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04. Voyage of Pir Sabzali in Central Asia

When Mawlana Imam Sultan Muhammad Shah made gracious arrival in India from Europe in 1923, he called for Pir Sabzali during his stay and said, "Someone will have to go Badakhshan. Are you ready for it?" He said, "I am ready provided you make an order. I am your servant and ready to do all that you command to the utmost of my power." The Imam said, "Well, make the preparations"(1). He said, "It will need certificates etc. for it." The Imam called for an officer and asked to prepare certificates etc. But, the officer could not execute it. Few days later, the Imam asked Pir Sabzali, "When will you go?" He said, "Mawla! no arrangement has been done as yet," and added, "Mawla, we have to go beyond the borders, therefore, it will need certificates etc. as per rules." The Imam summoned the officer and asked him. He said, "Mawla! missionary Sabzali afraid of going " (2).

On next day, the Imam asked Pir Sabzali, "Are you frightened?" He said with due submission, "I am ready to go. I do not hesitate to obey the farman of the Imam. This servant is ever ready to obey farman, but he (the officer) has not executed, whom the preparation of the certificates etc. was assigned."

Is it not necessary for every Ismaili to imprint in heart the words of Pir Sabzali that, "I do not hesitate to obey the farman of the Imam?" When it is removed in the hearts of

1) According to PS, the Imam graciously summoned him in the Mehmani of the Ismailis of Badakhshan in Poona on March 7, 1923 and said, "I will be delighted if you go on the journey of Central Asia." He accepted it at once. The Imam said, "You go to that region and I will give you my talika (farman)." Thus, he received the Imam's farman in Persian on April 5, 1923 to be read before the Ismailis of Central Asia. (WI, February 17, 1924)

2) PS writes that, "I was much delightful in the selection for an adventurous service, and began to pass the days as if years. The news of my journey now spread rapidly in public. When two to five persons assembled, it became a topic of their conversation. Do you know what I heard from my friends? I was told that the region of Central Asia was entirely rocky with dangerous routes and too risky to travel. I also heard that not a single Indian language was spoken there except Persian. Hearkening these dreadful news, I was trapped into the worries, notably the worry of language problem. The leaping thoughts had fastened my mind from all sides, but for the pleasure of the Imam, I had firmly determined to face such thousand of problems even at the cost of my life. I moved on for its preparation. Some Ismailis of Badakhshan had been in Bombay in those days and lodged in Hasanabad. I went to see them one after another on every night, and tried to talk with them in loose Persian. Sometimes, I slept with them due to late hour in night. I also collected latest news of Central Asia from them, and the frightful picture wandered in my mind. My heart was beating more and sometimes I passed sleepless nights. I however did not show a little sign of inner worries on my face and used to derived inspiration and engery from the words of the Imam. I now refrained from hearing anything about Central Asia with others and focused my attention in the preparation. The Imam used to summon me at his bungalow in Bombay and gave necessary instructions." (Ibid.) every Ismaili that its obedience is done mere for their convenience, they will gain progress both in material and spiritual worlds, and there is no reason to suspect on it. With these aspiration and enthusiasm, missionary Sabzali lofted to the peak of spiritual heights, and procured the status of a Pir. This example still sounds in our sight.

The Imam called for Aga Rukh Shah, the son of his uncle Akbar Shah and assigned him the work. Aga Rukh Shah made all arrangements and brought the certificates for Pir Sabzali and his colleagues on next day. On the day when it was ready, the Imam once again asked Pir Sabzali, "Do you have any fear?" He said reverently, "Khudavind, not at all!" The Imam was relaxing on the coach and said, "I had deputed three missionaries, (viz.) Pir Sadruddin, Pir Shams and dai Nasir Khusaro. Lo! they too were human beings like you, but I represented on their tongues. You therefore don't be afraid, inshallah. Go soon."

Pir Sabzali and his colleagues experienced the reality of this farman during the journey, and were convinced that the farman of the Imam was a potential force forever. The Imam asked, "Let me know, when will you depart?" He replied, "The moment is just to release an order." The Imam said, "Listen, today, I am going to Europe. I go to this direction and you to that direction." He said, "Amen" (3).

The Imam had taken a visit of the jamatkhana on April 6, 1923, and during departure, he turned to Pir Sabzali while getting out from the elevator and said swiftly, "Do you afraid of going alone? Listen, one has nothing to worry who goes on my behalf." The Imam had caught the shirt of one Badakhshani and said, "Listen! I give Sabzali in your custody. You bring him safely over here in the same condition you are taking him from here."

Pir Sabzali thus received further energy afresh with the blessed words and gained astonishing courage. Besides, my heart also began to twist with zeal when heard it.

We departed by Delhi Express at night on 7th April, 1923. On that day, we (Pir Sabzali , Ramzan Ali and Ghulam Ali of Gwadar) were feted a tea-party and garlanded. Sayed Murad Ali Badakhshani (who used to sit in the car of the Imam), Mulla Kurban and other four to five Badakhshani Ismailis accompanied us. We started by Delhi Express and reached Lahore, where we organized a majalis in the jamatkhana, and Pir Sabzali delivered a waez. After getting cheerful wishes of farewell from the jamat, we reached

3) PS narrates in his own words that, "The Imam was to depart on April 7, 1923 for England, and I also resolved to leave Bombay on that day. I had come from Karachi in December, 1922. I decided therefore to go Karachi at first to have a look at my business. I had however not told about it to the Imam. Meanwhile, the annual majalis was being held in Sialkot, and the Imam told me, "You go to Sialkot from here to attend the majalis, and start your journey therefrom." Thus, I have to drop my programme of visiting Karachi. I abandoned all worries of my business and proceeded for Sialkot on April 7, 1923." (Ibid.)

Rawalpindi, where Pir Sabzali also delivered waez. We went to Sialkot, where the grand majalis had been held for three days during our stay. The Punjabi Ismailis of the surrounding places also came to attend the majalis and heard the touching waez of Pir Sabzali. It will be appropriate to describe that Pir Sabzali had visited in this location occasionally to remove the differences of the Punjabi jamats (4).

We reached Peshawer from Sialkot via Pind Dad Khan and other districts, and made our lodging in the jamatkhana. Sir John L. Mofffey was the Chief Commissioner of North-west Frontier Provinces. Pir Sabzali went to see him at his bungalow with Imam's letter. The Commissioner was occupied in an incident. When we reached Peshawer, the inhabitants of the frontier had murdered the wife of a European and kidnapped his daughter (5). The Chief Commissioner was engaged in this case, and thus the police had to stop Pir Sabzali at the door.

We found immense convenience in the journey in accordance with the farman of the Imam. For instance, the Imam had told us, "You must see the chief officer wherever you go" and "You must wear my uniform in all places." This uniform means the red robe and turban of filigree. Wearing this uniform, Pir Sabzali had gone to see the Chief Commissioner. He was prevented at the door and was told that his message would be conveyed to the Commissioner. Pir Sabzali delivered the Imam's letter and returned.

Pir Sabzali went to the bungalow of the Chief Commissioner on the following day. He was led inside the office. The Chief Commissioner embraced when he saw Pir Sabzali and said, "I regret that you was treated unknowingly on yesterday." Pir Sabzali said, "But he has discharged his duty." The Commissioner said, "I have warned him strictly not to prevent you at any time to come here." Pir Sabzali expressed his gratitude. The Chief Commissioner then asked much news, including the health of the Imam (6). After the usual polite personal inquiries, the conversation turned to explanation of our purpose of visit. He asked, "Where do you intend to make trips?" Pir said, "Badakhshan, Hunza, Yarkand (the Chinese border), Gilgit, Russia, etc. are to be visited."

4) On that occasion, missionary Kassim made a speech in the jamatkhana and spoke the danger of the journey. He prayed however for the success of the journey of Pir Sabzali. (WI, February 24, 1924)

5) The name of the European lady to be killed was Mrs. Ellis. (Ibid.)

6) When the Chief Commissioner knew that the Imam had left for Europe on April 7, 1923 by sea, he said that his wife too had gone to London from Bombay in that steamer. (Ibid.).

The Commissioner cabled to all the dak bungalows of his jurisdiction, and issued orders for the arrangements of the lodging of Pir Sabzali. He also issued orders to the officers of the dak bungalows to inform him in a report the arrangement of Pir Sabzali's stay. He also gave a written letter to Pir Sabzali (7).

Then, we commenced our voyage. We came at first in Nowshera from Peshawer, and reached Dargai station via Huti and Mardan. Missionary Hakim Ali of Punjab escorted till this station to bid us farewell. It was a night hour and we began to realize the hardship of our journey therefrom, because when the train entered Dargai, all the buggies were locked (8). While asking the reason, it came to know that there was a horror of brigands. A garrison of ten thousands had been posted for this purpose. Strict precautions have been taken on the station, and the illuminations of the electricity were purported the security of the station. Nevertheless, we were surprised to observe that despite this arrangement, why the brigands had not been subdued.

Nothing occurred when the train was on the station. But a moment later, someone knocked the glass of the window in our buggy. Missionary Hakim Ali talked with that robust man in Pushto, but the person did not go away. Their discussion increased and we were merely looking. Missionary Hakim Ali at once took out his revolver and the person fled at once.

On next day, we got out of the train at 7.00 a.m., and realized to some extent the hovering danger when we read the written instructions on the board. It reads: "You yourselves are responsible by now onwards. The government cannot help you."

7) The letter of the Chief Commissioner reads as under:-

I have received a letter dated 6th April from His Highness the Aga Khan, asking me to introduce to all in authority the bearer of this letter. He is Mr. Sabjali Ramzanali, a Khoja follower of His Highness. He is proceeding to Chitral, Gilgit, Yarkand and Badakhshan by order of His Highness, in order to visit Khoja Community in those parts. Mr. Sabjali Ramzanali is accompanied by his servants and has certificates from the Commissioner of police Bombay.

Every courtesy and assistance should be shown to the party.

J.L. Moffey
Chief Commissioner
19.4.23
N.W. Frontier Provinces

8) It was 11.00 p.m. when the train reached at the station of Dargai. The train at first entered into a hanger fortified by iron-walls, whose doors were closed. Means the train was kept within the iron enclosure at night as a protective measure, and then slowly moved towards the station in early morning.

We had to see the political agent, who resided on Mount Malakand, where is located a dak bungalow as well. There was a straight road leading to Malakand, where also radiated a road by car for Peshawer. We hired two tanga from Dargai. Muhammad Hussain, a Punjabi Ismaili also gave a company from Dargai. With no interruption, we met the political agent as soon as we safely reached Mount Malakand, and handed over the letter of the Chief Commissioner of Peshawer. The political agent said surprisingly that he had arranged our lodgings in all the dak bungalows in Chitral. Saying this, he telephoned before us to all the dak bungalows to confirm it, and also issued our passports. We breathered under his roof for two days. We expressed our millions of gratitude to the Imam that the high officers promptly made our arrangements with entertainment. On that juncture, we constantly remembered the farman of the Imam: "Listen, one who goes on my behalf, he has nothing to worry."

We departed on 23rd April and alighted at Chakdara, which marked an end of the British border. Henceforward, our journey began on horses. We stayed in Chakdara for one day (9). The jamat of Chitral had sent horses for our journey. We mounted and a ride of three days landed us at Dir. We met an influential Pathan who was like an eminent chief. We accepted his hospitality and resumed journey towards the Lowari Pass.

The next range of the Lowari Pass that we traversed was much higher. When we crossed half of the mountain, the snowfall began to start. It was not possible to move ahead while mounting the horses. What to do? Walking on foot was the only resort. It also became so at last. We trudged along on foot at 2.00 a.m. at night and relieved the horses after tapping them. It would have created havoc if we had mounted on horses because of the steep passages and gorges. Lowari Pass is at an elevation of 13,000 feet (10).

