Wednesday, March 20, 2013

'Abd al-Raziq, 'Ali

‘Abd al-Raziq, ‘Ali  (1888-1966) was an Egyptian shari‘a (law) judge, intellectual, and the author of Al-Islam wa-usul al-hukm:  Ba‘th fi al-khilafah wa-al-hukumah fi al-Islam (“Islam and the Bases of Political Authority:  A Study of the Caliphate and Government in Islam”).  Published in Cairo in 1925, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book challenged the notion that Islam legislated a specific type of political authority or, for that matter, that it legitimated any form of government at all.  In addition to creating a constitutional crisis in Egypt, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s ideas generated violent controversy throughout the Muslim world.  The Egyptian Higher Council of ‘Ulama’ brought ‘Abd al-Raziq to trial and expelled him from both their ranks and his position as a shari‘a judge.

‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq was a member of a famous and powerful landowning family from the village of Abu Girg (Jiri) in al-Minya Province.  A graduate of al-Azhar and Oxford universities, he rose to the position of judge in the al-Mansura shari‘a court.  In addition to writing Islam and the Bases of Political Authority, ‘Abd al-Raziq edited a study of the life and work of his brother, a rector of al-Azhar, entitled Min athar Mustafa ‘Abd al-Raziq (“From the Legacy of Mustafa ‘Abd al-Raziq,” Cairo, 1957) and Al-ijma‘ fi al-shari‘a al-Islamiyah (“Consensus in Islamic Law,” Cairo, 1947).  

Along with Taha Husayn’s 1926 volume, Fi al-shi‘r al-jahili (“On Jahiliyah Poetry”), ‘Abd al-Raziq’s work was seen by the ‘ulama’ and many Muslims as presenting a fundamental challenge to Islam’s legitimacy as a religion.  The specific event that precipitated ‘Abd al-Raziq’s study and gave it such significance was the abolition of the caliphate by the Turkish government of  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1924.  Following World War I, many Muslims felt particularly vulnerable to increased colonial penetration by Western powers, such as Great Britain and France, with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.  In their minds, the abolition of the caliphate was a prominent symbol that underlined their political weakness.

What angered many Muslims was ‘Abd al-Raziq’s assertion that the prophet Muhammad was sent by God only to preach a spiritual message and not to exercise political authority.  Although Muhammad did establish al-umma al-islamiyah  (an Islamic community), he never mentioned or promulgated a specific form of government.  For ‘Abd al-Raziq, the unity of the Islamic community did not constitute a unitary Islamic state.   For him, the Prophet’s leadership was religious and came as a result of his Message and nothing else.  For 'Abd al-Raziq, the Prophet's Message ended with his death as did his leadership role.

‘Abd al-Raziq’s thesis that the Islamic umma is purely spiritual and bears no relation to politics or forms of government effectively separated religion and politics in Islam.  Furthermore, it denied that the caliphate was an integral and necessary part of Islam or that it maintained any special religious status.  Rather than being a part of Islamic law, the caliphate was to ‘Abd al-Raziq simply a matter of custom.

To many Muslim thinkers, these arguments were anathemas, as they seemed to undermine the very essence of Islam.  Since such thinkers viewed a key part of Muhammad’s prophetic mission as implementing a system of laws, Islam was political by definition.  In denying the Prophet’s political role, ‘Abd al-Raziq implicitly called for a re-definition of Muhammad’s prophetic mission and, by extension, the very nature of Islam.

From one perspective, Islam and the Bases of Political Authority (Islam and the Foundations of Governance -- Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm) can be seen as part of the Islamic reform movement that began in Egypt during the nineteenth century.  Most strongly influenced by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905), this movement sought to revitalize Islam by emphasizing the role of human reason and by seeking to reconcile Islamic and Western notions of science and social organizations.  For many reformers and disciples of ‘Abduh, such as ‘Abd al-Raziq, reason, not revelation, determined the form of government that rules a particular community.

