IV-IMAGES OF AFGHANISTAN
Kanishka(78-144 CE)was the greatest king of the Kushan dynasty that ruled over the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan, and possibly regions north of Kashmir in Central Asia. He is, however, chiefly remembered as a great patron of Buddhism. Most of what is known about Kanishka derives from Chinese sources, particularly Buddhist writings. When Kanishka came to the throne is uncertain. His accession has been estimated as occurring between his reign is believed to have lasted 23 years. The year 78 marks the beginning of the Saka era, a system of dating that Kanishka might have initiated. Through inheritance and conquest, Kanishka's kingdom covered an area extending from Bukhara (now in Uzbekistan) in the west to Patna in the Ganges Valley in the east, and from the Pamirs (now in Tajikistan) in the north to central India in the south. His capital was Purusapura (Peshawar). He may have crossed the Pamirs and subjugated the kings of the city-states of Khotan, Kashgar, and Yarkand (now in Chinese Turkistan), who had previously been tributaries of the Han emperors of China. Contact between Kanishka and the Chinese in Central Asia may have inspired the transmission of Indian ideas, particularly Buddhism, to China. Buddhism first appeared in China in the 2nd century A.D. As a patron of Buddhism Kanishka is chiefly noted for having convened the fourth great Buddhist council in Kashmir that marked the beginnings of Mahayana Buddhism. At the council, according to Chinese sources, authorized commentaries on the Buddhist canon were prepared and engraved on copper plates. These texts have survived only in Chinese translations and adaptations. Kanishka was a tolerant king and his coins show that he honoured the Zoroastrian, Greek, and Brahmanic deities as well as the Buddha. During his reign contacts with the Roman Empire led to a significant increase in trade and the exchange of ideas; perhaps the most remarkable example of the fusion of eastern and western influences in his reign was the Gandhara school of art, in which Greco-Roman classical lines are seen in images of the Buddha.
IBN SINA (AVICENNA)
Ali al-Hussain Ibn Abdallah Ibn Sina was born in 980 A.D. in Balkh, Afghanistan. The young Abu Ali received his early education in Bukhara, and by the age of ten had become well versed in the study of the Qur'an and various sciences. He started studying philosophy by reading various Greek, Muslim and other books on this subject and learnt logic and some other subjects from Abu Abdallah Natili, a famous philosopher of the time. While still young, he attained such a degree of expertise in medicine that his renown spread far and wide. At the age of 17, he was fortunate in curing Nooh Ibn Mansoor, the King of Bukhhara, of an illness in which all the well-known physicians had given up hope. On his recovery, the King wished to reward him, but the young physician only desired permission to use his uniquely stocked library. On his father's death, Bu Ali left Bukhara and travelled to Jurjan where Khawarizm Shah welcomed him. There, he met his famous contemporary Abu Raihan al-Biruni. Later he moved to Ray and then to Hamadan, where he wrote his famous book Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb. Here he treated Shams al-Daulah, the King of Hamadan, for severe colic. From Hamadan, he moved to Isphahan, where he completed many of his monumental writings. Nevertheless, he continued travelling and the excessive mental exertion as well as political turmoil spoilt his health. Finally, he returned to Hamadan where he died in 1037 A.D. He was the most famous physician, philosopher, encyclopaedist, mathematician and astronomer of his time. His major contribution to medical science was his famous book al-Qanun, known as the "Canon" in the West. The Qanun fi al-Tibb is an immense encyclo- paedia of medicine extending over a million words. It surveyed the entire medical knowledge available from ancient and Muslim sources. Due to its systematic approach, "formal perfection as well as its intrinsic value, the Qanun superseded Razi's Hawi, Ali Ibn Abbas's Maliki, and even the works of Galen, and remained supreme for six centuries". In addition to bringing together the then available knowledge, the book is rich with the author's original eontribution. His important original contribution includes such advances as recognition of the contagious nature of phthisis and tuberculosis; distribution of diseases by water and soil, and interaction between psychology and health. In addition to describing pharmacological methods, the book described 760 drugs and became the most authentic materia medica of the era. He was also the first to describe meningitis and made rich contributions to anatomy, gynaecology and child health. His philosophical encyclopaedia Kitab al-Shifa was a monu- mental work, embodying a vast field of knowledge from philosophy to science. He classified the entire field as follows: theoretical knowledge: physics, mathematics and metaphysics; and practical knowledge: ethics, economics and