AFḠĀNĪ, JAMĀL-AL-DĪN (1254-1314/1838 or 39-97; Figure 1), an outstanding ideologist and political activist of the late 19th century Muslim world, whose influence has continued strong in many Muslim countries. Although for much of his life he claimed to be of Afghan origin, probably in order to present himself as a Sunni Muslim and to escape oppression by the Iranian government, overwhelming documentation now proves that he was born and spent his childhood in Iran. (One of the chief documentary sources that demonstrates this, as well as many other points about his life, is Afḡānī’s collection of papers left in Iran upon his expulsion in 1891, catalogued in Ī. Afšār and A. Mahdavī, eds., Maǰmūʿa-ye asnād va madārek-e čāp našoda dar bāra-ye Sayyed Jamāl-al-dīn mašhūr be Afḡānī, Tehran, 1963. Other primary documentation is found in N. R. Keddie, Sayyid Jamal ad-Din “al-Afghani”: A Political Biography, Berkeley, 1972.)

Life. Jamāl-al-dīn was born in the village of Asadābād, near Hamadān, into a family of local sayyeds. According to the best evidence, he was educated first at home, then taken by his father for further education to Qazvīn, to Tehran, and finally, while he was still a youth, to the ʿatabāt, the Shiʿite shrine cities in Iraq. Judging from his early copying and lifelong retention of treatises by leaders of Shaikhism, he was influenced by this Shiʿite school, which was noted for its “Fourth Pillar,” the need for the world always to have a “perfect man.” This idea was echoed in Afḡānī’s famous speech that caused his expulsion from Istanbul in 1870 (see below). Afḡānī was also influenced by the ideas of certain Muslim philosophers, especially Iranian ones; works of such figures as Avicenna, Naṣīr-al-dīn Ṭūsī, and Mollā Ṣadrā are found among his books. In addition, Afḡānī’s approach to modern problems was influenced by the still living school of traditional Islamic philosophy with its strong emphasis upon the use of the rational faculty.

In Iraq Jamāl-al-dīn apparently quarreled with some of the ʿolamāʾ, possibly over heterodox religious ideas, and in 1856-57 he left the ʿatabāt to go to India, where he remained over a year. His stay coincided with the Indian Mutiny, and it seems likely that the strong anti-British sentiments voiced by Afḡānī throughout his career have their origin in his Indian experience. After India he may have gone to Mecca, Baghdad, the shrine cities, and perhaps Istanbul. The first irrefutably dated documentation of his movements (in Maǰmūʿa) comes from the mid 1860s. In 1865-66 he traveled through Iran, stopping briefly with his family in Asadābād ; then he went to Tehran and on to Afghanistan via Khorasan. Government of India and Maǰmūʿa sources show that in Afghanistan he called himself the Sayyed “Rūmī” (Anatolian) or “Estanbolī” and claimed to be from Istanbul. The government of India reporter noted that he was a stranger to Afghanistan and spoke Persian like an Iranian. He was adopted as adviser by the temporarily successful claimant to be amir of Afghanistan, Aʿẓam Khan, who showed him great respect, possibly due in part to secret papers he had brought with him, which the British representative thought were from the Russians. Jamāl-al-dīn advised the amir to ally Afghanistan with the Russians and to oppose the British, but he did not voice any of the reformist ideas later attributed to him. When, late in 1868, Aʿẓam Khan was beaten in battle by the new amir, Šīr ʿAlī, Jamāl-al-dīn did not, as later claimed, wish to accompany Aʿẓam to Iran; he stayed in Kabul and tried unsuccessfully to influence the pro-British Šīr ʿAlī, who before long expelled him from Afghanistan. There he was soon forgotten until a 1916 newspaper article drew attention to him as a native son.

