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The Three Fakir Brothers of The Sikh Court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh:
A New Book by Their Descendant, Fakir Aijazuddin







Lahore, Punjab

The audience of about 100 people sat in rapt attention in Hall Two at Alhamra Arts Council on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, as Fakir Syed Aijazuddin, former principal of Aitchison College, told a tale of three brothers and their experiences at Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s court.

The talk came at the launch of Aijazuddin’s book, The Resourceful Fakirs – Three Muslim Brothers at the Sikh court of Lahore. The book details the lives of Aijazuddin’s own ancestors -- Fakir Azizuddin, Fakir Imamuddin and Fakir Nuruddin -- who served at the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in various capacities.

The audience were regaled with tales of grandeur of the darbar of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and the personalities gracing it.

Aijazuddin went on to highlight details of the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh – the founder of the Sikh darbar in the Punjab during the 19th century.  Lahore was captured in 1799 and became the capital of the Sikh Kingdom.

Advisers from various religious backgrounds were inducted in the court, he said. “Of the advisors at the Maharaja’s court, three Muslim brothers were particularly prominent – the Fakir brothers,” he said. The eldest, Fakir Azizuddin, was the foreign spokesman, negotiator and trusted adviser who dealt with the kingdom’s foreign affairs. The middle brother, Fakir Imamuddin, held the keys to the Govindgarh Fort and was treasurer of the kingdom. Fakir Nuruddin, the youngest, was an important courtier and later became a member of the Regency Council.

Aijazuddin said the Fakirs were originally hakims by profession. Aijazuddin delved into intricate details about the internal battles over the throne and shared anecdotes about the Koh-i-Noor diamond and foreign visitors gracing the Maharaja’s courts. [The Sikh empire was ultimately usurped by the British Raj under the guise of the Anglo-Sikh Wars, aided by internal friction as well as the betrayal of the Hindu Dogra brothers in the employ of the Maharaja.]

“By 1849 the Sikh court of Lahore, which had once made its mark on history, had become history itself. The Golden Throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was empty and there was no one capable to sit on it,” he said.

“And yet through this period, the three Fakir brothers remained an integral part of the Sikh empire,” said Aijazuddin. “They are now buried side by side in the old city of Lahore … much like the way they had stood in their life,” he said.

Aijazuddin also exhibited visuals of significant artefacts of the time including the Roznaamcha, a 650-page daily diary in Persian and an alarm clock triggered by gun-powder.

Concluding his narration Aijazuddin asked how many people among the audience were from his clan. When several people responded in affirmative, he asked “So how many of you wish you were Fakirs?”

Begum Jahanara Salimuddin, oldest living member of the Fakir family, and Aijazuddin’s aunt also spoke about the traditions and history of the Fakir family.

She thanked Aijazuddin for recording their family’s history through his book. She said the title ‘Fakir’ had been chosen out of wisdom. “If we were to be blessed with material wealth, we would bow in humility because of our name,” she said.


[Courtesy: The Express Tribune. Edited for]

February 1, 2014




Conversation about this article

1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 01, 2014, 2:47 PM.

The Fakir family truly served Maharaja Ranjit Singh and were the guardians of the Sikh Raj. They were held in greatest esteem by Ranjit Singh and continue to do so to this day by Sikhs. This new book is a most welcome addendum to the earlier book "The Real Ranjit Singh", which was by Fakir Syed Aijazuddin's father. As is the wont of kings that they can do no wrong, despite this delusion, Maharaja Ranjit Singh acknowledged unabashedly his lapses and weaknesses and ever remained open to the guidance of his worthy counsel, especially the eldest, Fakir Azizuddin, who kept him on the straight path. He never ceased to watch over the interest of his master. In return, he was treated with the utmost kindness, deference and respect. Just as an example: Fakir Sahib had gone to see the Emperor about an urgent piece of business. Just then, the latter was enjoying an evening of singing and dancing when, suddenly, he clapped his hands for the performance to stop, saying to the accompanist Mirasis (musicians): "Cuckolds, bharua-oo! Run away, Fakir Sahib is coming!" The new book, written by the son of Ranjit Singh's biographer, is a most welcome addition.

2: Raj (Canada), February 01, 2014, 9:46 PM.

After Maharaja Ranjit Singh, there were stories of betrayals by Hindus and even some Sikhs, but there was none of Muslim betraying the Khalsa Army. A known fact is, Maharaja's cannon battery was manned by none other than Muslims.

3: Kulwant Singh (USA), February 03, 2014, 7:05 AM.

Wouldn't Ranjit Singh's court make for a thrilling drama? There are so many unique characters, sub-plots, and relationships that a screen-writer could use to mold a play, TV drama, series or movie. It would be so much more entertaining than the half-baked vacuous Indian dramas seen on television. I hope one of our own does it, before Bollywood decides to have a go. I wouldn't be able to watch a Bollywood "hero" portray Ranjit Singh with a fake beard, while doing a dance number.

4: A Singh (London, United Kingdom), April 24, 2016, 9:11 PM.

Finally, we Punjabis on both sides of the border are having open and honest discussions: not afraid and having finally found the confidence to present facts as unbiased as we can. The reign of the Maharaja was a very interesting and rich one for our communities and it is about time we looked beyond petty politics and recognized our shared history.

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