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Fathiya-i-Ibriyya


Fathiya-i-Ibriyya also known as Tarikh-i-Assam was written by Ibn Muhammad Wali Ahmad, better known as Shihabuddin Talish, which was his poetical name. He was in the service of mir jumla (1660-1663 AD) who spent a major part of his tenure in Bengal in fighting against the rebels in Cooch Bihar, Kamarupa and against the king of Assam. He accompanied his master with the expeditionary force and remained in the subahdar's camp all through the campaign. He was a munshi (clerk), but his master gave him the additional responsibility of writing the history of the war operations. So the author recorded the events as he saw them personally, sitting in the camp of the subahdar. He returned with the subahdar towards the capital Jahangirnagar (Dhaka). Along with others, he accompanied the subahdar's dead body to Khizrpur, a Mughal outpost off modern Narayanganj. The title of the book Fathiya-i-Ibriyya (or ibratia) is significant; it means victories that give warning. The title is appropriate because Mir Jumla conquered, but the conquest did not last. Talish remained in Bengal at least up to the conquest of Chittagong by shaista khan in 1666 AD.

There are two parts of the book, the first part called Fathiyya was known from long before and one copy was preserved in the Asiatic Society Library, Calcutta and two were preserved in the Oriental Public Library at Bankipur, Bihar. This part deals with Mir Jumla's conquest of Assam, and for that it was also known as Tarikh-i-Assam. jadunath sarkar discovered the second part in the Bodleian Library, Oxford in the first decade of the 20th century, and it contains the history of the conquest of Chittagong by Shaista Khan. There being no separate title, the book is known as the 'continuation' of the Fathiya-i-Ibriyya.

The Mughal emperors used to appoint waqianavis in provinces for collection of information about warfare and all other important happenings. Mir Jumla was not content with the reports of the waqiadnavis and so he appointed Talish to write reports independently.

Talish gives the day to day progress of the subahdar and his army. The chronological details that he provides are not available in any other source. He gives an account of the topography and climate of the places, supplies information about kings and nobles of Cooch Bihar and Assam, and also writes about the people of Assam, their habits, customs and mode of warfare. He writes that the Ahoms used to fight only at nights and though they were otherwise very brave and heroic, they lost heart at the sight of horses and did not stand before the Mughal cavalry. His accounts substantially agree with the official history alamgirnamah. In both of these books there is remarkable coincidence in language and phraseology, sometimes whole sentences occur word for word. It appears that the author of the Alamgirnamah used the reports prepared by Talish and sent by Mir Jumla to the emperor.

Shihabuddin Talish was a careful observer and he gives an eyewitness accounts. In places where he was not present, and the events, which he did not see personally, he cites the names of persons from whom he had received the information. The Ahom Buranjis (the local and indigenous histories of Assam) generally confirm his accounts of battles. Talish must be given credit for his impartiality; he did not fail to give credit to the Ahoms where it was due. His account of the naval battles in Assam is almost similar to that available in the writing of the unnamed Dutch sailor who was a participant in the battles. Assam was a terra-incognito (unknown teritorry) in the medieval period, to the people of the rest of India. The Mughals for the first time entered into the interior area centering round the capital of Garhgaon. So the account of Shihabuddin Talish about the society, economic condition, art of warfare, physical features of the country, manners and customs, the diseases, pestilence from which the Ahoms suffered so badly, are considered very important information by the modern writers and historians.

After the death of Mir Jumla, Shihabuddin Talish stayed in Bengal, may be in the employ of Mir Jumla's successors. He gives the account of administration of Mir Jumla's successor Daud Khan. But the most important information that we get in the 'continuation' of the Fathiya is about the conquest of Chittagong by Shaista Khan. He has discussed in this part, Shaista Khan's administrative reforms, his preparations for the conquest of Chittagong, the geographical location and the conquest of Sandwip, the winning over of the Portuguese, asking for the assistance of the Dutch and finally the conquest of Chittagong. This part of the book is also very dependable, and agrees largely with the Alamgirnamah; the evidence found in the Dutch and English sources confirm his account. During the writing of this part, Talish was probably staying at Dhaka, in the court of Shaista Khan.

The 'continuation' of the Fathiya abruptly ends in the beginning of the third year of Shaista Khan's viceroyalty. The last event recorded in the book is the triumphal entry of buzurg umed khan into the fort of Chittagong, wrested from the hands of the Arakanese. The author probably died soon after. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography H Blochmann, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, XLI, 1872; JN Sarkar, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, III, No 6, 1907; SN Bhattacharya, Mughal North-Eastern Frontier Policy, Calcutta, 1929; JN Sarkar, The Life of Mir Jumla General of Aurangzib, Calcutta, 1979; Abdul Karim, History of Bengal, Mughal Period, II, Rajshahi, 1995.