After a brief trip to India and a short stay in Cairo, Afḡānī went to Istanbul, then the center of Muslim power. In 1869-70 the secularist reform movement known as the Tanẓīmāt was in its last years, and Jamāl-al-dīn moved in Tanẓīmāt circles. He became a member of the reformist Council of Education, and a friend of the director of the new university, the Darülfünun. The university announced a series of public lectures on modern subjects in 1870, and Afḡānī either volunteered or was persuaded to give a scientific talk on industries and the crafts. Instead of speaking on the intended subject, he trod on dangerous ground, comparing philosophy to prophecy not wholly to the advantage of the latter and implicitly calling prophecy a craft (see Keddie, op. cit., ch. IV). Leading Ottoman ʿolamāʾ, already hostile to the new secular university and led by the Şeyhülislam, influenced the Ottoman government to dismiss the university head and to expel Afḡānī late in 1870.

From Istanbul Jamāl-al-dīn returned to Cairo, where he stayed from 1871 to 1879 and did some of his most fruitful work. Probably because of the good impression he made on the Egyptian statesman Rīāż Pasha he was given a monthly stipend by the Egyptian government. Contemporary sources disagree over whether he ever taught at al-Azhar, but he clearly taught young men at home and in cafes. He was one of the first to reintroduce the teaching of Muslim philosophy in Egypt, and texts he owned on the subject often carry his annotations dating from his period of teaching them in Cairo.

In Cairo and elsewhere Afḡānī made use of a number of ideas and practices more prevalent in the Iranian Shiʿite world than in the Sunni world. As an originally persecuted group, the Shiʿites developed early the use of taqīa or ketmān (precautionary dissimulation), which legitimized the hiding or distortion of one’s true beliefs when revealing them might put one in danger. Related ideas were held by Sufis and by philosophers, who also influenced Afḡānī. The philosophers (as seen in the writings of Avicenna, Averroes, and others on the “double truth”) believed that the ultimate truth could be understood only by an intellectual elite, while the vast majority of the population could only comprehend literalist religion. Afḡānī adapted such ideas, which were more widespread in Iran than farther west, when teaching his disciples; he would speak to them at the level of their understanding and gradually lead them to the level of rationalism he found possible and appropriate. This use of different levels of teaching helps account for the different primary accounts regarding Afḡānī that come from different followers; e.g., some of them said that he was very religious, while others held that he was anti-religious.

But from his first appearance in Afghanistan until his death, Afḡānī’s interests were much more political than religious. In Afghanistan he did not appear at all as a religious figure, but as one giving purely political, anti-British, advice. In Istanbul he attached himself to reformist politics, and his only known talks concern either political and educational reformism or matters that many considered more anti-religious than religious. In Egypt when the political scene was relatively quiet in the early 1870s Afḡānī devoted himself to teaching, but this teaching opened young minds to the modern political possibilities that came to the fore in the turbulent latter part of the decade.

Afḡānī’s chief disciple in Egypt was the young Moḥammad ʿAbdoh, whom he helped lead from Sufism to both philosophical and political concerns. A series of other young disciples were among the founders of the first political newspapers in Egypt and active in the early Egyptian nationalist movement that eventually allied itself with the “revolt” and government of Col. ʿOrābī (1880-82). From 1875 on Afḡānī entered directly into Egyptian nationalist and anti-British politics in several ways: 1. He helped found the Eastern Star as an Arab Masonic lodge, and became its elected head. Then he tried to use it for political purposes, i.e., to promote the abdication of the Khedive Esmāʿīl, whom he saw as a tool of foreigners, and the accession of his son Tawfīq, whom for a time he considered an ally. 2. Afḡānī promoted the formation of politically oriented newspapers by his disciples and allowed them to write down his words as articles. 3. He gained a mass following through public speeches directed against the growing financial and political power of the British and French in Egypt. When Esmāʿīl was in fact replaced by Tawfīq in 1879, it was due to British-French pressure (Esmāʿīl having taken on a “nationalist” tinge), and Tawfīq acted in accordance with European wishes rather than those of Afḡānī.

