Akhund Abdul Ghaffur, commonly known as Saidu Baba (1878-1793), belonged to the Gujjar tribe, a prominent religious Mullah or priest, from Barr Swat. Akhund Ghaffur was a supporter of the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai, and opposed the Sikh and British forces.
Akhund Ghaffur was an influential mullah and his residence in Swat was the destination for numerous pilgrimages by his disciples to consult him. Akhund Ghaffur was succeeded by a notable line of other mullahs and theologians.
Saidu Baba was born at Jabrai Matta, upper Swat valley in 1793 AD. He got his early education from Mian Brangola. Later, he went to Mardan, Nowshehra and Peshawar for completion of his education. In 1835, he returned back to Swat and settled in Baligram (now Saidu Sharif). In 1836, when the British tried to annex Swat valley, at that time Saidu Baba united the people against them and called for Jihad of Ambela , which discouraged the British expansion to the region.
Battles against Sikh and British forces
In 1831, when the Muslim activist Syed Ahmad Barelvi was killed by the Sikhs along with hundreds of Barelvi’s mujahideen in the battle of Balakot, many of his mujahideen stayed in Buner under the protection of Akhund Ghaffur. They started a new uprising against the British Empire under Akhund Ghaffur’s leadership in 1862.
In 1834, Akhund Ghaffur cooperated with the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai in the battle against the Sikh Empire and brought a number of Ghazis and Talib al-‘Ilm to the battle of Peshawar. In return, the Afghan Emir awarded Akhund Ghaffur with lands in Swat, Lundkhwar and Mardan among the Yusufzai Pathans, despite being an ethnic Gujjar. Eventually, when Akhund Ghaffur was about 43 years old, he permanently settled in Saidu Sharif and gradually turned it into a thriving city.
In 1863, Akhund Ghaffur lead the Yusufzai and other groups in a battle at the Ambela Pass against the British forces.
Establishment of a united Islamic state of Swat
Akhund Ghaffur conferred a scheme for a united throne of Swat. In 1849, he nominated Sayyid Akbar Shah, a descendant of Pir Baba, as the emir of the Islamic state of Swat. After Akbar Shah’s death in 1857, Akhund Ghaffur assumed control of the state himself till his own death in 1878.