Al-Afghani is often described as one of the most prominent Islamic political leaders and philosophers of the nineteenth century. He was concerned with the subjection of the Muslim world by Western colonial powers, and he made the liberation, independence and unity of the Islamic world one of the major aims of his life. He provided a theoretical explanation for the relative decline of the Islamic world, and a philosophical theory of history which sought to establish a form of modernism appropriate to Islam.
In 1838 of a distinguished family at the home of a famous Kunari Sayed of Afghanistan (about 180 miles from Kabul) named Sayed Safdar, a boy was born and named Jamaluddin. It was this child that over half a century carried his one man campaign in the name of all the Muslims and oppressed people of Asia, against the colonial powers of Europe.
In fact during the later part of the 19 th century Jamaluddin was the only light and ray of hope. The Muslim worlds were living under colonial suppression, internal discord and poverty, and they, badly were, in need of a leader such as Jamaluddin. No one can deny reading the history of that period, that Afghani was one of the most outstanding figures and redeemers of the East. With all the qualification that he possessed, he was a great political and unique intellectual of his time. The great French philosopher Renan says about Afghani: (Few people have produced on me a more vivid impression; it is a large measure the conversation that I had with him that decided me to chose as a subject for my lecture at the Sorbonne, the relations between the “scientific spirit and Islam……” The liberty of his thought, his noble and loyal character, made me believe, while I was talking with him, that I had before me, restored to life, one of my old acquaintances----Wicenna, Arerroes, or another of those great infidels, who represented to five centuries the tradition of the human mind.”
This statement which is made by a great philosopher of Europe is enough to understand the high qualification of this Afghan genius, who was considered also by late Pandit Nehru as a great religious reformist, by doctor Iqbal and Namek Kamal as a religious revolutionary and defenders of Pan-Islamism, by Professor Edward G. Brown the author of “Persian revolution” as a man who helped to animate the fight of Muslim resistance against the expansion and Domination of European colonialism.
Some people likens the great personalities of history to precious stones like rubies, amber, turquoise, emerald having special glow, shines, color and beauty, but, Jamaluddin was like a diamond shining and glowing from every angle. HE was a reformist, religious leader, philosopher, writer, journalist and above all a politician and emancipator of the East and Muslim world. In fact what made Jamaluddin a great hero of the east and an enemy of colonialism is indeed his political activism, who’s effects and influence spread beyond the borders of his own country Afghanistan, and touched the destiny of people from Bengal to the Atlantic shores of Africa.
Considering what Afghani had accomplished as a one man, with empty hands and no support from any quarter against the formidable powers of Europe, facing many odds and intrigues of the western countries and their agents and spies, is indeed a great achievement. Contrary to the views of some contemporary writers such as the Author of ‘Afghani’ and Abdoh’ and many others like him Jamaluddin was the most dedicated and unselfish politician and the leader of the East- that while the whole Asia and the Muslim world were in a deep sleep of ignorance during the 19 th century he was fighting with a power of his pen and the strength of his spirit to emancipate his people from the European yoke. He continued his fight by every means, in every city and country, even in the heart of colonial centers such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Petersburg until he died. Although he was unable to see the fruits of his labor in his life time, but certainly all the seeds which he sowed, bore fruits soon after his death. His home land Afghanistan only 22 years after his death received independence and what he wanted form his own pupil Amir Mohammad Azam Khan was accomplished by another student of his, Mahmud Tarzi through his son-in-law Amir Amanullah during his reign.
In Egypt another devoted disciple Sad Zaglole Became the father of modern Egypt, in Turkey, Namek Kamal and his follower Ataturk did what Jamal-ad- Din wanted to be done by Turks. In India his efforts to unite Hindu and Muslims to fight the British was realized, and all his political and social principles were followed by Muslim and Hindu leaders such as Abdul Kalam Azad and Alama Iqbal as well as Gandhi and Pandit Nehru.
He wanted Muslim unity through “Um-ul-Qura” now this is also realized and it’s headquarter has been established in Saudi Arabia, He was in favour of Arab unity soon after the First World War the Arab League came to function on the bank of the Nile.
Jamaluddin was considered ‘new traditionalist’ as well as ‘Islamic reformist; because of Afghani’s teaching today most of the Muslim reject rigid traditionalist as well as pure westernism, as once Sir Sayed Ahmad founder of Aligarh University wanted the Muslims to follow. The middle of the road policy of Jamaluddin is a proper way for the Muslims to be the followed even at present time.
As I stated above, it was mainly political activities of Jamaluddin which has attracted International and worldwide attention because during the 19th century he was the greatest champion of liberty and self-determination for oppressed people of the East and a great fighter against European imperialism. To achieve this noble aim, he was following five main political principals, sometimes using each principal separately, and more often together. But in application of these principles in order to help his people, he followed the main British political theory which one of their great leaders once stated:
“The British never had a permanent friend but she had always a permanent interest”.
The political Principals followed by Afghani are as follows:
- He wanted to carry his views from the top, in order to achieve internal reforms as well as to resist foreign domination. Though this principal, he wanted to established a model country in order to be followed by other Asian and Muslim countries.
- He wanted to use France and Germany as a third power to support the Asian struggle against the British as well as Tsarist Russia.
- In case of failure of the above theory, he wanted to acquire the British to support the eastern nations in order to push out of Asia, the Tsarist imperialist.
- To get the Tsarist to help the Asians against the British.
Jamaluddin wanted to use the 3 rd and fourth theories because he knew that Asia and Muslim countries are not able to match the military, technical and economic power of the West and the only way to fight the British or Tsarist Russia is to reply on the Theory of ‘Balance of Power;
- The most important theory upon which Afghani was relying was the theory of ‘Pan-Islamism’, or Muslim Unity “, he always wanted to use this weapon, against colonial domination for liberation of Muslims in Asia and Africa. How Afghani applied these theories and how were the results, here we will examine in the following pages:
To implement national and international reforms the top
For implementing this principal Afghani began to work in his own country Afghanistan, while he was serving at the court of Amir Dost Mohammad as a young scholar at the age of 19, his duty among other things, was to teach general knowledge to some of the princes, among whom he gave more consideration to Prince Azam Khan who was ambitious, energetic and full of dreams like Afghani himself.