Sayed Murad Ali was a robust escort in our company. I proceeded in front with him, while Pir Sabzali and others in the caravan followed slowly. I had enough stamina to face hardships of this journey, even then I had to tell to Sayed Murad Ali, "Why not I am healthy, but not habituated with these roads, and also unknown." Sayed Murad Ali caught my point and said smilingly, "It makes no difference. You trail after me."

9) They left Chakdara on April 24, where appeared a levy post after five miles. Henceforward, their journey on tanga came to an end and have to proceed on horses. Reached at Swad and left it on April 26, 1923, and came at Rubat, and lodged in a small camp, whose supervisor was the son of a famous chief. He was a polite and kind. He entertained them and applauded the outstanding services of the Imam that, "I knew from time to time in the newspapers that the Aga Khan has toiled much for the upliftment of Islam. I become delighted when knew the untiring efforts of the Aga Khan for the best interest of Islam. Today, I am happy to see you, the representative of that true well-wisher of Islam." (WI, March 30, 1924)

They started ahead towards Dir at the distance of 30 miles. When they were about to reach Dir, a horseman came from Rubat at full gallop and informed that Kamadia Ahmed Ali Nazar of Bombay had also reached at Rubat and intended to join them on next morning. It was difficult to pass a night in his waiting, therefore, they continued to move and reached at Dir on April 27, where Kamadia Ahmed Ali Nazar joined them.

10) It was April 30, 1923 with heavy and stormy snow on Lowari Pass. According to the modern calculation, its height is 10500 feet.

It was heavy snowfall with a gale, but we faced little hardship while walking on the path of the couriers. Nevertheless, it was tortuous passage. It results an end once for all if a leg slips while not walking cautiously, and that too in unbottomable abyss. The climb thus took its toll of our remaining strength as it was too steep for us.

We had just started to climb on the mountain and continued it till 12.30 p.m. and reached to one summit, where an unfortunate incident came to our notice. Four Ismailis had taken visit of India for didar with the message of the Mukhi of Chitral for the Imam. Only those could go for didar, whom the Mukhi gave permission. On their journey to homeland, the three among them had joined us, and their company became much helpful, because most of our baggages were in their custody during this mountainous journey.

While coming from Chitral for India, one Ismaili (among the above four) was died on this hilltop, and we also reached that peak. The three Ismailis had left his dead body over here, and went along in presence of the Imam in time, and reported the Imam, who gave the status of a shahid to the dead one. We reached this place, and found that very dead body absolutely fresh. The cannibals of the mountain did not leave here the dead bodies untouched but mutilated them badly. But we were exceedingly marveled to behold the fresh remains of the body. Rest assured that this dead body remained untouched for four months as if he died just now. We have however seen the remains of the dead bodies of other unfortunate travelers around us. Mawla knows his own secret. How one's body is mutilated (like other travelers) upon whom the grace of the Imam showers? The true lovers of the Imam understand it. When we see the staunch faith of the Ismailis residing in this rocky regions, their loyalty with the Imam and the eagerness to sacrifice for the religion; then we will realize, what is faith in reality?

While travelling to convey the message to the Imam as per Mukhi's order, this Ismaili traveler embraced his death on the way. (Nothing was there except) the sky on high beneath the earth, but according to Imam's farman, he was a shahid. Many other emotional points passed through our minds. Sayed Murad Ali knew the shahid and said, "Lo! he is too our Ismaili."

A caravan just came behind us, therefore, we buried the shahid in a pit of the snow. Perhaps it may be the wish of the Imam that the Indian followers, travelling by his orders after four months would perform his burial.

There was a hamlet in the mountain, but the people quitted it due to the hazard of the snowdrifts, resulting it buried in the snow. We breathered for half an hour and resolved to crawl further afield. Now, it was the time to scramble down the hillside, and so was the great danger. The escort was habituated, but we have to descend by clutching one another. "When the journey will be over in such state?"- an idea struck in my mind on that moment, but it was not sensible.

I tried to slip myself downwards and skidded as if a monkey, and got a somersault and fell into a pit. Our caravan became annoyed. Pir Sabzali dreaded that, "The blizzard must have swallowed Ramzan Ali alive." Perhaps, he had offered a shahids, because the situation was that if one was tried to trace others whereabouts, he himself was likely to be shrouded in the snow. But what to say? I saw a miracle of the Imam indeed. After being swept from the track, I skidded and fell into a pit near a camp, almost beside a resting place, where the Imam had caught me as if a flower and placed on it. Reaching here, I was waiting for the caravan calmly, and on 7.30 p.m. at evening, all with Pir Sabzali struck out in the vision , emerging through the passes. Looking Pir Sabzali, I exclaimed and all took me towards the camp. Pir said, "We were exceedingly fearful" He added, "In vain, we have supposed something else for you, but Mawla does his own work. One who walks on the way he has directed, he is his helper." The travelers with Pir Sabzali were also surprised to great extent. Pir however rebuked me politely.

We halted in this camp for one day, and departed and came to a dak bungalow, lying two miles from Chitral (11). Two thousand regiments of the government had stationed here. There were also one or two shops belonging to the Punjabi. We rescued from the mouth of death and took a breath of relief when we saw the population of the people. We strolled there for a while and purchased leather shoes and socks from those Punjabi. Mukhi Abdullah Shah (of Chitral) and his son Nadir Shah had come to receive us.

Soon after relaxation, we began chatting. The Mukhi asked, "You must know Persian and Arabic?" Pir laughed and said, "I don't have knowledge of any one from these two languages. But my Imam is with me." The Mukhi and we all were fascinated to see the faith emanating in his reply. Unknown place and unknown language, even then, lo! how the faith of the Pir was gushing out and dominating? Mukhi said, "Actually, the matter is that the Mehtar (12) of the Chitral has invited the leading mullahs of the borders, who daily flock in the mosque and study for

11) They arrived at the camp of Ziarat, about 7644 feet high, where they rested after crossing a bridge. Mukhi Abdul Hasan of Chitral had sent his nephew to conduct the caravan in Chitral safely. Thence, they moved and came at the camp of Daraz.

12) The title "Mehtar" is derived from the Persian, meaning the king or ruler. There were others equally endearing and meaning variously ruler, rajah, governor and prime minister. In addition, Thum of Hunza, Mir of Nagar, Askogol of Shogot, Sayed of Gupis, Vali of Swat, Hakim of Laspur, etc.

During the visit of Pir Sabzali, the Mehtar of Chitral was H.H. Shuja al-Mulk Bahadur, K.C.I.E. It will be interesting to learn that the Mehtar of Chitral had come in Bombay while going on pilgrimage to Mecca. He made a visit of the Recreation Club Institute on February 7, 1924 with his sons, vizier and courtiers. He was given a warm welcome. On that occasion, Pir Sabzali made a speech and said, "According to the farman of the Imam, I had gone on the visit of Central Asia sometimes ago. During my visit to Chitral, my respectable friend, whom we have an opportunity to see over here, had taken much trouble in my hospitality. My vocal power has no enough words to appreciate it. We however must be proud that he is a true friend of Islam. I don't know which words should I apply in admiration for the assistance he had extended to a missionary promulgating Islam? I would however admit that he was a helper in our mission. I feel pleasure to announce that he has generously donated Rs. 500/- to our missionary works. We will pray that Almighty may bless him health and longer life, and we may be able to see our royal friend once again after his safe return." The Recreation Club also honoured him a dinner on February 8, 1924 at Willingden Sports Club, which was attended by Sir Ibrahim Rahimtullah, Kassim Ali Jairaj, Fazal Ibrahim Rehmatullah, Hussain Ali Mohammad Rehmatullah and the members of the Council and jamati leaders. (WI, February 10, 1924) deliberations. They will ask you about the Koran. But I know Koran and will reply them." And after moving ahead in the journey, we arrived at Chitral at last, where the arrangements of our greetings had been completed by the ruler and people (13).

The military officers accorded us salute when we reached Chitral, and the people also hailed us in jubilation (14). When Pir reached his residence, it was known that the mullahs that were assembled, had gone away. We passed five days in Chitral, during which time the Mehtar of Chitral accorded us an excellent reception, and on that occasion, Pir Sabzali had worn the robe and the turban of filigree as per Imam's orders (15).

13) They reached at Chitral on Wednesday, May 2, 1923.

14) It was the morning of Thursday, May 3, 1923 when they relieved from the breakfast, a deputation of 40 Ismailis led by Mukhi Abdul Hasan and Mohammad Akbar arrived, and informed that they had to go to see the Mehtar of Chitral. The time for the meeting was fixed at 3.00 p.m. The Ismaili deputation came back at 2.30 p.m. Pir Sabzali put on his usual uniform and was marveled when he saw outside that a hundred Ismailis were waiting for him with a well decorated horse. Mukhi requested Pir Sabzali to mount the horse. Hence, they all went to see the Mehtar in the form of a procession. The palace of the Mehtar was situated on the bank of the river. It crossed the main market at first to reach the palace. The people gathered on both sides of the road to watch it. After about 15 minutes, they saw a strong iron gate of the fort, whose 200 armed men lowered down their arms and saluted. After dismounting, Pir Sabzali was led through the entrance of the fort and reached at an open space, where a beautiful carpet was spread with a throne on it. Walking ahead, the palace came into their sight, where the brother of Mehtar stood to welcome them. They entered the palace and came to its well adorned first floor, richly ornamented with furniture. There was a decorated chair at the corner with a beautiful coach near it. Soon after their entry, a young man came, clad of white robe. He was the Mehtar of Chitral, whom Pir Sabzali made a humble obeisance. The Mehtar sat on the chair and asked the Pir to sit on the coach. The heater in the wall was making a lukewarm condition. The Mehtar asked all about the journey. There were only the Mehtar, Mukhi Abdul Hasan and Pir Sabzali, while the rest of the people returned. Mukhi Abdul Hasan is an eminent figure in Chitral with close relation with the Mehtar. The Mehtar then asked about the Imam. Pir Sabzali related the latest news and handed over the Imam's letter to him. The Mehtar kissed the letter reverently before opening it and said while reading, "It is my great pleasure that a great front ranking leader of Islam and a hero of the descendant of the Prophet has remembered me to do a work. I will do my utmost to execute it." After a chatting of 30 minutes, they took tea and biscuits, and then Pir Sabzali asked for permission to leave. The Mehtar issued an order that as long as Pir Sabzali was in Chitral, he would be entertained as his guest and all arrangements for it would be executed by the state. (WI, June 22, 1924 & July 13, 1924)

15) It was May 21, 1923 when they returned to Chitral after visiting Bilpok.

Looking him, one Sunni officer in the party laughed, which was unbearable to an Ismaili officer. The Ismailis, emanating the surety of their spirit could not tolerate an insult of the Imam's messenger. Temper frayed in the Ismaili officer, who swiftly unshielded his sword, and advanced to teach the Sunni officer. The Mehtar intervened before the dispute thickened. The Sunni officer retired from the reception at once.

The Mehtar asked in the party, "Where do you intend to go?" Pir said, "We intend to visit China, Russia, Kabul and the British boarders." The Mehtar laughed. Perhaps, he would be thinking whether we would return from Russia. He also taunted, "When you go Russia, you relieve the son of my brother who is imprisoned."

Then we lodged in Hasanabad with Mukhi Abdul Hasan for ten days, where we collected important information (16). Mulla Kurban in our company read the farman of the Imam in Persian with the gracious blessing before the flocked concourse of the Ismailis of the surrounding villages. Physically, these Ismailis have never seen the Imam, rather Imam's photograph too. Nevertheless we were so much enchanted to see their unwavering faith like mountain. They are unknown with our religious rites and ceremonies. They lay down their lives, hearts and wealth for Imam's cause and the Ismailis. When they come to know that the guests in their houses are not the Ismailis, they hesitate in their treatment. Even, most of them do not know the name of the Imam.

Pir Sabzali asked them a question, "How you pay tithes?" These people said, "In summer, we give one goat out of ten. In winter, when wheat is harvested, we give one out of ten of the products."

