Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires

Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires

by Faiz Ahmed


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Debunking conventional narratives of Afghanistan as a perennial war zone or marginal frontier, Faiz Ahmed presents a vibrant account of the first Muslim-majority country to gain independence from the British Empire, form a fully sovereign government, and promulgate an original constitution after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Far from a landlocked wilderness, turn-of-the-twentieth-century Afghanistan was a magnet for itinerant scholars and emissaries shuttling between Ottoman and British imperial domains. Tracing Afghans' longstanding but seldom examined scholastic ties to Istanbul, Damascus, and Baghdad, as well as greater Delhi and Lahore, Ahmed vividly describes how the Kabul court recruited jurists to craft a modern state within the interpretive traditions of Islamic law and ethics, or shariʿa, and international legal norms. Beginning with the first Ottoman mission to Kabul in 1877, and culminating with parallel independence struggles in Afghanistan, India, and Turkey after World War I, this rich narrative explores encounters between diverse streams of Muslim thought and politics--from Young Turk lawyers to Pashtun clerics; Ottoman Arab officers to British Raj bureaucrats; and the last caliphs to a remarkable dynasty of Afghan kings and queens.

By unearthing a lost history behind Afghanistan's independence and first constitution, Ahmed shows how debates today on Islam, governance, and the rule of law have deep roots in a beleaguered land. Based on research in six countries and as many languages, Afghanistan Rising rediscovers a time when Kabul stood proudly for anticolonial coalitions, self-determination, and contested visions of reform in the Global South and Islamicate world.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674971943
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/06/2017
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Faiz Ahmed is the Joukowsky Family Distinguished Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History at Brown University.

Table of Contents

Maps and Illustrations ix

Note on Transliteration and Usage xi

Introduction 1

1 An Ottoman Scholar in Victorian Kabul: The First Ottoman Mission to Afghanistan 31

2 A Damascene Road Meets a Passage to India: Ottoman and Indian Experts in Afghanistan 74

3 Exit Great Game, Enter Great War: Afghanistan and the Ottoman Empire during World War I 119

4 Converging Crescents: Turco-Afghan Entente and an Indian Exodus to Kabul 161

5 Legalizing Afghanistan: Islamic Legal Modernism and the Making of the 1923 Constitution 207

6 Turkish Tremors, Afghan Aftershocks: Anatolia and Afghanistan after the Ottomans 236

Conclusion 274

Abbreviations 289

Notes 291

Appendix A Genealogy of Afghan Monarchs, 18th-20th Centuries 387

Appendix B Ottoman Publications on Afghanistan (1871-1923) 389

Appendix C British Publications on Afghanistan (1839-1933) 393

Appendix D Indian Muslim Publications on Afghanistan (1900-1933) 397

Appendix E Afghan Works in Islamic Law and Statecraft (1885-1923) 401

Acknowledgments 405

Index 411

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