“You won’t believe this! One of my friends got a tiger cub for a pet!” Samra Apa shrieked, as she came through the door.
“Assalamu Alaikum to you, too!” Dad reminded the bedazzled Samra Apa.
“Oops… sorry! Wa Alaikum Assalam. But, Dad, can you imagine playing with a tiger cub?” Samra Apa sank into a sofa close by, all wide eyed.
“Yes, I can,” Dad turned to face Samrah Apa calmly. “I have read about someone who not only played with tigers, but also once killed one who tried to attack him. He was so fascinated with the stripes that he had them painted over his weapons, too.”
Ali joined in the talk, as Samra Apa looked blankly at Dad.
“That’s right! I remember now! We read about him in our history class, Dad. He was a very brave ruler and general of the subcontinent, right? Can’t recall his name…”
“Yes. That’s how he earned his title of ‘The Tiger of Mysore’,” Dad piped in.
Ali proudly looked at Samra Apa, who was clearly bored by this conversation.
“Okay, okay, who was he?”
“His original name was Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, popularly known as Tipu Sultan.”
“Oh, we have a road in Karachi named after him!”Samra Apa screeched. At least she had some information.
“He was born in 1750 in Southern India and was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali, a military general and ruler of Mysore (India),” Dad added.
“Dad, did you know that Hyder Ali was an illiterate; hence, he made sure that Tipu Sultan receives a prince’s education. Tipu Sultan was taught Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Kannada, Quran, Islamic laws, etc. Other than that, he was trained to shoot, ride and fence. Isn’t that cool?” Ali was impressed with all he could remember.
Dad continued: “India was a sitting golden duck that the British wanted to capture. Hence, they formed a company called East India Company that helped them trade and bring back wealth to Britain.
At the age of 15 years, Tipu Sultan fought his first war alongside his father against the British army in 1767-69. It was called the First Anglo-Mysore War, in which the British forces were defeated.”
Ali asked: “Dad, isn’t it true that Tipu Sultan used rockets for the first time in history as the main weapon of war?”
“Yes. His specialized dual bladed rockets became the main cause of victory for his army. The British later captured some to improve their own rockets. As a military general, he had speed. His enemies thought that Tipu was fighting at many fronts.” Dad added.
“He introduced new coins. During his rule, Mysore’s silk industry boomed. The living standard rose so high that it was better than most of the European countries.
He had great ties with the French as well as other Muslim countries, such as the Turkish Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, Muscat and Iran. He also sent delegations to the USA President Thomas Jefferson.”
“Quite an ambitious man,” Samra Apa mumbled, thoughtfully.
Dad explained: “Arthur Wesley, the Duke of Wellington, finally defeated Tipu Sultan in a decisive battle. He was the same man, who also defeated the French army in the Battle of Waterloo. But it took the British army 30 years to dispose of Tipu Sultan.
Tipu Sultan was offered to save his life and escape, but he refused and died fighting on the battlefield in 1799. Each soldier of the British Army was awarded a coin by their government after this victory, as Tipu Sultan was the last hurdle in their way of taking over the sub-continent.”
“We really did have enormously brave ancestors. I pray that Allah (swt) makes us as brave as Tipu Sultan.” Samra Apa said.
“For starters, you can arrange a play date with your friend and her tiger cub,” Ali winked at Dad.
“Not a bad idea – just make sure you meet the cub, after he has had his lunch,” Dad smiled.