Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier

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Overview


Much of the political turmoil that has occurred in Afghanistan since the Marxist revolution of 1978 has been attributed to the dispute between Soviet-aligned Marxists and the religious extremists inspired by Egyptian and Pakistani brands of "fundamentalist" Islam. In a significant departure from this view, David B. Edwards contends that—though Marxism and radical Islam have undoubtedly played a significant role in the conflict—Afghanistan's troubles derive less from foreign forces and the ideological divisions between groups than they do from the moral incoherence of Afghanistan itself. Seeking the historical and cultural roots of the conflict, Edwards examines the lives of three significant figures of the late nineteenth century—a tribal khan, a Muslim saint, and a prince who became king of the newly created state. He explores the ambiguities and contradictions of these lives and the stories that surround them, arguing that conflicting values within an artificially-created state are at the root of Afghanistan's current instability.

Building on this foundation, Edwards examines conflicting narratives of a tribal uprising against the British Raj that broke out in the summer of 1897. Through an analysis of both colonial and native accounts, Edwards investigates the saint's role in this conflict, his relationship to the Afghan state and the tribal groups that followed him, and the larger issue of how Islam traditionally functions as an encompassing framework of political association in frontier society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520200647
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/1996
  • Series: Comparative Studies on Muslim Societies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.88 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author


David B. Edwards is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Williams College and Director of the Williams Afghan Media Project.
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Table of Contents

List of Maps
Acknowledgments
List of Significant Persons
1 Introduction 1
Beginnings 6
Recollecting the Past 14
Contested Domains 28
2 The Making of Sultan Muhammad Khan 33
Myth and History 43
Fathers and Sons 50
Men and Women 56
Friends and Enemies 63
Coda: Jandad's Punishment 73
3 The Reign of the Iron Amir 78
Mapping the State 82
The Once and Future King 88
The Armature of Royal Rule 94
Kingship and Honor 112
Coda: The Death of the King 123
4 The Lives of an Afghan Saint 126
Twice-Told Tales 128
Fathers and Sons 133
Identity and Place 138
Discipline and Power 142
Benefit and Gratitude 146
Purity and Politics 155
Pirs and Princes 158
Coda: The Journey to Koh-i Qaf 167
5 Mad Mullas and Englishmen 172
A Passage to India 175
The Events of 1897 and Their Explanation 176
Waging Jihad 181
The Fault Lines of Authority 196
Tales of Jarobi Glen 201
Conclusion 216
6 Epilogue 220
Re: Posting on the Internet 221
Embedded Codes 227
Notes 235
Glossary 271
Bibliography 279
Index 297
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