SAYYID JAMāL AL-DīN AL-AFGHāNī (Persian : سید
جمالالدین افغانی), also known as SAYYID
JAMāL AD-DīN ASADāBāDī (Persian : سید
جمالالدین اسدآبادی) and commonly
known as AL-AFGHANI (1838/1839 – 9 March 1897), was a political
activist and Islamic ideologist in the
Muslim world during the late
19th century, particularly in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe.
One of the founders of
Islamic Modernism and an advocate of
Pan-Islamic unity, he has been described as being less interested in
minor differences in Islamic jurisprudence than he was in organizing a
Muslim response to Western pressure.
* 1 Early life and origin
* 2 Political activism
* 3 Political and religious views
* 4 Death and legacy
* 5 Works
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
EARLY LIFE AND ORIGIN
As indicated by his nisba , al-Afghani claimed to be of Afghan
origin. His true national and sectarian background have been a subject
of controversy. According to one theory and his own account, he was
born in Asadābād , near Kabul, in Afghanistan. Another
theory, championed by
Nikki R. Keddie and accepted by a number of
modern scholars, holds that he was born and raised in a Shia family in
Asadabad , near
Hamadan , in Iran. Supporters of the latter
theory view his claim to an Afghan origin as motivated by a desire to
gain influence among Sunni Muslims or escape oppression by the
Iranian ruler Nāṣer ud-Dīn Shāh . One of his main rivals, the
sheikh Abū l-Hudā, called him Mutaʾafghin ("the one who claims to
be Afghan") and tried to expose his Shia roots. Keddie also asserts
that al-Afghānī used and practiced taqīa and ketmān , ideas more
prevalent in the Iranian Shiʿite world.
He was educated first at home and then taken by his father for
further education to
Qazvin , to
Tehran , and finally, while he was
still a youth, to the Shi\'a shrine cities in present-day Iraq
Ottoman Empire ). It is thought that followers of Shia
revivalist Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa\'i had an influence on him. Other names
adopted by Al-Afghani were al-Kābulī (" from
Kabul ") Asadabadi,
Sadat-e Kunar ("Sayyids of Kunar ") and Hussain. Especially in his
writings published in Afghanistan, he also used the pseudonym
ar-Rūmī ("the Roman" or "the Anatolian").
At the age of 17 or 18 in 1855–56, Al-Afghani travelled to British
India and spent a number of years there studying religions. In 1859, a
British spy reported that Al-Afghani was a possible Russian agent .
The British representatives reported that he wore traditional cloths
of Noghai Turks in Central Asia and spoke Persian ,
Arabic and Turkish
language fluently. After this first Indian tour, he decided to
Hajj or pilgrimage at
Mecca . His first documents are dated
from Autumn of 1865, where he mentions leaving the "revered place"
(makān-i musharraf) and arriving in
Tehran around mid-December of the
same year. In the spring of 1866 he left Iran for Afghanistan, passing
After the Indian stay, all sources have Afghānī next take a
leisurely trip to Mecca, stopping at several points along the way.
Both the standard biography and Lutfallāh's account take Afghānī's
word that he entered Afghan government service before 1863, but since
Afghanistan show that he arrived there only in 1866, we
are left with several years unaccounted for. The most probably
supposition seems to be that he may spent longer in India than he
later said, and that after going to
Mecca he travelled elsewhere in
Ottoman Empire . When he arrived in
Afghanistan in 1866 he claimed
to be from
Constantinople , and he might not have made this claim if
he had never even seen the city, and could be caught in ignorance of
Nikki R. Keddie , 1983
He was spotted in
Afghanistan in 1866 and spent time in Qandahar ,
Ghazni , and Kabul. He became a counsellor to the King Dost Mohammad
Khan (who died, however, on 9 June 1863) and later to Mohammad Azam .
At that time he encouraged the king to oppose the British but turn to
the Russians. However, he did not encourage Mohammad Azam to any
reformist ideologies that later were attributed to Al-Afghani. Reports
from the colonial British Indian and Afghan government stated that he
was a stranger in Afghanistan, and spoke the Dari language with
Iranian accent and followed European lifestyle more than that of
Muslims, not observing
Ramadan or other
Muslim rites. In 1868, the
Kabul was occupied by
Sher Ali Khan
Sher Ali Khan , and Al-Afghani was
forced to leave the country.