When Afḡānī continued his public attacks on France and especially England, implicitly calling on Tawfīq to change his policies, he was expelled from Egypt to India in August, 1879. Although later accounts attribute this expulsion, and also the earlier Afghan one, to the British, British documents of the time provide no evidence for this claim; the British were far less concerned about Afḡānī than he thought, though they did consider him a nuisance.

In Egypt Afḡānī left a permanent legacy of disciples, several of whom, especially Moḥammad ʿAbdoh and the later leader of the Wafd Party, Saʿd Zaḡlūl, played important roles in Egyptian politics from the time of ʿOrābī until after World War I. Afḡānī’s stay in Egypt was longer and his direct political-educational role greater than anywhere else.

In India Afḡānī went to the Muslim principality of Hyderabad, where he spent most of his stay. He came to know the great prime minister, Sir Salar Jang, and engaged in teaching and disputation. His chief work was literary; he wrote a series of Persian articles, originally published in a newspaper, and also his longest work, known after its Arabic title as “The Refutation of the Materialists,” which was directed rather against the pro-British Sir Sayyed Aḥmad Khan than against materialism, as will be indicated in the survey of Afḡānī’s writings, below.

After being held under surveillance by the British in Calcutta until they defeated ʿOrābī, Afḡānī left for Paris, stopping briefly in England where he met the anti-imperialist Arabophile Wilfrid Blunt. In London and Paris he wrote newspaper articles, mainly against the British occupation of Egypt, and also his famous and irreligious “Answer to Renan,” published in French. He encouraged Moḥammad ʿAbdoh to join him in Paris, and together they published the modernist and anti-British newspaper, al-ʿOrwat al-woṯqā, in which Afḡānī gave the first public expression to the view most associated with him, pan-Islam. Until then he had identified with the nationalism of the country where he found himself but now, taking a leaf from the Young Ottoman Namik Kemal, he began to speak of the unity of all Muslims behind the Ottoman sultan as the only means to ward off increasing Western aggression. Although the paper lasted only several months in 1884, it was subsidized apparently by Blunt and others, and sent free to important persons throughout the Muslim world, upon whom it exercised some influence.

In 1884-85 the British were fighting the Sudanese Mahdi, and Blunt tried to use Afḡānī and his followers to bring about a peaceful British withdrawal. Sensing Blunt’s interests Afḡānī claimed ties to the Mahdi, for which there is no documentary evidence. Blunt brought Afḡānī to London to meet with governmental leaders, and encouraged an abortive scheme for him to accompany Sir Henry Drummond Wolff on a mission to Istanbul that was to arrange partial British withdrawal from Egypt. (Blunt had earlier failed to interest Gladstone in using Afḡānī with the Mahdi, and it is presumably these events, publicized by Blunt, that account for the strange idea held by some that Afḡānī was a British agent.) From the French and British period date the only documentation of Afḡānī’s relations with a woman; in general reports indicate that he shunned women and disliked talking of them.

From England Afḡānī sailed to the Iranian port of Būšehr, where his long-time servant, Abū Torāb, had shipped his seized books and papers from Egypt. He arrived in the spring of 1886, apparently planning only to pick up his books and then go on to Russia, where the Russian chauvinist editor and publicist Katkov had invited him. He stayed some months in Būšehr, however, apparently due to ill health, and in these months the Iranian Minister of Press and Publications, Eʿtemād-al-salṭana, invited him to Tehran, presumably with the blessing of Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah, although there is no evidence the shah had any important plans for him. On his way north he stayed for several days with the shah’s eldest son and governor of Isfahan, Ẓell-al-solṭān, who is reported to have given him financial support, and whom Afḡānī may have supported in his plans to succeed to the throne upon the shah’s death. In Tehran Jamāl-al-dīn was the guest of the wealthy merchant Amīn-al-żarb, a client of the prime minister, Amīn-al-solṭān. The shah was evidently put off by the strong anti-foreign statements made by Jamāl-al-dīn in their first interview and broke relations with him, soon asking Amīn-al-żarb to take him to Russia. Afḡānī spent 1887-89 in Russia in futile attempts to promote a Russian war against the British (which he hoped would lead to Muslim uprisings).