Jamaluddin was hoping to see Azam Khan the future King of Afghanistan, and under his rule implement his reforms and planning needed for the country, in the domestic sphere as well as international.
But it was Sher Ali Khan heir designate, who was named the King of Afghanistan after the death of his powerful father Dost Mohammad in 1863. There followed a period of civil war between the sons and grandsons of Dost Mohammad with Azam Khan as the main pretender. Jamaluddin left the country for the purpose of pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca after which he went to Iraq. He was in Iraq when the news of defeat of Sher Ali, Amir of Afghanistan reached him, and Afzal Khan the elder and real brother of Azam which was in prison, became the new King. “Afghani” hurried back by the way of Iran and a short stop in Heart and joined his friend Prince Azam Khan in the city of Kandahar in 1866.From Kandahar along with Azam Khan he went to Ghazni and upon the news of the death of Afzal Khan, Azam khan proceeded to Kabul and became the ruler of Afghanistan.
Afghani was pleased about the event and now was staying in Bala Hisar Palace in order to be close to the new king and offering him his advice in daily affairs of his kingdom.
Unfortunately the rule of Azam Khan was as short one indeed, and during this short period, one of the accomplishment of Afghani was, publication of a newspaper called “Kabul”. Azam Khan on the advice of Afghani was conducting a negotiation with the British government in order to get their firm commitments for Afghanistan’s independence. Mean while Azam Khan from the first day when he was declared King in 1867 and until 1868 which was the end of his rule was very much preoccupied with the question of retaining his throne against Sher Ali, who once again took the opportunity of the absence of his brave nephew Prince Abdul Rahman and captured Kabul to become the King of Afghanistan for the second time on 1868. Azam Khan went to Iran and soon after died in Bustam.
Jamaluddin being the closest friend and the top adviser of Azam Khan, had no choice but to leave Afghanistan on Dec.1868 only to offer from now on his service to his greater “nation “ called “Asia” “and Islam”,
Jamaluddin after staying forty days in Egypt went to Istanbul which was at that time active capital of Islamic Khilafat.
In Istanbul Afghani wanted to do what be failed to achieve in Afghanistan. His arrival in Istanbul in late 1969 concided with the “Tanzimat” reform period, therefore he was warmly welcomed with open arms by leading reforming ministers, such as Ali Pasha and Fuad Pasha. Jamaluddin soon became a member of Council of Education, and a seat was given to him, as a professor in the newly established University. It was in the opening ceremony of the new university, when Afghani made his famous speech on “crafts”, and as a result of some expression he used in the speech, chief Ottoman religious leader “Shikhul-Islam” Hassan Fehmi, who was jealous of Afghani for reasons of self-interest, he seized the opportunity to criticize Afghani, and twisted the meaning of some of his expression and called it anti-Islamic. As s result, so much controversies in the press, and among the religious circles, that Afghani decided to leave for a while, in order to calm down the atmosphere created by Hassan Fehmi and his associates.
Afghani left for Egypt in 1871, and lived there, for 8 years of useful activity. Egypt was not new to him this time, because he had spent about forty days in that country, on his way to Istanbul in 1869.this time a prominent Egyptian politician “Riyad Pasha” offered him stipend from the government fund. In order to keep him in Egypt to help to modernize the program of “Al-Azhar” university, as well as to teach. During those years’s political activity of Afghani’s stay in Cairo. In Egypt Jamaluddin not only kindled the patriotic fire in the heart of young Egyptians to fight against western influence, meanwhile he awakened also, Egyptian Public opinion by political journalism. Afghani did help inspire except “Al-Ahram” nearly all newspaper of that period of Egypt, and he helped to get government licenses for many of them.
“Abu Nazzara Zarqa”founded by Afghani’ Jewish desciple “Yakub Sanu” in March 1877.More directly under Afghani’s influence was the paper called “Misr” published in Cairo.and then. in Alexandria edited by Afghani’s Syrian and Christian desciples “Adib Ishq” and “salim-an-Naqash”.Afghani also helped them’ to obtain a permit for a daily Afghani also helped them to obtain a permit for a daily “AL-Tijara”,Afghani helped another of his desciple who was a Syrian Christian named ;Salim-al-Anhuri” to publish the newspaper “Mirat Ash Arq”.”Abid Ishaq” also edited the Alexandria newspaper “Misr-al-Fatat” published in French and Arabic.
In addition to awakening of Egyptian through political journalism, Jamaluddin in 1877, directly took part in Egyptian politics, by entering in the “Eastern Star Lodge” and soon he converted it in a political base of his own activity. It was Afghani who inaugurated Crown Prince Taufiq the future Kedev of Egypt, into this lodge. Afghani supported Taufiq against his rival Prince Halim, the youngest son of Mohammed Ali Pasha.With all the support which Afghani will have an active hand in the Egyptian politics and government of. When we read the Articles written by Afghani at this period, the anti-British tune, is n=much stronger. In one of these Article in autum of 1878.when he published in “Misr”.on the “British and Afghans” “Al-Bayan- Fi--- Al-English-wa-Al-Afghan”. It was translated in the “home-ward mail” and part of it published in the English newspaper” the An-Nhala” in London by Sabunji.In this Article Afghani defends his on his homeland, and criticized the British colonialism. The paper “Misr” on May 24, 1879 reported a speech given by Afghani on his visit to Alexandria. That Article is entitled “Hakim-Ash-Sharq” the “sage of the East”, it explains the enthusiastic reception given to Afghani in Alexandria, it says that he gave a lecture in “Ziziniyya Hall” and admission was by ticket, its, income went to the poor of Alexandria, after Egypt he followed this method in Calcutta and admission and the income went to poor of India, an act which as done by Afghani long before made by a nobel prize winner “Mother Teresa”. Jamaluddin’s influence in national party of Egypt in 1879-1882 was great. Indeed and the well known constitutionalist politician Sharif-Pasha was a close collaborator. Afghani in order to implement his own reforms for the purpose of resisting domestic despotism was against Khadev Ismael, and in favour of Taufiq.But when Taufiq came to power he joined the British and decided on sudden explusion of Afghani from Egypt. Once again Jamaluddin’s dream for a model country was shattered as it happened in the case of Afghanistan, Turkey and later on in 1889 in Iran.
