Al-afghani's Nationality

the nationality of sayyid-jamal al-din al-husaini al- afghani ( 1838-1897) is a matter of debate among scholars, whether he was actually an iranian or an afghani. as one scholar says, "this disagreement over al-afghani's connection to afghan is one of the strangest things, inspite of the fact that he lived in our era and in our areas and his works are before eyes."

none of these scholars, muslims or non-muslims, discuss the question of afghani's nationality in relation to his ideology (the pan islamic policy ) which he spent all of his life for as once he said: " i have no aim except to grant every assistance to reform muslim's life. i hope that my blood, like the blood of any other martyr, will serve in this way." that is why he related himself to different regions. his signature appeared in connection of his documents more often as ( jamal al-din al- hussaini ) indicating his lineage to imam al-hussain , the grandson of prophet muhammad (p.). also his signature appears as follows " al-istanbuli, al-asad , al-afghani , al-kabuli, al-rummi, and al-tusi ". ( see : asnad sayyid jamal al-din by afshar, tehran).

in order to answer the question about al-afghani's nationality affiliation, we must first answer the following questions:

  1. why did he present himself with nicknamed relating himself to different nations?

  2. why he did not present himself as an iranian at all?

  3. why did he more often present himself as al-afghani when referred to nationality?

i. there are several factors which show that al-afghani's intentionally related himself to several nations. this fact was not an accident. it was most likely that he wanted to display his ideology of muslim's unity and pan islamic policy. therefore he claimed nationality in several islamic countries but not, at all, to any non islamic lands.

inspite of the fact that he lived in europe for a long tome, he did not claim to be a citizen of any european country such as england or france, the two european countries in which he lived for a long time.

  1. inspite of the fact that he had a great effect on iranian policy, he did not present himself as an iranian. it is legitimate to believe that because of his political activities, he wanted to avoid any authorities of the iranian government which could have lead to his extradition as an iranian citizen through the local government wherever al-afghani went.

  2. al-afghani presented himself as an afghani. there is no doubt that he was satisfied with the title of al-afghani, perhaps because he lived in afghanistan for a long time and because he admired the afghan type of life as his book tarikh of al-afghan shows.

The Caliphate

the title " caliphah" is an islamic title for the universal muslim authority. the term "caliphah" and "caliphate" are derived from the word ( khalfah) which means successor, even though it is a subject of debate whether it is used in the sense of a successor of prophet muhammad (p.) or the high authority who represents god on earth. in other words, there is no sure answer to the question whether the title is given by god as uthman, the third caliphah, claimed or it is given by the people as the majority of muslims scholars believe. the title "caliph" used to imply both religious and political authority in the beginning of islamic history but later, it applied only to the political authority.

however, the caliphate played a great role on unifying the muslim nation. it was the symbol of unity especially during the serious crisis of islamic history, such as the civil war between imam ali ( a. ) and governor mu'awiyyaah and the other crisis which followed it. the common belief was that the title "caliphah" was suitable only for one person as the universal authority. therefore, two persons cannot assume the same title at the same time.

the origin of the ideal caliphate goes back to the shari'ah institute which is totally based on the islamic thought. perhaps, the first one who gave more details on the subject was al- mawardi ( d.1058 ). he outlines the ideal caliphate, paying particular attention to the authority who it should be regulated. he illustrates ten duties incumbent on caliphah in the interest of the islamic community:

  1. to preserve islam.

  2. to enforce judgments between disputants.

  3. to protect the lands.

  4. to apply penalties keeping god's prohibition from violation.

  5. to defend the frontiers against enemy attack.

  6. to carry out the holy war.

  7. to collect the community's portion of war booty, tribute and alms tax.

  8. to assess what is due the treasury and make disbursements on time.

  9. to choose competent advisors for appointments and financial matters.

  10. to carry out for himself the supervision of affairs.

the qualification of calipha for the caliphate always, was a matter of debate throughout islamic historyand its eventual failure.

the emphasis outlining the duties of the authority by al- mawardi shows the weakness of the calipha during his term.

the title "caliph" gradually changed its original sense signifying the dual religious and political power. there was then a subsequent significant loss of the actual political power of the caliph when he no longer ruled all of the regions under the caliphate name. many regions, locally, established power or raised their local ameers as independents not following the central government of the caliphate. the caliphate became so weak that its power was usurped by other tribes such as saljuqi turks.

as a result of lack of islamic practice among the authority, the abbassid caliphate began to break down. many independent governments emerged mostly the shi'a independent governments as buyids in iraq and iran, and the fatimids in egypt.

