Memories From Tawab Tarzi

The figure of Mahmud Tarzi comes first, when it is talked about awakening of national conscience and the field of social progress of Afghanistan. 

Afghans were deprived of general knowledge and science and they were unaware of the situation of the world on one hand, on the other hand, the doors of the country were closed and her relations with other nations were cut off. But Afghanistan never lost her independency. Mahmud Tarzi was also deprived of political freedom by the pressure of giant British imperialism. 

During such a period in the year of 1910, Mahmud Tarzi started to publish a national newspaper by the name of Seraj-Ul-Akhbar-Afganiye in order to disseminate advanced ideas in the land and awakening national conscience. The Newspaper demonstrated the way of civilization laying emphasis on the social, technological and scientific subjects. 

He opened a serious war against English or British by his brilliant writings stimulating the national feelings in order to recapture their own freedom. At the same time as a great poet and writer he made a strong revolution in the area of literature with his own poetry and writings. Basic themes of poetry were on roses, nightingales, wine and wine-glasses in those days. Mahmud Tarzi was the first Afghan poet who wrote the poems expressing the love of his motherland, social and scientific rehabilitation. He created new style in literature in Afghanistan similar to Ottoman and European type of writings. 

His penmanship was very strong and sophisticated, he wrote many books and made translations from other languages into Dari (Spoken Persian language in Afghanistan today which is the origin of the language spoken in Iran at the present). 

All the pages of the newspaper were full of scientific and technological knowledge served for intellectualism or enlightenment of the nation for the seven years until Aman Ullah Khan's sovereignty. 

Professor Gregorian from the history department of Stanford University of California wrote about Mahmud Tarzi in his work " New Afghanistanî, published in 1969. He reserved a large section in his work under the heading "Mahmud Tarzi, his ideology, patriotism and study of Seraj-ul-Akhbar", the writer says " It is an embarrassing negligence for the people who study about progressive and nationalistic movements in the east and Islamic world not to pay attention to any Afghanistan's steps in this directionî It would be an important loss and pity not to have sufficient evidence about a very important person as Mahmud Tarzi who has been the founder, editor in chief of the newspaper Seraj-ul-Akhbar published for the first time in contemporary Afghanistan history. He established the foundation of the idea of nationalism, progression in his land heralding the politics which reflected the desire and feelings of the youth of Afghanistan in the years between 1911-1919.

Sabir Mirzayef, a young Tagic writer from Philology department of Soviet Academy says in his thesis, prepared on the subjects of Mahmud Tarzi, his activities in literature and science and his newspaper Seraj-ul-Akhbar "the importance of literature in contemporary Afghanistan which started at the beginning of this century is without any doubt the greatest .

The chain of problems related to those years is connected with the name of the great writer and educationalist Mahmud Tarzi who worked on social problems between the years of 1865-1933 which made him a most distinguished person among high officials of Afghanistan. His services had important influence on the birth or origin of a national ideology and the way of civilization. This individual who was the avant-garde of education in this century became a reformist of Afghan literature. The theme in his poems was the social subjects in his time and he emphasized the ideas of national awakening, economical and educational improvements and scientific deployment in his literary works. 

Professor Dupre in his booklet named "Forgotten Nationalist; Mahmud Tarzi" published in 1964, says that; "There are very few famous people whom are talked about. The science students reincarnate some of them when they were searching for a topic for their thesis. Some others live with their work among a group of loyal people. Some others are remembered by the people who know him personally or they heard something about them. There are some of them who came into this world before their time but their thought and theories were understood in later periods. Mahmud Tarzi is one of last ones because this individual stayed away from all kind of tribal concepts but harbored a dream in his mind a nationalistic and advanced Afghan State."

King Aman Ullah Khan became Mahmud Tarzi's son in law. He was very much interested in writer's progressive ideas published in Seraj-ul-Akhbar. Aman Ullah Khan decided to change existing old middle aged system of state management as soon as he became the Head of the State in 1919. He also decided to introduce similar state organizations of other modern countries establishing like ministries and cabinet. He appointed Mahmud Tarzi as minister of foreign affaires and urged him to realize the above decisions. "Amani Periodî started when internal and external policies of the country were given a new direction and political economic and cultural relations established with foreign countries. Aman Ullah Khan's biggest success or achievement was his declaration the independence against British occupation.

