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Islam Khan Mashhadi


Islam Khan Mashhadi (1635-1639) 'Subahdar of Bengal. He succeeded Azam Khan in 1635. His original name was Mir Abdus Salam. Emperor shahjahan conferred the title of Islam Khan upon him. He had a good deal of administrative experience as he held many important posts including the governorship of Gujrat before his appointment in Bengal.

Islam Khan Mashhadi's period of governance was noted for the Mughal conflict with assam and Arakan. The Assamese King Pratap Singh embarked on a policy of expansion by encouraging Bali Narayan (brother of Pariksit Narayan of kamarupa who had already submitted to the Mughals) to make incursions into Kamarupa. Even Raja Satrajit, the Mughal thanadar of Kamarupa played a treacherous game in encouraging Bali Narayan to attack Hajo, the Mughal headquarters in Kamarupa.

In order to help Abdus Salam, Faujdar of Kamarupa, Islam Khan sent reinforcement under Shaikh Mahiuddin, Muhammad Salih Kambuh, Mirza Muhammad Bukhari and Zainal Abedin. Initially the Mughals gained success against their adversaries and pushed them back beyond their frontier. However, they met with a serious defeat in the hands of the Assamese because of the suddenness of their offensive and the alleged treachery of Satrajit. Soon another reinforcement was sent from Dhaka under Mir Zainuddin Ali. This time the Mughals defeated the Assamese and marched upon Dhubri where they captured the traitor Satrajit who was sent to Dhaka and executed. The Mughals captured Shrighat and Pandu. Bali Narayan fled into Assam as a fugitive. The hostilities were formally ended by a negotiated settlement in 1638-39, which fixed the Baranadi as the boundary of the Mughal dominions in the north. Gauhati was now selected as the Mughal headquarters there.

At the close of the Assam-Mughal Conflict hostilities began with Arakan. In 1638, the Arakan ruler Shri Sudarshana died and a servant usurped the throne. He now assumed the title of Narapati (King of the people). Thereupon, Mangat Rai, the late king's brother at Chittagong, declared independence and attempted to oust the usurper. But his forces were inadequate. Hence he solicited help from the Mughals. Islam Khan Mashhadi ordered the thanadars of Bhulua and Jagdia to extend help to the fugitive Arakanese prince. The forces of the Mughal thanadars drove the Arakanese fleet back and enabled Mangat Rai to cross the Feni River. The pretender again made an attempt to attack the Mughals. Islam Khan promptly sent adequate reinforcements against the invaders and forced them to withdraw to their former positions. After this the Portuguese settlers of Chittagong sided with Mangat Rai. Thus Chittagong was practically free from their piratical activities. On the other hand the Arakanese naval strength was weakened, as, after this, they were deprived of Portuguese naval support. It therefore helped the Mughals under shaista khan to capture Chittagong from their possession in 1666.

Soon after the Assam-Mughal and Arakan-Mughal hostilities, Islam Khan Mashhadi was recalled to the court to assume the post of Prime Minister (Wazir-i-Diwan-i-Ala) and in his place shah shuja, the second son of the emperor was appointed as the subahdar of Bengal. [KM Karim]