The overt dispute over ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book was cast in theological terms, but political considerations also motivated its publication.  As were many other native-born landowning families, the ‘Abd al-Raziq family was closely associated with the Hizb Ahrar al-Dusturiyin (Liberal Constitutional Party), which, in turn, was the successor to the secularly oriented and anti-monarchical Hizb al-Umma (People’s Party) founded in 1907.   With Turkey’s abolition of the caliphate, a number of Arab leaders, including King Fu’ad of Egypt, indicated a desire to wrest the title for themselves.  Many Liberal Constitutionalists opposed such a move.

A number of factors point to the political dimensions of Islam and the Bases of Political Authority.  Certainly ‘Abd al-Raziq himself was aware that even many of his supporters believed that he had exaggerated his arguments.  This raised the distinct possibility that he purposely overstated his case for political reasons.  Some scholars assert that it seems highly doubtful that the Misr Printing Company, a Bank Misr company under the tight control of Muhammad Tal ‘at Harb, a devout Muslim, would have published a text consciously intended to undermine Islam. Without denying the sincerity of his arguments, it seems highly plausible that ‘Abd al-Raziq’s treatise was intended less as a major contribution to Islamic thought than as an effort to deny King Fu’ad the ability to appropriate the title of caliph.

Without detracting from its intellectual stature, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book should also be seen as part of a patchwork of efforts by reformist elements within an increasingly assertive native-born Egyptian bourgeoisie to bring about significant changes in Egypt’s political and cultural identity.  This stratum sought to assert its power against the monarchy and its supporters among the ‘ulama’.  ‘Abd al-Raziq’s treatise, however, did not represent an overt conspiracy among the Liberal Constitutionalists and their wealthy supporters, as many within the party opposed it.  Rather, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s work was one of many thrusts and parries by members of the indigenous bourgeoisie intended to circumscribe the powers of the king.  The Egyptian bourgeoisie sought to hasten the transformation of Egypt’s cultural identity from one that had been dominated by a Turco-Egyptian elite and an emphasis on Pan-Islamism to one that was dominated by an Egyptian- and, to a lesser extent, Arab–centered nationalism.

On yet another level, the fierce opposition to ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book reflected the pervasive fear among many social strata of further fragmentation of both the Muslim world and Egyptian society.  For many Muslims, the book represented another effort by the West (in this instance at the hands of a westernized Muslim) to fragment the Muslim world, so as to facilitate its subjugation to colonialism, by undermining Islam’s traditional value structure from within.  The fact that Islam and the Bases of Political Authority continues to stimulate debate indicates the extent to which the issues that ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq raised in 1925 still dominate Islamic discourse today.  

'Ali 'Abd al-Raziq (Ali Abdel Raziq) was born in 1888 to a well off family. His father Hassan Abdel Raziq was a large farm-owner and was, in 1907, among the founders of the Umma Party. His brother Mustafa Abdul Raziq --  a well known philosopher -- studied at Al-Azhar University under the famous reformer Muhammmad Abduh. 'Ali later received his "Alim" degree at Al-Azhar in 1911. In 1912, he traveled to Oxford University to study Economics and Political Science, but returned to Cairo at the outbreak of the First World War. Back at Al-Azhar in 1915, he also became qadi (religious judge) at Mansoura.  'Ali became famous for his book Islam and the Foundations of Governance (Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm) published in 1925, and Consensus and Islamic Law (Al-Ijma´ Fi Ash-Shari´ah Al-Islamiyyah) in 1947. Following the popular debate around his 1925 book, Al-Azhar stripped him of his office, though he was re-instituted in the 1940s. 'Ali, his father, and his brother remained close to the Liberal Constitutional Party. 'Ali eventually became a government minister and lost his position as scholar and jurist at al-Azhar. He twice served as Minister of Endowments, one of the three highest positions in religious administration beside the Rector of Al-Azhar and the Grand Mufti. He died in December 1966.