To use France and Germany as a third power against England and Tsarist Russia
As we saw in the previous chapter because of great influence of Jamaluddin in Egypt during his 8 years stay (1871-1879), he was able to create a new political era by leading free masonic and national party as well as public opinion through political journalism. Because of all agitation Ismael was removed as Khedev and Taufiq became the ruler of Egypt, but on persuasion of the British, Jamal-as-Din was sent out of Egypt on September 1879. Afghani left Egypt and landed first in Karachi which he was put under investigation because of the murder of the British Ambassador Cavagnari in Kabul.
During the two years stay in India (1880-1882) Afghani was appealing to the nationalist and cultural, feelings of the Indians. Afghani noticed that in India it was not possible to rely on Islamic principals or Pan-Islamism, but to ask the Indians to fight the British through the unity between the Hindu and Muslims. Having this in mind he wrote a series of articles in Hyderabad which was published in “Muallim-i-Shafiq” edited by Muhib Hussain. During Afghani’s stay, in India, he was surprised to see a growing feeling among the Indian Muslims to cooperate rather than to fight, the British. The leader of this group was “Sir Sayed Ahmad” the founder of the “Aligarh Party” In the meantime the British was supporting and encouraging other Muslim sects as well, such as Qadyams, and Ismaeli’s (Agha khan’s)and Wahabi’s because they were supporting the idea of cooperation with the British and ignoring “Jehad”against the colonial powers. It was for this reason that Afghani attacked mercilessly Sayed Ahmad in his famous article entitled “Tafsir Moufasir” and also he published in 1881 “refutation of the materialists” or “Radd ala ad-dahreyyan”. Sayed Abdul Ghafur Shahbaz gathered together Afghani’s Persian Articles under the title “MAQALAT-I-JAMALIA” which was published in 1884. From Hyderabad Jamaluddin was sent to Calcutta and there he was put under close watch of the British C.I.D,.because the British in this period, was busy with the events in Egypt and revolution of Urabi a follower of Afghani. In Calcutta, Afghani made many speeches and awoke the Muslims to the dangers of westernizing group, among the Indian Muslims, that is the follower of “Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan” who were the partition of his enemy’s, the British.
When “Urabi” was defeated in Egypt by the British, and was sent to exile to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), the British asked Jamaluddin to leave India in 1882. Before leaving India, Afghani’s main theme as is shown by publication of “refutation” and “ Hyderabad articles” was the need of “unity” against the foreign imperialists. He asked the Indians to reply on their cultural heritage and should not be seduced by British followers such as Sayed Ahmad Khan.
Afghani before leaving India visited Afghanistan and stayed three months in Kabul and distributed his book “History of Afghanistan” among his friends and met Late Amir Abdur Rahman Khan, and he returned to India, and left India in Nov.1882 by “S.S. India” intending to go to Europe and America. It is not clear whether Afghani visited America as many sources say he did visit Washington, and New York. He was greatly impressed by the working of American Constitution. Perhaps one of the reason that Mr. Charles Grane former American Ambassador to China, and a well known orientalist, who was familiar with the great service rendered by Jamaluddin to the people of the east, for making a special pilgrimage. To the grave of Jamaluddin. When he saw his grave not worthy for such a great man, erected a monument in his memory. During this trip Grane also met in Istanbul a close friend of Afghani called ‘Burhanuddin Balkhi’ an Afghan who was living there.
When Jamaluddin returned from America he decided to make Paris the center of his political activity for the following reasons:
Firstly, France was not happy with the British occupation of Egypt; secondly France losing to British her Indian territory and also losing her friends such as Sultan Tipu of Mysore, and Shah Zaman Abdali, of Afghanistan, was meanwhile fearful of the British, as a world power. Thirdly, France, and Germany not having influence in Asia, they were afraid losing their influence in Africa as well, because of the growing British influence. Fourthly the relation between “Prince Bismark” the strong man of Germany and Gladstone the Prime Minister of Britain was not too cordial.
For all these reasons, Afghani considered Paris proper places to start his activity against the British.
The news of arrival of Afghani in Paris was published in the newspaper "Abu Naddara Zarqa" of James sauna on January 19, 1883 under the heading “Important news”. The items say that: the great Jamaluddin who passed his life, working for, mankind and who loves the Egyptians has arrived in Paris “. And the issue of 9 th Feb. 1883 has a drawing of Jamal-ad -Din on the 1 st page. With a article by him. “Ash-Aharq-wa-Ash-Sharqiyan” the orient and Orientals.
Another Paris newspaper “Al-Basir” edited by Maronite “khalil ghanim” wrote on January 25 th on Afghani’s arrival when his Egyptian desciples such as Mohammad “Abduh”, Adib Eshaq”, and “Ibrahim Laqqani” heard the news of his arrival wrote long letters full of worshipful praise to him from Beirut where they were in exile.
Afghani soon asked Abuduh to join him in order to publish the famous newspaper “Al-Urwa-al-Wuthqa”, the unbreakable Bond.
Afghani not only having journalist activity but made friends with great personalities of France such as Victor Hugho, French Philosopher Ernest Renan, Henri Rochforth Editor of L’Intransigeant and George Clemenceau editor of LaJusticeb. Jamaluddin was also very close to socialist personalities such as “Oliver Pain”. Jamaluddin wrote articles in all the French newspaper, but what was the most important of all was publication of 18 issues of “Al-Urwa al Wathqa”. These 18 issues was published between March and Oct. of 1884, Its program was explained on March 13, 1884, under the heading of “The newspaper and its program”, saying that” the paper would serve Muslims by explaining the causes of their decline and what must be done to regin strength……. Refute those who says Muslims cannot progress as they follow their own principals in fact follow the principals of their ancestors in order to be strong.