politics. His philosophy synthesises Aristotelian tradition, Neoplatonic influences and Muslim theology. Ibn Sina also contributed to mathematics, physics, music and other fields. He explained the "casting out of nines" and its applica- tion to the verification of squares and cubes. He made several astronomical observations, and devised a contrivance similar to the vernier, to increase the precision of instrumental readings. In physics, his contribution comprised the study of different forms of energy, heat, light and mechanical, and such concepts as force, vacuum and infinity. He made the important observation that if the perception of light is due to the emission of some sort of particles by the luminous source, the speed of light must be finite. He propounded an interconnection between time and motion, and also made investigations on specific gravity and used an air thermo- meter. In the field of music, his contribution was an improvement over Farabi's work and was far ahead of knowledge prevailing else- where on the subject. Doubling with the fourth and fifth was a 'great' step towards the harmonic system and doubling with the third seems to have also been allowed. Ibn Sina observed that in the series of consonances represented by (n + 1)/n, the ear is unable to distinguish them when n = 45. In the field of chemistry, he did not believe in the possibility of chemical transmutation because, in his opinion, the metals differed in a fundamental sense. These views were radically opposed to those prevailing at the time. His treatise on minerals was one of the "main" sources of geology of the Christian encyclopaedists of the thirteenth century. Besides Shifa his well-known treatises in philosophy are al-Najat and Isharat.
Mahmud was the son of a Turkish slave, who in 977 became ruler of Ghazna. When Mahmud ascended the throne in 998 at the age of 27, he already showed remarkable administrative ability and statesmanship. At the time of his accession, Ghazna was a small kingdom. The young and ambitious Mahmud aspired to be a great monarch, and in more than 20 successful expeditions he amassed the wealth with which to lay the foundation of a vast empire that eventually included Kashmir, the Punjab, and a great part of Iran. During the first two years of his reign Mahmud consolidated his position in Ghazna. Though an independent ruler, for political reasons he gave nominal allegiance to the 'Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, and the caliph, in return, recognized him as the legitimate ruler of the lands he occupied and encouraged him in his conquests. Mahmud is said to have vowed to invade India once a year and, in fact, led about 17 such expeditions. The first large-scale campaign began in 1001 and the last ended in 1026. The first expeditions were aimed against the Punjab and northeastern India, while in his last campaign Mahmud reached Somnath on the southern coast of Gujarat. His chief antagonist in northern India was Jaipal, the ruler of the Punjab. When, in 1001, Mahmud marched on India at the head of 15,000 horse troops, Jaipal met him with 12,000 horse troops, 30,000 foot soldiers, and 300 elephants. In a battle near Peshawar the Indians, though superior in numbers and equipment, fell back under the onslaught of the Muslim horse, leaving behind 15,000 dead. After falling into the hands of the victors, Jaipal, with 15 of his relatives and officers, was finally released. But the Raja could not bear his defeat, and after abdicating in favour of his son, Anandpal, he mounted his own funeral pyre and perished in the flames. Anandpal appealed to the other Indian rajas for help. Some replied in person, others sent armies. The Indian women sold their jewels to finance a huge army. When, at last, in 1008, Mahmud met the formidable force thus raised, the two armies lay facing each other between Und and Peshawar for 40 days. The Sultan finally succeeded in enticing the Indians to attack him. A force of 30,000 Khokars, a fierce, primitive tribe, charged both flanks of the Sultan's army with such ferocity that Mahmud was about to call a retreat. But at this critical moment Anandpal's elephant, panic-stricken, took flight. The Indians, believing that their leader was turning tail, fled from the battlefield strewn with their dead and dying. This momentous victory facilitated Mahmud's advance into the heart of India. After annexing the Punjab, and returning with immense booty, the Sultan set about to transform Ghazna into a great centre of art and culture. He patronized scholars, established colleges, laid out gardens, and built mosques, palaces, and caravansaries. Mahmud's example was followed by his nobles and courtiers, and Ghazna soon was transformed into the most brilliant cultural centre in Central Asia. In 1024 the Sultan set out on his last famous expedition to the southern coast of Kathiawar along the Arabian Sea, where he sacked the city of Somnath and its renowned Hindu temple. Mahmud returned home in 1026. The last years of his life he spent in fighting the Central Asian tribes threatening his empire.
