• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Women in Islam: The Tragic Story of Afzal Khan’s 63 Wives

E-mail Print PDF

Prophet Muhammad, by giving divine legitimacy to polygamy and unbounded concubinage, not only degraded the status of women, but his prohibition of remarriage of his harem-inmates--likely fearing that it would divulge his sexual impotency to other men--also set on a legacy of many tragedies for Muslim women..

Bijapur, the famous capital of the medieval Adil Shah dynasty (1489 to 1686), is a small city in Souther Indian state of Karnataka, whose charm lies largely in the remarkable architectural legacy of those days. Amongst its numerous architectural monuments of the Islamic past is Satth Kabar (Sixty Graves) that bears the memory of a very tragic incident in history of Muslim women.

Afzal Slew his 63 Wives

Satth-Kabar sixty graves of Afzal khan's wivesAfzal Khan was the most powerful General or Sardar (Lord) in the court of the Bijapur Sultanate. He was responsible for many victories for Adil Shah Dynasty. In 1658, Sultan Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur was preparing to launch a military campaign against Shivaji, the indefatigable Maratha ruler. Being constantly under pressure from Auranzeb on one side and Shivaji from the other, Adil Shah depended on his generals to stall the enemies, and counted General Afzal Khan among his most trusted warriors.

Though Afzal Khan was a brave man, he had but one weakness: auguries and omens. Prior to the campaign, Khan contacted astrologers who predicted doom—his death at the hands of Maratha soldiers. At that time, Afzal Khan had 63 wives in his harem. Fearing that his wives would remarry after his death, the anxious general chose to kill all of them. Some say they were pushed into a deep well, while others say that all the 63 unfortunate wives were slain by Afzal. The astrologers proved correct; for, Khan indeed die at the hands of Shivaji at Pratapgarh.

However, his wives lie buried just 5 km from Bijapur at a place now bears titular testimony to the uxoricide: Satth Kabar. Ironically, the tomb built by the general for himself, who wanted to be close to his wives in life and in death, stands adjacent to the one-acre burial ground surrounded by jowar fields. The site has now been declared to be of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, and is under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). Today, the tombstones are scarred by graffiti; people often come to the shady spot for rest.

“People need to hear the heartrending stories that cry out from these graves”, says the 65 year-old man who lives in a nearby house.

How Afzal Khan died?

Afzal Khan was aware that Shivaji was on Pratapgarh, and planned to lure him out into the open plateau of Deccan, where he could destroy his forces. Khan's strength was his giant force. At that time he took with him a force of 12,000 soldiers, many cannons, and troops mounted on elephants, horses, and camels etc. Which was more than enough to crush the force of Shivaji's newly established 'Swarajya' (Self-rule). Shivaji's men were very few in numbers and Afzal Khan was aware of this fact too. That's why he tried to bring Shivaji out in the open plains, where they could be destroyed quickly in an open battle.

In contrast, Shivaji's men were masters of what is known as 'guerilla war', where one surprises the enemy with a sudden attack causing heavy casualties and retreat quickly. So Shivaji tried his best to avoid a direct confrontation in an open field.

To compell Shivaji to come down to the plains, Afzal Khan started demolishing the temples, the prestigious temple of Bhavani Mata. His idea was that Shivaji, a pious Hindu, would not tolerate such insult of his gods and goddesses; and immediately, he would come down to fight in an open battle. But Shivaji did not bite the bait.

Failing to lure Shivaji out into the plains, Afzal agreed to meet him at Pratapgarh, a fort near the town of Satara, a location which was strategically advantageous for Shivaji's infantry. For the meeting, a large tent was set up at the foothills of Pratapgarh. It was agreed that the meeting would be unarmed: each side was to bring ten personal bodyguards, who would stand one arrow-shot distance away.

Both parties were, however, prepared for treachery: Afzal hid a kataar, a small and sharp dagger, in his coat. Shivaji wore armour under his clothes, and carried a weapon called bagh nakh ("tiger claws"), consisting of an iron finger-grip with four razor claws, which he concealed within his clenched fist.

As the two men entered the tent for meeting, Khan pretended to greet Shivaji with a hug, and stabbed Shivaji in the back with his hidden kataar. However Shivaji, due to the armour under his coat, was saved and opened his fist and disemboweled Khan with his bagh nakh. Afzal managed to hold his gushing entrails and hurtled outside, faint and bleeding, and threw himself into his palanquin. But Khan was decapitated by one of Shivaji's bodyguards shortly down the slope.