The argument of 'Abd al-Raziq's 1925 book has been summarized as "...Islam does not advocate a specific form of government...", focusing his criticism both at those who use religious law as contemporary political proscription and at the history of rulers claiming legitimacy though the Caliphate. The focus of this debate was Mustafa Kemal's abolition of the caliphate in 1924, and the response of some Arab Muslim scholars that it was incumbent upon Arabs in particular to re-institute the caliphate in Arab lands. 'Abd al-Raziq wrote that past rulers spread the notion of religious justification for the caliphate "so that they could use religion as a shield protecting their thrones against the attacks of rebels." The journalistic and academic debate 'Abd al-Raziq's 1925 book set off projected him into fame.
;Abd al-Raziq remains controversial as much for the implication of his writing, while his specific arguments are part of a longer tradition jurisprudence and scripture. His work has since been both praised and condemned as a precursor of secularist philosophy in Muslim societies, and has been criticized as having drawn on the works of western writers.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Raziq
'Abd al-Raziq, 'Ali
Abdel Raziq
Abdel Raziq, Ali
Abdul Raziq
Abdul Raziq, Ali
Al-Raziq, 'Abd 
Al-Raziq, 'Ali 'Abd
'Ali 'Abd al-Raziq
Ali Abdel Raziq
Ali Abdul Raziq
Raziq, Abdel
Raziq, Abdul
Raziq, 'Ali Abdel
Raziq, 'Ali Abdul

Saturday, March 16, 2013

'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Fansuri al-Sinkili

‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Fansuri al-Sinkili (b  1615 [1024 A.H.], Singkil, Aceh - d. 1693 [1105 A. H.], Kuala Aceh, Aceh) was a religious leader in Sumatra from c. 1620 to c. 1693.  He wrote directions for recitation (in Arabic, dhikr) as practiced by the Shattariyya (Shattariyah) order, into which he had been initiated in Arabia.  He also translated the Qur’an into Malay.  

'Abd al-Ra'uf was a North Sumatran scholar who played a major role in translating Islamic texts into Malay. Born in Singkel, North Sumatra, he studied in Arabia between 1641 and 1660 under scholars such as Ahmad al-Qushashi and Ibrahim al-Kurani. He returned to North Sumatra and taught under the patronage of the Acehnese court. His best-known work is an adaptive Malay rendering of al-Suyuti's Tafsir al-Jalalayn (The tafsir of the two Jalals). It is the earliest complete explication of the Qur'an in Malay, still widely used in local madrasas.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Fansuri al-Sinkili
Abdurrauf Singkil 
Al-Sinkili, 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Fansuri
Singkil, Abdurrauf
Sinkili, al-
Sinkili, 'Abd al-Ra'uf al-Fansuri al-

Thursday, March 7, 2013

'Abd al-Rahman Khan

‘Abd al-Rahman Khan  (b. c. 1844, Kabul, Afghanistan - d. October 1, 1901, Kabul, Afghanistan) was the Emir (Amir) of Afghanistan (r.1880-1901).  During his reign, Afghanistan became a buffer state between Great Britain and Russia whose boundaries were demarcated where possible.  He was the third son of Afzul Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammed Khan, who had established the Barakzai dynasty in Afghanistan.  'Abd al-Rahman was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul.

Before his death at Herat, on June 9, 1863, Dost Mohammed had nominated as his successor Shir Ali, his third son, passing over the two elder brothers, Afzul Khan and Azim Khan.  At first, the new amir was quietly recognized.  However, after a few months, Afzul Khan raised an insurrection in the northern province, between the Hindu Kush mountains and the Oxus River, where he had been governing when his father died.  This began a fierce contest for power between Dost Mohammed's sons, which lasted for five years.
In this war, 'Abd al-Rahman became distinguished for ability and daring energy.  Although his father, Afzul Khan, who had none of these qualities, came to terms with the Amir Shir Ali, the son's behavior in the northern province soon excited the amir's suspicion, and 'Abd al-Rahman, when he was summoned to Kabul, fled across the Oxus into Bokhara.  Shir Ali threw Afzul Khan into prison, and a serious revolt followed in southern Afghanistan.

