'AZĪZ UD-DĪN, FAQĪR (1780-1845), physician, diplomat, and foreign minister at the court of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh, was the eldest son of Ghulām Mohy ud-Dīn, a leading physician of Lahore. Of his two brothers, Nūr ud-Dīn held charge of the city of Lahore and had been governor of Gujrāt, and Imām ud-Dīn was qilāhdār (garrison commander) of the Fort of Gobindgaṛh. The family claims its descent from Ansārī Arab immigrants from Bukhārā, in Central Asia, who settled in Lahore as Hakīms or physicians. Hakīm is the original title by which 'Azīz ud-Dīn was known, the prefix Faqīr appearing for the first time in the official British correspondence only after 1826. Faqīr, Persian for a mendicant or dervish, was adopted by 'Azīz ud-Dīn as a mark of simplicity and humility. In the court he was referred to as Faqīr Razā, mendicant by choice.

        In 1799, when Raṇjīt Siṅgh occupied Lahore, 'Azīz ud-Dīn was undergoing apprenticeship under the principal Lahore physician, Hakim Hākim Rāi. Summoned to treat the Mahārājā for an ophthalmic ailment, the latter deputed his pupil to attend on the patient. Raṇjīt Siṅgh, impressed by the intelligence and skill of the young man, soon appointed him his personal physician and assigned a jāgīr to him. He was also entrusted with drafting State papers in Persian. This brought him still closer to the Mahārājā who began to repose great confidence in him for his ability correctly to interpret his policy. Faqīr 'Azīz ud-Dīn's first major diplomatic assignment was to look after Charles Metcalfe, the British envoy, and to help in the Mahārājā's negotiations with him which culminated in the Treaty of Amritsar (1809). He held negotiations on behalf of the Sikh ruler with David Ochterlony in 1810. In 1813, he was deputed to settle the country and dependencies of Attock and negotiated the transfer to the Sikhs of the Fort, by the Afghān governor Jahāṅdād Khān, who accepted the offer of a jāgīr. Thereafter, throughout Raṇjīt Siṅgh's reign, Faqīr 'Azīz ud-Dīn remained almost solely responsible for the conduct of foreign relations of the Sikh kingdom. In 1815, he held parleys with the rājās of Maṇḍī and Rājaurī and with the Nawāb of Bahāwalpur. In 1823, he was sent to Peshāwar to realize tribute from Yār Muhammad Khān Bārakzaī. After the death of Rājā Sansār Chand of Kāṅgṛā in 1824, his son, Anirodh Chand, demurred to the payment of nazrānā to Raṇjīt Siṅgh. 'Azīz ud-Dīn met him at Nadauṇ and brought him round to pay homage to the Mahārājā and get his succession recognized. In 1827, he travelled to Shimlā with a goodwill mission to call on Lord Amherst, the British governor-general. In April 1831, a similar mission waited upon Lord William Bentinck. Faqīr 'Azīz ud-Dīn was again a member and, although Sardār Harī Siṅgh Nalvā was the leader, the latter had royal instruction to rely on the counsel and advice of Dīwān Motī Rām and "the resourceful Faqīr. " During the famous Ropar meeting between Raṇjīt Siṅgh and William Bentinck in October 1831, 'Azīz ud-Dīn, through Captain Wade and Prinsep, acted as an interpreter between the two chiefs. He conducted negotiations that led to the signing of the Tripartite Treaty of 1838 aimed at putting Shāh Shujā' on the throne of Kābul, and acted as the Mahārājā's interpreter during his meeting with Lord Auckland towards the end of 1838.

        Faqīr 'Azīz ud-Dīn has been described as "the oracle of the Mahārājā" and as "his master's mouthpiece. " He was learned in Arabic as well as in Persian and was "the most eloquent man of his day" - "as able with his pen as with his tongue. " He was one of the Mahārājā's most polished and accomplished courtiers, with a very gentle and affable manner and with a very catholic outlook. The Mahārājā had complete trust in him and rewarded him with jāgīrs and honours.


        'Azīz ud-Dīn continued in the service of the Sikh State after the death of Raṇjīt Siṅgh. He represented Mahārājā Khaṛak Siṅgh on a complimentary mission to Lord Auckland at Shimlā in December 1839, and waited upon Lord Ellenborough at Fīrozpur in December 1842, under Mahārājā Sher Siṅgh's instruction. He remained scrupulously aloof from factional intrigues which had overtaken Lahore after Raṇjīt Siṅgh's death. Saddened at the turn events had taken and by the death of two of his sons, he died in Lahore on 3 December 1845.


  1. Sūrī, Sohan Lāl, 'Umdāt-ut-Twārīkh. Lahore, 1885-89
  2. Waheeduddin, Faqir Syed, The Real Ranjit Singh. Delhi, 1976
  3. Bhagat Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and His Times. Delhi, 1990
  4. Harbans Singh, The Heritage of the Sikhs. Delhi, 1983

F. S. Aijāzūddīn