JALAL AL-DIN BALKHI (RUMI)
Jalal al-Din Mohammad Ibn Mohammad Ibn Mohammad Ibn Husain al-Rumi was born in 604 A.H. (1207/8 A.D.) at Balkh, Afghanistan. His father Baha al-Din was a renowned religious scholar. Under his patronage, Rumi received his early education from Syed Burhan-al-Din. When his age was about 18 years, the family (after several migrations) finally settled at Konya and at the age of 25, Rumi was sent to Aleppo for advanced education and later to Damascus. Rumi continued with his education till he was 40 years old, although on his father's death Rumi succeeded him as a professor in the famous Madrasah at Konya at the age of about 24 years. He received his mystical training first at the hands of Syed Burhan al-Din and later he was trained by Shams al-Din Tabriz. He became famous for his mystical insight, his religious knowledge and as a Afghan poet. He used to teach a large number of pupils at his Madrasah and also founded the famous Maulvi Order in Tasawwuf. He died in 672 A.H. (1273 A.D.) at Konya, which subsequently became a sacred place for dancing derveshes of the Maulvi Order. His major contribution lies in Islamic philosophy and Tasawwuf. This was embodied largely in poetry, especially through his famous Mathnawi. This book, the largest mystical exposition in verse, discusses and offers solutions to many complicated problems in metaphysics, religion, ethics, mysticism, etc. Fundamentally, the Mathnawi highlights the various hidden aspects of Sufism and their relationship with the worldly life. For this, Rumi draws on a variety of subjects and derives numerous examples from every- day life. His main subject is the relationship between man and God on the one hand, and between man and man, on the other. He apparently believed in Pantheism and portrayed the various stages of man's evolution in his journey towards the Ultimate. Apart from the Mathnaui, he also wrote his Diwan (collection of poems) and Fihi-Ma-Fih (a collection of mystical sayings). How- ever, it is the Mathnawi itself that has largely transmitted Rumi's message. Soon after its completion, other scholars started writing detailed commentaries on it, in order to interpret its rich propositions on Tasawwuf, Metaphysics and Ethics. Several commentaries in different languages have been written since then. His impact on philosophy, literature, mysticism and culture, has been so deep throughout Central Asia and most Islamic countries that almost all religious scholars, mystics, philosophers, sociologists and others have referred to his verses during all these centuries since his death. Most difficult problems in these areas seem to get simpli- fied in the light of his references. His message seems to have inspired most of the intellectuals in Central Asia and adjoining areas since his time, and scholars like Iqbal have further developed Rumi's concepts. The Mathnawi became known as the interpretation of the Qur'an in the Pahlavi language. He is one of the few intellectuals and mystics whose views have so profoundly affected the world-view in its higher perspective in large parts of the Islamic World.
JAMAL AL-DIN AFGHANI
Al-Sayyid Mohammad Jamal al-Din Afghani B. Safdar was the most outstanding figure of Islam in the 19th century. He was the first person to take a political attitude toward European colonial rule, which since has been adopted by various movements of national liberation throughout the Muslim world. He’s said to have been a philosopher, writer, orator and journalist, all at the same time. His actions and preaching contributed to many reform movements, and the birth of Salafiyya, and the Muslim Brothers. Courageous and uncompromising, Jamal al-Din aroused and strengthened the enthusiasm of his listeners wherever he went. He preached Islamic revival through reform, and attacked Muslim rulers who resisted European encroachments. His goal was to unify all Muslim states into a Khalifate which will be able to repulse European intervention and restore the glory of Islam. Contrary to most of his contemporaries al-Afghani argued that science was compatible with Islam and that there have been Muslim scientists before. He saw the West both as a problem and also part of the solution. He preached modernization but in the context of Islam. Sayyed Jamalludin Hussaini Afghani was born in 1837 in Asadabad, Kunar, Afghanistan. Al-Afghani is a descendent of Hussain b. Ali (a.s.), thus the title "sayyid". In Kabul, he followed a Muslim pattern of University studies, with special attention on philosophy and exact sciences. In India he received a more modern education. From India he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. At home he served under Amir Dost Mohammad Khan for some time. He went to Egypt thereafter, where he became aquatinted with Azharis (scholars of Al-Azher University, the oldest university in the world, which was built by the Fatimids in the 10th century AD) and lectured from his home. Then he went to Constantinople (1870) receiving a big welcome. Many were jealous of his success there. He decided to leave Turkey for Egypt. In Egypt, young