Nathan, Mulla Ibrahim

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NATHAN, MULLA IBRAHIM (1816–1868), British intelligence agent born in *Meshed, Persia. In about 1837 he and his brother Musa left their homeland and entered British service. They traveled throughout Afghanistan, Turkestan, and Bukhara and were connected with all the major British expeditions in Central Asia. During the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839–42), they supplied funds for British officers on remote missions, gathered intelligence and information for the military authorities, and rescued and assisted British prisoners in *Afghanistan after the disaster to the British army at Kabul. They left Afghanistan in 1842, and settled in Bombay in 1844. In recognition of their services, the British government in India granted them compensation for their losses as well as a life pension. Mulla Ibrahim was offered diplomatic employment in Meshed, but refused to return to the city in which the Jews had recently been forced to adopt Islam. In Bombay Mulla Ibrahim took an active part in the Baghdadi-Jewish community. Jacob *Saphir states that he was appointed as a customs official, but was exempted from duty on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays.


Fischel, in: huca, 29 (1958), 331–75.

[Walter Joseph Fischel]