The amir had scarcely suppressed it by winning a desperate battle when 'Abd al-Rahman's reappearance in the north was a signal for a mutiny of the troops stationed in those parts and a gathering of armed bands to his standard.  After some delay and desultory fighting, he and his uncle, Azim Khan, occupied Kabul  in March 1866.  The amir Shir Ali marched up against them from Kandahar.  However, in the battle that ensued at Sheikhabad on May 10, Shir Ali was deserted by a large body of his troops.  After Shir Ali's defeat, 'Abd al-Rahman released his father, Afzul Khan, from prison in Ghazni, and installed him upon the throne as amir.

Notwithstanding the new amir's incapacity, and some jealousy between the real leaders, 'Abd al-Rahman and his uncle, they again routed Shir Ali's forces, and occupied Kandahar in 1867.  When Afzul Khan died at the end of the year, Azim Khan became the new ruler, with 'Abd al-Rahman as his governor in the northern province.  However, towards the end of 1868, Shir Ali's return, and a general rising in his favor, resulted in the defeat of 'Abd al-Rahman and Azim Khan at Tinah Khan on January 3, 1869.  Both 'Abd al-Rahman and Azim Khan sought refuge in Persia, where 'Abd al-Rahman placed himself under Russian protection at Samarkand.  Azim Khan died in Persia in October 1869.

'Abd al-Rahman lived in exile in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for eleven years, until the 1879 death of Shir Ali, who had retired from Kabul when the British armies entered Afghanistan.  The Russian governor-general at Tashkent sent for 'Abd al-Rahman, and pressed him to try his fortunes once more across the Oxus.  In March 1880, a report reached India that 'Abd al-Rahman was in northern Afghanistan and the governor-general, Lord Lytton, opened communications with him to the effect that the British government was prepared to withdraw its troops, and to recognize 'Abd al-Rahman as amir of Afghanistan, with the exception of Kandahar and some districts adjacent to it.  

At the durbar (official court meeting) on July 22, 1880, 'Abd al-Rahman was officially recognized as amir, granted assistance in arms and money, and promised, in case of unprovoked foreign aggression, such further aid as might be necessary to repel it, provided that he align his foreign policy with the British.  The British evacuation of Afghanistan was settled on the terms proposed, and in 1881, the British troops also handed over Kandahar to the new amir.

However, Ayub Khan, one of Shir Ali's sons, marched on Kandahar from Herat, defeated 'Abd al-Rahman's troops, and occupied Kandahar in July.  This serious defeat aroused 'Abd al-Rahman.  He led a force from Kabul, met Ayub Khan's army near Kandahar, and won a resounding victory, forcing Ayub Khan to flee to Persia.  From this time onward, 'Abd al-Rahman occupied the throne at Kabul, and in the course of the next few years he consolidated his dominion over all Afghanistan, suppressing insurrections by a sharp and relentless use of his despotic authority.  The powerful Ghilzai tribe revolted against the severity of his measures, but they were crushed by the end of 1887.  In that same year, Ayub Khan made a fruitless inroad from Persia.  In 1888, the amir's cousin, Ishak Khan, rebelled against him in the north.  However, these two enterprises came to nothing.

‘Abd al-Rahman was the last ruler of Afghanistan to have died peacefully while still in power.  His reign (1880-1901), however, was far from peaceful.  He overcame his challengers in four civil wars and weathered one hundred rebellions.    The character of ‘Abd al-Rahman was molded by experiences of both power and exile.  The only son of Dost Mohammed’s (Dust Muhammad's) eldest son, he was appointed sub-governor of the Tashkurgan District in northern Afghanistan at the age of thirteen.  Upon the death of his grandfather, he actively took part in a five year war of succession, twice winning the throne for his father and an uncle before being defeated by yet another uncle, Shir 'Ali (Barakzay Shir 'Ali).  Forced into eleven years of exile in the Asiatic colonies of Russia, he returned when a British invasion ended Shir 'Ali’s reign.  He took over the throne in July 1880, having won Britain’s recognition in return for agreeing to British control over Afghanistan’s foreign relations.

Once in power, he pursued a rigorous policy of centralization.  He imposed taxation, conscription, and adjudication on the defeated clans and aristocrats.  He incorporated the religious establishment within the machinery of the state, ending many of its privileges.  He spent the bulk of his enhanced revenues on an army that he continuously kept in the field, forcefully carrying out his policies.