Sambhaji Kawaji and Jiva Mahala, two of Shivaji's bodyguards, were instrumental in protecting their king from Afzal's bodyguards.

According to another version, on reaching the tent, Shivaji requested Afzal Khan to send his bodyguard Sayyad out of the place. As per the agreement, no one was to be present when Shivaji and Afzal Khan met. When Shivaji penetrated the tiger claws into Afzal Khan's abdomen, injuring him fatally, Sayyad Khan entered the tent, running to his mater's rescue. Just when Sayyad Khan was about to kill Shivaji, Jiva Mahal, a body guard of Shivaji, slashed Sayyad Khan, saving the life of his master.

Shivaji sped towards the fortress as his lieutenants ordered a bugle to be sounded. It was a pre-determined signal to his infantry, which had been strategically placed in the densely covered valley. All of Shivaji's generals, including his Army Chief, Netaji Palkar, launched a surprise attack and routed Afzal Khan's army. Afzal Khan's son managed to escape with help from Maratha generals including Khandaji Khopade, another of many blunders committed by the Hindus against their struggle against Muslim invaders.

The severed head of Khan was sent to Rajgarh to be shown to Jijabai, Shivaji's mother. She wanted vengeance for the murder of Shahaji, Shivaji's father, in the captivity of Afzal Khan, and also for the death of her elder son, Sambhaji, also killed by Afzal Khan.

Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim Drowned his 280 Wives

Ibrahim I was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 to 1648. He was the son of Sultan Ahmed I, and was unofficially called “Ibrahim the Mad” (Turkish: Deli İbrahim), due to his unstable mental condition. However, Ibrahim was one of the most famous Ottoman Sultans, succeeded his brother Murad IV in 1640. Murad had ordered his three other brothers executed. Ibrahim I was allowed to live because he was too mad to be a threat.

Ibrahim is known to have had an obsession with obese women, urging his agents to find the fattest woman possible. A candidate, weighing around 330 pounds (137.4 Kg), was tracked down in Georgia or Armenia. She was given the pet-name Sheker Pare ("Sugar Cube"). Ibrahim was so pleased with her that he gave her a government pension and (allegedly) a governorship. At that time, Ibrahim had 280 wives and concubines in his harem. But when he heard a rumor that his concubines were compromised by another man, he decided to kill them en masse. Ultimately, all the 280 members of his harem were drowned in the Bosporus Sea.

Eventually, Ibrahim was deposed in a coup led by the Grand Mufti. There is an apocryphal story to the effect that the Grand Mufti acted in response to Ibrahim's drowning all 280 members of his harem. But there is other evidence to suggest that at least two of Ibrahim's concubines survived the mass murder. Ibrahim was ultimately strangled to death in Istanbul.

Idi Amin of Uganda

Idi Amin Dada Oumee, commonly known as Idi Amin, was a Ugandan military dictator and the president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin took power in a military coup in January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. His rule was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings and the expulsion of Asians from Uganda. The number of people killed by him is unknown, but an estimate from international observers and human rights groups says that it ranged from 100,000 to 500,000. After the fall of his regime in 1979, Amin fled to Libya, and finally took political asylum in Saudi Arabia in 1981, where he died in 2003.

Idi Amin officially had 5 wives (many believe the actual number was much higher), one of which he had killed and dismembered to show her children what happens to someone, who disobeys him. He is also said to have over 34 concubines and many mistresses in his harem. Many believe that he was suffering from STDs, syphilis being one of them. He also had over 20 some children.

More importantly, Idi Amin used to refresh his harem regularly by executing the old and condemned wives for inducting new and younger ones. Many of us might have seen the heartrending reports in news papers in 1970s, how the security guards led the wailing victims to the place of execution through thousands of onlookers. But the government of Saudi Arabia, by providing asylum to such a cruel killer, has made the world understand that, Idi Amin had not committed any serious crime or insulted Islam by killing his wives. At that time, some journalists reported that Idi Amin was even a cannibal, who used to taste the flesh of his executed wives.


From the above discussions it becomes evident that the status of women in Muslim world is worse than domestic animals. In Arabia, during the Prophet’s times, an Arab could confine his wife in a room and kill her slowly by refusing food and water to her. Even the authors of the Arab Human Development Report 2002, have categorically mentioned that women are not considered as full citizens in the Islamic world, and that this oppression of the women is one of the major reasons for the Muslim world’s backwardness.