The anti-colonial team and the effects of the paper all over the East, particularly in Egypt and India at a critical time of the Sudanese Mehdi’s success against the British, made the British authorities, to stop its entrance into India and Egypt. It was mainly, this reason, for the sudden termination of the paper in Oct, 1884. it was indeed the first anti-colonial publication in the world which was considered the signal for anti-colonial movement and right of people to self-determination. While Jamaluddin was in Paris an interesting debates took place between him and the famous French philosopher Ernest Renan on May 18, 1883.
Ernest Renan gave a lecture on “Islam and science” at the “Sorbonne” and published on March 29, 1884 in the journal Des-Debates. The exchange between these two great thinkers of the east and the west, made Jamaluddin a world figure.
It was during this debate that Renan stated: “Few have produced on me a move vivid impression.Renan called Afghani as a fellow nationalist thinker.
Renan in his lecture had stated that: “Early Islam and the Arabs were hostile, to the scientific and philosophic spirit, and that science and philosophy had entered the Islamic world only from non-Arab sources. Afghani answered in a more advanced way then Renan, and rejected Renan’s racial arguments and stated that “No people in its earliest stages, accepts science or philosophy because at that arose prophets as teachers, and educator, who were unable to make such primitive people follow the dictates of pure reason, found the means to civilize men and fact that Christianity had a evolutionary head start on Islam, and takes Muslims time to catch up with them.
His racial discrimination attitude, which almost a century later the United Nation’ Charter and Humans Rights convocations follows was indeed ahead of his time. Afghani in his answer to Renan also stated:
“It is permissible, however, to ask oneself, why Arab civilization, after having thrown such light on the world, suddenly became extinguished, why the Arabs world still remains buried in profound darkness. Afghani blames the Muslim rulers, theologists and like wise and like wise the orthodox Muslims.
The historical, social and religious knowledge of Afghani could be seen clearly in his answer to Renan, which has drawn the attention of European intellectuals to the great ability of Afghani, and his modern and progressive views. However on the political side, which Afghani intended to use France and Germany to help the Asians, against England and Tsarist Russia, Afghani was unable to make progress.
There was no doubt that France was greatly worried, about Egypt occupation by Britain, but was not in a position to defend the east against Britain or to make war on Tsarist Russia.
On the other hand, Germany was preoccupied, with the traditional enemy, France. Because of this she was cooperating with England particularly at the time of Lord Salisbury who was a close friend of “ Bismarck”, it was “Bismark who helped “ Salisbury”, during the settlement of many disputes in Asia, including the Zulfikar Frontier of Afghanistan.
The British government knowing the power and influence of Afghani in the Muslim world, decided to contact him through Mr. “Wilfied Blunt”, the famous writer, poet and British politician who was a close friend of Jamaluddin. The British wanted, to use Afghani, for the settlement of Sudanese question, as well as working with the Sultan of Ottoman and Mehdi of Sudan.
Jamaluddin and his plan to use the British for helping the Muslims, against Tsarist
The British was very uneasy about the cry of “Pan-Islamism”, which was very effective in India and elsewhere. The success of Sudanese Mehdi, culminating in his capture of Khartum, and the death of General Gardon in January 18, 1885, made it necessary for the British to contact Afghani.
As blunt in his “Gardon at Khartum” explains Jamaluddin’s activity in regard to affairs of Mehdi and problems of Afghanistan, which lead to a series of maneuvers at this period.
The British first offered Jamaluddin to be the ruler of Sudan, in order to get rid of Mehdi, and to end the anti British activity o Afghani. Jamaluddin, knowing, the purpose of these maneuvers, in one of his meetings with Randolf Churchall, when he made the offer to him, to be the ruler of Sudan, Afghani smiled and said: “May I ask the honourable Lordship, since when the British became the owner of Sudan? Sudan belongs to the Sudanese! They are the only people who can choose their ruler”. Churchall got the point and did not raise the question again. At the time of Lord “Salisbury”, Randolf Churchall was minister for Indian affairs, and Drummand Wolff was responsible for Egyptian and Sudanese affairs. When Afghani as in contact with them in London, meanwhile he was, also in touch with Sultan Abdul Hamid through Ismael Jawdat.
Drummand Wolff, unlike Churchall and Blunt, was a typical British colonial diplomat, taking into account only his own interest. He was not sincere during negotiation with Afghani. Randolf Churchill came to see Afghani when he arrived from Paris at the home of Mr. Blunt. They spoke about the British policy in the East, Afghani as it was his habit explained with great clarity the weaknesses of British policy in Asia, he also expressed his views in regard to Egypt and the Mehdi.
Wolff also met Afghani and after discussing the affairs of Sudan and Egypt, he promised Afghani to go together to Istanbul and raise all these questions with Sultan to see also if Sultan, agree with the plan of unity between Afghanistan, Ottoman, Iran and Britain. While all the arrangement was made for this trip, Wolff left alone without taking Jamaluddin with him to Istanbul. This made Afghani very disappointed and Blunt in his “diary” holds, Wolf, responsible for the failure of his mission and concludes, that this failure was mainly for not taking Afghani with him.
Anyhow, neither the British, nor Afghani, achieved what they wanted from each other, during the negotiation of Paris and London (1884-1885). Once again Afghani lost hope, for the support of the British for people of the East.
Jamaluddin while in London encouraged the British to declare war on Tsarist Russia, and to get a Muslim Jehad in favor of the British,
When he failed to achieve this aim, in 1887 he asked the same thing from Tsarist Russia to declare war on the British. Afghani knew well, since, Muslims and Asians cannot, match the military and economic power of Europeans, he wanted to get the support of the British or Tsarist Russia in order to fight the colonial powers. In later years Chandra Bose the Congress leader of India during the Second World War like Afghani wanted to push the British out of India by the help of Janpanese. When Afghani was unable to get the help of the British he wanted to approach the Russians.
Jamaluddin in Tsarist Russia to get their help against the British 1887-1889
While Jamaluddin was in Paris, he made friend with Katkov” who was a famous Russian politician, and newspaper Editor. Afghani and Karkov both were anti-British, and against their presence in Asia. When Karkov returned to Moscow, from his Paris trip, he invited Afghani, to visit Russia and discuss his plans with Tsar and other Russian leaders. When Jamaluddin arrived in Russia. Although Russian economic and political influence in Iran had been generally growing through 1870-1880, as a result of the completion of Russian Railroad near the Iranian border, making the transport of goods into Iran much easier.