‘Abd al-Rahman was able to concentrate on consolidating his rule at home because of Britain’s and Russia’s desire to avoid direct confrontation with each other.  Afghanistan became a buffer state between the two empires.  They imposed its present boundaries.  Playing on their rivalry, ‘Abd al-Rahman refused to allow European railways, which were touching on his eastern, southern, and northern borders, to expand within Afghanistan, and he resisted British attempts to station European representatives in the country.  Toward the end of his reign, he felt secure enough to inform the viceroy of India that treaty obligations did not allow British representatives even to comment on his internal affairs.

In 1885, at the moment when the Amir was in conference with the British viceroy, Lord Dufferin, in India, the news came of a skirmish between Russian and Afghan troops at Panjdeh, over a disputed point in the demarcation of the northwestern frontier of Afghanistan. 'Abd al-Rahman's attitude at this critical juncture is a good example of his political sagacity. To one who had been a man of war from his youth, who had won and lost many fights, the rout of a detachment and the forcible seizure of some debatable frontier lands was an untoward incident.  However, it was not a sufficient reason for calling upon the British, even though they had guaranteed his territory's integrity. 'Abd al-Rahman reasoned that to call upon the British to vindicate his rights by hostilities would certainly bring upon him a Russian invasion from the north, and would compel his British allies to throw an army into Afghanistan from the southeast.

'Abd al-Rahman's interest lay in keeping powerful neighbors, whether friends or foes, outside his kingdom. He knew this to be the only policy that would be supported by the Afghan nation; and although for some time a rupture with Russia seemed imminent, while the Government of India made ready for that contingency, the Amir's reserved and circumspect tone in the consultations with him helped to turn the balance between peace and war. 'Abd al-Rahman left on those who met him in India the impression of a clear-headed man of action, with great self-reliance. His investment with the insignia of the highest grade of the Order of the Star of India appeared to give 'Abd al-Rahman much pleasure.

In the 1880s, 'Abd al-Rahman perpetrated a population transfer population transfer against the rebellious Ghilzai Pashtuns from their homes in the southern Afghanistan to the North.

From the end of 1888, the Amir spent eighteen months in his northern provinces bordering upon the Oxus, where he was engaged in pacifying the country that had been disturbed by revolts, and in punishing with a heavy hand all who were known or suspected to have taken any part in rebellion.

Shortly afterwards (in 1892) he succeeded in finally beating down the resistance of the Hazara people, who vainly attempted to defend their independence, within their highlands. In the late 1880s many of the Hazara tribes revolted against 'Abd al-Rahman, the first ruler to bring the country of Afghanistan under a centralized Afghan government. As a consequence of this unsuccessful revolt, many Hazaras fled to Quetta in Balochistan to the area around Mashhed in northeastern Iran, Russia, Iraq, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, China and India. Most active in the revolt were the Uruzgani, the southernmost of the Hazara tribes. Following their defeat, a considerable number of Uruzgani left the country, as did many Jaghori, their nearest neighbors to the northeast.

It is believed that at least half of the population of Hazarajat were killed by Abdur Rahman's forces, which also resulted in mass exodus of these people to neighboring Balochistan of British India and Khorasan in Eastern Iran.

'Abd al-Rahman's brutal suppression compelled a large number of Hazaras to seek refuge in Iran, India, and Russia. 'Abd al-Rahman could only succeed in subjugating the Hazaras and conquering their land when he effectively utilized internal differences within the Hazara community. Co-opting sold-out Hazara chiefs into his bureaucratic sales of the enslaved Hazara men, women and children, in 1897, the Hazaras remained de facto slaves until King Amanullah Khan declared Afghanistan's independence in 1919. 

In 1893, Mortimer Durand  negotiated with Abd al-Rahman Khan, the Durand Line Treaty for the demarcation of the frontier between Afghanistan and British India. This line, the Durand Line, is named after Mortimer Durand and still remains as an unrecognized boundary by the Government of Afghanistan.