The women generally wear the beads of big pearls as their ornaments. The money is not in circulation at all. The people cultivate wheat in winter and store it. In summer, they engage in pasturage, and collect the goat-hairs, and weave for clothes at home for their winter costumes. To keep well they eat the Pathani bread of wheat and cold water for drinking, and thrive on this normal diet. The water is sweet like sugar. The people consider it a liquid-medicine, therefore, they make their mood off while drinking. Rice and sugar are not available. Purchasing of merchandise and wares are made in Peshawer. A dish like the cream of lassi from grams and wheat is delicious and sour. The wearing and covering are equal for all, whether young or old. When four attendants stand at service behind a man, it indicates that he is an officer, because the costumes are same in the people of all ranks.

Pir asked the Mukhi, "Why do you not allow the pilgrims for the didar? Let them go if they can afford." The Mukhi said, "If we allow all, it becomes hotchpotch in our works." Pir said, "All Muslims go on pilgrimage, and likewise, the Ismailis also deserve right of didar. You must allow them." The Mukhi said, "We all the Mukhis of the borders will gather and decide it." Pir became severe and said, "Lo! if you will not decide it, I will have to report all about to the Imam." Quite amazingly, the Ismailis and all Mukhis passed a unanimous resolution during our stay that, "It is permissible to all to go for a didar."

16) They proceeded for Bartoli at the distance of 8 miles on May 3, 1923, then arrived at Hasanabad at the distance of 11 miles on May 4, 1923.

We went to Lutko, where are located the hot streams (17). We lodged in a big bungalow, having hot water in its well all the times, why not it is cold winter (18).

17) The routes of Lutko are joined plentiful with the mountains and rivers. The Ismailis reside in the mountains of Lutko in large number, including the Sunnis. The Ismailis have polite and peaceful temperaments and loyal to the state. The ruler himself admitted that the Ismailis fought valiantly during last world war and defended Chitral. Lutko is rich with the natural gift of hot streams, flowing round the clock. Facility is available for separate bath for all. It is believed that the diseases like breathlessness, asthma, or the eczema are cured by its bath. The Mehtar has built here a bungalow, having three rooms with a fountain in the middle, where flows hot water. The bungalow is covered from all sides with beautiful orchards. Pir Sabzali lodged in that bungalow, where the Ismailis of the mountains began to flock to see him when knew his arrival. The Ismailis presented fruits and other items, which were heaped so high that it was inexhaustible in a month by the caravan. It exhibits their love and fervour. They also brought apricots and walnuts of best quality, insisting to eat before them. There is a place of Nasir Khusaro in Lutko, where he is believed to have stayed. There is also one more place in the mountain, to which the people believed that when Nasir Khusaro departed from the world, his body was kept in a den of the mountain without burying in accordance with his will. While doing so, his coffin disappeared from that place. There are many places of Hazrat Ali, where the Ismailis gather and recite the Persian quatrains.

The plants of asafoetida are in abundance in Lutko, but no attempt is made to process it. The people however know its processing method. Since the plants produce insufficient asafetida for marketing, the people left its production. The mountains also contain rich materials. Pir Sabzali saw a stone mingled with yellow dust like gold. One European in Bombay had a plan to produce gold from these stones. He had taken his advice, how much stones would he got? The mountains are rich with plentiful veins, yielding lead and tin, and the people know to melt them. Resin is also produced in large quantity. (WI, August 17, 1924)

18) Roji was the village as their next junction, where radiated two routes, one for Chitral and other for Lutko. They followed the second route and reached Lutko via Mor.

Ali Nazar, the brother of Mukhi Muhammad Wali Nazar of Bombay, had accompanied us till Chitral to see his father-in-law, Ghulam Hyder, separated with us. Ghulam Hyder was the relative of the Mehtar, and embraced Ismailism after recognizing the Imam. Mukhi Muhammad Wali Nazar and Ali Nazar had too much served the house of the Imam of the age in past (19).

19) They left Lutko on May 11, 1923 and trekked down through the route leading to a hamlet, called Mog on next day. A grand majalis of two hours was organized at Mog, where a big concourse of the Ismailis had assembled. There is a place in the mountain, which is well built. It is related that Hazrat Ali visited it during the battle of Khaibar, where the footprints of Hazrat Ali's horse are preserved as a memory. Pir Sabzali and his party went to see it. The footprints of the horse are visible on big piece of a stone. It is attached with another small beautiful stone, which is cut into two pieces. It is said that an enemy had broken it in jealousy.

Their next station was the village of Askari on the route. Arrived at Momi and left it on May 15, 1923 and came once again in Hasanabad, which they left on Sunday, May 20, 1923. After visiting Bilpok, they returned to Chitral. The Mehtar of Chitral gave them a grand reception in the morning on May 21, 1923. The Mehtar had also invited the political agent, Mr. A.P. Andraj, the military commander, Sir Oralstin, researching in Central Asia and other European dignitaries and officers.

After an end of the reception, they had to go in the palace of the Mehtar with Mukhi Abdul Hasan at noon. The soldiers accorded them salute at the entrance. The wazir of the Mehtar was waiting for them, who led them into a big drawing room, where the Mehtar was sitting with other guests. The Mehtar introduced them with all the guests. It was followed by a lunch with vivid English dish. During the conversation, the Europeans constantly were asking about the Imam, and appreciated him with high regard. The cigarettes were served after lunch to the guests. Pir Sabzali did not honour it, and refused with regret. The European officers became highly surprised. Col. Beyer, the political agent asked, "Don't you smoke due to the religious belief?" Pir Sabzali was forced to give him a reply in brief and said, "Smoking is harmful for health. Why should we spend money vainly which procures no advantage, rather disadvantage. With this purpose, our elders have recommended to remain far from such habit." His words were so touching that pierced the heart of the political agent. He admired the precaution of the Imam for his followers. Besides, he also gave up the smoking from that day (WI, August 31, 1924.)

They left Chitral on May 26, 1923 and arrived at Kogaj, Morai and Baranis. The Mehtar of Chitral was also upbrought in Baranis. It is a custom in Chitral in vogue that the rich class send their newly born children in Baranis for better nourishment.

Soon after quitting Baranis, they found an awful passage on their routes, where the stones were falling down after few seconds from the summit of the mountain. There was however no mean but to cross it. Thus, they dismounted and when the falling of the stones stopped for few seconds, one among them ran through the passage. Thus, they crossed an appalling passage one by one. Nevertheless, one among them was injured with the stroke of a falling stone on his mouth. Ramzan Ali at once gave him due treatment. The mountain from whose summit the stones were rolling down is known as Dar-i Glash. (WI, September 19, 1924)

We went to Buni from Chitral, where the Ismailis from surrounding regions had thronged, whom the messages of the Imam were conveyed three times a day. We used to send a messenger before hand wherever we intended to visit, so that the jamats be assembled. The Mehtar of Chitral had provided a competent escort, Muhammad al-Din to conduct us as far as Russia and China.

We reached Mastuj from Buni (20) via Sanogher, where is a post-office and also an Ismaili officer. The people celebrated a striking feast in our honour and played polo (21).

Finally, they were conducted at the residence of a heroic soldier, Sher Muhammad in Reshun (6400 feet high). They proceeded for Gupis, where they arrived on Sunday, May 27, 1923. They made a flying visit of Kesht via Lon at a distance of 12 miles. They went further 7 miles ahead and came at the village of Sarhat, then Kusum at a distance of 3 miles. They again arrived at Ra'in at the distance of 10 miles and left it on Thursday, May 31, 1923. Then, they alighted at Surajilli on June 1, 1923, then in Shadkhar and left it on the following day for Kot at the distance of 8 miles. They arrived at Shah Bujai on June 4, 1923 and then in Settar at the distance of 12 miles on June 5, 1923. Then, their caravan arrived at Buni (7200 feet high) after passing through Junali Koch.

20) They left Buni on June 8, 1923 for Charan at the distance of 12 miles. The caravan further moved on Meregram, Sanogher, and Sarguj and returned back to Sanogher at the distance of 6 miles. It is to be noted that Sarguj is a village on the mountain with flowing water. It has beautiful houses where an average Ismailis resided. The name of the Mukhi of Sarguj Jamatkhana was Aulad-i Hussain and was 9 years old. The Kamadia who represented him was a talented person. (WI, December 28, 1924)

The caravan then arrived at Mastuj (7680 feet high) on June 11, 1923, whose ruler Mir Dilaram came to receive them, and conducted them to his house.

21) They quitted Mastuj and headed along nine miles and lodged in the house of Abdul Karim at Chapli. They proceeded further for Laspur, and then Sor Laspur (about 9800 feet high), where ends the borders of Chitral.

According to PS, "Chitral is a small but a magnificent city on the bank of a river. There are almost 20 shops of retail items, cloth and tailors in its market. Despite few shops, we can however call it a small market. But, it is reckoned a biggest market in the region of Central Asia within the mountainous circuit of Hindu Kush. Its mercantile activities are flourishing and profitable, because the borders of Afghanistan and Russia are near, and their people also found Chitral quite nearer than their own capital cities. The commodities of other countries are also imported in Chitral in large quantity, and the export of the local merchandise is also sizable. The other strong reason for Chitral being an emporium is that the pilgrims going to Mecca from Yarkand beyond the Pamir used to pass through Chitral every year for their convenience. These people however can go on pilgrimage via Kashmir, but its routes are rough and barren, also needing to cross Mount Himalaya, which is not possible for them. Instead of venturing a hazardous journey, the pilgrims from the Pamir come in Chitral through the borders of Pathan and the route of Barogal, and thence they proceed to India and go on the pilgrimage. The pilgrims sell their horses in Chitral and exchange their currency into the British pounds. They are not cautious in selling their horses and in the rate of exchange, therefore, the local merchants procure handsome profits, and that is the reason that the business in Chitral is considered profitable.

Salt is not produced in Chitral, and is imported from Faizabad in Afghanistan, which is far for eight days' journey in extent. Faizabad is also a beautiful city, containing mountain-salt. It must be known that there is a difference between the salt of the mountain and the sea. The salt of mountain is bitter in taste. It is white with radish colouring. Most of the itinerant traders of Faizabad are the Ismailis, who bring salt for its marketing in Chitral and take back sugar, tea, etc. Tea is exported from the market of Chitral on a big scale. The people of the surrounding borders purchase tea against the gold coins and the silver coins of Kabul. Two to three kinds of tea are exported. One is green tea, the people call it sabz. The second is black tea, known as pomla, and the third one is jira, which is very tasty and drunk without milk. The transactions in the market is lively to its extreme only for five months in a year, because of heavy snow on the mountains and none can travel on its routes. During that time, the snow freezes for two feet high in the city, and sometimes it falls too much, forcing the local people to travel by carts or horses.

The fruits in Chitral are grown in measureless quantity with plentiful varieties. Mulberry is in different kinds, which resembles what we call it shetur in Bombay. We have white and green mulberries, and also black to some extent in Punjab; but mulberries in Chitral are in different colours. It is delicious and sweetest, and not that of the mulberries of Bombay. Best quality of sweet is prepared from the pulp of the fresh mulberries, because the sugar is very costly, which is two rupees per pound. The sweet made of the mulberries is like the English chocolate. The people preserve the pulp of the mulberries in the small empty containers of kerosene. The honey of the mountain is very famous, whom they call shahed. It is so sweet that if we taste its tea-spoon, we will become worried (of its sweetness). The people take full bowls of honey with their breakfast and foods. Apricot is grown in abundance and delicious too. Fig, dried grapes, pomegranates, etc are grown in large quantity. Dried fruits are not exportable due to its growth in large quantity in other places. It is however very expensive in its exportation. Thus, the people dry it after cleaning and eat for whole year. The dried fruits are not less in quantity like other fresh fruits.

Chitral is rich with the teak-wood, whose transportation in India is not possible. The flowers are seen in different varieties in the trees. The crops are cultivated for two times in a year in some districts. Wheat and barley are the principal crops.

