In 1747, Ahmad Shah Durrani united warring Afghani tribes to form the country now known as Afghanistan. To this day, Afghan kings have been called Shahs in honour of their first king. The former popular leader of the Afghan Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who was assassinated September 9 2001, was named after his country’s first king. The following is a story about Ahmed Shah Durrani that I read in a book. The book was written by a reliable author, however it is verbal history passed down through the ages, so it may be fact or it may be legend. Either way, it deserves to be retold…
Ahmad Shah led the newly united Afghani tribes to a secret valley where they began a long and peaceful coexistence under his benign authoritarian rule. There was only one mountain pass that led into the secret valley and Ahmad Shah made a law that anyone who revealed the location of the secret mountain pass would receive one hundred lashes.
One day, his lieutenant informed him that someone had been caught giving away the information. Without hesitation, the king commanded that the traitor be publicly flogged. The lieutenant proceeded to inform Ahmad Shah that the traitor was in fact the king’s mother.
Now he was caught in a Catch-22. If he had his own mother flogged in public, he would be seen as heartless and lose the people’s respect. On the other hand, if he exonerated her, he would be seen as weak and people would lose respect for both he and his laws and the nation would rapidly descend back into chaos. He had to choose between justice and mercy. He ordered the punishment for the following day.
On the following morning, his mother was brought out in public to be flogged. Ahmad Shah addressed the people, confirming that the law had been broken and that punishment must be extracted. Then, to the astonishment of the people, he tore off his shirt and took the full punishment himself.
He refused to choose between justice and mercy but remained faithful to both.