Abdul Lutif

Abdul Lutif a Mughal historian and a royal official from Ahmedabad, moved to Agra first and then to the province of Bengal in 17th century. While traveling from Agra to Bengal, he wrote his travelogue in the form of a diary. In 1609 AD, Lutif accompanied Mughal subahdar Islam Khan, Dewan Mutaqid Khan and other royal officials in their journey by river from Rajmahal to Ghoraghat. mirza nathan (author of Baharistan-i-gaebi) mentioned one Abdul Lutif as his friend and an accountant at the diwani office, in his book 'baharistan-i-ghaibi'. According to the historians, this Abdul Lutif and the diary writer are the same person.

Sir jadunath sarkar was the first one to discover the manuscript of the diary. He translated the 'Rajmahal – Ghoraghat'; part of the travelogue into Bangla and English and abridged it. According to Sir Jodunath, Abdul Lutif belongs to the beginning of Emperor jahangir's reign when Sheikh Alauddin Chishti alias islam khan chisti was appointed as the subahdar of Bengal.

Latif's diary is very brief. His master Abul Hasan Shihab Khani Mutaqid Khan was given appointment to be the diwan of Bengal in 1608 AD. Lutif recorded the journey with his master from Agra to Bengal. The diary starts the travelogue with Islam Khan Chishti's departure from Rajmahal for Ghoraghat and ends with Islam Khan Chishti's departure from Ghoraghat for further downstream areas (called Bhati; in Bangla). Though brief, this diary is regarded as a very important document from the historical point of view because of its mention of dates of each and every segments of the journey; including departure from Rajmahal, the stopovers at different places, departure from Ghoraghat and so on.

In the Mughal era dhaka became the capital of Bengal subah in 1610 AD. Although the historians could not be unanimous about this date in the beginning, later Baharistan-i-Ghayebi of Mirza Nathan and the dates mentioned in Lutif's diary helped resolve this matter easily.

For reconstructing the history of the medieval Bengal, travelogues are regarded as very important sources. Besides, as time passed by, the rivers of Bengal changed their courses. Although it does not match with the current geographical map of Bengal, it is very important for geographical history, because of its description of the river ways from Rajmahal to Ghoraghat and it mention of the places along the course. Also, name and introduction of the bara-bhuiyans and the zamindars (the land owners) are found in the diary who came to see the Subahdar with gifts at different points of the journey.

Abdul Lutif worked under diwan Mutaqid Khan in the diwani department. Mutaqid Khan served in Bengal till the middle of 1612 AD. Later, he was called back by the central government. Although the travelogue ends on 15 October 1609 AD with Islam Khan Chishti's departure from Ghoraghat for Bhati areas, it is assumed that Lutif wrote the diary till 1612 AD. But the complete diary is yet to be discovered. [Nasrin Akhter]