He travelled to Constantinople, passing through
Cairo on his way
there. He stayed in
Cairo long enough to meet a young student who
would become a devoted disciple of his, Muhammad \'Abduh . He entered
Star of East Masonic Lodge on 7 July 1868 while staying in Cairo. His
membership number was 1355. He also founded the Masonic Lodge of Cairo
and became first Grand Master of it. He had been excluded from the
Scottish Masonic Lodge due to accusations of atheism and he joined the
French Grand Orient and became Grand Master of it.
In 1871, Al-Afghani moved to Egypt and began preaching his ideas of
political reform. His ideas were considered radical, and he was exiled
in 1879. He then travelled to Constantinople, London, Paris, Moscow,
St. Petersburg and Munich.
In 1884, he began publishing an
Arabic newspaper in Paris entitled
al-Urwah al-Wuthqa ("The Indissoluble Link" ) with
Muhammad Abduh ;
the title (
Arabic : العروة الوثقى), sometimes translated
as "The Strongest Bond", is taken from the
Quran – chapter 2, verse
256. The newspaper called for a return to the original principles and
ideals of Islam, and for greater unity among Islamic peoples. He
argued that this would allow the Islamic community to regain its
former strength against European powers.
Al-Afghani was invited by Shah Nasser ad-Din to come to Iran and
advise on affairs of government, but fell from favour quite quickly
and had to take sanctuary in a shrine near Tehran. After seven months
of preaching to admirers from the shrine, he was arrested in 1891,
transported to the border with Ottoman
Mesopotamia , and evicted from
Iran. Although Al-Afghani quarrelled with most of his patrons, it is
said he "reserved his strongest hatred for the Shah," whom he accused
Islam by granting concessions to Europeans and
squandering the money earned thereby. His agitation against the Shah
is thought to have been one of the "fountain-heads" of the successful
1891 protest against the granting a tobacco monopoly to a British
company, and the later 1905 Constitutional Revolution .
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS VIEWS
Al-Afghani's ideology has been described as a welding of
"traditional" religious antipathy toward non-Muslims "to a modern
critique of Western imperialism and an appeal for the unity of Islam",
urging the adoption of Western sciences and institutions that might
Although called a liberal by the contemporary English admirer,
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt , Jamal ad-Din did not advocate constitutional
government. In the volumes of the newspaper he published in Paris,
"there is no word in the paper's theoretical articles favoring
political democracy or parliamentarianism," according to his
biographer. Jamal ad-Din simply envisioned "the overthrow of
individual rulers who were lax or subservient to foreigners, and their
replacement by strong and patriotic men."
According to another source Al-Afghani was greatly disappointed by
the failure of the
Indian Mutiny and came to three principal
conclusions from it:
* that European imperialism , having conquered India, now threatened
the Middle East
* that Asia, including the Middle East, could prevent the onslaught
of Western powers only by immediately adopting the modern technology
like the West
* and that Islam, despite its traditionalism, was an effective creed
for mobilizing the public against the imperialists.
He believed that
Islam and its revealed law were compatible with
rationality and, thus, Muslims could become politically unified while
still maintaining their faith based on a religious social morality.
These beliefs had a profound effect on Muhammad Abduh, who went on to
expand on the notion of using rationality in the human relations
Islam (mu'amalat) .
In 1881 he published a collection of polemics titled Al-Radd 'ala
al-Dahriyyi (Refutation of the Materialists), agitating for
pan-Islamic unity against Western imperialism. It included one of the
earliest pieces of Islamic thought arguing against Darwin 's
On the Origin of Species ; however, his arguments
allegedly incorrectly caricatured evolution , provoking criticism that
he had not read Darwin's writings. In his later work Khatirat Jamal
ad-Din al-Afghani ("The memoir of Al-Afghani"), he accepted the
validity of evolution, asserting that the Islamic world had already
known and used it. Although he accepted abiogenesis and the evolution
of animals, he rejected the theory that the human species is the
product of evolution, arguing that humans have souls .
Among the reasons why Al-Afghani was thought to have had a less than
deep religious faith was his lack of interest in finding
theologically common ground between Shia and Sunni (despite the fact
that he was very interested in political unity between the two
groups). For example, when he moved to Istanbul he disguised his
Shi'i background by labeling himself "the Afghan".
