last outsider to visit the area and observe these people’s polytheistic culture before their forcible conversion to Islam in 1895-96. He wrote “The Kafirs of the Hindu Kush”.

Soon after Robertson’s visit Emir Abdur Rahman Khan invaded and converted the Kafirs to Islam as part of his campaign to bring the country under a centralised Afghan government.In 1895 the Amir ordered that no terms would be accepted from the Kafirs short of absolute submission and conversion to Islam. He prohibited the killing of Kafir children under seven years of age, but no Kafir above that age would be shown any mercy who refused to convert and in the fighting 10,000 Kafirs were killed by troops. All the temples, shrines, and cult places with their wooden effigies and multitudes of ancestor figures were torched. Only a small amount were brought back to Kabul as spoils of this Islamic victory. In January 1896 700 camels full of spoils robbed from the Kafirs arrived in Kabul and Abdur Rahman Khan renamed the people as Nuristani (“Enlightened Ones” in Persian) and the land as Nuristan (“Land of Light”).

The great novel about Kafiristan,”The Man Who Would Be King” (1888)

It is a novel about two British adventurers in British India who become kings of Kafiristan. The story was inspired by:

1.The exploits of James Brooke, an Englishman who became the first White Rajah of Sarawak in Borneo.

2.And by the travels of American adventurer Josiah Harlan, who was granted the title Prince of Ghor,a province in central Afghanistan, in perpetuity for himself and his descendants.

The Story

The narrator of the story is a British journalist in India,it is Kipling himself, in all but name. He meets two adventurers, Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan. A few months later they appear at his office in Lahore. They tell him their plan and have decided India is not big enough for them. The next day they will go to Kafiristan to become kings.

They have 20 Martini-Henry rifles (then perhaps the best in the world) and plan to find a king or chief, help him defeat his enemies then take over for themselves.

Two years later Carnehan creeps into the narrator’s office. He is a broken man, a crippled beggar in rags and he tells an amazing story. Dravot and Carnehan succeeded in becoming kings:they found the Kafirs and assembled an army, taking over villages, and dreaming of building a unified nation. The Kafirs, who were pagans, not Muslims, acclaimed Dravot as a god,the son of Alexander the Great. The Kafirs practiced a form of Masonic ritual and the adventurers knew Masonic secrets that only the oldest priest remembered.

It ended when Dravot decided to marry a Kafir girl. Terrified at marrying a god, the girl bit Dravot when he tried to kiss her. Seeing him bleed, the priests cried that he was “Neither God nor Devil but a man!” Most of the Kafirs turned against Dravot and Carnehan. The army defected and the two kings were captured.

Dravot, wearing his crown, stood on a rope bridge over a gorge while the Kafirs cut the ropes and he fell to his death. Carnehan was crucified between two pine trees. When he survived for a day, the Kafirs considered it a miracle and let him go. He begged his way back to India.

As proof of his tale, Carnehan shows the narrator Dravot’s head, still wearing the golden crown. Carnehan leaves. The next day the narrator sees him crawling along the road in the noon sun, with his hat off and gone mad. The narrator sends him to the local asylum. When he inquires two days later, he learns that Carnehan has died.


Who was Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)?

He was an English writer born in India,winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. His famous books,in addition to the one mentioned, are:

1.”The Jungle Book” (1894) (short stories about India,having the famous Mowgli,and also the famous story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi”,about a mongoose)

2.”The Second Jungle Book” (1895) (short stories)

3.”Captains Courageous”(1897)

About a rich,spoiled American teenager who falls off a ship in the Atlantic,and who is rescued by fishermen and has to work as one for a while since they don’t believe he is rich and can pay them a reward.


His masterpiece,about an Anglo-Indian boy who is a spy and has adventures with a Buddhist monk.

5.”Just So Stories”(1902)

6.His poems “Mandalay”(1890), “Gunga Din”(1890), “The White Man’s Burden”(1899) and “If”(1910).


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