Salisbury ’s government in order to create a counter weight to Russian pressure in Iran and Afghanistan appointed Sir Drummand Wolff the hard boiled British diplomat as minister to Iran. In 1888 the British wanted to obtain all kind of concessions such as the opening of Karun River, concession of 1889 giving a British company the right to build the only modern Bank in Iran and the Tobacco concession to a British national, Jamaluddin who was unhappy about Anglophile policy of Nasir-ud-Din Shah, and his Prime Minister Amin as-Sultan. Wrote a strong article on the opening of “ Karun” in a German newspaper, which was translated and published in most of the Russian papers. This aroused hatred and hostility against Nasiruddin Shah all over Tsarist domain. The Shah considered harmful, to leave Afghani in Russia, to make all these propaganda. Shah on his way to Paris visited Russia, and soon after he left that country in mid-1889.Jamaluddin also left, and met the Shah’s party in Munich, who invited him to Iran to help him in the great task of his kingdom and offered him a high post, Amin as Sultan the Prime Minister after 5 hours meeting asked Afghani, if he could first go to Russia, and explain to the Russian authorities, that all the concessions were given to the British, before he took the office.
The Prime Minister expressed that he id ready, if the Tsarist government shows him a proper way, he wanted to concel all those concessions, provided, there will be no war, or a considerable financial payment on that account. Jamaluddin went to Russia and did what was necessary to help Iran and assured them for the good intention of “Amin as Sultan”, when he returned to Iran to report on his mission, the Prime Minister refused to see him. This strange attitude was partly because of Nasiruddin Shah’s animosity for Afghani’s demands for democratic reforms, and partly, because of his anti-British preaching which, put Drummand Wolff the British Ambassador back to work against him, which led to his banishment after Sayed was seven months in sanctuary of Shah Abdul Azim. The Shah took this unusual step, to send his guards to violate Jamaluddin sanctuary, arrest him during a cold and icy night, o winter, while he was sick. He was escorted in chains, to the Irano-Turkish border. This cruelty kindled fire in the heart of all the followers of Afghani, culminating to the assassination of Nasir ud-Din Shah by Mirza Reza Kirmani a follower of Afghani. Turning back to the arrival of Afghani on 1887 in Moscow, at the invitation of Kaktov who’s plans in organizing anti-British move in central Asia met with the views of Afghani. The Moscow Gazett of 13 th July 1887 published an interview with Afghani in which he said: “His object in visiting Russia was to make himself acquainted, with a country on which 60 million Indian Muslims place sole reliance, and which they hope, will afford them protection and emancipate them from the detested English yoke” Kaktov also, invited another Asian figure who was collaborating with “Afghani” against British. He was Maharaja Dilip Singh (1838-1839), the youngest son of Ranjit Singh who was deposed by the British in 1839. Dilip Sing attempted to go to India but was stopped in Aden. In 187 was invited by Kaktov announcing his plans, for the Sikh rising, and the speedy end of the British rule in India. Afghani and Dilip Sing collaborated in issuing manifestos, which was distributed by an Afghani named Abdul Rasul in Cairo and was working actively, with Dilip Sing and Kaktov to implement their anti-British schemes, Kaktov fell ill, and soon passed away in 1887.
Afghani after a while, moved to St. Petersburg in Aug. 1887. There he met with another friend of Kaktov, Pobedonostster and other officials of the Tsarist government. When Jamaluddin was in St. Petersburg he was offered to be Sheikh-ul-Islam for Muslims in Russia, he declined, the offer.
In 1888 the Indian C.I.D. had a report that Afghani was at St, Petersburg where “He had impressed upon some Russian officials, the prospects of a general rising in India, when ever the Russian choose to give the signal. Whatever he did with the Tsar and his officials, like England, Russia, was not ready, to take chances, to make any move against England. Because of the arrangement made in the congress of Berlin and also the economic difficulty due to Ruso-Turkish war. Furthermore, the relation, between the two Royal families, because of the marriage of the beloved daughter of Tsar Alexander with the second son of Queen Victoria was very cordial.
The close relationship between Tsar and Queen Victoria, is explained fully by “Grivas” in his book “ Iran and Afghanistan for the Defence of India” and he states: “When Tsar Alexander received Drummand Wolff in Berlin, when he was guest of Germany said: “I am most desirous, to come to an understanding with England in Persia. We have no interests in common in Europe, out common interest lie in Asia. There I desire to live in friendship with her, and to establish an understanding which will enable us to be friends”, Therefore, Jamaluddin was unable to make the Russian, to declare war against the British, and decided to rely on his last principal of “Pan-Islamism”. Jamaluddin after banishment from Iran, on arrival in Kirman-Shah, wrote to his friend Amin-az-Zarb on Feb. 1881, and says: “He was already sick when taken at Adul -Azim and that 20 Farash (royal guards) had broken at his house, and carried him off with much violence…..and pulled him off in such haste that his collar, almost suffocated him and he fell to the ground and was unconscious for four hours…without coat driven out, into bitter cold, and snow…..He experienced illness, deprivation and discomfort of all sorts. But he says he was inworldly happy, he knew that without doubt, wise Iranians, would know, that he had been to the highest degree, steadfast, in working for reform in their material and spiritual condition. He hoped that God would make this terrible event “A cause of my victory”. (6) The other famous letter, which, Afghani wrote on reaching “Basra”, to the leader of Iranian Shiat Haji Mirza Hassan Shirazi at Samara against the concessionary policy of the Shah’s government. A letter which in my view was master piece of logic, politics and persuasion, this indeed, became the main factor in Shirazi’s later FATWA (Boycott). On using tobacco.
Jamaluddin, on arriving London 1891 was able to influence, through his publication and articles and appeals to the people and religious leasers of Iran, to influence the famous tobacco movement all over Iran. He also joined hands with Malkum Khan the former Iranian Ambassador and editor of “Qanun”.
