Sayyid Jamal ad-Din a l-Afghani

Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī, in full Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī al-Sayyid Muḥammad ibn Ṣafdar al-Ḥusayn, also called Jamāl al-Dīn al-Asadābādi, (born 1838, Asadābād, Persia [now Iran]—died March 9, 1897, Istanbul), Muslim politician, political agitator, and journalist whose belief in the potency of a revived Islamic civilization in the face of European domination significantly influenced the development of Muslim thought in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Very little is known about Afghānī’s family or upbringing. Despite the appellation Afghānī, which he adopted and by which he is best known, some scholars believe that he was not an Afghan but a Persian Shīʿite (i.e., a member of one of the two major divisions of Islam) born in Asadābād near Hamadan in Persia. An appreciable part of Afghānī’s activities took place in areas where Sunnism (the other major division of Islam) was predominant, and it was probably to hide his Persian and Shīʿite origin, which would have aroused suspicion among Sunnis, that he adopted the name Afghānī. As a young man, he seems to have visited, perhaps in order to extend and perfect his theological and philosophical education, Karbalāʾ and Al-Najaf, the Shīʿite centres in southern Mesopotamia, as well as India and perhaps Istanbul. The intellectual currents with which he came in contact remain obscure, but whatever they were, they made him early into a religious skeptic.

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