§ 70. Ruhullah Khan's death and funeral.

When the Emperor went to visit Ruhullah Khan in his [last] illness, he was insensible. On regaining consciousness he made a salam and recited the following couplet:

With what pride will this supplicant leave the world,
As you have come to his head at the time of his giving up the ghost!

The Emperor burst into tears and said, “In no condition whatever should one despair of God's grace. Recovery and hope are not remote from His mercy (i.e., beyond His power). But as death is inevitable to every man, tell me your heart's wish, and I shall certainly grant it.” Ruhullah Khan stretched out his hand, rubbed it on His Majesty's teet, and said, “Through the blessing of these feet all my wishes in lifetime were gratified. I now pray for this only that your Majesty may not mind the incompetence of my sons, but keep them under the shadow of your training, appoint those that are fit for any office to that post, and, in the case of those that are incompetent, re­member the services of their forefathers.”

The Emperor replied, “I agree with all my heart and life.” Then the Khan submitted, “Concerning the marriage of my two daughters, I have already sent a petition to your Majesty through the nazir, stating that I have been spiritually guided to the Sunni creed, and given up the practices of my [Shia] ancestors, and requesting that both of them may be married to well-born members of the Sunni sect. I now orally pray that your Majesty may order Qazi Muhammad Akram to come and carry out the washing and shrouding of my corpse.” The Emperor bowed his head down, smiled, and said, “Verily, love for his children has rendered this man helpless. There is no falling off in your wisdom and power of contrivance. Most probably you have made this plan in the hope that out of respect for the pure soul of a Sunni I shall look graciously at and show kindness to your children. But this plan will succeed only if every one of them too says the same thing (i.e., accepts the Sunni creed). There is no probability at all that they would lay this shame (i.e., apostacy) on themselves. However, I ought to carry out your last will publicly according to the Canon Law.” Saying this he repeated a blessing from the Quran (fatiha) and came away.

After the Khan's death, the qazi came according to the will of the deceased. One Aqa Beg, a confidential servant of Ruhullah Khan, showed the qazi a letter written by the Khan and sealed with his own seal, which stated, “If at the time of washing and shrouding my body, the qazi comes according to the will of this humble person and the order of the Emperor, Aqa Beg should be appointed the qazi's deputy for doing this work. This poor man does not venture to give trouble to His Holiness the qazi [for this work]. The mere fact of the qazi coming to my house will be the cause of the salvation of this sinner.”

This Aqa Beg had outwardly assumed the titles of Aqa and Beg, but he was [really] one of the expert Shia theologians. The qazi had discovered his scholar­ship from his having often at parties entered into discussions fearlessly and promptly when face to face with learned men. The qazi, on reading the letter, became aware of the real fact of the matter, viz., the invitation of the qazi and the delegation of the work [of washing] to Aqa Beg was a mere form of pleasantry ( shakl-i-khush-tabai ). So, being displeased, he told Muhammad Ghaus, the news-writer of the qazi's court, to put it at once in a letter and send the letter to the Emperor quickly by means of a slave (qul), so that an answer might be brought.

When the sheet of the news-letter was presented to the Emperor, he wrote, “At the time of his death he has cast disgrace on the whole of his past life, and spread a covering over the face of his work. It is not necessary for the qazi to stay there. The late Khan during his lifetime had made deception his characteristic. And at his death, too, he pursued this detestable habit to the end! What concern have I with anybody's faith? Let Jesus follow his own religion and Moses his own. The proposal for the marriage of his daughters to Sunnis was also a kind of stratagem, [employed in the hope] that the poor simple-witted young nobles who would be involved in this misfortune (i.e., would marry these Shia girls) would necessarily, out of love for their wives, withdraw their hands from the long-standing faith of their ancestors and become new converts to Shia-ism. God protect us from the wickedness of our passions and the sinfulness of our actions.”

Text.—Ir. MS. 13a—14a; MS. N. 13b—16a.