Mortimer Durand was sent to Kabul by the government of British India for the purpose of settling an exchange of territory required by the demarcation of the boundary between northeastern Afghanistan and the Russian possessions, and in order to discuss with Amir 'Abd al-Rahman Khan other pending questions. 'Abd al-Rahman Khan showed his usual ability in diplomatic negotiations.  In the agreement, the relations between the British Indian and Afghan governments, as previously arranged, were confirmed; and an understanding was reached upon the important and difficult subject of the border line of Afghanistan on the east, towards India.

During the period of 1895-1896, 'Abd al-Rahman directed the invasion of Kafiristan and the forcible conversion of its indigenous peoples to Islam. The region was subsequently renamed Nuristan. 

In 1895, the Amir found himself unable, by reason of ill-health, to accept an invitation from Queen Victoria to visit England; but his second son Nasrullah Khan went instead.

In 1896, he adopted the title of Zia-ul-Millat-Wa-ud Din ("Light of the nation and religion"); and his zeal for the cause of Islam induced him to publish treatises on jihad. Today, his descendants can be found in many places outside of Afghanistan, such as in America, France, Germany, and even in Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and carry the surname of Ziyaee, which is itself a derivative of the King's title. His two eldest sons, Habibullah Khan and Nasrullah Khan, were born in Samarkand. His youngest son, Mahomed Omar Jan, was born in 1889 of an Afghan mother, connected by descent with the Barakzai family.

'Abd al-Rahman died on October 1, 1901, being succeeded by his son Habibullah Khan (Habib Allah) (r. 1901-1919).

'Abd al-Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government after the disarray that followed the second Anglo-Afghan war. He became known as The Iron Amir.

He had defeated all rivals against his throne. He had broken down the power of local chiefs, and tamed the refractory tribes; so that his orders were unquestioned throughout the whole dominion. His government was a military despotism resting upon a well-appointed army. It was administered through officials absolutely subservient to an inflexible will and controlled by a widespread system of espionage, while the exercise of his personal authority was too often stained by acts of unnecessary cruelty.

'Abd al-Rahman held open courts for the receipt of petitioners and the dispensation of justice; and in the disposal of business he was indefatigable. He succeeded in imposing an organized government upon the fiercest and most unruly population in Asia. He availed himself of European inventions for strengthening his armament, while he sternly set his face against all innovations which, like railways and telegraphs, might give Europeans a foothold within his country.

ʿAbd al-Raḥman also reorganized the administrative system of the country and initiated internal reforms. He brought in foreign experts, imported machinery for making munitions, introduced manufacture of consumer goods and new agricultural tools, and established Afghanistan’s first modern hospital. He imposed an organized government upon a divided population and maintained the balance in dealing with the British in India and with the Russian Empire.

His adventurous life, his forceful character, the position of his state as a barrier between the British and the Russian empires, and the skill with which he held the balance in dealing with them, combined to make him a prominent figure in contemporary Asian politics and will mark his reign as an epoch in the history of Afghanistan. The Amir received an annual subsidy from the British government of 1,850,000 rupees. He was also allowed to import munitions of war.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Rahman

'Abd al-Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman
Abdur Rahman Khan

The Iron Amir
"Light of the nation and religion"
Zia-ul-Millat-Wa-ud Din

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar al-Sufi

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Sufi (b. December 7, 903, Rey, Iran - d. May 25, 986, Shiraz) was a Persian astronomer at the court of the Buyids whose best known work is a description of the fixed stars.  

Al-Sufi published his famous Book of Fixed Stars in 964, describing much of his work, both in textual descriptions and pictures. Al-Sufi's Book of Fixed Stars (Kitab al-Kawatib al-Thabit al-Musawwar) includes a catalog of 1,018 stars, giving their approximate positions, magnitudes, and colors. 
The lunar crater Azophi and the minor planet (12621) Al-Sufi are named after him.

Al-Sufi lived at the court of Emir Adud ad-Daula in Isfahan, Persia, and worked on translating and expanding Greek astronomical works, especially the Almagest of Ptolemy.  He contributed several corrections to Ptolemy's star list and did his own brightness and magnitude estimates which frequently deviated from those in Ptolemy's work.