British closed all the doors and they prevented Afghanistan to built political and the other kind of relations with the outside world by their wicked polices. They did not want to recognize the independence of Afghanistan. They resorted to their old way of attractive promises and deceptive policies, but they found strong opposition from King Aman Ullah Khan who was an experienced patriot not to be trapped in their tricks and ready to sacrifice his life. He wrote a letter to the British and indicated that he declared their independence unconditionally, and he was ready to sign an honorable treaty. The British did not reply to this letter with any acceptable statement, consequently King Aman Ullah declared a Jihat ( Holy War ) against the British. All the military and other national forces of Afghanistan moved toward frontiers with enthusiasm and excitement. The war was victorious because of the sacrifice of many patriots and Pasthun brothers. 

This War of Independence was a page of glory and pride in Afghanistan history. The State considered herself independent after the declaration of war and a committee was assembled under Muhammadi Wali Khan and they were sent to Russia to establish political relations with western countries. This committee was met with enthusiasm by Russian thus Russia was the first country who recognized the independence of Afghanistan. Afghanistan also recognized Soviet regime in return. Very sincere letters were exchanged between foreign affairs ministries of both countries. 

The Committee moved to Europe later. The British insistently requested from other western countries not to recognize the independence of Afghanistan and not to establish any relationship with them. The British could not persuade others except America/ USA - who complied with the request and insisted with the decision of not recognizing Afghan independence for fifteen years. After the war, difficult, rough and uneven negotiations between Afghanistan and British lasted for a long time. ( four months in Mussoorie- India and ten months in Kabul. 1920-1921) 

The chairman of Afghan negotiation team was Mahmud Tarzi. At last both parties signed an honorable treaty suitable with Afghan independency in 1921. In the first three years, the sovereignty of the new kingdom was very delicate and dangerous however it has been accepted as a successful period of Afghan history with the political management of Mahmud Tarzi. He got extremely tired mentally and spiritually with his struggles of this difficult times. Then he was assigned as the first ambassador to France in order to establish closer relations with European countries. At that time, M. Wali Khan was appointed in his place upon his return from a successful mission in Europe. 

Mahmud Tarzi gave invaluable services to his country while he was in France, such as: building up very close, friendly relations with this country, obtaining cultural and economical aids, asking an archeological team to be send to Afghanistan to expose antic remains, connected with educational activities (the value of this antic works are increasing every passing days ),buying arms, publishing and distributing pictured pamphlets for propaganda of his country. 

" Amani Period " lasted ten years. The international prestige and dignity of the country had reached the highest level in this period as recorded in the history of Afghanistan. The King desired to save his country from backwardness and reach to civilization as soon as possible. Programs of social reforms, educational improvements have been put in force, factories were purchased, the projects of railway were prepared, women rights were declared, a new city "Darulamanî was started to be built, many other new regulations and civil legislation were put in force. Afghanistan walked with giant steps to the direction of an honorable position in international arena and civilized communities. 

Unfortunatelly the British who were always against King Aman Ullah, were afraid of this fast development because this situation could be a bad example for India and the other colonies which were occupied by the U.K. Therefore they- UK- had to do something to halt this progress. They started to have riots in certain areas with the help of a group of people already in British control; also they spent lots of gold to buy another reactionary group to have their rebellious movement. They persuaded those people that these progressive movements are against Islamic faith and had to be stopped. Fore instance, their demands were to abrogate modern educational system, close down schools for girls, cancel all the laws, rules and regulations which were atheistic , return to dressing with veil for the women who were already freed from this calamity, to abolish the compulsory examinations for the illiterate and ignorant mollas. Rioting expanded with the effort of British spies. The situation got worse when some infidel government employees were also involved in rioting. Newspapers published in London and in India expressed openly British desire to terminate king's sovereignty. 

They threw leaflets from the air, pictures of Queen Soraya with her modern style dresses to show that she was not good for Afghanistan. This was an ordinary but not acceptable propaganda method created by those who captured other countries with tricky methods but fortunately did not succeed in Afghanistan. This events related with the subject is very interesting to mention. The U.K. was always expelled from Afghanistan in their every attempt that was done towards this country. 

