Mirwais Hotak

Mirwais Hotak
میرویس خان ہوتکی
Emir of Greater Afghanistan

Sketch work of Mirwais Khan Hotak
Emir of Afghanistan
Reign Hotak Empire: 1709–1715
Coronation April 1709
Predecessor Gurgin Khan
Bahadur Shah I as Emperor of the Mughal Empire
Successor Abdul Aziz Hotak
Born Muhammad Ismail Mirwas Khan Hotak
Suri, Kandahar, Afghanistan
Died November 1715
Kandahar, Afghanistan
Burial Kokaran, Kandahar, Afghanistan
Spouse Khanzada Sadozai
Full name
Hajji Muhammad Ismail Mirwais Khan Hotaki
Dynasty Hotak dynasty
Father Salim Khan
Mother Nazo Tokhi
Religion Sunni Islam

Mīrwais Khān Hotak (Pashto: مير ويس خان هوتک), also known as Shāh Mirwais Ghiljī (Pashto: شاه ميرويس غلجي) (1673 – November 1715), was an influential tribal chief of the Ghilji Pashtuns[1][2] from Kandahar, Afghanistan, who founded the Hotak dynasty that existed from 1709 to 1738.[3] After revolting and killing the Safavid Persian governor over the region, Gurgin Khan in April 1709, he declared what is now southern Afghanistan independent.[4] He is widely known as Mīrwais Nīkə (ميرويس نيکه) or Mīrwais Bābā (ميرويس بابا, "Mirwais the father") in the Pashto language.[5][6]

Rise to power

In 1707, Kandahar was in a state of chaos, fought over by the Shi'a Safavid state of Persia and the Sunni Mughal state of India. Mirwais Khan, a Sunni tribal chief whose influence with his fellow-countrymen made him an object of suspicion, was held as a political prisoner by Gurgin Khan, the Persian governor in the region, who then sent him to the Safavid court at Isfahan. He was later freed and even allowed to meet with the Shah, Sultan Husayn, on a regular basis. Having ingratiated himself with the Persian court, Mirwais sought and obtained permission to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca in the Ottoman Empire (after which he was known as Hajji). At that time the once powerful Safavids were declining politically and militarily, riven by internal strife, royal intrigues, and endless wars against their arch rivals, the Ottomans. During his time in Persia, Mirwais tried to learn all the military weaknesses of the Safavids.[2][4]

The Greater Kandahar region (Candahar) during the Safavid dynasty and Mughal period

While in Mecca, he sought a fatwa from the leading religious authorities against the foreign rulers who were persecuting his people in his homeland. The Pashtun tribes rankled under the ruling Safavids because of their continued attempts to forcefully convert them from Sunni to Shia Islam.[2] The fatwa was granted and he carried it with him to Iṣfahan and subsequently to Kandahar, with permission to return and strong recommendations to Gurgin Khan.

He began organizing his countrymen for a major uprising, and in April 1709, when a large part of the Persian garrison was on an expedition outside the city, he and his followers fell on the remainder and killed the majority of them, including Gurgin Khan.[4] With the death of Gurgin Khan, the Hotaki soldiers took control of the city and then the province.[6] Mirwais entered Kandahar and made an important speech to its inhabitants:

"If there are any amongst you, who have not the courage to enjoy this precious gift of liberty now dropped down to you from Heaven, let him declare himself; no harm shall be done to him: he shall be permitted to go in search of some new tyrant beyond the frontier of this happy state."[7]
Mirwais Hotak, April 1709

Mirwais and his forces then defeated a large Persian army that was sent to regain control over the area.

Several half-hearted attempts to subdue the rebellious city having failed, the Persian Government despatched Khusraw Khán, nephew of the late Gurgín Khán, with an army of 30,000 men to effect its subjugation, but in spite of an initial success, which led the Afgháns to offer to surrender on terms, his uncompromising attitude impelled them to make a fresh desperate effort, resulting in the complete defeat of the Persian army (of whom only some 700 escaped) and the death of their general. Two years later, in A.D. 1713, another Persian army commanded by Rustam Khán was also defeated by the rebels, who thus secured possession of the whole province of Qandahár.[4]
Edward G. Browne, 1924

Mirwais Khan became the governor of the Greater Kandahar region, which covered most of present-day Afghanistan and part of pashtun areas of Balochistan, Pakistan.[8] To the northwest were the Abdali Pashtuns and to the east lay the Moghul Empire. Refusing the title of king, Mirwais was referred to as "Prince of Qandahár and General of the national troops" by his Afghan countrymen.[9]

Death and legacy

The mausoleum of Mirwais Hotak in the Kokaran section of Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Mirwais remained in power until his death in November 1715 and was succeeded by his brother Abdul Aziz, who was later killed by Mirwais' son Mahmud, allegedly for planning to give Kandahar's sovereignty back to Persia.[8] In 1717, Mahmud took advantage of the political weakness of the Persian Shah (Sultan Husayn) and briefly conquered large parts Persia.

Mirwais is buried in his mausoleum in the Kokaran section of Kandahar, which is in the western end of the city.[10] He is regarded as one of Afghanistan's greatest national heroes and admired by many Afghans, especially the Pashtuns. Steven Otfinoski referred to him as Afghanistan's George Washington in his 2004 book Afghanistan.[6]

There is a neighborhood called Mirwais Mina as well as a hospital called Mirwais Hospital, a high school and a business center named after him in Kandahar. There are also schools and a number of institutions or places across Afghanistan built to honor him. A few direct descendants of Mirwais are living today among the Hotak tribe.

See also


  1. Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 227. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  2. 1 2 3 Ewans, Martin; Sir Martin Ewans (2002). Afghanistan: a short history of its people and politics. New York: Perennial. p. 30. ISBN 0060505087. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  3. Axworthy, Michael (2006). Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, from tribal warrior to conquering tyrant. New York: I.B. Tauris. p. 186. ISBN 1850437068. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "AN OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF PERSIA DURING THE LAST TWO CENTURIES (A.D. 1722–1922)". Edward Granville Browne. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  5. http://www.beepworld.de/members4/wolas/mirwaisneeka.htm
  6. 1 2 3 Otfinoski, Steven (2004). Afghanistan. Infobase Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 0816050562. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  7. Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 227; 459. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  8. 1 2 Malleson, George Bruce (1878). History of Afghanistan, from the Earliest Period to the Outbreak of the War of 1878. London: Elibron.com. p. 234. ISBN 1402172788. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
  9. "AN OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF PERSIA DURING THE LAST TWO CENTURIES (A.D. 1722–1922)". Edward Granville Browne. London: Packard Humanities Institute. p. 29. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
  10. "Mir Wais Hotak (1709–1715)". Nancy Hatch Dupree. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Gurgin Khan
Emir of Afghanistan
April 1709 – November 1715
Succeeded by
Abdul Aziz Hotak
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