The speech of Jamaluddin which was published in contemporary Review on Feb. 1892 under the title of “Reign of terror in Persia” Jamaluddin gave. Also an Interview, printed in the “Pall Mall Gazette” of Dec. 19, 1891, on the same day at the “national liberal club” he spoke on tobacco.
Agitation and misrepresentation in the British Press
Nasiruddin Shah continued to press his complaints to the British, noting the propaganda and violent language of Afghani’ speeches and Articles. Iran requested the British to extradite Jamaluddin to Iran, but the British did not agree on legal ground, however, they stopped the publication of Afghanis newspaper “Diya al-Khafiqain” the light of the two hemispheres. Meanwhile Sultan wanted to attract Afghani back to Istanbul, and invited him, via Ottoman Ambassador in London Rustam Pasha. This invitation was refused by Afghani, because of his mistrust o Sultan. Sultan then had his chief religious confident Abu-Al-Huda “As Sayyadi” who wrote, two letters, to Afghani and invited him to come to Istanbul as a guest of Khalif. Jamaluddin though not trusting Abu al-Huda more than he did Khalif, but never the less, he accepted their invitation, mainly with the hope of implementing, his idea of “Pan-Islamism” in the interest o Muslim countries.
PAN-Islamism as a weapon against colonial domination
It was in the summer of 1892 when Jamaluddin arrived in Istanbul, with great hope to carry Sultan’s policy of Pan-Islamism in his own way. It should be noted that Afghani’s plan for Pan-Islamism was different from Sultan. On arrival Afghani was warmly, received by the Sultan. He was placed in the Sultan’s large guest house, and given a monthly allowance, a summer house, given to him also, a carriage drawn, by Royal horses and meals served from the Royal Kitchen, Nasiruddin Shah was again complaining through his Ambassador in Istanbul (Nasir-ad-Dauleh) for Sultan’s invitation to Jamaluddin, and stated if he is given a high position in Istanbul, Iran might break relation with Caliph. It was for this reason that Sultan exacted a promise from Jamaluddin not to publish anything, while in Istanbul, against Nasiruddin Shah. Jamaluddin answered that he had intended to put the Shah in his grave, but he must obey the Sultan’s order, and he forgave the Shah.
In Istanbul, Afghani continued his Pan-Islamism efforts which he had left-of at the time of Abdul Aziz when was forced to leave for Egypt. The Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and imposition of the terms at the congress of Berlin, the French occupation of Tunis (1881). The British occupation of Egypt in 1886, and the Russian occupation of Merv in 1884, made Pan-Islamism and unity of Muslims the only weapon left for Muslims to use against colonialists. In the Document a very important letter of Jamaluddin is included which is the main blue print for Pan-Islamism movement under Afghani’s own direction. He wanted to be emissary of the Sultan like “Abu-Muslim Khurassani” for the cause of Khilafat and Islamic unity. The projected action, suggested by Afghani to arouse the Muslims in Central Asia, beginning with “Dar-al Eman-i-Afghan”. This document, shows that Afghani after all his efforts, and using other political principles to save, Muslims and Eastern countries from colonial domination, wanted to use the Pan-Islam appeal, and giving emphasis on holy war.
The Plan of Afghani in his letter to the Sultan is more revolutionary that what Sultan had in mind, it was based on Muslim and Christian history and his own Knowledge of the people of Afghanistan, Baluchistan, India and Central Asia. Afghani in this letter says: “I will call them to revenge and incite the pride of their Turkish race and carry the banner of unity of Islam, on my shoulder, and call the religious war, and as usual, not over look any stratagem or use, and plant the seed of order and zeal within them, always working with the wisest Ulama”, Afghani includes a criticism of “Tyrannical amirs and oppressive governors” and notes that the people would rather fight for the defense of the faith, than for such men.
The vision of Afghani was the reform of Islamic countries, and revival of early principals of Islam. He always saw himself like great Muslim leaders, such as “Imam Ghizali” ‘Khurasani, and Ibn Khaldun the great Arab religious leader who like Afghani had a dream for the revival of Islam but died in Egypt without fulfilling his dream. When Afghani was in Egypt he often went to Ibni Khaldun’s grave, assuring his soul that he will accomplish what he wanted to do in his life time. The other hero for Afghani was “Leuther”. The leader of Protestant, who made the European progress and revolution, through reforms and revival of Christianity. Jamaluddin believed “to revive and reform Islam. In order to bring unity, among Muslims. Jamaluddin wrote more that 500 letters in the name of Caliph, to all religious leaders and Muslim rulers, soon received answers, with gifts for the Caliphs, including an answer from Amir Abdur Rahman Khan the King of Afghanistan.
Sultan Abdul Hamid was so pleased with these answers that he kissed Jamaluddin Afghani. “Afghani” replied that soon he will make a great Caliph out of him, unknown in history.
This great success for Afghani made Abu al-Huda, more jealous, and along with the Iranian as well as Currie the British Ambassador, created fear in the mind of Abdul Hamid. They said to Caliph that Afghani is seeking power for himself. But this statement was not correct because, Afghani always refused rank, positions as well as decorations offered to him, including the throne of Sudan. Abdullah-Nadim the Egyptian nationalist, writer, orator and agitator, who was a desciple of Afghani, was helping Jamaluddin, during his activity in Istanbul. Jamaluddin, asking “Shiat” Ulama in Iran and Iraq, to unite with Sultan. Some of them accepted this proposal, such as “Zanjani”. With the success of Afghani, and his growing influence, in the court of Caliph, the jealousies of Abu al-Huda, become more and more and he poisoned further the mind of Abdul-Hamid in regard to Afghani, Meanwhile some new events occurred such as revolt of Armania, and young Turkish in the Army. Abu-al-Huda implicated Afghani to this. When some new Khedev of Egypt, Abas Helmi, who was on a visit to Istanbul, came to meet Afghani helped Abdullah the guardian of Madina to hide in his home, and send him to Egypt with Abas Helmi, this made also the Ottoman Crown Prince very unhappy. All these factors plus the mischief of Abu-al-Huda created mistrust between the Caliph and Afghani.
