Ahmad Shāh Durrānī, also known as Ahmad Khān Abdālī, was the founder of the Durrani Empire and is regarded to be the founder of the modern state of Afghanistan.
Ahmad Shah enlisted as a young soldier in the military of the Afsharid kingdom and quickly rose to become a commander of four thousand Abdali Pashtun soldiers. After the death of Nader Shah Afshar of Persia in June 1747, Abdali became the King of Afghanistan. Rallying his Pashtun tribes and allies, he pushed east towards the Mughal and the Maratha Empire of India, west towards the disintegrating Afsharid Empire of Persia, and north toward the Khanate of Bukhara. Within a few years, he extended Afghan control from Khorasan in the west to Kashmir and North India in the east, and from the Amu Darya in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south. Ahmad Shah's mausoleum is located at Kandahar, Afghanistan, adjacent to the Shrine of the Cloak in the center of the city. The Afghans often refer to him as Ahmad Shāh Bābā ("Ahmad Shah the Father").
Ahmad Shah was born in 1722 to Muhammed Zaman Khan Abdali, a chief of the Abdalis and governor of Herat, and Zarghuna Alakozai. It is believed that Durrani was born in the city of Herat, in present-day Afghanistan. Some claim that he was born in Multan in the Mughal Empire (present-day Pakistan) and taken as an infant with his mother Zarghuna Alakozai to Herat city where his father had served as the governor. On the contrary, several historians assert that he was born in Herat. One of the historians relied on primary sources such as Mahmud-ul-Musanna's Tarikh-i-Ahmad Shahi of 1753 and Imam-uddin al-Hussaini's Tarikh-i-Hussain Shahi of 1798.
Ahmad Shah's father, Zaman Khan Abdali, was killed in a battle with the Hotakis around the time of Ahmad Shah's birth. His family were from the Sadozai section of the Popalzai clan of the Abdalis. Ahmad Shah's mother was from the Alakozai clan of the Abdalis. In 1729, after the invasion of Nader Shah, the young Ahmad Shah fled with his family south to Kandahar and took refuge with the Ghilzais. He and his brother, Zulfikar, were later imprisoned inside a fortress by Hussain Hotaki, the Ghilzai ruler of Kandahar. Shah Hussain commanded a powerful tribe of Pashtun fighters, having conquered the eastern part of Persia in 1722 with his brother Mahmud Hotaki, and trodden the throne of the Persian Safavids.
In around 1731, Nader Shah Afshar, the rising new ruler of Persia, began enlisting the Abdali Pashtuns from Herat in his army. After conquering Kandahar in 1738, Ahmad Shah and his brother were freed by Nader Shah and provided with leading careers in his administration. The Ghilzais were expelled from Kandahar city and the Abdalis began to settle in the city.
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