DEATH AND LEGACY
Asad Abadi Square in
Tehran , Iran Sayed Jamal al-Din
Afghan's tomb in
Kabul University ,
He was invited by
Abdulhamid II in 1892. He went to Istanbul with
diplomatic immunity from the British Embassy which raised many
eyebrows, but nevertheless was granted a house and salary by the
Sultan. Abdulhamid II's aim was using Afghani for Pan Islamism
propagation. Al-Afghani died of throat cancer on 9 March 1897 in
Istanbul and was buried there. In late 1944, due to the request of the
Afghan government, his remains were taken to
Afghanistan and laid in
Kabul inside the
Kabul University ; a mausoleum was erected for him
In Afghanistan, a university is named after him (Syed Jamaluddin
Afghan University ) in Kabul. There is also street in the center of
Kabul which is called by the name Afghani. In other parts of
Afghanistan, there are many places like hospitals, schools, Madrasas,
Parks, and roads named Jamaluddin Afghan.
In Tehran, the capital of Iran, there is a square and a street named
after him (Asad Abadi Square and "Asad Abadi Avenue" in
Yusef Abad )
Sayyid Jamāl-ad-Dīn al-Afghānī:", Continued the statement in
the history of Afghans Egypt, original in Arabic: تتمة
البيان في تاريخ الأفغان Tatimmat al-bayan fi
tarikh al-Afghan, 1901 ( Mesr, 1318 Islamic lunar year (calendar)
Sayyid Jamāl-ad-Dīn al-Afghānī: Brochure about Naturalism or
materialism, original in Dari language : رساله نیچریه
(Ressalah e Natscheria) translator of
Muhammad Abduh in Arabic.
* ^ A B C D E F Nikki R. Keddie, Ibrahim Kalin (2014). "Afghānī,
Jamāl al-Dīn". In Ibrahim Kalin. The Oxford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy, Science, and Technology in Islam. Oxford: Oxford
University Press. (Subscription required (help)).
al-Dīn al-Afghānī Two competing theories have been proposed about
Afghānī’s place of birth; questions regarding his nationality and
sect have become a source of long-standing controversy. Those who
claim that he was Persian and Shīʿī argue that he was born in
Hemedan, Iran. There is little evidence to prove this claim, other
than the fact that Afghānī’s father spent some time in Iran and
that Afghānī was well-versed in traditional Islamic philosophy. The
other theory holds that he was born in a village called Asadābād
near Kabul, Afghanistan.
* ^ A B C D E F G I. GOLDZIHER-, "DJAMAL AL-DIN AL-AFGHANI".
Encyclopedia of Islam, Brill, 2nd ed., 1991, Vol. 2. p. 417. Quote:
"DJAMAL AL-DlN AL-AFGHANl, AL-SAYYID MUHAMMAD B. SAFDAR According to
his own account he was born at As`adabad near Konar, to the east and
in the district of
Kabul (Afghanistan) in 1254/1838-9 to a family of
the Hanafi school. However, Shi'i writings give his place of birth as
Hamadan in Persia; this version claims that he pretended
to be of Afghan nationality, in order to escape the despotic power of
* ^ A B C D E Nikki R. Keddie, Nael Shama (2014). "Afghānī,
Jamāl al-Dīn al-". In Oliver Leaman. The Oxford Encyclopedia of
Islam and Politics. Oxford University Press. (Subscription required
(help)). Despite his claim to Afghan origin—whence his
name—overwhelming evidence shows that al-Afghānī was born and
raised in Iran of a Shīʿī family. Sunnī Muslims are often
reluctant to admit that al-Afghānī was raised in Shīʿī Iran.
Al-Afghānī apparently feared the repercussions of an Iranian
identification. Moreover, he knew he would have less influence in the
Sunnī world if he were thought to be from Shīʿī Iran.
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al-Dīn al-". In Oliver Leaman. The Oxford Encyclopedia of
Politics. Oxford University Press. (Subscription required (help)). In
1897 al-Afghānī died of cancer of the jaw. No evidence supports the
story that he was poisoned by the sultan. In 1944, his remains were
transferred to Kabul, Afghanistan, and a mausoleum was erected there.
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