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Sayyed Jamalludin Afghani

In the up and downs of the Ulama's struggle against despotism and colonization, we come across many bright

and wonderful names among which are those which are not only brilliant, but serve as a turning point in history and
as a founder of a school of thought and pioneer of a new idea in our memories.
Sayyed Jamalludin Afghani is one of these names. Sayyed Jamalludin Hussaini Afghani was born in 1837 in
Asadabad, Konar, Afghanistan. He is considered one of the most important and effective pioneers of the awakening
in the east, in the darkest period of the deprived nations of this region. He is remembered as an indefatigable fighter
for the Islamic renaissance of the last century and a most staunch supporter and founder of the unity of Islamic
nations, and a true and capable combatant for the revival of the former greatness and glory of Islam and Islamic
nations in our history.
Now, over hundred years have passed since Sayyed Jamalludin's death. Owing to his amazing personality, and his
wholly venturesome spirit, his new and unheard of thoughts and views, which were hope-inspiring for the deprived
people, and fearful for the selfish agents of despotism and colonization, during this period that has passed since his
death, many books, pamphlets, articles and reports have been written and published concerning his life and political
The number of such written books and pamphlets which are in Farsi, Arabic, Turkish and English is more than
hundreds, and if we include the short and long articles printed in newspapers and journals, the number goes beyond
several thousands.
But it is surprising and unfortunate, that despite all these writings, his real character is not yet recognized and the
ambiguity about this adventurous and amazing personality has not been removed.
This crusading Alim rose up in the darkest era of the life of eastern nations, at the time when the tyrannical
domination of colonization was rampant in Islamic nations and at the height of conflicting international thoughts,
and defended Islam and its authentic principles against various materialistic, political and philosophical schools of
What gives a particular value and credit to Sayyed Jamal's struggles is the extent to which his thoughts were spread
in all Islamic lands and his efforts for the welfare and salvation of world Muslims. From the very beginning of his
struggle, he called upon all the followers of Islam to begin an unending and irreconcilable fight against world-
devouring colonizers, and an infinite endeavor in the revival of the past greatness of Islam so that freedom,
independence, honor and respect for world Muslims could be attained, in a way which would be worthy of the
followers of this great religion.
Root of Corruption
Sayyed Jamal paid attention to one fundamental point in his struggle against tyranny and corruption as the main
cause and factor, and that was the rule of one individual and his domination over helpless, deprived, oppressed
"They say that a country is preserved with magnificent palaces, lofty towers, a well-equipped army and modern
weapons. I agree that they are important for a country, but a king or army and palaces cannot by themselves preserve
the independence of a country. It is men of talent, competent individuals, responsible and committed personalities
who can safeguard the survival and independence of the country. It is men of thought, judgment and learning who
can effect reforms in various fields and provide welfare, security and tranquillity, and not a king, his army or
military hardware. Men of knowledge and virtue can exercise a sympathetic supervision over the events and
relationships of a realm and by means of kindness and commiseration, redress the rights of people and put back
transgressors to public property in their places."
The main contents of his ideas and views are reflected in the famous publication of "Orwat-al-Wothgha" and his
other valuable works. To understand these thoughts and ideas in the context of his humanistic, Islamic struggles and
those who followed his way, and also to have a better picture of his co-thinkers, colleagues and devotees, it would
be fitting to begin with a brief glance at the views of opinions and in a way, at the confessions of several great men
of learning, famous orientalists and impartial investigators concerning this man's personality and thoughts.
L. Steward's Opinion
L. Steward is one of those whose reliable books, in addition to being rendered into European languages, has been
translated into Arabic by Prof. Ajjaj. He writes: "Sayyed Jamalludin was the first man to notice with his clear sight
and intelligent realism the dangerous influence and domination of the westerners in eastern lands and Islamic
nations, and realized the extent of this danger and its ruinous consequences. Then, with a self-sacrificing spirit, he
resolutely endeavored to remove it. Tolerating onerous hardships in order to perform the mission which he felt was
placed on his shoulder by his conscience, he began his long travels with the scanty means available at that time to
Turkey, India, Paris, Cairo, Kabul and other lands for the sake of his lofty goals, and wherever he went, his heart-felt
words impressed listeners' hearts and inspired them with his fiery thoughts. He quickly gathered deprived and
oppressed Muslims round him and made them aware of the snare placed in their way by western policies and their
serious and fearful consequences. Wherever he stepped, a wave of rage and uproar rose among the people, making
the local authorities and rulers tremble with fear. Consequently, the oppressive rulers in each land and their agents
opposed him violently. However, the greater the pressure by these tyrannical authorities, on him, the greater became
his resistance and steadfastness.
Sayyed Jamalludin had no fear of the power or influence of any government, and was convinced that the powerful,
colonizing western governments, however strong they might be, have to finally bow down to the wrath and clamor
of Muslim peoples, on condition that Muslim nations put aside the small differences which were intensified by
colonizers' concoctions everyday, and assume the way of unity and alliance for their common goal which is the
revival of Islamic greatness and annihilation of its enemies, and proceed in full harmony and concord. Nevertheless,
he did not think any government was more dangerous than the colonizing British government for the Muslim nations
of the east, and he believed that with unity and alliance, the Muslims could smash the hellish power of British
colonization. In this way they could not only remove their greatest enemy, but also pave the way for the destruction
of other enemies of Islam and Muslims. Consequently, no government feared the views and struggles of Sayyed
Jamal as much as the British government. The Sayyed's hatred of the British, and the latter's fear of him, were in fact
the basis and ground for their mutual fights which continued for many years."
Mohit Tabatabai's View
Scholar Mohit Tabatabai writes in his book, "The Role of Sayyed Jamalludin in Awakening the Eastern Nations":
"Sayyed Jamalludin, with his sharp tongue and pen, laid the ground and main foundation for the acceptance of a
constitutional government in Iran by the country's Ulama. His good intention and correct conjecture had not erred
about the elements who could build up the constitution from the start of the tobacco revolt down to emigration to
Qum and to the clerical support of the constitutionalists against the Bagh-e-Shah coup d'etat. His spirit was in all
cases a guide for those who acted as leaders."
Travels and Moves
What comprised most of Sayyed Jamal's adventurous life were his repeated and long travels. It was for this reason
that during his life he was nicknamed "The Prodigy of the East". At that time, the scarcity of the means of transport
and travel facilities as compared with modern times, made travel from an eastern point to a western one, long and
difficult and sometimes a journey took several months and even over a year to complete. Yet, the Sayyed like one
who had the quickest means, changed his places of residence so rapidly and went from one corner of the world to
another that those who knew him were surprised how he managed to be in Kabul today, in Cairo the next week, in
Paris ten days later, and in Ankara, Istanbul or Tehran a week after.
In the course of these travels, he left for Iran via Arabia, Syria and Iraq. He was well-known in Iran where he had
many zealous readers. So, as soon as he arrived, he was warmly welcomed by his eager readers and those acquainted
with his views and wished to meet him. This welcome was so touching that it roused the government authorities to
receive him even more warmly to win public opinion. Sayeed Jamaludin Afghani is buried in kabul Afghanistan,
next to the Kabul Univeristy.

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