The people wear long robes with shirts inside and shalwar as their costumes. They put on round woolen caps on heads. They are beautiful in appearance. The people are extremely fond of the flowers, and insert them on their caps. There are some trees, having fragrance of scent. The local tradition has it that Nasir Khusaro arrived by the orders of Imam Mustansir billah as a dai in this region. Once he sat beneath the tree and perspired too much due to hot temperature. He washed his face with the leaves of the tree. Henceforward, the tree grew fragrant leaves.

Clothes are very costly over here. The tradition of wearing white clothes is prevalent among the womenfolk at large. The women are active and hard workers and help in the cultivations. The men are great fighters, and known as the valiant warriors. During the last world war, the Ismaili warriors fought and demonstrated their loyalty towards the Mehtar. Polo is a national and interesting game of Chitral and is played mostly by the high officials of the royal court. About 25,000 Ismailis reside around the mountains of Chitral. (WI, July 20, 1924 & July 27, 1924).

Thence, we went to Shandur, where is a high mountain (22) We crossed it and came in the district of Gupis, where is also a post-office. Jalal Shah was the Mukhi over here. The Ismailis were thickly populated. The house of the Mukhi was at the bank of the river. The Mukhi was fond of hawking. We then went to Punial, whose ruler was an ex-Ismaili. (23)

We arrived then in Gilgit, where is a military camp of fifteen thousands. There was the house of Muhammad Ghazan Khan, the Mir of Hunza, who had been invested the title of His Highness by the British government for his support (during the world war) in 1914. We proceeded ahead and stayed in the dak bungalow of Nomal, where many Twelvers resided. Reaching from there in Chhallat, we stayed in the dak bungalow of Alyabad in the territory of Hunza, called Hindi (24). The jamat is well populated, and Baltit was at the distance of four miles, where we were entertained by the Mir of Hunza for eight days, and read the farman of the Imam before him. When he heard that we were going beyond the Chinese borders in accordance with the farman of the Imam, he sank into deep thought, because the roads were extremely appalling and dangerous, and the person like Lord Kichener (or H.H. Sir Kichener) was forced to return to avoid danger. But we have been advised by Imam to go there.

22) They crossed Shandur Pass, bisecting the borders of Chitral and Kashmir. Their escorts of Chitral also separated from here. Shandur is a dense place in Central Asia, and is at an elevation of 12205 feet high. Its mountains contain rich raw materials, such as silver, mercury, tin, lead, rasin and other minerals. It is populated by 80,000 persons, in which the Ismailis are about 35,000 to 40,000. The ruler is a Muslim and his state is supervised with the help of the British authority. It contains less territory and much prohibitions are imposed upon the local Ismailis in comparison with the other regions of Central Asia. The Ismailis are beautiful and clever in appearance, having great deal of religious spirit. (WI, January 4, 1925)

While passing through Shandur, the caravan was in the territory of Kashmir, where Mount Hindu Kush was visible in their sight. They arrived in the village of Teru on June 8, 1923 and continued to visit Gejur, Pingal and came at Jauj Road on June 22, 1923. Thence, they trekked down to Gupis through Mount Hindu Kush. (WI, January 11, 1925)

23) The caravan reached in Yasin on June 24, 1923. They proceeded to Gidai and Barjindash on June 26, 1923, and Hundur on next day, then in Damas where they stayed in the house of Mukhi Sayed Jamal. Left Damas for Haul on July 7, 1923 and reached Singul on July 9, 1923. They at last arrived in Gilgit on July 10, 1923, which is 7775 feet high. They made their lodging at the bungalow of Mir Nasir Khan, K.C.I.E. They left Gilgit on Wednesday, July 11, 1923 for Nomal. (Ibid.)

24) They then came in Chhallat on July 13, 1923, which is 6165 feet high. Next stations were Makhun and Hindi and reached Murtzabad on Monday, July 16, 1923. They proceeded to Hasanabad and then arrived at Alyabad on July 19, 1923. Finally, they arrived at Baltit, which is 7420 feet high.(WI, February 8, 1925)

Looking our firm determination, the Mir provided us fifteen robust persons, who were very valiant, faithful and experts. We proceeded with them, who lifted us in the joli. (a hammock or a bag made by holding or stitching the four ends of a piece of cloth). I sat in the joli with Pir Sabzali, Ghulam Ali Gwadari and Mukhi Muhammad of Punjab. These were not those cradles in which we swang and enjoyed during childhood. They inserted us into the jolis and lifted on their shoulders like bags. They walked about two furlongs, and gave relaxation to one another. We spent thus two days. We were puzzled, because the chain of the small snowbound came to appear on the passage (25). Eventually, the turn came to ride on the yaks. We made a ride of a day and reached at a camp. From this landing place, where the borders of the Hunza come to an end, is known as Misgar, having a telephone line with Hunza. We reported the details of our safety to the Mir on telephone. We rested for two days, and proceeded towards Pamir. Ahead of us stretched the endless vista of the Pamir. When reached the colossal summit, we were quite

25) They quitted Baltit on Sunday, July 22, 1923. Then, they rode on yaks to arrive at Altit, Ahmedabad and Attabad, which they left on July 24, 1923 and followed the route of Gilgit.(Ibid.)

Once again they had to go through the dangerous pass. When they reached amidst a high mountain, they saw a deep gorge on their way, which was extremely appalling and impassable. It was so deep that one became fainted while looking its bottom. Besides, the current of water was too fast in the gorge, making the noise as if a roaring lion. The yaks also could not walk, and it was difficult to ford on its side by foot. What to speak an incomparable fervour of the local Ismaili fidais. They came forward willingly and offered to lift each person of the caravan on their backs to cross the gorge, and scrambled in their offers. It must be known that the son of the Mir had told in a meeting that once two military officers asked the local persons to lift them on their backs to cross the gorge, offering fifty rupees for each person, but failed to procure ten persons they needed. But, here the Ismaili fidais advanced their offers without remuneration. At length, one young person lifted Pir Sabzali on his shoulder and began to pass through the gorge cautiously. The passage was so narrow and awful that if a leg skidded, no trace of one's whereabouts was found. The persons of the whole caravan were lifted one by one. On every ten minutes, the lifters inter-changed their duties. Thus, the horrible gorge was crossed safely. (WI, April 16, 1925)

There sprang one another appalling and tedious route to be forded, with a flowing of water beneath it. There was no other route attached with the mountain. The Ismaili fidais hammered long pieces of wood into the mountain, so that one could put his legs on it and move ahead. Finally, they passed it and alighted at a dry route and thanked the Imam. (WI, June 17, 1925)

In Gilgit, they lodged in a bungalow which was watered all around. Amidst was a piece of land, whereon their lodging place stood. Pir Sabzali and his colleagues sat on two big stones to view the natural scenaries. Suddenly, they saw a long rope, hanging between one to another end of the water. They became more trembling to see an incomparable scene that few persons were walking on the rope with children fastened with their bodies. They were the Ismailis, crawling towards the representative of the Imam to hear the farman. (Ibid.)

They went to Umakan on July 25, 1923 and next day in Susani. They arrived at Pashu on July 27, 1923 and then Khaibar and quitted it on Saturday, July 28, 1923. Further, they came at Gircha and then Misgar on July 29, 1923, which is 8670 feet high. Then, they crossed the plateaus of Shirin and Kalik on August 1, 1923, where begins the territory of the Pamir, about 12150 feet high. The Chinese borders also fork from here. (WI, August 8, 1925) breathless to talk. It was a hazardous and lofty mountain. We could hardly talk when the breath became normal. We passed a night under such condition. The Mir had given a tent, but it was sufficient for Pir Sabzali alone for sleeping. So, I slept beneath the bed of Pir, and other also drifted off to sleep outside the tent (26).

We descended from the Pamir on next day. There is a village inhabited by all the Ismailis on the foot of the mountain, where lies also the borders of China. We made a gathering of the Ismailis and recited the farman of the Imam. After hearing it, one old man of 80 years stood up and said in Chinese, "O'people! Do you know that it is described in the book of Pir Nasir Khusaro that after 700 to 800 years, the Imam will manifest in the world, and a person on his behalf would come. Be it known that the Imam is manifested, and today the envoy of the Imam has come. If he may order us to eat the flesh of the dogs, it is lawful despite its unlawfulness!" (27). This is the spirit of those who are giving lives on the Imam. It is a slap beating the faces of those who incorporate their reason in Imam's farman.

The mountainous men and women in the Pamir are of outstanding beauty. Poverty however prevails, but God has justifiably blessed them with classic ethereal beauty. The nature in its absolute grandeur blossoms, and the people nourishing in its laps are also so sincere. The ladies participating in the international beauty contest cannot stand before the stout-built physiques of the hurries of this land. Poet Dalpat Ram says:

26) The snow-fall began on the mountains of the Pamir, and before the time it shrouded the routes ahead, they continued their onwards non-stop journey.

27) PS had narrated in the beginning that, "I had never in my mind to launch such voyage, even I have never thought that I would need to visit those mountainous regions. It was however destined in the natural programme of the incidents, which was not unknown in the region of my journey. Means the region was well acquainted with the natural programme, not since last two to five years, but before 800 years. Nasir Khusaro, the great hero had ventured these dangerous journey according to the guidance of Imam Mustansir billah, without the care of mishaps and difficulties and imparted the people the recognition of the Imam of the age. Nasir Khusaro, the great hero had foretold that the manifestation of the Imam would take place after 800 years, and one person would come on his behalf for the mission as a sign of his manifestation." (WI, February 17, 1924)

O'Lord! why didn't you give flowers to the mango tree and grew thorns on rose plant? Why the pious lady like Sulochana was destined with a blind husband? O'Lord of fate! (it seems that) there is a deficiency in your creation!?

From here we went to the Consul, where resided a Chinese agent. He was so dirty that it was difficult to stand beside him (because of) the odour of dirt, meat and opium (28). The

28) The Chinese officer allowed them to visit as far as Sarekul in the territory of China. It was Saturday, August 4, 1923 when the force of the wind was moderate. Their caravan passed through the Pamir without making a junction. They however made a halt at evening in Khojakbai, where a huge concourse of the Ismailis had thronged and heard the farman in reverence. They moved ahead on next day on horses and reached at Wafdar at evening, where they held two majalis. On Monday, August 6, 1923 they saw the Pamir almost blanketed with the snow. Their next destination was Pitjalga, where the jamat gave them an unbounded warm ovation with music, dance and songs. The Ismailis pitched a tent, facing a passage of half mile, covered with the carpets, on which they were passed on horses. Each one was eager to hear the farman of the Imam, saying, "Let us hear the farman of the Imam at first. We have been thirsty for it for years. Do not make us thirsty any more." After listening the farman, each of them scrambled to kiss the copy of farman. Finally, it became a long queue to kiss it one by one in reverence. (WI, August 15, 1925)

Ismaili gangs met us on the way, and we reached Sarekul after three days, where resided the Mukhi of China (29).

29) After passing a night at Pitjalga, the caravan caught the route of Sarekul, and after a ride of one hour, they saw few horsemen coming from opposite direction. They were the Ismaili leaders, who had come to receive them. They reached Sarekul in China at evening and were conducted in the house of Mukhi Imamdad.(Ibid.)

PS narrates that, "Sarekul is situated on the lofty mountains. It occupies an old citadel as if a heap of the dust, but its exterior decoration was a wonder of rich artistry and design. It can accommodate thousands of people. It was built in past for defensive purpose during the war. The bungalow of the local governor is lying beside it, but not so good in its construction. There is one more small but beautiful bungalow at the distance of 150 yards, whose owner was Mohammad Karim Beg, the person who dominated as a chief in Sarekul. There is also another strongly built fort near it with latest design." (Ibid.)

Mohammad Karim Beg is an Ismaili chief. A Russian, called Boleslawski built the fort, and when Pir Sabzali visited Sarekul, it was in occupation of Mohammad Karim Beg. The limit of his domination ends at the Russian border after a journey of three days in extent. It implies that Pir has gone as far as the Russian borders. The route between Sarekul and Russia was highly rough and dangerous. There was the Andijan railway station at the distance of three days journey. The Ismailis reside in the hamlets around the Russian boarders with a distance of two miles from one another. There lived a governor, who was extremely stubborn and cruel by nature. The Ismailis fear with his misbehaviour. Pir did not like to see him, but it was necessary to endorse permission on the passports to proceed ahead. Eventually, Pir sent a man to the governor with passports.

