Sikh Character in the Eyes of an Enemy
Qazi Nur Muhammad of Gunjaba (Baluchistan) accompanied Mir Nasir Khan, ruler of Kalat, in 1764, during Ahmad Shah Durrani’s jihad against the Sikhs, who had crossed the Indus and entered into the Dehrajat. Being a Muslim participant in a jihad, he used for Sikhs such words as ‘dogs’, ‘dogs of hell’, ‘pig eaters’, ‘accursed infidels’, ‘unclean idolaters’, etc. But, at the same time, after observing them in battle, and listening about them from other associates of Abdali, he seems to repent for having used such adjectives for them. He addressed his fellow Muslims in the following words, in Chapter 41 of his Jangnamah that he completed in 1765.
Do not call the dogs (the Sikhs) ‘dogs’, because they are lions, and are courageous like lions in the field of battle. How can a hero who roars like a lion in the field of battle, be called a dog. If you wish to learn the art of war, come face to face with them in the field. They will demonstrate it to you in such a way that one and all will praise it. If you wish to learn the science of war, O swordsman, learn from them how to face an enemy like a hero and to get safely out of an action. Singh is a title [a form of address for them]. It is not justice to call them dogs. If you do not know the Hindostani language [I tell you that] the word Singh means a lion. Truly, they are like lions in battle, and at times of peace they surpass Hatim.
When they take the Indian sword in their hands, they overrun the country from Hindostan to Sind. Nobody then stands in opposition to them, however much strong he may be. When they manipulate the spear they shatter the ranks of the enemy, and when they raise the heads of their spears into the sky, they would pierce even the Caucasus. When they adjust the strings of their Chachi bows and place in them the enemy-killing arrows and pull the strings to their ears, the body of the enemy begins to shiver with fear. When their battle-axe falls upon the armour of their opponents, that armour becomes their coffin.
The body of every one of them is the piece of a rock, and, in physical grandeur, every one of them is more than fifty persons. It is said that Bahram-Gor killed wild asses and let lions shrieking. But, if Bahram were to come face to face with them, even he would bow before them.
During a battle when they take their guns in their hands, they come jumping into the field of action, roaring like lions. They tear the chests of many and shed the blood of several in the dust. It is said that the musket is a weapon of the ancient days. It however appears to be creation of these dogs rather than of the great Socrates. Although there are so many of the musketeers, but no body can excel them in use. To the right and to the left, and in front and towards the back, they go on fighting regularly. If you do not believe in what I say, you may enquire of the brave swordsmen who would tell you more than myself and would praise them for their fighting. The fact that they grappled with thirty thousand heroes bears witness to my statement.
If their armies take to flight, do not take it as an actual flight. It is a war tactic of theirs. Beware; beware, of them for a second time. The object of their trick is that when the furious enemy runs after them, he is separated from his main army and from reinforcements. Then they turn back to face their pursuers and set fire even to water. Did you not see how, during the flight they took to a deceptive flight before the Khan [Ahmad Shah], and how, then, they turned back on him and surrounded him on all sides. The Khan then came down from his horse and flung arrows and bullets at them and with bravery extricated himself from their midst.
You may yourself judge, O brave men, how a single battalion of theirs rushed upon Multan, entered the city and devastated it and carried away an immense booty. I am not sufficiently strong in mind to be able to express what the dogs did there. Since the creation of the world nobody remembers to have seen Multan devastated in this way at the hands of anybody. But because God so willed it, every one of us has to submit to His Will.
Leaving aside their mode of fighting, hear you another point in which they excel all other fighting people. In no case they slay a coward, nor would they put an obstacle in the way of a fugitive. They do not plunder the wealth and the ornaments of a woman, be she a well-to-do lady or a maidservant. There is no adultery amongst the dogs, nor are these mischievous people given to thieving. Whether a woman is young or old, they call her a budhiya, and ask her to get out of the way. The word budhiya in the Indian language means “an old lady.” There is no thief amongst these dogs, nor is there any home-breaker born amongst these miscreants. They do not make friends with adulterers and housebreakers, though their behaviour on the whole is not commendable.
If you are not conversant with their religion, I tell you that the Sikhs are the disciples of the Guru and that, that august Guru lived at Chak (Amritsar). The ways and manners of these people received their impetus from Nanak who showed these Sikhs a separate path. He was succeeded by Gobind Singh. From him they received the title of Singh. They are not from amongst the Hindus. These miscreants have a separate religion of their own.
Now that you have become familiar with the behaviour of the Sikhs, you may also hear something about their country. They have divided the Punjab amongst themselves and have bestowed it upon every young and old man. (Ganda Singh, Tr, Punjab Past and Present, October 1981, pp 425-27)