Although he failed to see important members of the shah’s party when they passed through Russia in 1889, later that year he caught up with them in Munich, insisting that Amīn-al-solṭān had given him a mission in Russia and then invited him to Iran, claims which Amīn-al-solṭān denied (evidence here is indecisive). Upon returning to Iran in late 1889, Jamāl-al-dīn wrote Amīn-al-solṭān that he had carried out his mission to placate the Russians over recent Iranian concessions to the British, but Amīn-al-solṭān refused to see him. In both stays in Iran Jamāl-al-dīn attracted a small band of nationalists, who profited from his expertise in such matters as forming secret societies and issuing leaflets. The shah may have feared Afḡānī’s activities, and in the summer of 1890 he made plans to expel him; Afḡānī got wind of them and took bast (sanctuary) at the shrine of Shah ʿAbd-al-ʿAẓīm, south of Tehran, where disciples continued to visit him. In January, 1891, the shah and Amīn-al-solṭān were enraged by a leaflet attacking the government for a series of concessions, including the tobacco monopoly given to a British subject in 1890. Attributing the leaflet, probably rightly, to Afḡānī and his followers, they had his sanctuary violated and him taken by forced march in the dead of winter to Iraq.

While Afḡānī was in Iraq a mass movement against the British tobacco concession, led by the ʿolamāʾ and the merchants, broke out in Iran; a moǰtahed from Šīrāz, expelled from Iran for his participation in the movement, went to Afḡānī, who now wrote a famous letter against the shah and the concession to the leading moǰtahed at the ʿatabāt, Ḥāǰǰ Mīrzā Ḥasan Šīrāzī. Though months and many events intervened between Afḡānī’s letter and Šīrāzī’s effective call for Iranians to boycott tobacco in December, 1891, Afḡānī had some influence on the cancellation of the concession and the victory of the movement against the concession.

In 1891-92 Afḡānī spent several months in England, where he joined the Iranian modernist Malkom Khan in making public speeches against the shah and his policies and in writing for Malkom’s liberal newspaper, Qānūn. Afḡānī had tried to establish relations with the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid at least as early as 1885; in 1892 these efforts came to fruition when a member of the Ottoman court, using a combination of threats and promises, asked Afḡānī to come to reside in Turkey. Afḡānī accepted, and for a time was used by the sultan to direct an Iranian and Shiʿite circle in writing letters to Shiʿite ʿolamāʾ asking them to support the (Sunni) sultan-caliph. Among this circle were the Mīrzā Āqā Khan Kermānī and Shaikh Aḥmad Rūḥī, who had formerly been Azalī-Bābī but were now irreligious and who were more concerned to undermine the shah than to support the caliph. The Iranian ambassador complained of the implicitly anti-shah activities of the group, and Kermānī, Rūḥī, and another member of the circle were arrested and sent to Trabzon. Meanwhile, an ex-servant and disciple of Afḡānī, Mīrzā Reżā, after being freed from jail in Iran, came to Istanbul and found Afḡānī. The latter encouraged him to return to Iran and kill the shah (against whom Afḡānī retained a personal as well as a political grudge). Mīrzā Reżā returned and on 1 May 1896, as Nāṣer-al-dīn Shah was preparing for the 50th lunar anniversary of his accession, Mīrzā Reżā pretended to offer a petition but instead shot the shah dead. He was hanged and the Iranian government tried to extradite Afḡānī; but the sultan, probably fearful of the secrets of his court Afḡānī knew, insisted Afḡānī was an Afghan and not extraditable. However, the three progressives at Trabzon, who had been in jail there since before the assassination was planned and had no connection with it, were returned to Iran and killed by crown prince Moḥammad ʿAlī Mīrzā in Tabrīz. Afḡānī died of cancer of the jaw in 1897. His illness is well attested and there is no good evidence for the story that the sultan poisoned him. In his years at Istanbul he was not allowed to publish, and after a short time his influence with the sultan declined, so that at the time of his death he was at a low point in his career.