It is learnt that there arose a dispute between the governor and Mohammad Karim Beg. Thus, the governor took action against him, therefore, Mohammad Karim Beg avoided to visit in the circuit of his authority.

PS narrates that,"The caravans of the merchants always passed through Sarekul, coming from Kashgar and other places, and went to Chitral via Sarekul. The merchants brought salt, silken cloth and tea. The currency note is in circulation and the small note was much smaller in size than our note of ten rupees, called Char Tanga. The big note in size is more than the note of our ten rupees, called Sher, equaling to hundred Char Tanga. The silver and copper coins are also in circulation, but the principal circulation of currencies is the Russian and Kabul, having high rates. The pilgrims of Mecca also pass through Sarekul, who exchange their notes against gold coins." (WI, September 23, 1925)

Pir Sabzali was the guest of Mukhi Imamdad on August 7 and August 8, 1923. Two Mukhis of Yarkand came in Sarekul to take him with them, one was the son of Sayed Mirza Ahmed and other was Sayed Ibrahim. The bungalow of Mukhi Imamdad was known as Toglansar. Pir Sabzali deposited his baggage in his bungalow and went on the flying visit of Tashgorkan, where many forts existed. The Ismailis conducted the Pir in a residence, resembled that of Chitral. There is one another bungalow of Mohammad Karim Beg, who was absent in Tashgorkan. His son lodged the Pir in the bungalow, where the whole jamat was given a lunch. The fresh fruits are hardly seen over here, nevertheless, it was arranged from Yarkand for the guests.

We stayed with the Mukhi. Do you know, what was for eating? It was a complete goat dressed with the spices in it. After staying for eight days, we set out for Yarkand (30).

Pir proceeded for Kozgan on August 10, 1923 at the distance of three miles, where existed a small jamatkhana. He was shown a new and amazing game, called Muzkashi. They had seen so far the polo, but Muzkashi differed with it. One dead goat was placed on the ground, and the young boys on horses, singing and dancing, competed to pick it up, and one who took it, he was declared a winner.

After holding a majalis and reading the farman, Pir quitted the village on next morning for Tajnik, where existed a big jamatkhana. Its four rooms were reserved for the visiting Ismailis. It has a wide space before the entrance and could easily accommodate over one thousand people. The people cultivate corns around the jamatkhana.

On next morning, they bound for Chashman, whose governor was an Ismaili, and had invited the Pir in his village. Then, he proceeded to Togansar and stayed in the house of Sayed Baba Shah, whose father had served as a Mukhi. The baggage of the caravan deposited at the bungalow of Mukhi Imamdad was brought, because they had to catch the route of Yarkand from here. (WI, October 16, 1925)

30) The caravan quitted Sarekul for Yarkand on August 14, 1923. The route was within mountain chain, bleak and precipitous. Each of them was exhausted including the horses. They saw few houses at the foot of the mountain, where they descended in half an hour. The house belonged to the Ismailis, who left nothing in their hospitality. This place is called Baldar, about 12 miles from Togansar, which they left on August 15, 1923 and arrived in Torbosh at evening. The caravan continued to move and came at Wachchha, lying within the mountains, whose Mukhi was Hasan Shah. Quitted it on August 17, 1923 and took the route leading to Yarkand. The caravan passed through a dangerous forest, called Kharetaj, and reached safely at Kugoshlog, which they left on August 18, 1923 and arrived at Samrosh, then in Kalma. It is interesting to note that the government officer of Kalma was an Ismaili and his name was also Sabzali, who had been invested the official title of Bhang Bhang.

Ahead was a route leading to Yarkand, but it needed first to ford a river. There was not a single boat for sailing. There was only a narrow passage of stones and mud on the side of the river, which was difficult to walk, and could cause fainting to pass it. It was a troublesome passage of four to five hours, then the rest passage was to wade through the water to reach the opposite side of the river. Finally, Pir Sabzali mounted on a camel, which could cross the muddy area only. Then, the two bags of goat-skins were filled with air. One was tied on the Pir's breast, and other on the breast of the local Ismaili. Then, a horse was brought, whose rein was in the safe hand of that Ismaili. The rope was fastened around the belly of the Pir, whose another end was tied with the tail of the horse. That Ismaili jumped into the river, exclaiming Ya Ali Madad. He dragged both the horse, and the Pir in the water. It was certainly a dangerous venture and could create a calamity if the horse stopped, and thus, it was kept on moving slowly. Hence, they crossed the river one by one after facing the fast and shivering current of water. The place where they landed was called Aakyer, thickly populated by the Ismailis, who welcomed the caravan with great pomp and jubilation.

The caravan halted at night at Aakyer and resumed journey on August 20, 1923. There were heavy stones on the route ahead, and nothing else. They crossed it and reached in a village, whose name was amazing, i.e., Alibhaiji. Thence, they ascended the Mount Toristan. Despite several efforts, they could not climb the mountain till evening, therefore, they had to pass a night in this dangerous mountain. They started to go upward on next morning and reached at Charlog, where resided the tribe of Kargej, a cruel gang. They however arranged the lodging of the caravan in a beautiful orchard. Pir offered to reimburse them for the foods, but they refused and treated well with them.

The next morning saw the caravan reached at Mount Kokiar, where they relaxed in a garden. They started to climb on the mountain on next morning, and found a plateau, whereon they proceeded on galloping horses. They met five Ismailis on route, who dismounted as a respect when saw the caravan. Pir also dismounted and embraced them. They had brought fruits and breakfast for them. The caravan alighted on a side of the route and ate it. These five Ismailis had come from Yarkand, one among them was Mir Tala Khan, who was employed in the Consel of Yarkand as a high officer. He caught the rein of the horse of Pir Sabzali and trod in front to a little distance. (WI, November 8, 1925)

The border of Yarkand was now ahead on the straight route. Their horses were running at full gallop. On the route, they met a jamat of Sarekato Garak. Colourful carpets were spread at the shade of a tree, where they rested. They moved on and reached the village of Sarak-i Torag in the outskirts of Yarkand, and stayed in the bungalow of the Ismaili, where the news of the arrival of Pir Sabzali had spread before few days. Hence, a large multitude of the Ismailis of surrounding areas flocked. On the morning of Sunday, August 26, 1923, a grand majalis was solemnized with the reading of the farman.

The caravan proceeded towards Sai Tang and Koshlasai, where the mountainous routes ended and their horses began to run on the red plateau in speed and reached at a beautiful bungalow of Mir Tala Khan, which was at three miles from Yarkand. A majalis was held in its compound. Pir Sabzali stayed two days in the bungalow, and the jamats were repasted on every day by Mir Tala Khan. On Wednesday, August 29, 1923, Mir Tala Khan brought a well decorated horse when Pir entered the city of Yarkand.

The caravan headed on a wide plateau and came at the edge of the city. Mir Tala Khan wanted to pass the caravan through the main market of the city, which was 10 to 12 feet broad. Both sides of the market consisted of shops of fruits and corns. When the people looked at the caravan with Mir Tala Khan, they thought it a special caravan of eminent persons. The people welcomed them, who crossed the market within 30 minutes. Finally, they arrived at the office of Mir Tala Khan, who executed almost as a British Consel in the city. They were conducted to the quarters in the office, which looked like a bungalow with open space and garden.

Meanwhile, Mir Tala Khan received a mail at noon from the British envoy of Kashgar, mentioning, "The representative of the Aga Khan is coming to Yarkand. You make a good arrangement for him, and let me know when he came." Mir Tala Khan sent his reply in Kashgar accordingly. The distance between Yarkand and Kashgar was the journey of two days in extent. In the meantime, a messenger came from Kashgar in frantic haste, bearing a news for Mir Tala Khan that, "We shall be delighted if the representative of the Aga Khan may take a visit of Kashgar, who is proceeding towards Yarkand. We invite him for Kashgar. When he came, you please inform us."

No house of the Ismailis existed in Kashgar, and it would consume much time in the travel, and the whole programme was likely to become paralyzed if the snowfall started on the way. It was informed to the British envoy in Kashgar with high regret for not visiting his city.

Pir Sabzali visited the bustling market of Yarkand on that evening. It was a big and divided into various parts. It is opened on Thursday and Saturday, and frequented by the people and merchants. There were many hotels in it, cooking delicious foods. Sugar, salt and other items like shoes are imported from Rumachi for sale. Sugar is mostly imported from Kashgar. Opium is the principal product of Yarkand, which is cultivated in the fields. The three Indian traders of district Shahpur conduct here the shops of opium, which is sold in 25 to 30 rupees per maund. The British yields a tax of two thousand rupees on its sale. The silk is also produced in Yarkand. The city has one court and many terrible pictures were hung on its walls. A big case was persecuted on that day, but he returned soon due to the language problem.

On Thursday, August 30, 1923, Pir Sabzali again went to stroll in the market with Mir Tala Khan and Mukhi Imamdad Khan. There was a heavy rush in the market, but the people made a way for them. He entered in an attractive shop. The owner of the shop said that he was a banker. Four persons were sitting in the shop, perhaps they had come to borrow money, but it was known that they were the brokers. The money is lent on the guarantee of the brokers, who were authorized to sanction the loan of five to one thousand of rupees, and procured a fractional interest. The rate of interest is twelve and half percent. Printed forms are available for lenders and borrowers.

The rush is also sizable in the hotels and shops. Pir Sabzali was busy to watch the market when an old man appeared in the market on horse with two sepoys in front. He stood near a hotel and watched the women who were shopping. It was known that the old man was an officer and his task was to observe whether the women were in seclusion. When the women saw him, they checked their veils. The women wear veils of white net, hanging on the face. It remained opened, but are shut down when they saw the officer.

During excursion in the market, Pir Sabzali came at a shop for transaction. Meanwhile, a woman entered in the shop in haste after penetrating the crowd, and put the coins on the counter without uttering a word. When the shopkeeper asked, what she needed in turn; she wept and said something to him in their language. The shopkeeper looked Pir Sabzali at surprise and said, "This woman says that you have the sole right on this money." Pir was wondered to hear it. The woman removed her veil and looked at Pir Sabzali, who found her weeping. Before asking anything, she ran and disappeared in flash of eyes in the crowd. The two attendants of the Pir followed and stopped her at a little distance. Being asked, she said, "I am an unfortunate Ismaili. I reside in Yarkand and married to a non-Ismaili. Thus, I am unable to invite the representative of my Imam. When I heard his very presence in the city, I took an opportunity to hand over him the accumulated amount of the tithe. This is the right of the Mawla, and tell him to deliver it to the Imam and earn blessings for me, so that my Iman (faith) remain protected till last breath." The woman lamented and took her way. When Pir Sabzali knew the story, he became much emotional and tried to find out the woman. He was anxious to make her known that he had brought special blessings of the Imam for all the Ismailis and she also deserved for it, but he failed to know her whereabouts. It was a painful incident for the Pir and remained pictured in his mind. (WI, November 15, 1925)

Pir Sabzali purchased few medicines for onward journey. He also noticed a chronic and trembling case over here. He saw many persons in the market with goiters on their necks due to suffering from a kind of throat-disease. The informant attributed this to a peculiarity of the local water, containing an element to cause the disease. Pir said to Mir Tala Khan, "The people suffered difficulties due to bad water." He said, "You have yet seen little goiters, but there are the persons, having big goiters, whose weight have bent down their heads." Pir Sabzali was shocked to hear it. He also noticed goiters on the necks of the Indians, therefore, it terrified him and decided not to prolong their stay in Yarkand.

