Shown in the pictures below are the outlines of what remains of the foundation of the “Dars Jumaat” (mosque of learning) situated in the Panjpao locality of Shabqadar tehsil — which falls within the Damaan area of the lower part of District Mohmand. The locals have corrupted this name to “Durr Jumaat”.

Dars Jumaat was a “khanqah” (spiritual retreat) built for my ancestor Mirsaid Kamil Shah (aka Akhund Zafar) by his elder cousin, one Haji Qasim Shalmani from the Ghazi area north of Swabi. This latter was a prominent adventurer who had arrived in Shabqadar with his associate Haji Jalal intending to try and retake Swati lands in Doaba previously misappropriated by the invading Gigyani Afghans. He succeeded in his mission, killing the Gigyani chieftain Aimal Khan and established his hold in Panjpao, while gaining the support of the newly established Durrani monarchy in the 1750s as their local mansabdar (administrator). He invited Kamil Shah (Akhund Zafar)over from Pashat in Bajaur, handing over his mansabdari duties to him before retiring spiritually from the world within the same khanqah. Akhund Zafar then made peace with the Gigyani elders. (It should be noted that in the two centuries or so following their dislodging from Doaba by the Afghan tribes and their Mughal overlords, many Swatis-Shalmanis were given to conducting forays every now and then to try and recover parts of their lost patrimony. This was one such instance in which they met with success).

The khanqah was the site of a madrassa (religious school) as well as a “langar” (communal kitchen) — where the poor people of the area received both religious education and free food.

Dars Jumaat was first attacked and burned by the Sikhs under Sardar Tej Singh, when they conquered Shabqadar in 1838. After the initial arrival of British troops in the area in 1852, my ancestors soon raised the standard of “jihad” and declared a “ghazaa” (religious war) against them. Skirmishes and raids continued — until they were finally defeated in 1864, when a British expeditionary force attacked Shabqadar and razed the Dars Jumaat to the ground.

Five elders of our clan were condemned to death by a British military tribunal — and were sentenced to be “blown from cannon” in the Sikh and Mughal style. However, this sentence was annulled when the British were approached by our Pashtun relatives, the Gigyani Khankhel of Matta Mughalkhel village — who were on friendly terms with the British. They interceded with the British authorities on behalf of our elders, furnishing guarantees of good conduct for us.

After that, the only condition of the British was that the Dars Jumaat must not be rebuilt — and that our clan could retain its land ownership in Panjpao but must shift to the new localities of Mian Isa and Khubai, which were near to the British garrison in Shabqadar Fort — so that our elders could be observed, and be unable to rouse their “mureeds” (followers) again in war against the British.

As a postscript, it is worth mentioning that the British had initially offered my great-great-grandfather Muhammad Hasan the “Nawabi of Doaba” after reconciliation, but he refused — saying that his followers would disapprove.

Scholar, Historian, Ethnologist, Philosopher, Activist.