Concept

Jamal al-Din al-Afghani

Summary
Sayyid Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī (Pashto/سید جمال‌‌‌الدین افغانی), also known as Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn Asadābādī (سید جمال‌‌‌الدین اسد‌آبادی) and commonly known as Al-Afghani (1838/1839 – 9 March 1897), was a political activist and Islamic ideologist who travelled throughout the Muslim world during the late 19th century. He is one of the founders of Islamic Modernism as well as an advocate of Pan-Islamic unity in India against the British, he has been described as having been less interested in minor differences in Islamic jurisprudence than he was in organizing a united response to Western pressure. He is also known for his involvement with his follower Mirza Reza Kermani in the successful plot to assassinate Shah Naser-al-Din, whom Afghani considered to be making too many concessions to foreign powers, especially the British Empire. As indicated by his nisba, al-Afghani claimed to be of Afghan origin. His true national and sectarian background has 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 several 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 (then-part of Ottoman Empire). It is thought that followers of Shia revivalist Shaikh Ahmad Ahsa'i influenced him.
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