Islamic Faith

"islam" is the name of the religion of god revealed to prophet muhammad(p.). the word "islam" is derived from "salam" which literally means peace. it is called islam because it teaches everyone to think, act and live peacefully. furthermore, it has chosen the phrase "assalam alaikum" (peace be upon you) as the regular greeting for muslims to signify this goal.

when islam is properly understood and implemented, one will live in a peaceful mind, a happy family and in harmonious community. a community that looks upon all human as equal. the only difference among them would be their deeds and behavior. the qur'an says,

" . . . in the sight of god, the most righteous is the one who is the best in conduct." the qur'an, 49:13

faith in islam is not a blind obedience rather, it is based on reasoning and thinking. the qur'an says,

" i preach you one thing that you rise up for the sake of god jointly and singly, then think." the qur'an, 34:46

therefore, in islam there is no force to accept the islamic faith without understanding. the qur'an says,

" there is no compulsion in religion." the qur'an, 2: 256

Unity of god

the first doctrine in islam is the unity of god, and it is the source of other doctrines. the qur'an says, "there is none worthy of worship but one only one almighty god, the creator of the earth and heaven. he is free from all defects, i.e., holy . he is all mercy and all power. he has no partner. he neither begets nor is he begotten and none is like him. the qur'an 112:1-4


the second doctrine is the continuity of prophethood upto prophet muhammad (p.). as human mind had developed since the creation, god taught humanity various religions. he sent prophets at different times such as ismael, issac, moses, john, jesus, and finally muhammad (p.).

the qur'an says,

". . . we believe in god, and the revelation given to us and to abraham, ismael, issac, jacob and the tribes, and that given to moses and jesus, and given to prophets from their lord. we make no difference between any of them....". the qur'an, 3:83.

all religions have their origin in truth. with the passing of time the truth was either forgotten or became overlapped with the interest of human interventions.

when the world reached that stage of understanding, when it was ready for final lesson, god has sent the last prophet muhammad (p.) with the holy qur'an to correct the errors which had found their way into various religions.

these two doctrines, the unity of god and prophethood of muhammad (p.) are the first step for any one who wants to become a member of islamic community.

Time of Prayers

in the name of god, the merciful, the compassionate

".... indeed prayer is a timed duty for believers." the qur'an, 4:103 as general principle of prayer's time, qur'an says, " perform prayers at sunset until the darkness of night and recital of dawn. indeed , the recital of dawn is witnessed. the qur'an, 17:78

the exact time of daily prayer was explained by the prophet (p.)

  1. morning prayer at dawn.

  2. noon prayer.

  3. afternoon prayer.

  4. sunset prayer, immediately after sunset.

  5. evening prayer.

teaching of islam insists to pray on time. qur'an reads: " observe prayers and the middle prayer and stand obedient to god." the qur'an 2-238 this middle prayer, according to the teaching of ahl-ul-bayt is the noon prayer. the emphasis on this prayer at noon time indicates the balance between the nutritional need and spiritual need of body.

every individual muslim should be sure of prayer's time before starting prayer. the times of five daily prayers are as follows:

first : morning prayer ( fajr )

morning prayer ( subh-fajr ) consists of two units offered in audible voice. the time of this prayer begins from dawn and ends before sunrise. to determine its time one should distinguish between " twilight " ( subh- kadhib ) and " dawn" (subh-sadiq ).

twilight is the faint darkish light in the sky during the time when night is about to become a day. this appears when sun is 18 degrees below the horizon. since each degree is four minutes, the twilight appears approximately 72 minutes before sunrise. immediately after twilight another light occurs and extends with the sunrise. the later is called dawn.

second : noon prayer ( zuhr )

it consists of four units offered silently. the time of noon prayer starts after the sun reaches its highest point in the sky. this is also known as "zawal".

to determine this, one can consider the time of the sunrise and sunset and divide them into two; the middle is the midway which is called noon or zuhr.

third: afternoon prayer ('asr)

it consist of four parts offered silently. its time is when the shadow of an object becomes equal to its own length. its time extends to sunset. ( note: these two prayers -- noon and afternoon prayers-- may be performed together, that is , when the zuhr prayer is finished, one may start the 'asr prayer, or delay the 'asr prayers to its proper time, this is according to the practice of the prophet (p.), as it is reported by ahl-ul-bayt (a.).

fourth: sunset prayers ( maghrib )

it consists of three units. the time of this prayers is immediately after sunset until the end of twilight-- the redness which remains on the horizon after sunset.

fifth: evening prayers ( isha )

it consists of four units. the time of this prayers begins after the sun fully sets, and extends until midnight. ( note: these two prayers--sunset prayers and evening prayers--may be joined together, that is when maghrib is finished, one may start the isha prayer or delay it to its proper time . this is according to practice of the prophet (p.), as it is reported by the ahl ul-bayt.)

