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Afghanistan's Islam

Afghanistan's Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban OPEN ACCESS

Edited by Nile Green
Copyright Date: 2017
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1kc6k3q
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  • Book Info
    Afghanistan's Islam
    Book Description:

    This book provides the first overview of the history and development of Islam in Afghanistan. Written by leading international experts, chapters cover every era from the conversion of Afghanistan through the medieval period to the present day. Based on primary sources in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, Uzbek, and Urdu, its depth of coverage is unrivalled in providing a developmental picture of Afghanistan's Islam, including such issues as the rise of Sufism, women's religiosity, state religious policies, and transnational Islamism. Looking beyond the unifying rhetoric of theology, the book reveals the disparate and contested forms of Afghanistan's Islam.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-96737-3
    Subjects: Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. 1-38)
    Nile Green

    This introductory chapter provides a survey of major developments in the religious history of Afghanistan. As part of this book’s overall aim to construct a synoptic vision of Afghanistan’s Islam, it presents a summary of existing scholarship in chronological terms that follow the emergence, expansion, and diversification of Afghanistan’s various versions of Islam through the course of thirteen centuries. In this way, the following pages not only provide a summary of scholarship. They also chart the historical terrain of Afghanistan’s religiosity so as to give a fuller sense of what is and is not known about the authorities, institutions, and...

  2. PART ONE. FROM CONVERSIONS TO INSTITUTIONS (CA. 700–1500)
    • (pp. 41-55)
      Arezou Azad

      The conquest of Balkh in 708–9 marked the beginning of the Umayyad caliphate’s control over the lands that are today Afghanistan.¹ Some of the people of Afghanistan rebelled against the new Damascus-based overlords. Others joined the militias that in 749 enabled the rival ‘Abbasid caliphs to take over from the Umayyads. By the ninth century, the city of Balkh was being canonized as the Dome of Islam and its Muslim intellectuals memorialized as saints with sanctuaries deeply intertwined with the Islamic identity of their city of burial. How could the Islamic caliphate become so firmly embedded in classical and...

    • (pp. 56-70)
      Nushin Arbabzadah

      This chapter sheds light on the foundational Timurid period in Afghan history during the fifteenth century, which saw important and enduring religious institutions founded in the capital city of Herat and other urban centers.¹ The chapter focuses on how Timurid women of the ruling class patronized religious architecture with their own private funds. The most audacious of these female patrons was Queen Gawhar Shad, the wife and consort of the Timurid ruler Shahrukh (r. 1405–47), who spent a decade as de-facto ruler of the Timurid Empire after arranging the coronation of her young grandson upon her husband’s death in...

    • (pp. 71-86)
      Jürgen Paul

      Timurid rule in Herat spans the fifteenth century.¹ From the time of Shahrukh ibn Timur (r. 1405–47) onward, the city was the capital of an empire that comprised large parts of Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Although under Husayn Bayqara (r. 1470–1506) toward the end of the century, Timurid territory shrank considerably, Bayqara still ruled over Khurasan and some adjacent regions. Two more Timurid sultans must be mentioned from the start: Abu’l-Qasim Babur (d. 1457), who succeeded in winning the wars beginning after Shahrukh’s demise, and Abu Sa‘id (d. 1469) who ascended the throne, again, after some years...

  3. PART TWO. THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF RELIGIOUS IDEAS (CA. 1500–1850)
    • (pp. 89-104)
      R. D. McChesney

      The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, like other periods in Islamic history, were critical to the promotion, preservation, and advancement of Islamic culture in Central Asia. This chapter provides an overview of the process of transmitting and transforming religious culture during this period, with emphasis on how the material aspects were organized and exploited. The chapter draws on a sample of contemporary works that focus on the lives of notable individuals who contributed to the process of advancing the Islamic tradition—absorbing it, studying it, teaching it, and trying to earn a living from it. These works are more or less...

    • (pp. 105-126)
      Waleed Ziad

      The Durrani period, between 1747 and 1823, is often discounted as an ephemeral Afghan imperial interregnum. Yet it had a decisive impact on shaping the intellectual and sacred landscape of South and Central Asia. As cities such as Kabul and Peshawar were revitalized by Durrani rule in the mid-eighteenth century, Hindustan’s centers of commercial and intellectual gravity gradually shifted westward.¹ These burgeoning Afghan imperial capitals attracted Sufis and‘ulamafrom Hindustan, eventually becoming fulcrums of reoriented intellectual-exchange circuits. The khanaqahs, shrines, and madrasas that made up these circuits provided instruction in an ensemble of esoteric and exoteric Islamic sciences.² These...