There was a river at a short distance of Yarkand, where the Ismailis resided on other side of the bank. Aziz Akhund by name was a rich Ismaili, who had invited the Pir by a messenger that the jamats were well prepared to welcome him. The caravan left Yarkand on August 31, 1923 and reached at the bungalow of Aziz Akhund at Karan Turga with Mir Tala Khan. The jamat was overjoyed in the greeting and heard the farman.

The caravan further proceeded at Kuzal Bodai on September 1, 1923. Its route was extremely coarse and dangerous. It was followed by a plateau, where their horses ran at full gallop. They reached at Kuzal Bodai and lodged at the residence of Durgabhai. Mukhi Hasan of Chitral was in the caravan, who led them in his house at Towachi on September 2, 1923, where a majalis was also organized.

Soon, the caravan was pushing on a region, where no Ismaili village existed. They met a non-Ismaili ruler, called Beg Khuda Aman. This gentleman lodged them in his residence, where a majalis of the scattered Ismailis was also arranged. The caravan advanced with Beg Khuda. Having crossed a lake, they arrived at Khush Arab on the mountain and stayed in the house of a non-Ismaili. Then, they arrived at Lomasir, a hamlet dominated by Mohammad Karim Beg. He had a beautiful palace with turrets on it. The caravan made a halt before the palace, and noticed it without any inhabitation of man. It boosted the doubts of Pir Sabzali, but he boldly knocked the door and entered into the palace, where he found few women. The womenfolk welcomed him and told, "Mohammad Karim Beg had made every arrangement of your hospitality before your arrival and was present to welcome you. In the meantime, a military officer came three days ago and demanded some workers to mine the marble in the mountain, lying at the distance of two days journey in extent. It was too risky to mine the marble in the mountain and Mohammad Karim Beg did not like to endanger his men, therefore, he refused to provide his manpower. The military officer went in angry. We received a report that he was going to arrest him, thus Mohammed Karim Beg took a flight to an unknown place. He is capable to face the challenge, but avoided loss of the Ismailis in fighting. Before his departure, he had commanded the females of the palace not to make a shortcoming in your hospitality." Pir Sabzali expressed his regret. In the meanwhile, a report came that the military officer had pitched a camp near the mountain to arrest Mohammad Karim Beg. The report multiplied their worries as it was a dreadful hindrance for them. Different views were advanced to Pir Sabzali, what to do? It was however resolved not to proceed ahead and return to Yarkand and follow another route for Sarekul. It however could exhaust much time, but there was no other alternative. It was also decided to think over it for one day to arrive at a conclusion. Pir Sabzali thought whole night on his bed and determined that it was worthless to return Yarkand in fear, and better to move from here according to the scheduled programme. (WI, December 18, 1925)

When Pir Sabzali disclosed his final decision in the morning, all became extremely wondered. The apparent hazard was hovering ahead, where Pir Sabzali suggested to proceed. He however remained firm in his decision and said, "Mawla is with us to help, who has been helping us in the journey. If we will change our programme, it means we have wavered our faith. I do not like to do anything at the cost of faith." The sons of Mohammad Karim Beg made last bid to prevent, but in vain. The caravan was loaded with few armed men and proceeded in the name of the Imam. The people set before them the most dreadful pictures on their passages, but it effected nothing to Pir Sabzali. Reached at Agajarak on September 11, 1923. The news spread here that the soldiers who had encamped at the mountain to arrest Mohammad Karim Beg, were returning to Kashgar on the same route. Lest the soldiers saw the caravan, the Ismailis of this area lodged Pir and his party in a house on the summit of the mountain as a measure of precaution. He was forced to stay for two days till the soldiers passed away. But, Pir Sabzali became fatigued as no reliable news of the passing of the soldiers came to his notice.

The caravan moved upward to another tedious and steep mountain, where sighted a house of a non-Ismaili perched on a steep hillside. One woman came out and offered them to get into the house. She presented breakfast and a short while later, an old woman entered the room. Mukhi Imamdad said that they were the non-Ismailis, but belonged to a respectable stock. The old woman said that the owners of the house had gone away due to the danger of the fighting in this area, and as a result they could not treat them well. Pir relaxed and thanked the women for their courtesy. Both women caught the rein of the horse of the Pir and walked at a little distance.

After facing many hardships, the caravan landed at the village of Langar at evening, which was well populated by the Ismailis. The village was found to be entirely deserted by the men due to the danger of fighting. Then they reached at Tog, where a majalis was solemnized. They stayed in a beautiful bungalow, near a flowing stream.

Here, one small girl came and said, "You must convey the message to the Imam the hospitality you enjoyed in this region of my father." It further surprised when she said, "We have never seen the Imam physically ever before, but I will inform you that he is the Lord of our bodies and souls, and we are ever ready to sacrifice our lives on his farman." Pir Sabzali put his affectionate hand on her head and thought, "The fragrance of such flowers are spreading in the world, and lofted the glory of the Ismailis openly to its peak. It is our pride for having such tender flowers in Ismailism." The girl was the daughter of Mohammad Karim Beg, who had two wives and Tog was his capital, where the Pir lodged in his house. After holding a majalis in Tog, the caravan proceeded next day on Sunday, September 15, 1923. (WI, January 25, 1926)

The caravan crawled cautiously, but unfortunately it burst into the view of the soldiers. Two riders galloped towards the caravan and blocked them by an order of the officer. Looking them, Mukhi Imamdad said, "At length, the calamity befell. We prevented you not to move for this reason." Pir Sabzali was however fearless and said, "Let them come. Mawla is with us. There is nothing to fear." The horsemen said that their officer had summoned them. Pir told to Mukhi Imamdad, "Make the caravan halted over here. We will go to see the officer." They reached the military camp in 15 minutes. One officer came to Pir Sabzali, thus all dismounted. Pir Sabzali was going to dismount, but the officer told him to be mounted. One soldier caught the rein of the horse of Pir and began to tread on an elevated place. The horse could not walk on the lofty place, so Pir dismounted and walked on foot. The soldier gave hand to the Pir during climbing. They reached at the camp where the armed soldiers stood in lines. There was a small house, wherein he entered. It was well decorated inside with a bed, table and few chairs. The officer offered Pir to sit on the bed and told through the interpreter, "You are our guest. Do not be worried." It surprised the Pir because he had expected a cruel treatment from him. The officer said, "I was much eager to see you. I am happy to have a meeting with you. You have come as a representative of a great person. You pray for me." Pir raised his hands and prayed, resulting his heart melted too much. Pir Sabzali then asked for permission to leave, but he insisted, "Tea is ready, and then you may go. If you stay here one night, it will give me immense pleasure in your hospitality." Pir said, "I will never forget your kind courtesy. I will be grateful to you if you accept my request." "Let me know. I will do my utmost to do it," said the officer. Pir Sabzali said, "My co-religionists reside in this location. I request you to take their care." The officer shook hand with him, but Pir could not understand its meaning, and asked from his colleague, who said, "There is a deception in his heart. He will most probably raid at night." But it happened nothing. When Pir took permission to leave, the officer said, "You have come on behalf of a great person with his letter. Let me have a look of the letter as I want to kiss it, because he is the successor of our Prophet." Pir showed him the Imam's letter. He kissed it in reverence and said, "You pray for me." Pir prayed once again. Nothing was clear as he was the enemy of Mohammad Karim Beg as well as a well-wisher of the Imam. When Pir left, he stopped him and put twenty-four rupees in his hand and said, "It is my humble duty to provide you horses and merchandise, but I could not receive the news of your arrival in time, so the items are not handy. You please accept this trifling amount in place of horses and merchandise." Pir hesitated to take it, therefore, he put the amount at his feet. He became happy when Pir accepted it. With his own hands, he helped Pir to mount the horse and stood with folding hands. Pir returned and when he related the story to his men, it filled them with great surprise. The caravan then bound for Ajapur, whose Ismailis also were wondered, how well the military officer treated with the Pir. They sacrificed lambs and feasted whole night in jubilation. (WI, February 2, 1926)

On next morning, the caravan trekked down through the foot of the mountain and arrived at Labedilakh and ascended the mountain on next day, where a terrible wind was blowing, resulting a snowfall on the mountain. They moved on Mount Khandar, which was coated with snow. Riding on yaks, they moved ahead. For men and beasts the cold was a terrible trial, therefore, they relieved two horses who were unable to walk on the steepy place. Now the snow began to fall with greater fury, which multiplied their problems. They saw dead bodies of the horses and other beasts. They arrived at a deep gorge, and the Ismailis were waiting for their arrival on opposite side, who managed to bring the caravan with care. Now came the turn to descend and arrived at Chakarga at the foot of the mountain. There was not a single house, therefore the tents were pitched for them. Pir asked them, "Do you live in such bleak and awful place?" They said, "Our houses are at a long distance, but you was to pass through this place, therefore, we arrived here before six days to take you from here." It surprised the Pir, since the place was not ideal both for the people and the animals, but they waited here for six days. Pir was wondered and embraced them, saying, "The Ismailis in the world must follow your fervour for the religion."

The caravan headed for Kalak on September 27, 1923. It was a heavy cold with merciless blizzard. The temperature fell even lower and the freezing winds were lashing them in greater fury. The fire could not warm them up. They alighted in a tent, which became snowbound in the morning. Their luck further ran out when the tea, sugar, rice and flour totally depleted in their stock of provision. Their condition became worst as no bed or chair were for their sitting. When one swept the snow inside the tent, he saw fresh snow froze in twinkle of eyes on his back side. Their condition remained same on next day as they had nothing to eat or drink.

Pir Sabzali assured his men to trust on Imam, who would dispel the clouds. Fortunately, a merchant of Kashgar in the meantime, passed near their tent, who himself was an Ismaili. He was overjoyed to see the Pir and said, "When you passed near Kashgar, I was out of the city. I was anxious to see you. Mawla accomplished my wish today." Pir said, "You are a merchant and will be going on business trip. Do you have anything to sale?" He said, "I have tea, blankets and grocery items." Pir asked him to bring tea and blankets. He gave them about 8 pounds tea and blankets and refused to take money. When he was greatly forced, he only took its cost price.

They passed another day in the tent, and when the force of the snowfall abated a little bit, the caravan crawled its way along the snow-covered passes on September 30, 1923. They had to go Kamnasu via Kalak, where one route sprouts for Hunza. Pir Sabzali spurred his horse and headed briskly on the snowbound route. Steering his fast-trotting horse, he overtook his colleagues. He saw few Ismaili men, women and children near the route. One child stopped and caught hold of the rein of Pir's horse, giving signal to the Pir to dismount. The child became immensely happy and the Ismailis also flocked around the horse and said, "When we reached Sarekul, you had quitted it, resulting no meeting with you. These small children were anxious to see you and we wanted to hear the farman. We came here and saw you with the grace of Imam." They had also brought breakfast for them. The caravan stayed for ten minutes and fulfilled their desire.(WI, March 6, 1926)

Now the snowfall reached to its extreme with blizzard, which further increased their worries. Sharif was an eminent Ismaili, who accompanied the caravan. He said, "I have learnt that many persons of Kargej tribe had come in this region. I go to search them, so that we can make arrangement of lodging." He spurred his horse in the blizzard and sent a message after a short while to come soon. The caravan proceeded towards the indicated place. Pir Sabzali saw that few Kargejis were pitching tents. Sharif emphasized that they needed only one tent for a night. He was replied that it was not possible to erect a tent in few hours due to the stormy snow. Sharif told, "Where should we pass the night?" He was told to go at a little distance, where one Kargeji had pitched a tent, who would perhaps accommodate them. Sharif told, "You please lead us to that direction." One Kargeji went with Sharif and the caravan slowly followed. It was a dark evening. Two and half feet to fifteen feet snowdrifts were frozen on the ground. They reached the tent, whose Kargeji owner fortunately was the friend of Sharif, and invited to come inside the tent. A goat was cut to prepare dinner for them, then the Pir rested on a folding bed.

It was a terrible night of their trial when snow continued with violent and lashing storms. They were at an elevation of 21,000 feet high in the Pamir. The Kargeji related many stories and the difficulties ahead, and set before them a most dreadful picture, which disheartened the others. But Pir Sabzali was steadfast and said, "Discouragement is the sign of weakness in faith. Mawla is with us. He helped us in great mishaps and will help us. Keep faith on Mawla. He will ward off our hardships."