and old flocked around him, including Mohammad ‘Abduh, the future mufti of Egypt, and Sa’d Zaghlul, the future hero in the struggle for Egyptian independence. Al-Afghani lectured on science and politics. He encouraged his followers to consider journalism, believing it was the modern method of influencing people’s minds. He and his followers found Misr (review), al-Tidiara (daily), and mir’at al-Sharq. Being expelled from Egypt he returned to India. While in Haydarabad, and under close observation of the British, Jamal al-Din wrote about the materialism and atheist character of the West. During this time, his followers in Egypt started a riot, which later was suppressed by the British and resulted in the British’s takeover of Egypt. While in Paris, 1883, he attacked British’s occupation of the Muslim world. Most importantly, he found a publication with Mohammad ‘Abduh, an Arabic weekly Urwa al-Wuthka (The Indissoluble Link). This journal was the organ of a secret Muslim society. In 1886, al-Afghani was invited by Shah Nasir al-Din to Tehran. Later, as a result of the Shah’s anger with his popularity Jamal al-Din was forced out of Iran. Next, he went to Russia, where he asked the permission of the Tsar to publish the Quran and other religious books. He stayed there until 1889. On the Shah’s request he once again went to Persia but later was put to asylum for seven months. When he was released he went to Basra to recover. His hate for the Shah grew and he damaged the Shah’s reputation. He found (Radiance form the two hemispheres) in 1892. Al-Afghani went to Constantinople on the repeated invitations of Sultan Abd al-Hamid. However, his opposition with Abu’l-Huda, the leading religious dignitary at the court, cost him the favors of the Sultan. He died on March 9, 1897 from cancer of the chin, and was buried in the cemetery of Nishantash. At the end of December 1944, his remains were taken to Afghanistan and laid to rest on January 2, 1945 in the suburbs of Kabul near Ali ‘Abad, where a mausoleum had been raised for him. He wrote little on theology and philosophy. His works were significantly sought after World War II when the struggle against the Western colonial rule was at its highest. A lone fighter, he was misunderstood and under appreciated by many of his contemporaries. Clearly he was a man before his time. His legacy of Pan-Islamism was the father of many movements in the Muslim lands. At the end, Jamal al-Din’s unique achievements, Pan-Islamic ideology, and determined character assured his name in bold prints on the pages of history.
Eid al-Fitr (Eid-e-Fitr): The most important month of the Islamic calendar is Ramadan, the ninth month, during which every Muslim - except the old, young, pregnant women and the sick - is required to avoid food, drink from dawn to dusk. The feast of Eid al-Fitr commences after the month of fasting ends, on the first day of the month of Shawal. Celebrations usually last for about three days. Congregational prayers are held in mosques, after which Afghans visit their friends and relatives. New clothes, especially for the children, are made, and food is prepared.
Eid al-Adha (Eid-e-Qurban): Once the fasting month and ensuring celebrations have ended, it is time for those planning to perform thier pilgrimage to Mecca to start preparations for their journey. The hajj, takes place in the 12th month of the Muslim calendar, the rituals being performed in Mecca between the 7th and 10th days. The feast of Eid al-Adha is celebrated on the 10th day of the month. Animals, such as sheep, goats, and camels, are sacrificed, especially by those who have already performed the hajj. This commemorates the slaying of a sheep, instead of Isaac, as a sacrifice by his father Abraham, at the command of the Allah. One third of the slaughtered animal is used by the family, another third is distributed to relatives and the rest is given to the poor.
Nov-Ruz (New Year's Day): Literally meaning a new day. Nau Roz is the first day of spring and of the Afghan solar calendar, and falls on March 21st. This festival dates back to the time when Zoroastrianism was still a powerful religion, long before Islam arrived in Afghanistan. During the celebrations, lavish meals are prepared in Afghan homes. Two dishes, Samanak and haft-mehwah are specially cooked for the occasion. Samanak, a dessert like made of wheat and sugar, can take more than two days to prepare. Haft-mehwah consists of seven fruits and nuts to symbolize spring: walnuts, almonds, pistachios, red and green raisins, dried apricots, and a local fruit known as sanjit.
Ashura: To the Shi'ites, the most important religious period of the year is the first 10 days of the new year. This is a period of mourning, in memory of the killing of Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), at Karbala on October 10 680 A.D., along with 72 of his immediate family and followers. The festival climaxes on the tenth day of the month of Muharram. Ashura is an optional fast day. As the shi'ite population is relatively small, this day is celebrated on a smaller scale in Afghanistan.