The British prepared a list of conditions to be accepted by the Afghan government in case of their victory in war. The exile of Mahmud Tarzi from the country and cutting all the relations with the other countries were among their list of conditions. It is a pity that same demands were repeated by the rebels ten years later. (more info will be in Wahab Tarzi's documents ) Aman Ullah Khan had to leave the country in order to avoid further bloodshed among brothers in this reactionary rioting. Mahmud Tarzi left his homeland which he loved and served very much. He came to Turkey and lived in Istanbul for the last four years of his life as an honorable guest of M. Kemal Ataturk, founder of Turkish Republic. 

He died in November 23, 1933 in Istanbul and was buried in Eyub Sultan cemetery around of Markad-i Hazrati Eyubi Ensari.
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Memories From Wahab Tarzi

"For many years it had been my fervent wish to write the biography of my father as a continuation of his unfinished autobiography written in 1933.(*) 

...

Finally, my retirement from goverment service in 1973, allowed me to embark on this project by collecting documents and source materials such as my father's writings and published works. Another source was the verbal recollections of my parents and eldest sister. 

More significant were my two trips (1976 ñ 1977 ) to New Delhi where I spent several moths reviewing the formerly secret documents of the British Colonial Administraton in the national archieves of India. I concentrated on materia relevant to the residence of my grandfather and father during their exile in India (1882-1885) and their subsequent journey to Baghdad, Istanbul and Damascus where they lived till the death of my grandfather in 1900, finally my father's return to Afghanistan in 1904. 

...

"FOREIGN WRITTERS CARRIED OUT VALUABLE RESEARCH ON THE SOCIAL, POLITICAL, HISTORICAL AND OTHER CONDITIONS. THUS THEY WRITE ABOUT THE INTELLECTUAL AND POLITICAL PERSONALITIY OF MAHMUD TARZI AND HIS REFORM PLANS AND PROGRESS AND THEY SPECIALLY HIGHLIGHTED HIS WRITINGS WHICH STIRRED THE NATIONAL CONSCIENCE AND INSPIRED THE STRUGGLE FOR INDEPENDENCE. FOR INSTANCE, PROFESSOR GREGORIAN, AN AMERICAN PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, IN HIS BOOK, "THE EMERGENCE OF MODERN AFGHANISTANî DEVOTES A CHAPTER TO MAHMUD TARZI AND HIS INTELLECTUAL AND LITERARY CONTRIBUTIONS. PROFESSOR LOUIS DUPREE'S ARTICLE "THE FORGOTTEN NATIONALIST" IS ALSO WORTHY OF NOTE. 

IN CLOSING, I CONSIDER IT MY DUTY TO EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION TO MY DEAR FRIEND AND DISTINGUISHED AFGHAN SCHOLAR, DR. A.G. RAWAN-FARHADI FOR HIS DEDICATED INTEREST IN THE WRITINGS AND LITERARY CONTRIBUTIONS OF MY FATHER. RAWAN-FARHADI, IN CONNECTION WITH THE SEMINAR ON SAYED JAMAL-UDDIN AFGHANI WHICH WAS ORGANIZED IN KABUL , IN 1977, COMPILED AND EDITED ALL THE ESSAYS OF MAHMUD TARZI APPERING THROUGHOUT THE 8 YEARS PUBLICATION OF THE SERAJ-UL AKHBAR AND ARRANGED ITS PUBLICATION AS AN IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE BOOK." Omer Tarzi.

(* ) IT COVERS THE PERIOD WHEN HE WAS FROM 5 TO 16 YEARS OF AGE AND CONCLUDES WITH THEIR EXILE BY AMIR ABDUR-RAHMAN IN 1882.THIS HAS BEEN TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH AND PUBLISHED BY WAHID TARZI.    

Above works belong to Wahab Tarzi, eldest son of Sardar-i Ala Mahmud Tarzi, taken as a preface of his works on Mahmud Tarzi biography. This biography contains some private/ family affairs as well. There fore some parts were taken out and some remained originally.