They however passed the pitiless stormy night safely. On next morning, there was danger to walk both ahead or heading back. What to do? They had three alternatives to decide. Whether go ahead or return back or stay here. The danger was hovering equally on all sides. It was however concluded that there was much hazard of lives ahead because of invigorating storms with snowdrifts on the route as well as the plundering of brigands. It was Monday, September 1, 1923, a final shape was given to the programme at morning to go ahead, and nothing else. (WI, April 28, 1926)

We passed four days on the pass and reached Yarkand, where was an Ismaili officer appointed by the British government, and we lodged with him. There were comparatively fewer Ismailis in Yarkand. We read the farman of the Imam before them, and proceeded on the springing plateau.

Wherever we read the farman, we were given ornaments, money, best costumes, etc. as the offerings for the Imam. The Imam had invested plenary authority upon Pir Sabzali to accept their dastboshi on behalf of the Imam.

There is a British Consul in Yarkand and a court of the Chinese government. The Ismailis are also employed in these departments. The fruits of Yarkand are beyond admiration. The water-melons (kalingar) were saffron instead of red in colour, and very delicious. We purchased medicine for eyes, long shoes, leather socks, etc. and returned to Sarekul via Kashgar.

There is a river in Sarekul, where the Russian borders fork on opposite side. The Mukhi of Sarekul told to the Pir, "Don't go beyond this river, because of the tyranny of the brigands, who are murderous and ruthless folk, plundering and killing."

Tremendous arguments were put forward to prevent the move. Swift in thought and action, Pir Sabzali could formulate his plans on the spur of the moment. He had two handy choices to prefer, i.e., the advice of the people on one side, and that of the Imam's farman on other! Pir Sabzali gave priority to the farman, whom he followed? Poor Mukhi was afraid that, "The Imam's representatives have come, and it will be a grave problem for us if anything may happen with them." The Ismailis held high respect over here, known as the followers of the Aga Khan, the descendants of the Prophet and Hazrat Ali. And if anything may happen to Pir Sabzali, it will discredit them. Thus, for two days, they did not let Pir Sabzali to cross the (the river to reach) opposite side.

Equipped with abundant stamina and vitality, Pir Sabzali at length told them calmly, "We have come to die. The Protector is Omnipresent. Why should we follow others views?" He, then turned to us and said, "One who wants to join me, he may come, and wants to return, he may do so willingly." But none among the 50 persons of our caravan retreated an inch. The Mukhi was at last constrained to join us, and we moved on till came a lake on the way. It was on the mountain, wherefrom the big pieces of glacier like the buildings were rolling down. The water of the lake flows to the borders of China, Russia, Kabul and Kashmir. There was a beautiful lotus flower amidst the lake. Looking the pleasant scene, Pir Sabzali jokingly made a jovial expression, "Ramzan Ali! This is the flower of Gulbakawli. One who brings this flower, he will get Gulbakwali."

The brigands wander even in such snowbound regions. We deputed one person before the chief of the brigands with a message of the Pir that, "We have come from India as guests." The Mukhi was frightened. Upon receipt of our message, the chief advanced before us with his gang, who had threatened the whole region and was noted as a notorious and pitiless robber to torture and kill the people. Mukhi now became highly fearful, thinking, "What will happen?" (31). The harsh thorn is tedious, but is a protector of the tender rose. Likewise, the difficulties would come while obeying the Imam's farman, but these hardships ultimately become like the flowers. It takes no time to melt the stone-hearted man if Imam so desires. Lo! the chief of the brigands came near. His men and a caravan of 18 camels followed him. At our utter surprise, he knelt, bending his forehead to the feet of Pir Sabzali in reverence. We followed him and came at the residence of the brigands, lying amidst a dense forest, where they resided in tents. What a tent? We felt as if we were in a royal palace while entering it. Inside was decorated with the variety of carpets of high quality like a diwan of the king. The honour that the chief had feted, will never erase in our memories. It was nothing but a miracle of the Imam. The Imam does not perform cheap miracles to transform a heap of the stones into gold, or to fly from one to another place without support. The magician like Muhammad Chhel was doing so. But when the Imam executes a work, he does not show the reason behind it. The lovers of the Imam know it. It is the farman of the Imam of the age that, "The Nur of Ali is everlasting in the world. This is a last age, in which those who are faithful, they will however see the eminence and miracles of the Imam. The half-hearted will however see the miracle publicly, but falsify it."

The chief of the brigands hospitalized with much respect. He had posted his men around the tent to keep watch (32). The conversation began with the help of an interpreter. Pir Sabzali told him, "We have come on behalf of the Imam to see his followers, and we have to go from here at once." But the chief said in obstinacy, "You will have to stay here at least eight days. You are the Pir of the Mukhi, and so are ours." We feared lest he might deceive us. We however sojourned under his comfortable roof for eight days. Different varieties of dish were served daily. The men of the chief brought different kinds of fruits in the mountains and presented us. Russia, China or the British officers gave money to subdue them, but we were conversely well entertained with good cheer.

31) The caravan was to go to Bhunjai Gumbaj, but Pir Sabzali learnt that a cruel and merciless Kargeji chief had encamped on the route. He sent his man towards the chief with a message that, "The representative of His Highness The Aga Khan is coming towards you." When Pir reached at evening near his tent, the son of the chief came to receive the caravan. The name of the Kargeji chief was Tukhat Akhund. (WI, September 10, 1926)

32) Mukhi Imamdad however warned to each of them that, "Do not be careless. Many Ismailis had lost their lives by his merciless hands. We will have to be cautious." Pir however assured Mukhi Imamdad not to worry.

Soon after one hour, Tukhat Akhund came in the tent with some maid servants, who brought a big bowl, small bowls and spoons. Then the cooked rice with milk were taken out from the big bowl and poured into the small bowls and served them. Salt was mixed instead of sugar. It was however a delicious dish.

When we were about to depart, the chief told, "You stay yet one more day." We once again gazed in dismay and felt the prickling sense of deception. On the following day, the chief presented his gifts, consisting of different kinds of carpets, gold coins and other items. Is it not possible as we felt that the Imam had squared up his right? The one among the gifted carpets given to the Pir, and me is worn out and retained with me. While returning to India, Pir had presented the best carpets to the Imam. On departure, the chief embraced us and the ponies were brought for us and the baggage was loaded on the camels. We were fascinated to observe that he himself loaded our goods on the beasts and ordered his men not to misplace a single item. The chief provided his escorts to conduct us till the borders of Kabul.

We pursued our way along the mountain and reached in the village close to the border of Kabul, and moored for the night at the residence of an Ismaili. When we arrived, a commotion spread in whole borders. The Mukhis of these locations were highly marvelled, how we managed to reach here safely from the grip of a tyrant robber and drew a sigh of relief (33). After ease, we summoned the Ismailis of the surrounding jamats and conveyed the farman of the Imam.

33) Tukhat Akhund begged to Pir Sabzali during the departure that, "You pray for me and my tribe." Pir prayed for them heartily. Pir Sabzali then turned to the interpreters and said, "Let me know what should be presented to the chief." They said, "He will never delight with gold or wealth. He will satisfy only with one item." Being asked, the Pir was told, "Life is more arduous especially food shortage is a chronic problem. The chief live in this barren region, where wheat is necessary for their sustenance. When we will descend the mountain, we will send him the wheat as a gift." In the meantime, the chief came with his men and put two Russian saddles for horse at the feet of Pir Sabzali, which were beautiful and durable. The chief said, "I will be satisfied if you accept this gift." Pir Sabzali said, "You spent much for our foods and took pain in our hospitality. Now you are spending lavishly to present these costly items. We have a deep regard for your love and hospitality and do not like to give you trouble any more." The chief said, I will now disclose what is in my heart. This is nothing but a trifling token. I most humbly request that you must remember me at the feet of the Aga Khan." (WI, October 4, 1926)

During their mutual conversation, Tukhat Akhund assured Pir Sabzali that, "You rest assured that I will sacrifice to protect the local Ismailis, who will pass through the route. But you will have to do my one work." Pir Sabzali offered him for it. He said, "The Ismailis have a large stock of wheat all the times. When we go to buy from them, they claim big price. You tell them to give us its part from the surplus wheat they store for them." Pir Sabzali said, "I promise that it will be done as per your wish." He became happy to hear it.

The caravan departed and crossed the borders on October 4, 1923 and halted awhile at Langar, then they paid flying visit of Chilkand, Patuk, Unchnisha, Deh Ghulam, Baba Tangi, Sas, and Goshkhana and reached at Panj on October 12, 1923.

The brother of Tukhat Akhund and his men escorted them till the borders of Kabul. He had 45 beasts with him, therefore, Pir Sabzali ordered to buy one hundred maunds of wheat from the local Munshi Bazar to be transported as a gift for Tukhat Akhund. The Mukhi and the Ismailis of Kabul suggested that each house of the Ismailis would contribute a plate of wheat for it. If it became less than one hundred maunds, the rest would be purchased from the market. It is interesting to learn that the Ismailis began to drop plates of wheat as their shares and raised a heap of corn on the ground, weighing over 150 maunds. The accumulated wheat was loaded on 45 beasts and sent for Tukhat Akhund as a humble present from Pir Sabzali. (WI, October 10, 1926)

Brief space must here be allocated to an event. There was a Kamadia, whose faith was imperfect and wavering. Some Mukhis also (like him) did not remit the money of the Imam. We were exceedingly shocked to learn, how they misappropriate the money that is like a fire? Perhaps they were collecting the return of their services in the world, accumulating no provisions in their accounts for hereafter. It is in my knowledge that one who swallows up the Imam's funds, he enjoys much fame in the world at first, but it remains nothing with him at last moment to procure at least his shroud! When a (burning) match falls on the warehouse of the woods, the whole warehouse is reduced to ashes. Likewise, the money of the Imam is a fire, and it is the farman of the Imam that, "…punishment is not given at once, but is given when we desire and the punishment will be done gradually. We are patient. Patience is our wealth." Imam knows his own secret. How can a human intelligence know the Intelligence of Universe? But there are the believers who hold their faith like mountain. Mr. Dumasia has written in "The Aga Khan and his Ancestors" that when the tyranny became severe on the followers of the Imam, they even sent the funds to the Imam, and dropped it into the river, and thus their intention became fruitful. It was a time when the name of an Ismaili was disclosed, he was beheaded, but never dwindled his faith. It was a time when the Ismailis were stood in a column and butchered into pieces, and made their families wandered, but those who intended to wipe out the name of the Ismailis, they were exterminated by themselves. Such thing is in vogue during the 20th century in many places.

That Kamadia was laughing on the commitment of the Pir (who was imparting) that, "His condition becomes worst who misappropriate the Imam's money." He said that, "All these are nothing but a fraud."

How one is convinced whose heart is sealed? The Kamadia ignored it and continued his (malicious) activities. Later on, a person closely associated with the Kamadia had informed us that, "The Kamadia slandered the Pir. On one day, when we were passing through a stream, hardly two and half feet deep, the Kamadia caught in vertigo all of a sudden and fell into the stream and disappeared. Nothing was known of his whereabouts during investigation." While relating the story, the person apologized from the Pir by folding two hands. Pir advised him that, "One who swallows Imam's money, he will also reach to such condition. Eat lawful food after separating full rights of the Imam. The great kingdoms also perished who cast evil eyes on the Imam's rights."

