AFŻAL KHAN ḴAṬAK (b. 1075/1664-65), chief of the Ḵaṭak tribe, Pashto poet, and author of Tārīḵ-emoraṣṣaʿ. He was the eldest son of Ašraf Khan “Heǰrī” (1044-1105/1635 to 1693-94); in 1083/1672-73 Ašraf succeeded his father Ḵᵛošḥāl Khan in the chieftaincy of the Ḵaṭak tribe, but in 1092/1681 he was betrayed into the hands of the Mughal emperor Awrangzēb by his brother Bahrām and died in captivity. Afżal Khan was arrested by the Mughals in 1098/1686-87 and carried to Kabul; he returned two years after the death of Ḵᵛošḥāl Khan (1100/1689) to assume the chieftainship of the Ḵaṭak tribe, which he held for sixty-one years. Based on a reading of a tāriḵ in the dīvān of Afżal’s son, Kāẓem Khan Šaydā, S. Riҳtin and ʿA. Ḥabībī (Paҳtanə šuʿarā, Kabul, 1941-42, I, pp. 229-30) give the date of Afżal’s death as 1183/1769-70, but this dīvān had already been put into final form in 1181. The date of his death is uncertain.
H. G. Raverty’s statement (Selections from the Poetry of the Afghans, London, 1867, p. 269) that Afżal, upon the assumption of the chieftainship, put his uncle (and rival) ʿAbd-al-Qāder to death does not bear examination; the latter translated the Golestān of Saʿdī in 1124/1712. Another uncle of Afżal’s, Gawhar Khan, writing in 1120/1708, gives testimony to Afżal’s good chieftainship and to his consuming literary interests, which were aimed at (1) collecting his illustrious grandfather’s works and having them copied to save them from oblivion, and (2) inspiring Gawhar Khan and other members of the family to use their talents in translating into Pashto some of the great works in Persian and Arabic. Afżal himself made a number of translations, chiefly historical: the Tārīḵ of Aʿṯam Kūfī, the Sīar of Mollā Moʿīn, and a tafsīr of the Koran; when he “had ruled for twenty-five years and was fifty-three years old,” he began a translation of the ʿĪār-e dāneš, Abu’l-Fażl’s simplified Persian version of the Anwār-e Sohaylī by Ḥosayn Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, which was completed in 1128/1716 under the name ʿElmḵāna da dāneš.
Afżal Khan Ḵaṭak began writing his main work, the Tārīḵ-emoraṣṣaʿ, about 1120/1708. It is an uneven history of the Afghans in Pashto, compiled from various sources. The first and last parts are translations from the Persian work Maḵzan-e Afḡānī (or Tārīḵ-eḴānǰahānī) written by Neʿmatallāh in 1020/1611. The second part (about half the volume) contains an account of the Yūsofzays and kindred tribes, based mainly upon the Taḏkerāt al-abrār by Āḵūnd Darvīza, the Ṭabaqāt-e Akbarī, the Jahāngīr-nāma, and other Persian sources, and an extensive account of the history of the Ḵaṭaks, particularly of the author’s grandfather. It includes long extracts from the bayāż (notebook) of Ḵᵛošḥāl Khan and relates events up to the year 1136/1723-24. This part of the book was used by H. G. Raverty as source material for his Notes on Afghanistan (London, 1888). Afżal Khan Ḵaṭak is buried in Zīārat Kaka Ṣāḥeb near Nowshera.
Afżal Khan, Tārīḵ-emoraṣṣaʿ, ed. D. M. K. Mōhmand, Peshawar, 1976; excerpt in H. G. Raverty, Gulshan-i Roh, London, 1860, pp. 1-54; repeated in T. P. Hughes, The Kalid-i Afghani, 2nd ed., Lahore, 1893, pp. 205-40; tr. in T. C. Plowden, Translation of the Kalid-i Afghani, Lahore, 1893, pp. 167-208.
Selection from ʿĪār-e dāneš: B. Dorn, A Chrestomathy of the Pushtu or Afghan Language, St. Petersburgh, 1847, pp. 1-23.
See also Gawhar Khan Ḵaṭak, Qalb al-sīr (ms. in Peshawar Museum). J. F. Blumhardt and D. N. MacKenzie, Catalogue of Pashto Manuscripts in the Libraries of the British Isles, London, 1965, no. 46, 157; on Ašraf Khan, see no. 79, and Raverty, Selections, pp. 249-70.
Originally Published: December 15, 1984
Last Updated: July 28, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 6, p. 602
J. Enevoldsen, “AFŻAL KHAN ḴAṬAK,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/6, p. 602; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/afzal-khan-katak-b (accessed on 15 March 2014).