The history of the subcontinent where now lies three nations; Bangladesh, India and Pakistan is filled with rise and falls of numerous nations. However, it is hard to ignore the bloodshed and suffering endured by the natives during the partition of the British controlled subcontinent in 1947. During this partition after which two nations of India and Pakistan (East and West Pakistan), many tribes that resided in the region were met with a dilemma of choosing a side. This decision wasn’t easy as the region is filled with a population that may be only united by race but divided by religion, terrain, language, beliefs and cultures. This wide range of differences can be seen just by the fact that there are over 122 Major dialects spoken in current day India alone. This diversity is unique but also has been the cause of many race and tribe related problems throughout history and even in current age. Keeping the diversity and the volatile history in mind, the tribe under discussion today is the Mughals (more specifically Mirza) before and after the partition.
Before we go into any details we need to understand that due to different cultural and religious exposures the Mirza and Mughal lineage has been metamorphic. Therefore, it has become very hard to identify true decedents or lineage of any of the tribes especially due to intermarriages. The only possible way to identify a person’s lineage is through an expensive DNA test, which still won’t be specific enough to reach a conclusion to one’s exact tribe. To avoid any biases we will discuss both tribes due to the nature of the required paper. The Rajput Mirzas of Northern India descended through Indo-Aryans, considered enemies of the Mughal Empire but with time gave rise to the Rajput Muslims through inter marriages with Mughals) would however will not be discussed.
Mughals who had a major influence in the subcontinents history, economy, military, infrastructure, policies and boundaries, created an empire known as The Mughal Empire in 1526 under Babur by overthrowing the Delhi Sultanate. Mughals have their roots from Chagatai (current day Afghanistan) and Turco-Mongol descendants from central Asia; however after a few years in the subcontinent due to inter marriages their bloodline diversified. The Chagatai Lineage follows through the Chagatai Khanate (Turkicized Khanate later) under Chagatai Khan the second son of Genghis Khan. The Turco-Mongol roots originate from the 14th century when the amalgamation of Islamic belief and the legal and political beliefs of the Mongol Empire gave rise to a new lineage. Before we go in to the lineage details about Mirzas and how they are intertwined with the Mughal, we will discuss the meaning of the word Mirza. The word Mirza has its roots from the Persian language and has been used by many empires to refer to people of royalty, military commanders, religious and scientific scholars and important noblemen. Even though the roots are Persian, the word mirza has been used by many dynasties such as Temruk Dynasty (Mirza Hayder Temruk Bey), Russian Dynasty, Qajar Dynasty and more importantly under Mughal Dynasty. For the sake of the article the discussion will be kept strictly focused on the Mughal Dynasty Mirzas.
The mixing of the Mughals and Mirzas start from Mongol Dynasty under Genghis Khan. The current day Mirzas in Pakistan and India can be traced back the house of Timur (also known as Warlord Tamerlane). The house of Timur (also Timurid Dynasty in future) follows its lineage from the in-laws of Genghis Khan. Referring back to the history Mughals we have discussed that the Mughals descended through the Mongol Empire as well, here we can see the intermingling of both tribes even before the existence of the Mughal Empire. To be more specific we will skip to the 18th century rebellion where the last ditch effort by the Last acknowledged Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar to take control over the subcontinent from the British. One of his 22 sons was Mirza Muhammad Zahir Ud din (also known as the mirza Mughal) who was shot dead at one of the gates in Old Delhi which was later names as the Khooni Darwaza (Bloody Door). After the rebellion the descendants of Mughals and Mirzas were scattered and the last official Mughal King was exiled to Rangoon in Burma. There have been a recent effort by Dean Nelson and a few local philanthropists to trace the pure lineage of the royal Mughal Lineage and many have been traced. However, many of the current descendants of Mughal Mirzas are still residing in central, eastern and southern Punjab in Pakistan, western Punjab in India, Northern India (mostly Rajput Mirzas) and parts of Burma and current day Bangladesh.
After the Partition most of the Mughal Mirzas either migrated to parts of Punjab in Pakistan and Bangladesh (East Pakistan) or were already residing there. United by caste and religion Mirza Mughals still reside in parts of Punjab on both sides of the border and modern day Bangladesh. The partition of Pakistan and India was one of the most complicated divisions of borders in the history. Due to lack of proper management by the British Empire, problems such as mass murder of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs became evident through the process on both sides of the border. The Mirza tribe was also part of this migration. Many of them are important members of the society and the list of important Mughal Mirzas is too long to mention and due to the requirements we will keep the mentions specific. When going through the above mentioned list the name that is the most prominent is of the first President of Pakistan Iskandar Mirza. Elected in 1956 as the first President of Pakistan and born in 1899 in Murishabad, Bengal India. His reign as the President was short but significant as it paved way for a martial law in Pakistan. Also it is Noteworthy that he belonged to East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh. Born to the wealthy family of Nawab of Bengal, Iskandar Mirza was Defence Secretary of Pakistan (1947-1950) and then the governor of Bengal and cabinet Minster (1950-1955). In 1956 he was elected the President of Pakistan and remained in office till 1958 until he was forced into exile. Iskandar Mirza was a descendant of Mir Jafar who aided the East India Company in overthrowing Siraj Ud Daula of Bengal. Iskandar Mirzas contributions before and after the partition are noteworthy and emphasizes the important roles taken on the Mughal Mirzas throughout history.
For an outsider understanding the current caste and lineage structure in Indo-Pakistan is a complicated issue. However to completely understand the diverse problems the sector faces, one needs to understand the history behind these problems. With so many different castes and lineage which lead to a wide range of customs and traditions living as a united nation unified by mostly religion, it is hard to determine a solution to the caste related problems. However due to the teachings of Islam these problems are only under the surface. In India these problems are on wider and visible scale. Also due to intermarriages through generations it is very hard to be specific with ones lineage and many who claim to be descendants of a specific caste are making false claims.
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