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A Tribute to Tipu Sultan. Part III

May 19, 2006

kr’s note: today’s May 19th… sigh, only one more month left on the kr magical mystery tour…

edit, Saturday 2 am: someone asked me for the sources for these previous posts: I used the book, “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” by Bhagwan Gidwani and whatever I’ve read over the years for the names, dates, and other facts. The descriptions and metaphors, however, are whatever I could come up with to narrate the tale.

On the morning of May 4th, the British attacked the city where the fissure had been made in the walls. As the attack started, Mir Sadiq sent off the soldiers guarding the breach in the wall towards the central mosque, on the pretext of collecting their salaries; Mir Moinuddin went to the breach and waved a white handkerchief as a signal, and more than 5000 British soldiers were able to enter the fort without a single shot fired. These soldiers went immediately to open the doors of the city, as well as ambush the Mysorean soldiers who had gone to collect their salaries. By noontime, a large contingent of British soldiers had made their way into the city, and the Sultan was completely unaware of this, believing that his trusted officers were overseeing the defense of the other parts of the city.

Around noontime, Tipu was having lunch under a tree as he supervised the various fronts of the fort. He had barely started when news of the British entering the fort was brought to him. He remarked to those around him, “Friends, I think I will die soon,” and called for his horse. Arming himself with his fabled sword and a two barrelled gun, he set out towards his enemies followed by his elite bodyguard. On the way, they were met by various traitors, including Mir Sadiq, and it was here that the Sultan cursed him with the curse mentioned in the first part of this tale. Tipu emerged out of the Dodi gate (a gate in the inner circle of the city) and raced towards the Delhi gate (a gate of the outer circle of the city), engaging the British forces for a long time.  As more enemies poured in through the other gates, he wanted to get back into the city using the Dodi gate. The nefarious traitor, Mir Sadiq, saw the Sultan wanting to get back into the city, and at once had the gate closed, effectively trapping the Sultan outside the confines of the fort. He called down to Tipu that he had sent for reinforcements from nearby and they were to arrive in a few hours; the gate would be opened when they arrived. One of Tipu’s loyalists, named Ahmed Khan, could not bear this treachery and leaped the walls to get at Mir Sadiq, saying, “Where are you fleeing to after putting the Sultan into the jaws of death.” He managed to get a clean stroke onto the traitor, who immediately perished, before being hacked to death by Mir Sadiq’s cronies.

Tipu now headed towards the other gates, to see if any of them were still open for him to get back inside the fort. Unfortunately, all of the other gates had been captured by the British. Being trapped from all sides, he faced his enemies like a tiger that had become his namesake. Despite that bullets that were raining down around him from all sides, the Sultan fought on, firing his gun and killing as many of the invaders until he ran out of bullets. By now, it was almost dusk and a fierce battle was being fought around the Dodi gate. Citizens of Seringapatnam, Muslim and Hindu, men and women, had joined the Sultan, eager to defend him and join his fate. One of Tipu’s servants (also a traitor), Raja Khan, called out to him, “If you surrender before the British to safeguard your life, they will grant you asylum keeping in view your status.” The Sultan became infuriated upon hearing these words and boldly declared what are perhaps his most famous words:

“One day’s life as a tiger is greater than a hundred years’ life as a jackal.”

By now, the Sultan’s horse had been killed, and Tipu was fighting on foot. He bravely strode towards the British soldiers, engaging and killing many of their officers with his sword. He himself had been hit by two bullets, but he continued to slay soldier after soldier. In the meantime, some of Tipu’s loyalists had managed to recapture the fort’s guns that overlooked the Dodi gate; yet, when they went to use them against the British, they found that the shells had been filled with mud instead of explosives due to the conspiracy of Mir Sadiq. Yet Tipu fought on; by now, he had been fighting from noon until dusk without pausing. He saw Raja Khan giving water to other fighters, and despite the Sultan’s repeated pleas for water, the conscienceless traitor refused, despite having a full vessel of water. The scholars write that Allah gave Tipu a chance to follow the Sunnah of Imam Husayn who was betrayed by treachery on the fields of Karbala, and he too was not given any water to drink–it is also interesting to note that both Husayn and Tipu’s parents were named Ali and Fatima, and the Sultan had once sent a special delegation to Kufa to pay his respects on his behalf to Husayn. And thus, Tipu too would follow the Husayni tradition and experience a similar fate as his personal hero.

It was nearly Maghrib time, and as the sun was setting on the ramparts of Seringapatnam, the son of the soil was setting, about to fade after a continuous struggle lasting over 50 years. Tipu was exhausted. The world was embracing darkness, as if to surrender before the treachery of Tipu’s own people. Despite his thirst and weariness, the Sultan fought on like a dazzling star that brightens the seven heavens, eager to meet his Lord. Angels stood along the way to greet him as if they had been expecting him all along. The trees around Tipu mourned, the oceans wept, the rocks bemoaned their grief, yet the skies smiled and the passage of the Sultan was bloomed with fragrance. It was as if the whole universe sang for him, rejoicing over the fact that his soul would pass through its endlessness. The sky was mocking the earth that such a pious soul would leave the earth and come into its embracing lap.

