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  Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan
Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan Afghanland.com

afghanland.com - Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan known in Arab world as (Jamal al-Din al-afghani) is considered to be the founding father of Islamic modernism. He was born in 1838 in Assadabad district of Kunar province south of Kabul Afghanistan. At the age of eighteen, he traveled to India (1855/6) to continue his studies. During his stay in India until 1882, Sayed Jamaluddin became closely acquainted with the positivistic ideas of Sayed Ahmad Khan and wrote his famous The Truth about the Neichari Sect and an Explanation of the Necharis (Hakikat-i Madhhab-i Naychari wa Bayan-i Hal-i Naychariyan), first published in 1881 in Hyderabad, in rejection of S. A. Khan and his followers. The book was later translated by Muhammad ‘Abduh into Arabic and published as The Refutation of the Materialists (al-Radd ‘ala al-dahriyyin) in Beirut, 1886.


In 1870, he traveled to Egypt and Istanbul where he received a warm welcome from Ottoman officials and intellectuals who were instrumental in the creation of the Tanzimat reforms. Sayed Jamaluddin went to Egypt for the second time and stayed there for the next eight years (1871-9) during which time he began to spread his philosophical and political ideas through his classes and public lectures.


At the beginning of 1883, Sayed Jamaluddin spent a short time in London and then went to Paris. In Paris, Sayed Jamaluddin begun to publish his famous journal al-‘Urwat al-wuthqa’ (“The Firmest Robe” – a title taken from the Qur’an) with the close collaboration of his friend and student Muhammad ‘Abduh whom he had invited from Lebanon to Paris. Due to a number of difficulties, al-‘Urwah was discontinued in September 1884 after eighteen issues. Through his essays and especially his polemic against Ernest Renan, a French historian, philosopher and positivist, Sayed Jamaluddin established considerable fame for himself in the Parisian intellectual circles.


In 1886, he was invited by Shah Nasiruddin to Iran and offered the position of special adviser to the Shah, which he accepted. Sayed Jamaluddin, however, was critical of Shah’s policies on the question of political participation. This difference of opinion forced Sayed Jamaluddin to leave Iran for Russia (1886 to 1889). In 1889 on his way to Paris, Sayed Jamaluddin met Shah Nasiruddin in Munich and was offered the position of grand vizier. But Sayed Jamaluddin’s unabated criticisms of the rule and conduct of the Shah led to his eventual deportation from Iran in the winter of 1891. Sayed Jamaluddin was later implicated in the murder of Shah Nasiruddin in 1896.


Sayed Jamaluddin spent the last part of his life in Istanbul under the patronage and, later, surveillance of Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid II. The demands for Sayed Jamaluddin’s extradition by the Iranian officials for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Shah Nasiruddin were rejected by ‘Abd al-Hamid who, most probably, collaborated with Sayed Jamaluddin for the implementation of his political program of pan-Islamism or Islamic unity (ittihad-i islam). To this end, Sayed Jamaluddin sent a number of letters to various Islamic countries and leaders to mobilize and unite them against the British rule while at the same time trying to establish the foundations of a mutual rapprochement between the Sunnis and the Shias. According to some historians, ‘Abd al-Hamid grew suspicious of Sayed Jamaluddin’s meetings with some Arab leaders and the British officials in Istanbul and did not permit him to leave the country. Sayed Jamaluddin died of cancer in March 9, 1897 and was buried in Istanbul.


Afghanistan had dedicated many science and educational buildings to that of Sayed Jamaluddin, including the largest school in Kabul , The Sayed Jamaluddin Afghan School


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