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Morag Murray Abdullah

As the old poets say, love has no boundaries, as evidenced by the fantastic tale of romance and travel seen here. Even though the winds of the First World War were blowing through her hometown of Edinburgh, Scotland, young Morag Murray had no reason to suspect she was about to depart on a lifetime of adventure. Yet her life changed when she met and fell in love with Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, the son of an Afghan warlord. Leaving the comforts of her middle-class home in Scotland, Morag followed her husband into a Central Asia still largely unchanged since the 19th century. As the wife of a Afghan noble, she was expected to adopt to the culture, laws and rigid codes of Pukhtoonwali, the Afghan code of honour still enforced today. Yet ever the independent thinker, Morag accompanied her husband on his adventurous travels into the diplomatic courts and seldom-seen back country of both Afghanistan and India.

My Khyber Marriage

Morag Murray Abdullah

ISBN 1590480872






In this new age of twenty-first century problems and concerns, perhaps we can take comfort in the  life of a remarkably brave woman? Her name was Morag Murray Abdullah, and sadly, though her story has been forgotten, the resonating echoes of her life still ring as true now as they did back in the 1920s when she wrote her amazing autobiography.

In 1916 Morag was leading what can only be termed as a conventional life. The First World War was raging in nearby Europe. But the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, where she lived, was quiet and safe. In fact everything about her life, up till this point, had been predictable. Then she met Syed Abdullah.

The handsome student was attending university there in Scotland, but his roots were far away. Abdullah’s father was a chief of the Pathan tribe, those legendary tribesmen who ruled the lands around the fabled Khyber Pass in distant India. Regardless of these vast cultural and religious, (she was Protestant - he a Muslim), the two young people fell in love and were married.

Nothing in Morag’s life was ever the same. She followed her new husband out to the war-filled, North West Frontier Province of India. There she took up residence among one of the most martial races on Earth. For the next two decades the former Scottish lass became a witness to blood feuds, ruthless tribal politics, and the seclusion of her fellow women in one of the most remote and dangerous portion of the world. Yet this is in no way a tale of exploitation, rather it is the true story of two people from vastly different countries, religions, and families, who learned to live and love each other despite all the odds.


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