There is another point to be mentioned in this context. It has been said above that, Afzal Khan killed his 63 wives as he was afraid that, after his death, other people would marry his wives. There is no doubt that Prophet Muhammad was in the grip of a similar fear, because of which he forbade the remarriage of his harem-inmates after his death.

Comments (15)Add Comment
AK didnt kill Shahji
written by ansaazi , October 04, 2009
AK didnt kill Shahji although he did briefly put him in captivity
written by Swaraj Jadhav , January 28, 2010
Shivaji's mother Jijabai was never interested in settling personal scores with anyone. She had a much bigger goal for her son. She wanted Shivaji to set up "Swaraj"- Self rule for everybody, who called themselves "Indians" - Similar to Emperor Akbar's dream of India.
After considering the arrogance & political ignorance shown by Afzal Khan, right from Bijapur to Wai, Shivaji decided to kill Afzal.
A meeting was fixed at the foot of Pratapgarh... rest is history...
written by ,dsmf , May 30, 2010
you f****r
written by ghori khan , July 15, 2010
son of a bitch do some research you motherfucker,moron,if you have been in emirates your condition wud have been like of sambhaji who dared to speak against my nabi tongue cut given to dogs and limbs cut fed to dogs what a shameful death
Islam looks right to me
written by Scott , October 13, 2010
The history accounts of the pussy Islamic men and their need to own women and use them and kill them seems the same way they fight wars, hidden and like pussies. When it is difficult, they quit. All those Muslim countries and Israel not only stops them, wins but literally kickes their sorry asses and sends the little pussy faggot boys home. LOL. Gotta love how AQ starts a war and now more Muslims die in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan than ever before. Ethnic cleansing at its best and Al Qaeda and Taliban to thank. So thank you I do. Nothing much for 9 years on American or European shores. Okay, one Christian death to 10,000 Muslim deaths, sacrifices have to be made:)
Rights of Women in ISLAM...
written by Zeeshan Amer Dar , March 03, 2011
Dear all, if you can, then please study and research the Rights of Women in ISLAM, then talk about it. Un-contextual quotes always make people amongst the misguided ones.

And please, ISLAM doesn't allow any muslim to marry more than 4 wives at a time. Even Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) have had only 4 wives at a time. My child go and first go through the history and then come up with the talks. And by the way is ISLAM is not good for women, then why Women are converting to ISLAM. QURAN has many chapters defining the rights of women. Go and check Chapter (Al-Nisa).