Writings. Primary sources agree that Afḡānī disliked writing and that many of his Arabic writings were composed from his utterances by ʿAbdoh and other disciples. No published writings by Afḡānī remain from before his stay in Egypt, but during the last years of that stay he published a number of articles in newspapers edited by his disciples, especially Meṣr. Among these was an anti-British article, “The True Reason for Man’s Happiness” (“al-ʿEllat al-ḥaqīqīya le-saʿādat al-ensān,” reprinted in al-Manār 23, 28 January 1922), in which he applied traditional philosophical categories to formulating a call to patriotism, liberty, and opposition to autocratic rulers. Similar arguments are employed in two transcriptions of Afḡānī’s words by ʿAbdoh, “Falsafat al-tarbīa” and “Falsafat al-ṣenāʿa” (reprinted in Rašīd Reżā, Taʾrīḵ al-ostāḏ al-emām al-šayḵ Moḥammad ʿAbdoh, Cairo, 1931-1948, 3 vols., II). An article “Despotic Government” (“al-Ḥokūmat al-estebdādīya,” Meṣr 2/33, 14 February 1879) is one of the few writings by Afḡānī suggesting he preferred constitutional and even republican government, although it concentrates on how an enlightened despotism should properly act. A report in Meṣr, 24 May 1879, of a speech by Afḡānī, entitled “The Sage of the East” (“Ḥakīm al-šarq”), attacks the backwardness that has allowed foreigners to control Egypt and the East, claims that backwardness is caused by fanaticism and tyranny, and calls for the development of an enlightened national party. It is also his only recorded call for greater rights for women, on the ground that it is mothers who first educate men.

Afḡānī’s history of Afghanistan, Tatemmat al-bayān fī taʾrīḵ al-Afḡān, was apparently first published in 1879 in Egypt, and was written during the Second Afghan War. Although this short book has chapters on history, genealogy, and ethnology, its main aim, as indicated on its first pages, is to highlight the courage of the Afghans against the British and to show the possibility of resisting British encroachments. These 1878-79 writings show Afḡānī attacking British imperialism in the strongest terms, but more benevolent toward the French and Russians; attacking fanaticism and despotism and asking for the strengthening of modern education and parliamentary rule; and calling for speakers and journalists to spread new ideas and awaken patriotism and zeal for the national Egyptian interest; nowhere does he defend Islam or pan-Islam.

In Hyderabad 1880-81 Afḡānī published six Persian articles in the journal Moʿallem-e šafīq, which were reprinted in Urdu and Persian in various editions of Maqālāt-e Jamālīya. The three major themes of these articles are: 1. advocacy of linguistic or territorial nationalism, with an emphasis upon the unity of Indian Muslims and Hindus, not of Indian Muslims and foreign Muslims; 2. the benefits of philosophy and modern science; and 3. attacks on Sayyed Aḥmad Khan as a tool of the British. On nationalism, he writes in “The Philosophy of National Unity and the Truth about Unity of Language” that linguistic ties are stronger and more durable than religious ones (he was to make exactly the opposite point in the pan-Islamic al-ʿOrwat al-woṯqā a few years later). In India he felt the best anti-imperialist policy was Hindu-Muslim unity, while in Europe he felt it was pan-Islam. The article also attacks the pro-British reformers around Sayyed Aḥmad Khan as well as religious conservatives who oppose Western learning. Similar points are made in his 1882 Calcutta lecture “On Teaching and Learning” (tr. in N. R. Keddie, An Islamic Response to Imperialism, Berkeley, 1968, pp. 101-08).

