Akhund Salak; a Pashtun who converted Kohsitanis (Dardic people) to Islam

In 1908, Stuart Hill Godfrey (the British Political agent for Dir, Swat and Chitral since 1902) toured Dir-Kohistan. The local Kohistanis (who are Dardic people) shared with him their oral traditions and legends. They informed him that eight generations ago their ancestors were converted to Islam by Akhund Salak,  whose descendants for many years took religious tithes from Tal (in Dir-Kohistan) [1]. Similarly Chitralis also have oral traditions about Akhund Salak, that latter waged jihad against ‘kafirs’ of South Chitral and led his lashkar to raid it [2]. He is also credited with conversion of the Dardic people of Indus-Kohistan, Swat-Kohistan and Tor-Ghar to Islam.

According to Tarikh-i-Murassa of Afzal Khan Khattak (written in 1724 (c), Akhund Salak belonged to the Togha section of the Tarin tribe of Pashtuns. His father had migrated to and settled in the Khattak country. Akhund Darweza in his book “Tazkirat al-Abrar wal-Ashrar” refers to Akhund Salak as ‘the Pir of Khattak Afghans’ [4]. For the purpose of jihad against the ‘kafirs’ in the northern areas, Akhund Salak moved to the Yousafzai country and waged jihad from there with laskars comprising of Yousafzai tribesmen.

His real name is said to be Akbar. He was a disciple of Akhund Panju. He made the Kabal Gram village (of present-day Shangla district) his abode and is buried there. That’s why he is often referred to as Kabal-Grami. His descendants are known as Akhun or Akhund Khel.

Akhund Salak
Tomb of Akhund Salak at Kabal Gram. Via Jahandad Khan.



1- The Geographical Journal, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jul., 1912), pp. 45-57
2- اخو ند سالاک ؒ  | Daily Aaj
3- Tarikh-i-Murassa, p-614
4- ‘Tajik Swati wa mamlikat-i-Gabar’ by Muhammad Akhtar, p-51


Leave a comment