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Jamal al-Din al- Afghani


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(d. 1897)

Thinker and political activist. Born and raised in Iran, although claimed to be of Afghan origin. Educated in Iran and Iraq. Traveled to India, where he came into contact with British colonialism. Lived in Afghanistan, Istanbul, and Egypt but was expelled due to his anti-British stance and supposedly heretical teachings. Returned to India, where he wrote his most famous works. With Muhammad Abduh, published the influential journal Al-urwah al-wuthqa (The strongest bond), emphasizing pan-Islamism and the need for active opposition to British rule in Muslim lands. Advocated Sunni-Shii unity. Believed in reason and natural law, although he preached orthodox religion for the masses. Stressed the need for internal reform and self-improvement, particularly technical and scientific education. One of the first modern politically activist reformist Muslim figures to use Islam to promote a primarily political program; his political activism included public speeches, newspaper articles, use of the Masonic lodge for political purposes, opposition to foreign concessions, formation of secret opposition organizations, publication of leaflets, and participation in the assassination of the Iranian king. Remains popular in the Muslim world today due to his political activism, emphasis on Muslim solidarity against the Christian and imperial West, and modernist, pragmatic, and anti-imperialist reinterpretation of Islam.

See also Osmania University

Subjects: Religion

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