In 1896 when the news of assassination of Nasiruddin shah, by a disciple of Afghani “Mirza Raza” reached Istanbul, it was the end of relations between the Sultan and Afghani, Sultan put him virtually, under house arrest. Although the Caliph, including an answer from Amir Abdur Rahman the King of Afghanistan.
Sultan Abdul Hamid was so pleased with these answers that he kissed Jamaluddin Afghani. “Afghani” replied that soon he will make a great Caliph out of him, unknown in history.
This great success for Afghani made Abu-al-Huda, more jealous, and along with the Iranian as well as Currie the British Ambassador, created fear in the mind of Abdul Hamid. They said to Caliph that Afghani is seeking power for himself. But this statement was not correct because, afghani always refused rank, positions as well as decorations offered to him, including the throne of Sudan. Abdullah-Nadim the Egyptian nationalist, writer, orator and agitator, who was a desciple of Afghani, was helping Jamaluddin, during his activity in Istanbul. Jamaluddin, asking “Shiat” Ulama in Iran and Iraq, to unite with Sultan. Some of them accepted this proposal, such as “Zanjani”. With the success of Afghani, and his growing influence, in the court of Caliph, the jealousies of Abu al-Huda became more and more and he poisoned further the mind of Abdul Hamid in regard to Afghani. Meanwhile some new events occurred such as revolt of Armania, and young Turks in the Army. Abu-al-Huda implicated Afghani to this. When the new Khedev of Egypt, Abas Helmi, who was on a visit to Istanbul, came to meet Afghani, made the Sultan, suspicious of their talk, Further more Afghani helped Abdullah the Guardian of Madina to hide in his home, and send him to Egypt with Abas Helmi. This made also the Ottoman Crown prince very unhappy. All these factors plus the mischief of Abu-al Huda created misturst between the Caliph and Afghani.
In 1896 when the news o assassination of Nasir-ud-Din Shah, by a desciple of Afghani “Mirza Raza” reached Istanbul, it was the end of relations between the Sultan and Afghani; Sultan put him virtually, under house arrest. Although Afghani, wrote a note to the British Embassy in Istanbul asking the protection as a citizen of Afghanistan and received some paper on that account, but he later changed his mind to leave Istanbul. The Iranian government wanted to implicate Afghani, with the assassination of Nasir-ud-Din Shah, Afghani denied in an interview with “Le Temp” his implication in any manner with the act of Mirza Raza, but the Iranian Ambassador in Istanbul insisted the extradition of Jamaluddin and three of his followers such as Mirza Aqa Khan Kirmani, Sheikh Ahmad Ruhi and Khabir al-Mulk. Abdul Hamid refused the extradition of Jamaluddin on account of his Afghan nationality, but, agreed to surrender the three Iranians who were executed in reaching Tabriz.
The Iranian Ambassador in Istanbul then sent a cable to Tehran, asking their permission, to incite Iranians in Istanbul in order to assassinate Afghani. But Muzaffarud-Din-Shah, wrote in his own hand in the margin of this telegram “This seems wrong to me”.
Anyhow there was no need to fear from Afghani any more the doctor reported, he had cancer. Afghani receiving this report, wanted to go to Vienna for treatment, or to see a French doctor, both requests were refused by the Caliph. Only the court doctor examined him, and performed an operation. As a result, his lower jaw, and his teeth were removed. At the end of his life the great defender of the colonial people of the East, was lying helpless, in the golden cage of Caliph. He died in the arm of his Christian servant, Gurgi Kuchi, said farewell to his active and brilliant, political mission in this world. When he closed his eyes, it was mid-day March 9 th 1893, the breeze of Bosphore was gently kissing his face, and the call for prayer from Aya-Sophia mosque was echoing in the clear sky of Istanbul.
Once Edwin “Mazkham” In his poem “Lincoln the man of the People” stated and it fits beautifully to Afghani:
“He held his place”.
Held the long purpose like a growing tree----
“Held on through blame and faltered not at praise.
“And he fell in a whirl wind he went down”---
“As when a lordly cedar, green with boughs”------
“Goes down with a great shout upon the hills-----
“And leaves a lonesome place against the sky-----
Afghani was buried quietly, in the cemetery of Sheiks of Istanbul and during the burial ceremony, his old time Afghan friend Burhanudin Balkhi read a glowing and sentimental poem. As we said before, this simple grave was rebuilt by an American orientalist Mr. Crine, before his remains was brought to his beloved homeland. Jamaluddin did not accomplish much when he was alive, but soon after his death, all the seeds he planted all over the East, from Bengal to the Atlantic, bore fruits and soon his disciples, all over the East assumed command. In his own country Afghanistan, 22 years after his death, what he himself was unable to achieve from Amir Azam Khan, Mahmud Tarzi his disciple, succeeded to achieve through Amir Amanullah. It was Amanullah khan who on his way to Europe in 1927, visited Egypt and praised Afghani’s service to Egyptian people, and the Muslim world, He also paid his condolence to the widow of Sad-Zaglul follower of Afghani and the father of Egyptian independence. In Turkey, Namek Kamal, followed the path of Afghani and his desciples in 1905 to 1911 brought constitutional reform in Iran. In India he became the spiritual leader of Iqbal and Abu-al-Kalam as well as Gandhi and Raja Mahandra Pratab. No doubt Jamaluddin was the greatest defender of the Arab world, and the promoter of Asian solidarity. Because of his service his reputation, continues to grow, in the Muslim world as well as in the west. He is a mythical national hero for every Asian country which he served all of them well. Afghani although born in Afghanistan, but belongs to the whole Asia. He was a unique personality and a shining star in the dark horizon of Muslim nations during the 19 century.
I doubt, if any one man alone, and with empty hand, in any period in Asian history has done more for liberty and preservation of human dignity then Jamaluddin Indeed he died with a great name and great deeds. There is a poem by the great Indian poet Rabind Ranath Tagore which contains theses beautiful Lyric Lines:
“Listen to the rumbling of the clouds,
“Oh heart of mine, be brave
“Break through, and leave for the unknown”
Jamaluddin lived bravely, and his heart left also bravely for eternity. Peace be Upon this great political hero of the East.