An Indian article, “The Benefits of Philosophy,” praises philosophy above religion and sees the Islamic revelation as a step toward the higher truth of philosophy; Islam is to be commended for encouraging the development of philosophy among the Arabs; the meanings of the Koran are infinite, encompassing all potential knowledge, so no stage of philosophy or knowledge is final and perfect (tr. ibid., pp. 109-22). In “The True Causes of Man’s Happiness and Distress” Afḡānī equates patriotism and religious faith as forces which arouse the desire to protect fatherland and religion. This equation is one of many indications of why it was easy for Afḡānī to pass back and forth among nationalism, Islam, and pan-Islam.

The attacks on Sayyed Aḥmad Khan (q.v.) were not really on his rationalism, reformism, and scant orthodoxy—all of which Afḡānī shared. Rather, Afḡānī attacked these things in order to undermine Sayyed Aḥmad Khan’s pro-British influence. This can be seen both in two articles directed against Sayyed Aḥmad Khan and in the treatise directed against his nečarī or “naturalist” followers, which has come to be known by its translated Arabic title, The Refutation of the Materialists. Written first for an Indian audience but finding a wider one after its Arabic version by Moḥammad ʿAbdoh was published, this treatise has often been taken as a defense of Islam, but its arguments are not religious but pragmatic and political. Like the philosophers, he notes once more that religion has the practical values of tying together the community and keeping men from evil. He suggests a path to reform through stressing certain parts of the Koran and Muslim tradition, and reinforces pride in Islam as against British claims to cultural superiority.

Also influential were articles in al-ʿOrwat al-woṯqā written in Arabic in 1884, whose formulation was ʿAbdoh’s but whose ideas were Afḡānī’s. These included attacks on British imperialism, particularly in Egypt and the Sudan, as well as articles praising pan-Islam and the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid. More general articles, like “Predestination” (al-Qażāʾ wa’l-qadar), attacked fatalism as a misinterpretation of Islam, and several others stressed the urgent need to return the Muslim world to its early unity and activism. With appropriately interpreted quotations from the Koran, Afḡānī identifies military strength, political unity, and the protection of Islamic territory as the leading principles of Islam, and says that Muslims have only declined since their rulers abandoned these principles. In contrast to his Indian article, al-ʿOrwat al-woṯqā stresses religious unity as being more important than linguistic or national unity. In fact, it is only after 1883 that Afḡānī published the pan-Islamic ideas that have come to be associated with him.

In May, 1883, Afḡānī published in French his “Answer to Renan” (tr. in Keddie, Islamic Response), which he and ʿAbdoh kept from being translated into Arabic and which states most clearly his philosophical and instrumental view of religion. Like Renan, Afḡānī presents himself as an advocate of philosophy and modern science, but he says that the masses are hostile to them and moved rather by religious arguments, while the true arguments of science and reason appeal only to a small elite. Religion is useful to keep the masses, who may gradually evolve toward greater rationalism but seem not destined fully to reach it, moral and obedient. Despite this article, ʿAbdoh tried with fair success to suppress doubts about Afḡānī’s orthodoxy in the apologetic Arabic biography he wrote about him, the main basis of later biographies.

After 1884 Afḡānī wrote only a few articles, particularly those from England (1891-92) directed against the shah of Iran. Two of these, written as open letters to the Iranian ʿolamāʾ for the Arabic-English newspaper Żīāʾ al-ḵāfeqayn (of which Afḡānī was not, contrary to reports, co-editor) and asking the ʿolamāʾ to depose the shah, were circulated among Iranians. (They were reprinted by Rašīd Reżā and partly translated by E. G. Browne in The Persian Revolution of 1905-l909 [Cambridge, 1910].) In Istanbul during 1892-96 the sultan did not permit Afḡānī to publish.