Our caravan crawled its way for another village. There was a big river on the way. We had sent a message to the jamat of that village to procure a boat to sail across. Unfortunately, the boat could not be arranged. The people suggested to walk on the route led up close to the river. Fierce wind blew terribly at that time. It would take two to two and half months to do so, while the boat took half an hour. Hence, the people prepared some containers (tumada) made of goat-skins and brought four horses. They put the horses into the water and fastened the tails with our waists and gave two containers to each one to be placed in the armpits. The reins of the horses were given to us. It was bitter cold with a fierce gale, even then we took off extra clothes. Those who knew swimming among us, they began to swim. Two persons were swimming in front to lead our horses. The current of water of the swollen river was so forceful that we were drifted to another direction at the distance of one and half miles. Mukhi Muhammad of Punjab became smart to some extent to show his efficiency, and was dragged at about seven miles with horse. By the grace of the Imam, we landed at the opposite side, except Muhammad who reached after five hours when we relieved from the bone-fire to warm up. Every one had grown very tired, so we rested there for one day.

We entered the Russian territories through the borders of Kabul, and sent the Mukhi of that place in the government office for the entry-pass. The sub-ordinate officer allowed us to enter without official permission. Besides, the Russian officers also entertained in the villages we had visited (34).

It was a custom over here that the food is cooked in a bowl, and all eat together either officers or prisoners without any discrimination. The prisoners live freely and the work of cultivation is taken from them. Some boundaries are fixed for the prisoners, and one is fired who crossed it. We continued to move ahead (within the Russian territories). After passing away of 15 days, the high officer came to know of our visit. The names of all the villages are not remembered, but all the people of surrounding locations showed their anxiety in jubilation to invite us in their villages. Their jubilation was such as if a procession. Preparation for our greeting had been also done in the villages where the high officer resided. When we reached there, the military horsemen blocked our way. We had with us a Russian Ismaili officer. We were interrogated, "Why did you enter this border?" They also read the warrants of our arrest. The Pir said, "We are travelling in this border since 15 days." He also said, "You may arrest us or not, but it is the orders of our Lord to see the high officer at first to get permission, and therefore, we will go first to your high officer." But, we were arrested and paraded between the files of soldiers.

34) Soon after their entry into the Russian borders, the caravan arrived in the village of Langar, whose Mukhi was also known as Shah Langar. It was October 13, 1923 when they moved at Jugduraj, whose

The jamat became extremely annoyed while heard news of our arrest by the Russian soldiers. Their hearts were twisting when looking the representatives of the Imam arrested, who had come after a long period. About four thousands people had flocked to celebrate the greeting, but became motionless to see our conditions. Their cheer just has begun, but died away instantly to behold the changing condition. We entered the city as prisoners, and our caravan was detained where we lodged, and took Pir Sabzali and me with them, because Pir had told that I was his Secretary.The Pir was taken to the bungalow of high officer, and I was made standing on the lawn. The Pir had given me some instructions while getting in. The Mukhi and the Ismaili officers began to lament when saw the Pir entered. An Ismaili magistrate of that place was also with us.

The wife of the political agent was present in the meeting inside the bungalow. Pir had put on the red robe and turban of filigree, the uniform of the Imam. Pir was asked, "According to the rule, the persons are arrested who entered the border without permission. The brother of the ruler of Kashmir and a man of Chitral are also imprisoned here for violating the rule. Don't you know about it? You will be punished severely." Pir tried too much, but all in vain. Lo! Mawla came into action to ward off the trouble. The political agent, his wife and other high officers were present in the meeting and the Pir was sitting before them. It is well known to all that Pir Sabzali had a natural squinting in his eyeball, and it looked as if his one eye was gazing at the wife of the officer. The officer became anger and said, "What's this non-sense?"

Mukhi was Abdul Rehman. They proceeded onwards with Mukhi Shah Langar, Mukhi Abdul Rehman, the son-in-law of Mukhi Shah Langar and Kamadia Shamsuddin, and reached at Yog on October 15, 1923 within the borders of Afghanistan. Then, they came in Pagish on October 18, 1923. (WI, October 17, 1926)

Once again their route brought them inside the Russian territories, and halted at Sutkhar, where they met Mukhi Jamil and Shah Harris. They arrived at Wargundh and Ra'in on October 20, 1923. They further moved ahead and made flying visit of Yakswal, Barsho, Shaber, Indraf, Darmark, Nisup and Pash, whose Mukhi was Yusuf Ali Shah. They also visited Kharuk.

It appears that the Imam came on the tongue of the Pir. He said, "The face of your wife resembles my sister. I remember my sister while looking her." The woman asked, "Is your sister like me?" The Pir replied in affirmative. The woman said, "So, you are my brother and I am your sister from today." The complexion of the situation soon became changed. The conscience of the high officer also melted and asked politely, "Why you have come. Explain the actual position." The Pir said, "The purport of our visit is to impart the followers of our Imam." The woman said, "They have come like the priests to impart." It was also asked, "Whom you believe?" The Pir said, "We are the followers of H.H. The Aga Khan." The Pir also explained in detail the key role of the Imam in the Turkish politic before few years, and his principal role during the Istanbul Conference, etc. The officer became surprised and asked, "Are you the followers of the Aga Khan? He is my friend and helped me too much. You may enjoy an excursion with full liberty in the borders with open arms. Moscow is at the distance of three days. I can arrange if you want to go there." What happened then? The officer ordered to make an illumination of the electricity in our honour, and permitted the jamat to celebrate the greetings with pomp. He said to us, "You may enjoy your trip over here as long as you like." The Pir however said,"We have to go elsewhere, so we will stay only for six days."

The officer however was constrained to inspect our goods as per rule. Pir was yet in the bungalow and sent me at our lodging place for inspection. The officers inspected systematically. I had the farman and the belongings of the Imam. I kept the papers of farman on my head, and if put them on the ground, the staunch Ismailis would have rebuked me. Despite the refusal of the officers, I took off my clothes for inspection. The officers asked me about the papers on my head. I said, "These are the items of our Imam. If you allow, I may go to my chief to seek permission for its checking." Thus, we went to the bungalow, where Pir Sabzali was enjoying hospitality on the lawn. I informed the Pir about it. One Ismaili interpreter pacified them, but the officers thought that we were smuggling the secret plan of the region, and it boosted their doubts. Pir ordered and the text of the farman was read before them, containing the advice for the spiritual children and the blessings, and they became satisfied thereafter. When the problem became warded off, there was a burst of cheering from the Ismailis.

During our six days visit, we read the farman of the Imam before the jamats. We also came to know that two Mukhis of this area were imprisoned. The people requested the Pir to use his influence to relieve them. Since the scales were now apparently tipped in our favour, Pir referred to the matter to the high officer. He said, "Do you know? They have committed grave crimes. If they had been in the British border, they would have been fired. They spied during the war of 1914 on behalf of the British. You just imagine that we have merely detained them as the prisoners." Pir told him, "These people are not sensible. It is a strict order of our Imam to remain loyal with the government where we reside. We are a law-abiding community. But the human is erred. You just relieve them and when I return, I will inform to the Aga Khan that you have relieved our Mukhis, he will be highly delightful." Hence, the two Mukhis were relieved (35). We were also allowed to walk with arms in the prohibited areas. During our visit in

35) PS however makes the description on different way that the Russian officer and his wife invited him on next day, and warmly entertained. Meanwhile, an Ismaili took permission and entered the room and delivered a letter written in Persian to the Pir. The interpreter read that the Russian officer had house-arrested two Mukhis since last three months, and were not permitted to leave their houses. Pir Sabzali asked about them from the Russian officer, who presented many reasons for their house-arrest. At length, he wrote a letter to relieve them. One of them was Mukhi Yusuf Ali Shah and other was Mukhi Mohammad Shah. (Ibid.)

Russia for two and half months, we made flying visit of almost forty villages. With the release of the Mukhi, the Pir also succeeded to liberate the nephew of the Mehtar of Chitral, for which he had joked that none could return from Russia. This person was imprisoned for ten years (36).

Now we proceeded towards Afghanistan, and entered it after fording a river that bisected the borders of two countries. According to the rule, no one is allowed to enter the borders of any country. But when we entered Afghanistan's border, we were feted an imperial welcome by the officers. The Pir took the salute of the military march-past. There was a Mukhi, called Sa'les at the boundary of Kabul, who was very influential and respected one. His fame excelled that of the Mehtar of Chitral. The jamats of Mukhi Sa'les were spread widely in Russia, Chitral, Hunza, etc. His jamats comprised of 1,50,000 Ismailis. Most of the Ismailis are in the army, known as the Mawlais. We visited plenty of villages in Afghanistan.

We turned back to Chitral therefrom. After crossing Badakhshan, we moved towards Chashmai, and came to know about a gang of killers, who were bitter enemies of the idol-worshippers. When an idol-worshipper is found, he is beheaded, and his head is placed in a plate and they danced till the last motion of the body. Pir was worried for me, but we passed through it by the grace of the Imam, and reached at Lutko. The people showed us the place where dai Nasir Khusaro is said to have died, and said, "Dai Nasir Khusaro had gone from here. We don't know where did he go?" Then, we came in the hot Chashmai and reached Chitral after a relaxation of four days. When the Mehtar of Chitral knew that we returned from Russia with safety, he asked about his nephew. When he heard the news of his nephew's release, he said, "Verily, you people are the miraculous ones." He was overjoyed after uttering this.

We then returned to India. When Lowari Pass burst into our view on the way, the Pir reminded and said, "Ramzan Ali, look! you fell from here." I was surprised and said, "But here is seen a village inhabitated?" Pir laughed and said, "When snow creeps down and shrouds the village, the people quits it. You definitely fell here."

We reached Dargai via Mount Malakand. The Punjabi Ismailis became separated with us who accompanied. We three ones and four Badakhshanis, seven altogether reached at the station of Nowshera. Upto here we did not have any worldly consideration, and henceforward, the thought began to change us. Pir asked, "Ramzan Ali, there is few changes in your face!" I said, "In my thought, there is a difference of sky and earth." Means, our mission has been accomplished and fused with immaterial power and again we plunged into the world. Pir went to Karachi directly from Lahore by Peshawer mail. I went to Bombay with the items of the Imam, and safely delivered there.

36) It was Tuesday, October 25, 1923 when they proceeded towards the Pamir, and came in Shah Khandar via Kharuk on next day, whose Mukhi was Khwaja Bandar, then moved to Suchan on the route of Kharuk on October 28, 1923. They returned to Kharuk and proceeded on October 30, 1923.

It is difficult to explain the followers of the Imam who came in our contacts and the miracles we have seen during this journey. The human intelligence cannot perceive an absolute nature of the Imam, the Intelligence of Universe.

We have visited all places in the villages with our own expenses. When the Imam made a visit (in Bombay), we submitted full report. Pir related all the stories what he remembered, and he (Imam) asked, "Is there anything more to say?" I reminded the story of those mullahs of Chitral. Imam knows everything, but when Pir told the story, the Imam laughed. This laughter is still tinkling in my ears.

Then, the Imam blessed me too much at Poona and graciously presented a gold medal. It will be enough if one memorizes any lesson of the Ismailis, their love for the Imam and the spirit of sacrifice from the description of this journey.

The Russian officer and his wife Colorado Dimitri came to their lodging place to see them during their departure from the Russian territories. Tears streamed out from her eyes when separated with her brother. They moved to Parsnev, whose Mukhi was Sayed Yusuf Shah. They then reached at Rushan, whose Mukhi was the brother of missionary Sayed Munir of the Recreation Club Institute. They reached on November 1, 1923 at Kila'i Umar, whose Mukhi was Shahgada. Finally, they arrived at the river of Kalepanj, which bisect the borders of Russia and Afghanistan. They crossed the river on Friday, November 2, 1923 and entered the territories of Afghanistan. (WI, December 5, 1926)

It should be learnt that wherever Pir Sabzali visited the Russian territories, he was given warm ovation by huge concourse of the Ismailis with music, dance and traditional songs. They held grand majalis almost in every place and read the farman of the Imam. Tears brimmed in their eyes when heard the blessings of the Imam. Every one gave him a message that, "You must remember us before the Imam and bow before him on our behalf."

It seems probable that the caravan on their homeland journey had traversed the Darwass Pass, connecting Afghanistan and Chitral, which is about 12730 feet high.

{NARRATED BY RAMZAN ALI ALIBHAI}

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