1 lb (2 ½ cups) long grain rice, preferably basmati. 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil. 2 medium onions, chopped. 1 ½ - 2 lbs lamb on the bone or 1 chicken, jointed. Salt & pepper. 2 large carrots. 4 oz black seedless raisins. 2 tsp char masala or cumin. ¼ tap saffron. Directions: Rinse the rice several times in cold water until it remains clear. Add fresh water and leave the rice to soak for at least half an hour. Heat 4 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the chopped onions. Stir and fry them until brown. Remove from the oil and add the lamb. Brown well on all sides in the oil. Add about 1 cup of water, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the meat is tender. When cooked, remove the meat and put it in a warm place. Grind the onions to a pulp, add them to the meat broth and stir well. While the meat is cooking, wash and peel the carrots and cut into pieces the size of a matchstick. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a small pan and add the carrots. Cook the carrots gently until they are lightly browned and tender. If they are tough it may be necessary to add a little water and simmer until tender. All the water should evaporate. Remove the carrots from the oil, add the raisins, and cook these gently until they begin to swell up. Remove the oil and set aside the carrots. Save any remaining oil for the rice. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil and add about 1 teaspoon of salt. Drain the rice and add to the boiling water. Parbroil for 2 to 3 minutes before draining the rice in a large sieve. Put the rice in a large casserole and sprinkle with char masala and saffron. Take the meat juices and measure out approximately ¾ cup. Pour the juices over the rice and stir very gently once. Then place the cooked meat on one side of the casserole and the carrots and raisins on the other. Add any oil left over from cooking the carrots. Cover with a tightly fitted lid and place in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F for about 45 minutes or leave it in a tightly covered pan on top of the stove over a very low heat for the same length of time. To serve, remove the carrots and raisins and set to one side. Remove the meat and set to one side. Take about a quarter of the rice and put it in a large dish. Top with the meat , then cover with the remaining rice,. Garnish the top of the rice with the carrots and raisins.
LAMB WITH SPINACHE
2 1/2 pound Lamb stew meat - preferably leg. 1/3 cup Olive oil. 3/4 pound Onions; diced large. 4 Teaspoons Chopped garlic. 2 Teaspoons of Turmeric. 1/4 Teaspoons of Nutmeg. 1/4 Teaspoons of Ground cardamom. 1 Teaspoons of Crushed red pepper. 1/2 Teaspoons of Cinnamon. 32 oz Can tomatoes; drain & chop. 1 cup Rich brown veal stock or 1 cup Rich beef stock. 1/3 pound Fresh spinach; wash & drain. 1/2 cup Yogurt. 1 tablespoons of Grated lemon peel Salt; to taste. 1/4 cup Pine nuts (Roasted at 350 F. for about 3.5 minutes). Sear lamb in the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven. Add the onions; saute them for 2 minutes; then add the garlic and saute it for 1 minute. Put in the turmeric, nutmeg, cardamom, crushed red pepper and cinnamon and saute the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes more, being careful not to burn the onions or garlic. Add the tomatoes and veal stock and stir. Cover the dish and bake at 350 F. for about 1 hour, until the meat is tender and begins to break up. Remove the dish from the oven and add the spinach, stirring until the spinach is wilted and blended in. Allow the stew to cool slightly. Add the yogurt, lemon peel and salt to taste. Sprinkle with roasted pine nuts. Serve over rice pilaf.
1/4 pounds of Rice. 1 pint of Milk. 4 oz Sugar. 4 oz Sultanas. Rose water or vanilla. Pistachio nuts. Wash the rice and spread it out on a flat board to dry. When completely dry, crush to a third of the size of the grain. Boil the milk and allow it to thicken, stirring constantly. When it is reduced to three-quarters of the original quantity, add the rice and cook for a few minutes. Add sugar and sultanas, and cook until you have a thick custard (10 to 15 minutes). Remove from heat and flavor to taste with rose water or vanilla. Sprinkle with pistachio nuts. Serve hot or cold.
IV-IMAGES OF AFGHANISTAN
YOUR IMAGE IS IN MY EYE
YOUR INVOCATION IS ON MY LIPS
YOUR ABODE IS IN MY HEART
WHERE THEN CAN YOU BE ABSENT?