ʿABD-AL-ṢAMAD KHAN DELĪR JANG, SAYF-AL-DAWLA, 17th-18th century north Indian politician, administrator, and patron of the arts. His real name was Ḵᵛāǰa ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm b. ʿAbd-al-Karīm. He belonged to a family from Samarqand which claimed descent from the illustrious 15th century Naqšbandī saint Ḵᵛāǰa Aḥrār. Born in Agra during a short visit by his parents to India, he was taken back to Samarqand where he was educated and brought up. After joining the service of the Janid governor Sobḥān-qolī Khan, he rose to the position of Šayḵ-al-eslām. He left his native land, however, and came to India during the reign of Awrangzēb (Asrār-e Ṣamadī, intro.). He began his imperial career as manṣabdār (salaried official) with the rank of commander of 400. A subsequent marriage to the sister of Moḥammad Amīn Khan, who belonged to the powerful Turanian faction at court, added to his prestige and partially helped him in his successful career. He was also a protégé of Ḏu’l-faqār Khan, the leader of the Iranian faction, and used both connections to his own advantage. After having held several earlier posts, he was appointed governor of Lahore under Farroḵ Sīar in 1125/1713, with a manṣab of 5,000. He also received the honorific title of Delīr Jang, to which was added the further title Sayf-al-dawla at the time of his promotion to a manṣab of 7,000 and 7,000 horse in 1127/1715. Ten years later he was appointed governor of M ultan, a post he held during 1137-39/1724-26. He died on 28 Rabīʿ I 1150/26 July 1737 and was buried in Lahore (Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ I, pp. 71-73).
ʿAbd-al-Ṣamad Khan was a shrewd politician, an efficient administrator, and a generous patron. As governor of Lahore (Panjab) and then Multan, he put down revolts, especially those of the Sikh guru Banda (in 1127/1715) and the Afghan Ḥosayn Khan Qaṣūrī (for details, see Asrār-e Ṣamadī, pp. 5-55). He was thus able to restore complete peace in the Panjab, Kashmir, and adjoining regions. He liberally patronized writers and artists at his court. He was devout yet intolerant, at once religious and secular in his outlook. During the reign of Moḥammad Shah, for instance, he opposed the reimposition of the ǰezya by Neẓām-al-molk.
Asrār-e Ṣamadī, ed. Moḥammad Šoǰāʿ-al-dīn, Lahore, 1965 (Urdu).
Ṣamṣām-al-dawla, Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ, tr. H. Beveridge, I, Calcutta, 1911, pp. 71-73.
Storey, I, p. 664.
Satish Chandra, Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740, Aligarh, 1959, see p. 68 and index.
Zahir Uddin Malik, The Reign of Mohammad Shah, 1719-1748, Aligarh, 1977.
(S. Maqbul Ahmad)
Originally Published: December 15, 1982
Last Updated: July 14, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 162