The British, with the help of more traitors, recognized that the tiger who had been fighting them for hours and hours and could not be brought down was none other than Tipu Sultan himself. They gathered their forces and let loose a volley of bullets, fearful of facing the Tiger of Mysore in hand-to-hand combat. As the bullets ripped through the Sultan’s body, destroying flesh, sinew and bone, the last traces of life began to flow out of him, and he fell to the ground in an exhausted heap. A British soldier, thinking he was dead, rushed forward to claim the Sultan’s diamond-studded sword as his own. As he approached Tipu, the latter’s eyes opened and the indignation that the dirty hands of the enemy would touch his sword while he still alive spurned him to arise again, and he began slaying him and other British soldiers. By this time, the area where the Sultan fought was quite narrow, and the British could only approach him one by one, and he was still killing everyone who dared to come close to him. Finally, a British officer took careful aim and fired his weapon. The bullet struck Tipu in the temple and he fell to the ground instantaneously. His lips moved one last time and he uttered, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon”. It was Maghrib time, and darkness engulfed the earth. More than 12,000 Mysoreans had died in the afternoon’s melee. The sun had set on the Sultan-e-Khudadad forever.


The place where Tipu fell.

As night fell on Seringapatnam, the British began to sift through the bodies in an effort to ascertain whether or not Tipu had died. Some claimed that Tipu had fled before the final charge. The palace and the fort were combed thoroughly. When the British came to the women’s apartments of Tipu’s family, they asked if Tipu was hiding in there. Tipu’s sister remarked to her servant to tell the British, “The tiger is found in the jungle, not in in the harem.” Finally, after hours of searching, the British found the body of the Sultan but were afraid of approaching it: the eyes were still wide open, the body was warm, and the hand still clutched the legendary sword. No one dared to approach him out of fear and awe. Even one of the British officers wrote, “His face shone with extraordinary candor and dignity. In addition to this, confidence, politeness, and affability reigned on his face which made him a cut above the rest during his lifetime.” Lord Wellesley, upon hearing the news of Tipu’s death, proudly declared:

“Today, India is ours.”


Tipu’s grave, center.


Tipu’s masjid, “Masjid-e-Ala”

The following day, May 5th, the British allowed Tipu to be buried according to Islamic law. After a night of depraved looting, rape, and killing wherein more than 10,000 Mysorean citizens were killed, it was the least they could do. In the heat of the afternoon, thousands of people gathered along the funeral procession to pay their final respects to the Sultan. Even the British, despite their treachery and enmity, came to pay their respects to the most courageous and honorable enemy they had ever faced. As the Qadhi of the city led the procession, both Muslims and Hindus were weeping, wailing, and competing with one another to carry the bier to the graveyard–all had loved their Sultan in life and in death. The salute of the guns of the fort were unheard amongst the mourning of Tipu’s subjects. The procession had left Tipu’s masjid after Zuhr, but it was nearly Asr time by the time it reached the Lal Bagh graveyard. The British soldiers guarding the funeral procession laid down their weapons in respect of the burial. As the Sultan’s body was being lowered into his final resting place, the skies suddenly opened up and it began to rain amidst the hot summer heat. It was as if the skies were giving a louder salute to Tipu Sultan than any gun or human cry could with their own tears–heaven itself was weeping.

And so he was lowered into that place which we must all go to one day.

And thus ends the tale of the Tiger of Mysore, the great martyr of India, Tipu Sultan. May God have mercy on his soul.

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18 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    This, Kamran, is one of your best posts. Brilliantly written, mA.
    -Saima

  2. Wow, this line was amazing:
    When the British came to the women’s apartments of Tipu’s family, they asked if Tipu was hiding in there. Tipu’s sister remarked to her servant to tell the British, “The tiger is found in the jungle, not in in the harem.”
    That’s a quote for the ages.
    I loved these three posts… the finale was perfect. Well, not what happened, but how you told it. Do you recommend any books where we can read more about Tipu?

  3. Anonymous permalink

    Thanks Kr that was good. I enjoyed reading those last posts.

  4. dude seriously..these were waay better than my history books. you should write for high school history books and stuff like that. people would actually enjoy educating themselves.

  5. Inna Kazalika Najzil Muhsineen – Thus do We reward those who do good.May Allah (SWT) have mercy on his soul. Ameen.

  6. subhanallah! what a man! it makes me so proud to have ancestors like him.

  7. May Allah (SWT) have mercy on his soul. Ameen.

  8. he was a good man, its a shame his people betrayed him.

  9. MashAllah KR, very well written and a great recount of history. I agree with the sister who said you should start writing professionally cause you’re good (MashAllah) at writing in so many different styles: serious, intelligent, funny, sarcastic, rap parodies(lol), etc.
    I loved Tipu’s quote about the tiger and the jackal. What a man.

  10. Nice posts. [url=http://www.statusquo.muslimways.com]Click Here[/url]

  11. sigh…masha allah…that was awesome….

  12. Mashallah good post.  It is unfortunate that many muslims do not know their own history to recognize their own identity.  I went to India last year to visit my grandfather (may allah fill his grave with noor) and had a chance to visit Mujaddid Alfi  Sani’s grave.  India is so rich with islamic history.

  13. I love his name.

  14. dhun dhun dhunnnnn

  15. That was really special KamKam

  16. History Channel had an episode about the Mughals that was really great.  They talked a bit about Tipu Sultan and his rockets, which was something new to me (Mughals and rockets?!).  Tipu improved on old bamboo rockets that armies in India were using by making the rocket tube out of iron and attaching a metal tail on the back for balance.  Oh yeah, the metal tail was a sword blade so when the rocket ran out of gunpowder towards the end of flight, the sword blade swings around wildly, flaying the enemy. 
    The Brits learned about rockets from Tipu and other Indians. 

  17. mic permalink

    The great Tipu Sultan was the real hero of Indo-Pak but, due to the treason of Mir Sadiq and his company East India Company was able to defeat him otherwise defeating “Tiger of Mysor” was not in their capacity. Had it been a clean fight Tipu Sultan would have been obvious victorious.

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