Hope you will get understand and not make this mistake again.
Rights of Women in Islam
written by Amboyduke , March 03, 2011
OK Zeeshan...
How about you taking some time and listing all the rights that Islamic women have...?
I would love to see your list from the Al-Nisa part of your Koran.
Many people on this site know much about the Koran, many people don't.
I am somewhere in the middle.
Please list as many "rights" as you feel necessary to make your point.
I await with keen anticipation.
Thank you.
plz read this Fact of ISLAM RELIGION
written by mohammed thousif , December 17, 2011
see brothers, basically no religion says to go in wrong path. I as a muslim oppose the act of 'afzal khan' killing wives brutally,
becoz ISLAM being a "peaceful religion" it says not to harm a innocent at any cost.
the devil act done by afzal khan is truely 100% out of islam. I dont think him as a muslim. Becoz allah says..
"to b a good muslim, one should b a good human being first"
& in the above story told by 'radyasham bramhachari' he commented on islam without any research on d fact of islamic laws, just with his personal enemity on islam.
Dear brothers i give u 1 best example, let us think dat we have a good mercedes car & we have to check it up that how it works, how good it is, what r d features of d car, how comfortable it is,
To know all these facts, we should ask an expert or a expert driver about d car, then he will say d facts & real features of d car. But if u ask a person who not even know to drive, he will smash d car & say dat he it not good.
So similarly if u want to know exactly about islam & its peaceful teachings, u should see d perfect driver of islam d only 'prophet mohammed' dont see afzal khan or othet muslim or me, just see d life of prophet mohammed to know d facts, & please i request "if u have any common sense, always believe d truth" the truth u can find in the "quran & sahih hadees"
mohammed thousif
written by Dwito , December 17, 2011
Dear brother,
Firstly i want to thank you personally for your gentle and form of expression. It's truly a rare experience for us to get a benign educated personality like you. I do hope you'll stay with us and join in the discussions to clear any of our misunderstanding about Islam. I hope you will be faithfull and sincere to your self, that you committed in your last sentence = please i request "if u have any common sense, always believe d truth" .
My question to you - if you really believe to know the truth, as you believe, why do you confine yourself in a condition, i.e. - the truth u can find in the "quran & sahih hadees.
Do you mean that if in any case if the revealed truth contradicts the condition, i.e. Quran and hadees, you will not accept those truths? why this abnormality? does allah tells you to be abnormal? pl. answer me. I'm personally interested in you to discuss.
With sincere regards -
Dwito Sotta
we muslims respect "JESUS CHRIST"
written by mohammed thousif , December 17, 2011
jesus christ is one of our respected prophet, we call him prophet'Esa'
D story of adam & hawa is the same basic u can find in bible & quran,
D fact is allah"GOD" sent many prophets to earth for his people to show right path after prophet adam, moosa, ibrahim, Esa many more & d last prophet for d all mankind prophet mohammed.
GOD had given some powers to all prophets like for prophet he given d power of understanding all d languagues of animals& birds, ibrahim d power in his stick.
Similarly JESUS CHRIST d prophet got d power to cure leprosy, to bring d dead to live. Becoz of this enormous power of bringing back to life from death, d followers mistakenly believe jesus christ as a GOD but actually he is a prophet.
Dear brothers, no where in d bible jesus mentioned himself as god.
U cant find a single verse of jesus saying himself as GOD, so plz follow the TRUTH. If U HAVE BRAIN, USE YOUR COMMON SENSE & BELIEVE IN TRUTH. whatever it may be but i always believe in truth.
FACTS of islam
written by mohammed thousif , December 18, 2011
dear brother dwito, u r always welcome,
im always ready to clear doubts & misconceptions about islam.
If u have any doubts plz express.
First of all i want to know ur opinion about islam, b frank, i dont feel anything, u can criticize islam,or anything, u got full freedom, but i want to know what u r thinking & what u feel wrong in islam.
just express ur feelings brother,
I will try my level best to clear ur doubts with my knowledge according to quran & hadees.
U r most welcome..
@ mohammed thousif
written by Cererum123 , December 19, 2011
Actually Jesus did claim to be God ,He just did it in a more subtle way than "I am God worship me!". Even the Pharisees realized the Jesus was making this claim here John 10: 32 but Jesus said to them "I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which if these do you stone me?" 33 "We are not stoning you for any good work ,but for blasphemy ,because you ,a mere man ,claim to be God."
John 10:25 "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even though they die;26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Jesus also demonstrated His power and authority through miracles.
John 11:43 When he had said this , Jesus called in a loud voice ,"Lazarus come out!"44 The dead man came out ,his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen ,and a cloth around his face.
Jesus also said (I can't seem to find the specific verse right now ,but I can find it later if you need me to) "I and the Father are one." He also said "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father also."
You say that Muslims respect Jesus ,and believe He is a prophet ,but are you really respecting Him? You reject His teachings ,and accept the Quran over what Jesus Himself said. You even say He is the Messiah ,but do you even know the real significance of the title of "Messiah"? The OT teaches this about the Messiah Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born ,to us a son is given ,and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God ,Everlasting Father ,Prince of Peace,
The Messiah is God HIMSELF come to us in the form of man. Jesus was by admission of the Quran the Messiah. Yet the Quran denies a central aspect of the identity of the Messiah ,and that is that the Messiah IS GOD. How is denying Jesus' identity respecting Him? How is (this is a common Muslim claim) claiming that His teachings have become corrupted (aren't the words of God unchangeable? Also the Quran teaches the reliability of the Bible ,but that certain Jews and Christians were hiding what was really taught.) respecting Him? The Quran while accepting such things as Jesus being the Messiah ,and being the Word of God,doesn't truly understand the significance of these terms. These terms mean that Jesus IS GOD. Just because Jesus didn't yell out the exact phrase "I am God" doesn't mean that He didn't teach that He was in other ways. I urge you to read the entirety of the NT and see what Jesus really taught about Himself and God. I hope to have a meaningful discussion with you ,because you are so far at least willing to talk. I look forward to your response.
Dear mohammed thousif
written by Yibel , December 19, 2011
Muhammad's personal life was one of hedonism and excess, all justified by
frequent “revelations” and he frequently used his influence for purely personal goals, including sex, wealth and power. Allah's authority for him to pursue these earthly ambitions is immortalized in the Quran. According to his biographers, he became fat and wealthy from living off his enormous share of the booty (20 percent) obtained from raiding and plundering neighboring tribes. These ill-gotten gains included young women who he forced to marry him, or sold in the slave markets.

