Philosophers of the Arabs
Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (1838-1897), one of the founders of Islamic modernism, and a political activist and Islamic nationalist in Afghanistan, Persia, Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century.
was born on 1838 in Assabad, a village near Cable the capital of
Afghanistan, his father is al-Sayyed Safdar one of the key figures of
the town. In 1857, Jamaluddin Afghani spent a year in Delhi and after
performing the pilgrimage of Hajj in Mecca, he returned to Afghanistan
in 1858. He became a counselor to the King Dost Mohammad Khan and later
to Mohammad Azam. In 1869, the throne of Kabul was occupied by Sher Ali
Khan and Jamaluddin Afghani was forced to leave the country.
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 traveled to different European and non-European cities: Istanbul, London, Paris, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Munich .
In 1884, al-Afghani began publishing an Arabic newspaper in Paris entitled al-Urwah al-Wuthqa. The newspaper called for a return to the original principles and ideals of Islam, and for greater unity among Islamic peoples. This, al-Afghani argued, would allow the Islamic community to regain its former strength against European powers.
Although called a liberal by a contemporary English admirer, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Afghani, 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. Afghani simply envisioned “the overthrow of individual rulers who were lax or subservient to foreigners, and their replacement by strong and patriotic men.”
Death and legacy
He died on March 9, 1897 in Istanbul and was buried there. In late 1944, due to the request of Afghan government, his remains were taken to Afghanistan and laid in Kabul inside the Kabul University, a mausoleum was erected for him.