The Resourceful Fakirs
Under Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Punjab was welded for the first and only time in its tumultuous history into a unified kingdom. The Resourceful Fakirs traces the history of this colourful period in an original and intriguing way—through the careers of three Muslim brothers who were courtiers at the Sikh Darbar of Lahore.
Fakir Azizuddin served as the Maharaja’s indispensable spokesman and trusted negotiator in all the dealings he had with the neighbours surrounding his expanding kingdom, including the increasingly powerful British. It was a tribute to Azizuddin’s skill that throughout the 30 years of their association, he enjoyed the unalloyed confidence of the canny Maharaja. Fakir Imamuddin held the keys to Govindgarh Fort (near Amritsar) where the fabled Sikh treasury and armoury were located. Their youngest brother Fakir Nuruddin occupied a position of prominence at the court and, after Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, acted as a member of the Regency Council during the minority of the young Maharaja Duleep Singh.
Portraits, engravings, maps, and period photographs visually enhance the text of this historically reliable and eminently readable narrative.
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WILLIAM DALRYMPLE in his Foreword writes: The Resourceful Fakirs is a fascinating, original and long overdue study of these three intriguing characters, written by their direct descendant, Fakir Aijazuddin. The Sikh Khalsa as a whole is a much underwritten subject. Although Pakistan has very similar boundaries to the Kingdom of Ranjit Singh, the Sikhs have attracted the attention of far too few Pakistani historians; while Sikh historians have rarely been able to access the voluminous records of Ranjit’s Singh’s court, held in the heart of the Punjab Civil Administration in the Punjab State Archives in Anarkali’s Tomb in central Lahore. Many of the documents used to Aijazuddin to write this book have never been published before, and this book is a substantial contribution to the subject. In addition to creating memorable pen portraits of the three brothers, he gives one of the best sketches in print of life at the heart of Ranjit Singh’s inner circle.
To date, Aijazuddin has been known mainly as one of Pakistan’s most eminent art historians. With this volume he has now become, in addition, one of Pakistan’s most interesting historians and biographers. The Resourceful Fakirs is a remarkable achievement.
Mr Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, OBE, FCA, was born in 1942. He was educated at Aitchison College (Lahore), and at Berkhamsted School (Herts.), UK., and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1965. He served as Minister for Culture, Tourism and Environment in the interim Punjab Cabinet from November 2007 to April 2008. Currently he is Principal, Aitchison College, Lahore. Since 1994, he has been the Honorary British Consul for the United Kingdom at Lahore, in recognition of which he was awarded the OBE in 1997. He was also the Chairman, Executive Committee of the Lahore Museum, an International Councillor of the Asia Society (New York) and the Country Representative for Asia House, London, and a Fellow of the National College of Arts, Lahore.
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