  4. PART THREE. NEW STATES, NEW DISCOURSES (CA. 1850–1979)
    • (pp. 129-144)
      Amin Tarzi

      In July 1880, ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (r. 1880–1901) became the new amir of Afghanistan thanks to his own resourcefulness, some measure of luck, and the assistance of both the Russian and the British empires. His life experience had prepared him for the “Great Game” that he was entering, and the new amir seems to have fully understood the position of the political entity he was ruling over. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s Afghanistan was to serve as a buffer, or in the amir’s own terminology, “a curtain,” between the Asiatic colonies of Britain and Russia.¹ As an active player in the Anglo-Russian...

    • (pp. 145-162)
      Sana Haroon

      In 1914, Husayn Ahmad Madani (1879–1957) and ‘Ubaydullah Sindhi (1872–1944), two members of the Dar al-‘Ulum madrasa, at Deoband, in northern India, proposed that the Pashtun tribe represented the ideal of a Muslim society and could steer the fate of the Indian Muslim nation. They called for ajihadin the Indian northwest supported both by nationalist Indians and members of the Afghan court. Although it received a great deal of attention from the colonial authorities, this short-lived movement failed to accomplish anything. Moreover, through attention to treatment of the principle of tribalism in other vernacular Urdu and...

    • (pp. 163-186)
      Faridullah Bezhan

      Wish Zalmiyan, the “Awaken Youth” Party (AYP), was the first political party to operate openly in Afghanistan. Emerging in the late 1940s soon after World War II, it enjoyed support from the intelligentsia and the tacit approval of a monarchical regime hostile to any oppositional voice. The AYP’s emergence depicts the stage that political development had reached in Afghanistan, as well as the political rhetoric of the opposition and the government between 1947 and 1953. Nationalism and constitutionalism made up the backbone of the AYP’s ideology. The AYP was the first political party to openly advocate these goals. Although they...

  5. PART FOUR. HOLY WARRIORS AND (IM)PIOUS WOMEN (1979–2014)
    • (pp. 189-206)
      Simon Wolfgang Fuchs

      The Afghanjihadof the 1980s and early 1990s is often seen through the exclusive lens of geopolitical manipulation and shrewd strategic jockeying. The United States, European nations, and Saudi Arabia channeled massive funds and sophisticated military equipment to the Afghan theater of war in order to secure their specific and not necessarily overlapping agendas. Pakistan also pursued its own goals by recognizing only certain supposedly official Afghan parties and by schooling a generation ofmujahidinaround Peshawar and the country’s tribal areas.¹ Amid all these machinations, it seems, the leaders of the Afghan groups (many of whom were trained...

    • (pp. 207-224)
      Ingeborg Baldauf

      By both the local population and in Afghanistan more widely, northern Afghanistan is considered the “holiest soil on Earth.” Not only are the famous seventy-twoMasha’ikh-i Balkh(Shaykhs of Balkh) interred there. So are thousands of other saintly persons who lived and died in the area over the centuries in a process of regional sanctification whose earliest stages are described in Arezou Azad’s chapter in this volume. Any study of the particularities of a given sanctuary reduces the research gap concerning “spatially distinctive cultural traditions of Islamic populations” in local contexts of saint cult and pilgrimage (as opposed to the...

    • (pp. 225-242)
      Sonia Ahsan

      Thekhana-yi aman, often translated as “shelter” or literally “home of peace,” is a form of safe house in Afghanistan that was instituted to host women who are undergoing criminal trials for sexual transgressions or moral misconducts and who are on their way to or from prison. Thekhana-yi amanis one of the first institutions in post-Taliban Afghanistan to allow women to access the public without a male supporter and to register their protests without the threat of immediate retaliation. It is an exceptional space where women designated as promiscuous or adulterous wait to die or to be circulated...

  6. (pp. 243-248)
    Alessandro Monsutti

    August 2004:I am back to Dahmarda-yi Gulzar. I had spent time there in the second half of the 1990s when I conducted fieldwork for my Ph.D. This small valley overlooking the left bank of the river Arghandab, which flows down to Qandahar, is part of the district of Jaghori in Ghazni province. It is bordered by mountains and closed downstream by a gorge. It is virtually an ethnic and religious enclave for the Shi‘i Hazaras and is surrounded by regions populated mainly by Sunni Pashtuns. During my stay, I meet my old acquaintance Liaqat ‘Ali. I go with him...