Allamah Nadawi on Jamaluddin Afghani
The great thinker and savant Shaykh Abu 'l-Hasan 'Ali al-Nadwi writes in his book, Western Civilization: Islam and Muslims:
Syed Jamaluddin Afghani had a forceful personality and a mind remarkable in many ways. He had traveled widely in Europe and made a close study of its people. But, in spite of the immense popularity he enjoyed, his life and work are shrouded in mystery; he has become something of an enigma. Divergent views and activities are attributed to him. What is left of his own writings and speeches, together with the accounts furnished by his disciples of his sayings and doings, throw a most unsatisfactory light on his life and ideas, and it is difficult to conclude on their basis about his attitude towards the West and its civilization.
Allama Mohammad Iqbal on Afghani
Nevertheless, Iqbal held him in the highest esteem. He thought that had Jamaluddin Afghani not frittered away his energies on so many things, he could have succeeded better than the rest of his contemporaries in dispelling the intellectual bewilderment the ascendancy of the West had produced in the Islamic world and forging an active and operative link between the widely separated conceptual, moral, and spiritual values of Islam and the downright materialistic norms of the modern Western society. His versatile mind and his creative genius, in Iqbal’s view, made him eminently suited to the task. He had a natural aptitude for it. Thus, of him, Iqbal writes:
“The task of a modern Muslim is (therefore) immense. He has to rethink the whole system of Islam without completely breaking with the past. Perhaps the first Muslim who felt the urge of a new spirit was Shah Wali Allah of Delhi. The man, however, who fully realized the importance and immensity of the task, and whose deep insight into the inner meaning of the history of Muslim thought and life, combined with a broad vision engineered by his wide experience of men and matters would have made him a living link between the past and the future, was Jamaluddin Afghani. In his indefatigable but divided energy could have been devoted entirely to Islam, as a system of human belief and conduct, the world of Islam, intellectually speaking, would have been on a much more solid ground today.” [Iqbal: Six Lectures on the Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam (1930), pg. 136]
Mohammad Abduh on Afghani
Because of the situation obtaining in the Muslim World in general, and in Egypt in particular – which he had made the center of his activities – Jamaluddin Afghani, despite his extraordinary intellect and passionate devotion to Islam and his Afghan pride and enthusiasm, could scarcely devote himself to anything besides the liquidation of foreign domination and political revival and integration of Muslim countries. Politics remained his major preoccupation. His famous pupil, Muhammad Abduh, has summed up his struggle in these words:
“So far as his political objective is concerned, which became a passion with him and in the pursuit of which he spent the whole of his life and bore immeasurable suffering and made gallant sacrifices, it lay in the resuscitation of the Muslim empire so that it could take its stand against the most advanced nations of the world and be a source of real strength and glory to Islam. The breaking of the British hold over the East formed an important plank of this program.” [Ahmad Amin: Zu‘ama’ al-Islah fi ‘l-‘Asr al-Hadith, pg. 106]
As for Muhammad Abduh himself, while acknowledging the valuable services rendered by him in the cause of Islam, it would be necessary to stress the fact that he was also among the pioneers of the modernist movement in the Arab world. He gave a powerful call for the reinterpretation of Islam in order to make it conform to the requirements of Twentieth Century society. His ideas and writings bear a heavy imprint of Western ideals. In this respect, there is little to choose between him and Sir Syed Ahmad Khan (with the difference that Muhammad Abduh had a very deep knowledge of the Arabic language and literature and theological sciences, while Syed’s knowledge of them was rather superficial). The modernist trend can be discerned early in his commentary of the Qur’an, his theological fiats and other writings. The protagonists of modernism who came after him have drawn liberally upon his works.
Jamaluddin Afghani’s political activities shut out for him the other avenues of fruitful endeavor and for a man of his vision and sensitivities he could make little positive contribution to the reconstruction of Islamic life and society. The opportunity to lay the foundations of a new school of thought in the light of his intimate study and critical evolution of Western civilization which could cope with the challenge of time did not come his way.
Carl Brocklemann on Afghani
Nevertheless, he was not unsuccessful in reviving and strengthening in the Muslim intelligentsia reverence for Islam and a living faith in the soundness and universality of its message. He belongs to the select band of men who have wielded the greatest influence on the rising Muslim generations in the modern times. The most striking part of his achievements is that he arrested the advance of the educated Egyptian youth towards atheism. His writings have definitely played a part in the preservation of the intellectual effects of Islam among the Muslim intelligentsia and in keeping its spiritual allegiance alive in however restricted a manner. Carl Brocklemann says:
“The spiritual life of Egypt was ruled over by Islam in the past, and so it is up to now. This is due largely to an Iranian, Jamaluddin Afghani, who, for political reasons, preferred to associate himself with Afghanistan where he had spent his youth and to describe himself as a native of it.” [Geschich e der Islamischen by Velker und Staaten, Munchen-Berlin, 1939]
Important Dates in the Life of Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani
1838 - Birth in Shair Garh, Kunar, Afghanistan
1844 - Leaving Kunar for Kabul
1855 - Leaving for India and Mecca
1860 - The First return to Kabul during the regin of Dost Mohammad Khan
1862 - Leaving Afghanistan
1866 - The second return to Afghanistan
1866 - Meeting Prince Azam Khan in Kandahar
1867 - Arriving to Kabul with Amir Azam Khan
1869 - Leaving Kabul for India, Cairo, Istanbul
1871-79 - Arriving to Egypt and wirting Afghan History
1872-82 - Leaving for India, writing Maqalat, Refutation
1882-85 - Leaving for U.S.A., England and Paris
1886 - Leaving London via Paris=Bosher to Iran
1887-88 - Leaving Iran for Tsarist Russia
1889 - Leaving St. Petersburg for Germany
1889-90 - Returning to Iran
1890 - Banishment from Iran
1891 - Arriving in London
1892 - Leaving London for Istanbul
March 9, 1892 - The death of Sayed Jamal ud-Din
1944 - Returning his remains to Afghanistan
List of Books by Afghani