In the span of a dozen years, he married eleven women and had access to an array of sex slaves. When he wanted a woman, even if she were the wife of another man, his own daughter-in-law, or a child as young as 6-years-old, Muhammad was able to justify his lust but revealing that it was Allah’s will - which was then preserved forever in the Quran, to be faithfully memorized by future generations, such as yourself, for whom it has no possible relevance.

The first verse of Sura 66 is a good example of this. It was narrated by
Muhammad to his wives shortly after two of them pressured him into not visiting a favorite sex slave:

O Prophet! why do you forbid (yourself) that which Allah has made lawful for you; you seek to please your wives; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful (Quran 66:1)

Allah (according to Muhammad) was so upset with his prophet for denying himself an afternoon of pleasure with the concubine that Allah had provided for him that it was a good thing for Muhammad that Allah was a forgiving and merciful god!

Apparently, good 'ol boy Allah had more interest in Muhammad's personal sex life than he did with tolerance, universal love, or treating fellow human beings (such as women) decently. The god of Islam encourages sex with slaves in several other places as well. Qur'an 4:24, 23:5, 33:50, 70:28

Please follow the advice of the author of this site and read the Qur'an, ahadith, and surrah to learn about this man you are following.

Sincerely, Yibel
written by Scrutator , December 19, 2011

How does one know the Quran is true? Because it contains the words of Allah.

How do we know that these are the words of Allah? Because Muhammad said they were Allah's words.

How do we know that Muhammad is Allah's messenger? Because Muhammad reported that Allah said that Muhammad is His messenger.
written by Scrutator , December 19, 2011
"Rights of Women in ISLAM...
written by Zeeshan Amer Dar, March 03, 2011
Dear all, if you can, then please study and research the Rights of Women in ISLAM, then talk about it. Un-contextual quotes always make people amongst the misguided ones.

And please, ISLAM doesn't allow any muslim to marry more than 4 wives at a time. Even Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) have had only 4 wives at a time. My child go and first go through the history and then come up with the talks. And by the way is ISLAM is not good for women, then why Women are converting to ISLAM. QURAN has many chapters defining the rights of women. Go and check Chapter (Al-Nisa).

Hope you will get understand and not make this mistake again."

Zeeshan, I have read the Quran which discriminates against muslim women as follows:

(1) A man can BEAT/SCOURGE his wife on “mere suspicion of rebillion”, a muslim woman cannot do the same to her husband, no matter how lecherous, unfaithful or cruel he is !

(2) A muslim man can marry a Christian/Jewish/muslim woman (without converting the first two to Islam), a muslim woman can only marry a muslim man.

(3) A muslim man has been given the "triple talaq" facility in the Quran ( without assigning any reason for it), a muslim woman has no triple-talaq facility given to her.

[Here Islamists would jump and say the woman has the right to a 'khula divorce' ! But 'khula' and the 'triple talaq facility' are not the same, they know it ! Khula is a long and cumbersome process which women raely win. A wife has to apply for a khula divorce in an Islamic court, where even if she wins, she loses the 'mehr' amount and custody of the children.]

(4) A muslim man inherits twice what his sister(s) get from deceased parents' estate, according to the Quran.

(5) In an Islamic court, a man's witness is worth that of two women.

(6) A muslim man can have up to four wives simultaneously, while a muslim woman can have only one spouse at any one time.

(7) The Quran allows a muslim man additional sexual partners (besides his wife or wives) in the form of slaves/concubines ("right hand possessions"), while a muslim wife can only have the one one husband for herself.

(8) The Quran says a wife must have the husband's permission before leaving the house, while the husband needs no such permission from his wife for leaving his house.

(9) According to the Quran, a husband must confine his wife inside a locked room for "lewd" behaviour till " she starves to death or Allah decides otherwise". Where does it say a muslim wife has the right to do the same with a cheating/lecherous husband ?

For more such discriminatory rules, refer to the Quran ( these rules are explained in detail in the Hadiths).


Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comments.


About the book || Reviews by: Steven Simpson | Abul Kasem | Prof Sami Alrabaa | Ibn Kammuna


'Islamic Jihad' in Bangla
Aasma Riaz: "Thank you so much for your book "Islamic Jihad" and showing me the "Big Picture". For 7-8 days, I was glued to your book, absorbing so much information that I did not know existed. You have crisply covered so much in your book and quoted historical references extensively. I am just overwhelmed with different emotions after reading your book..., a priceless tome."

Editor: M A Khan | Site design: Dan Zaremba
Founded on 20 November 2005


* Aisha and Muhammad, the movie:

Bill Maher: 'Islam is the worst'
• Bill Maher on "72 Virgins"