joining prayers

it is recommended to perform each prayer on its time. one, however may join two of them together. that is to pray, for instance, noon and afternoon prayers at one time or to delay the noon prayer and pray both later. according to the teachings of ahl ul-bayt, it is allowed during travel as well as at residence. also, there are hadith, narrated from the prophet, which allows to do so. bukhari narrates that the prophet prayed in madina seven and eight , zuhr and asr, and maghrib and isha prayers together. see bukhari, v.1,p.136, cairo. likewise muslim narrates that " the prophet prayed zuhr and asr together in madina without any (reason) . the narrator asked the reason of combining two prayers and ibn abbas replied that " [prophet (p.)] did not want to make it difficult for his followers." ( see muslim, v.2.p.151,cario ).

postponed prayer

when one misses any of the five daily prayer at anytime, he or she has to perform it later as soon as possible.

when we pray

when you determine the time of sunrise and sunset, you can determine the time of all prayers.

  1. approximately 72 minutes before sunrise is dawn prayer.

  2. the point which divides sunrise and sunset equally is the time for noon praye.

  3. subsequent to noon prayers is the time of afternoon prayer until sunset.

  4. sunset is the time for sunset prayer.

5 . after sunset is the time for isha prayer until midnight.

Direction of Prayers Qibla

in the name of god, the compassionate, the merciful

". . . . turn your face [ in prayer ] toward sacred mosque." the qur'an 2:144 "ka'ba", the cubical house is mecca , is honored since it was built by prophet abraham and his son ismael as the house of worship of god. qur'an describes ka'ba as al-bayt ( the house[of worship]),3-97; al bayt al atique (the ancient house), 22:29; al- bayt-haram ( the sacred house ),5-97; and as the first house of worship ever dedicated to almighty god.

the qur'an reads:

" indeed, the first house [of worship] ever set up for mankind was that which is at bakka [ mecca ] blessed and [source of] guidance for all the worlds. it has the clear signs, the place whereupon abraham stood up and whoever enters it is in peace. the qur'an, 3:96 & 97 this verse clearly indicates the reason that islam considers ka'ba ( in mecca) the symbol of abraham's message; the oneness of god and continuation of this symbol of islam.

the qur'an reads :

" we made the house [ of worship ] the destination of people and sanctuary. treat the place abraham stood upon as place of prayer." the qur'an, 2-125

declaration of qibla

jews and christians used pray toward jerusalem some reports state that prophet muhammad (p.) used to pray toward the ka'ba as qibla-as direction of prayer ( see tafsir-al-tabari,d.310, vol 2.p.4,ed. cairo, 1323). the prophet, however, announced the ka'ba, instead of jerusalem, as qibla on 17th rajab, second year of hijra.

most mosques in islamic countries have niche or recess, inner place to indicate the direction of qibla called "mihrab". muslims ever since are united by one direction of prayer-qibla.

finding qibla

at distance places from mecca, qibla can be determined in many ways. probably the easiest is to use a compass. in using the compass, however, it is important to distinguish between the true north pole and magnet pole. " the distance between the two is more than 1,000 miles south of geographical north pole, i.e., 73 degrees latitude and 100 degrees longitude of greenwich." ( see qibla nama by h . razmara, p.5, tehran, 1332 sh=1953 ).

likewise, it is important to avoid using the flat maps to determine the qibla. one should consider the global earth. the oval shape of the earth and the flatness of the map makes a difference in degrees.

in 1372h=1952, mr. h. razmara invented a new compass to determine the qibla and ever since it has been accepted by religious scholars of the different islamic thoughts and countries. though it disregards the annual change of magnetic compass which is not more than a few seconds a year. this compass, however , shows the qibla as most accurate as possible.

the qibla in north america

in north america, compasses differ on the direction of qibla; the difference are due to the following:

  1. the global earth should be considered and not a flat map.

  2. the calculation of any compass should be based on the true north pole and not on the magnetic pole. the deviation between the two varies in degrees.

considering the above- mentioned facts, the qibla in north america would be northeast ( or in some places, the north ). however, if these two points are neglected, the compass would show the southeast as the direction of qibla. in 1952, mr. hossein ali razmara invented a compass based on the mentioned facts. since the hadith says " ta'ammad al qibla jahdak," which means try hard to find the qibla as much as possible, the razmara compass offers this service and should be followed unless it proves wrong. for details see : ghebleg nama by hossein ali razmara, tehran : dar al- kutub al islamiyyah, 1344, pp.3-5.

direction of prayer ( qibla ) :

  1. find the north pole on any map ( the top side usually pointed as north);

  2. adjust the compass with the arrow pointing to the north;

  3. the line parallel to the name of the city on this compass points the qibla ( the center of the compass).