Influence. Afḡānī’s anti-imperialism and his stress on certain virtues in the early periods of Islam with appropriate interpretations of the Koran and Hadith entered the mainstream of Islamic modernism, reformism, nationalism, movements for self strengthening, and anti-imperialism. Although more a reformer than a conservative, his emphasis on self strengthening and defense of the Muslim world against the West, as well as his frequent dissimulation of his true ideas, allowed his legacy to be used by groups much more conservative than himself. Nonetheless, his writings and example had an immediate modernist influence, particularly on Egyptian and Iranian nationalists.

To mention all persons and movements that claim to be influenced by Afḡānī would be far beyond the scope of this article. Since at various times Afḡānī touched on many themes that were of growing importance in the Muslim world, it is natural that many men and movements have claimed him as their predecessor, even when they might have acted in much the same way had he never lived. Direct influences are to be found especially on Islamic modernists and nationalists in Egypt, particularly Moḥammad ʿAbdoh and Saʿd Zaḡlūl. More conservative men and movements that invoked the Islamic strains in the later, public Afḡānī include Rašīd Reżā, the Salafīya movement in Egypt and North Africa, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. In India, where he had little influence in his lifetime, the post-World War I Ḵelāfat movement that combined pan-Islam, Muslim-Hindu cooperation, and anti-imperialism appealed back to Afḡānī, as did the influential poet and thinker, Moḥammad Eqbāl.

In Iran as elsewhere Afḡānī’s immediate influence was less than is suggested by such writers as E. G. Browne and Rašīd Reżā, but methods of political struggle that he helped to introduce such as secret societies and pamphlets continued to be important after he left. Religious reformers or revolutionaries influenced by Afḡānī included Shaikh Hādī Naǰmābādī, Malek-al-motakallemīn, and Shaikh Moḥammad Ṭabāṭabāʾī. In the 20th century interest in Afḡānī as a great and influential Iranian grew, in large part among liberals and nationalists, but in the most recent decades his works and works about him have been published and found an audience especially among the religious opposition, who stress both his presumed devotion to the Muslim religion and his opposition to despotism and imperialism. Iran, Egypt, and Afghanistan are the countries of his greatest influence; his combination of reformed Islam and anti-imperialism continues to have widespread appeal.


Many books and articles have been written about Afḡānī, but as most of them are unreliable, mention here will be made only of works based chiefly on primary sources, the main such collection of which is catalogued and partly photographed in I. Afšār and A. Mahdavī, Documents inédits concernant Seyyed Jamāl al-Dīn Afghānī, Tehran, 1963 (Persian title above).

The main primary material in English is found in the Foreign Office (especially F.O. 60/694) and Commonwealth Relations Office, and in books by Wilfrid Blunt, all of which, along with other primary material, are listed in Keddie, Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn (below).

In Arabic important contemporary memoirs and articles by Afḡānī are to be found in M. Rašīd Reżā, Taʾrīḵ al-ostāḏ al-emām al-šayḵ Moḥammad ʿAbdoh I, Cairo, 1931.

Secondary works with extensive use of new primary material are, in alphabetical order: N. R. Keddie, Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn "al-Afghānī": A Political Biography, Berkeley, 1972.

Idem, An Islamic Response to Imperialism: Political and Religious Writings of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din "al-Afghani", Berkeley, 1968; expanded paperback, 1982.

E. Kedourie, Afghani and ʿAbduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam, London, 1966.

H. Pakdaman, Djamal-ed-Din Assad Abadi dit Afghani, Paris, 1969 (with translations of his Persian articles).

See also A. A. Kudsi-Zadeh, Sayyid Jamāl al-Dīn al Afghānī: An Annotated Bibliography, Leiden, 1970.

(N. R. Keddie)

Originally Published: December 15, 1983

Last Updated: July 22, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 5, pp. 481-486

Cite this entry:

N. R. Keddie, “AFḠĀNĪ, JAMĀL-AL-DĪN,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/5, pp. 481-486; an updated version is available online at (accessed on 7 March 2014).