Bhopals Jalalabad Connection. As said earlier while recounting Bhopal’s history, concerned at her daughter’s mismatch and her expansive love life and with images of her own turbulent marriage rolling through her mind, Sikander Begum was worried about her granddaughter’s future. Her search for the ideal consort for an ideal match ended with 12-year-old Ahmad Ali Khan. She invited his mother Mohammadi Begum and his sister Chanda Bi, to settle in Bhopal. Chanda Bi married another Jalalabadi noble, Miyan Wilayat Ali Khan, with whom she had seven daughters and three sons. The seven daughters grew up into beautiful women, four of them being exceptionally alluring. Perhaps with the exception of Rani Kamlapati (read about her here), Bhopal had never known such beauty. The Jalalabadi girls became the rage of Bhopal with royal scions, jagirdars and noblemen falling over themselves to gain the hands of these delectable maidens.
As soon as Sultan Jahan had taken effective control of the state, her husband Ahmad Ali Khan (Sultan Doulah) began insisting on the wedding ceremonies of their grown-up sons, Nasarullah and Obaidullah. Egged on by Sultan Doulah, two daughters of Chanda Bi Qaisar Dulhan and Shaharyar Dulhan were chosen as brides Nasrullah’s and Obaidullah’s bride respectively. Sultan Jahan was not so keen on this alliance, mainly due to her deep-seated dislike of her Jalalabadi in-laws. Six months after Sultan Jahan became Begum, she suffered another personal tragedy. In December 1901, during the holy month of Ramadhan, the Begum left her husband well past midnight writing out personal invitations to the wedding ceremonies. At sehri (the pre-dawn meal before beginning the fast), Sultan Jahan sent a servant to the Nawab’s chambers for a wake-up call. The servant returned stating that the Nawab was slumped in his chair and could not be roused. Sultan Jahan rushed to her husband and found him dead, evidently from a massive heart attack. As soon as the period of mourning was over, on 17 January 1902, the double marriage of Nasrullah and Obeidullah was celebrated. Nasrullah and Obeidullah moved to their own palaces on Eidgah and Shamla hills, leaving Sultan Jahan to bring up her eight-year-old favorite son Hamidullah. The Bhopal gentry quickly lapped up the remaining Jalaalbadi girls. Within few years, all seven Jalalabadi daughters were married to the royal princes, to Umrao Doulah’s grandson and to Jalalabadi jagirdars, spreading their influence right across Bhopal’s political landscape.
After Sultan Jahan returned from Hajj in 1904, it was apparent that a qualitative change in her family relationship had been brought about by the birth of Nasrullah and Obaidullah’s children from their Jalalabadi wives. It did not take long for the shrewd and far-sighted Sultan Jahan to realize that the Jalalabadi’s were assuming a dominant influence in Bhopal through marriages to the most important scions of Bhopal. The Jalalabadi’s were already preparing an engagement between Hamid and the youngest of Chanda Bi’s daughters when Sultan Jahan read the danger signals of a complete Jalalabadi takeover of her family and decided that Hamid must break out of the traditional, conservative, Bhopal-bound gridlock. With the changing times, Sultan Jahan was aware of the indigenous political thinkers who were emerging on the scene in India after the birth of the Congress party and Muslim League. For Hamid, Sultan Jahan conceived an entirely different game plan with a boarding school education, a tough apprenticeship in politics and insulation from feudal influence. To stop 11-year-old Hamid’s marriage to any local family, she sent a trusted emissary, Qandhari Khan, to North West Frontier province in search of an ideal bride. It is said that while visiting one of the noble Afghan families of Peshawar, Qandhari Khan saw a beautiful little child taking an impromptu shower under a tap. The five year old girl was extremely fair had large brown hair and the most winsome features. An enchanted Qandhari made enquiries to find out that she was Maimoona Sultan and her great-grandfather, Shah Shuja, was the deposed king of Afghanistan in 1812. His family had subsequently taken residence in Peshawar who traced their lineage directly to Ahmad Shah Abdali, the victor over the Marhattas in the famous Battle Of Panipat in 1761.
Sultan Jana lost no time in completing arrangements for the betrothal and subsequent marriage of Hamidullah with Maimoona Sultan. The Nikah was celebrated in Peshawar on 5th September 1905 by a wedding party headed by Obaidullah Khan and other dignitaries amid great pomp and gusto firing canons and muskets in the air and bringing on the drummers, elephants, horses and camels.