He was a major translator into Arabic of the Hellenistic astronomy that had been centered in Alexandria, the first to attempt to relate the Greek with the traditional Arabic star names and constellations, which were completely unrelated and overlapped in complicated ways.

Al-Sufi identified the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is visible from Yemen, but not from Isfahan.  The Large Magellanic Cloud was not seen by Europeans until Magellan's voyage in the 16th century.  He also made the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy in 964, describing it as a "small cloud."

Al-Sufi observed that the ecliptic plane is inclined with respect to the celestial equator and more accurately calculated the length of the tropical year.  He observed and described the stars, their positions, their magnitudes, and their color, setting out his results constellation by constellation.  For each constellation, al-Sufi provided two drawings, one from the outside of a celestial globe, and the other from the inside (as seen from the earth).  Al-Sufi also wrote about the astrolabe, finding numerous additional uses for it.

Al-Sufi also first described over 1000 different uses of an astrolabe, in areas as diverse as astronomy, astrology, horoscopes, navigation, surveying, timekeeping, Qibla, and Salah prayer.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Rahman Abu al-Husayn 

'Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi 
'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar al-Sufi
'Abd ar-Rahman as-Sufi
Abu al-Husayn
Abu al-Husayn, 'Abd al-Rahman
Al-Husayn, 'Abd al-Rahman Abu
Al-Sufi, 'Abd al-Rahman
Al-Sufi, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar 
As-Sufi, 'Abd ar-Rahman
Azophi see ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Umar al-Sufi

Husayn, 'Abd al-Rahman Abu al-
Husayn, al-
Ibn 'Umar al-Sufi
Ibn 'Umar al-Sufi, 'Abd al-Rahman
Sufi, 'Abd al-Rahman al-
Sufi, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Umar al-
Sufi, 'Abd ar-Rahman as-
Sufi, as-

Monday, March 4, 2013

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham (November 28. 1778 – August 24, 1859, Meknes) was the Filali Sharif of Morocco (r.1822-1859).  He had to repress several tribal revolts.  During his reign, a number of European powers renewed, or completed, their commercial treaties with Morocco, but Morocco ultimately lost its international standing and suffered economic decline and social and political unrest.

The major problem confronted by 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was how to respond to the invasion of Algeria by France in 1830.  'Abd al-Rahman first tacitly supported Algerian resistance forces, then sought to avoid a confrontation.  In August 1844, this policy failed when a Moroccan army was beaten at Isly by General Thomas-Robert Bugeaud de la Piconnerie and Moroccan ports were bombarded by the French navy.  Morocco's defeat opened the door to increased European political and economic intervention.  

The economic policies pursued by 'Abd al-Rahman became disastrous as well.  The signing of an Anglo-Moroccan commercial agreement in 1856 gave most favored nation status to Great Britain, and its provisions were soon extended to other European powers.  Finally, a major conflict with Spain erupted into war in August 1859.

Moulay (Prince of the Blood) 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was the sultan of Morocco from 1822 to 1859. He was a member of the Alaouite dynasty.

'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham was born in 1778. Following the death of his uncle Suleiman of Morocco. 'Abd al-Rahman was proclaimed sultan of Morocco in Fez on November 30, 1822. His reign began during a tumultous time, when many noble families and rural tribal confederations in Morocco were trying to extract greater power away from the center, and spent much of the early part of his reign crushing revolts.

Upon ascension, the sultan's finances were in shambles. With the country in disarray, the central government (the Makhzen) was unable to collect much customary taxation. 'Abd al-Rahman turned to foreign trade, which had been cut off by the prior sultan, as a way to reap in customs revenue, and began to negotiate a series of trade treaties with various European powers. 'Abd al-Rahman also decided to revive the institution of Barbary piracy, hoping to replenish his treasury, but was quickly dissuaded after the British blockaded Tangier in 1828, and the Austrians bombarded Larache, Asilah and Tetouan in 1829.

The most serious foreign threat to Morocco, however, was France, which had launched its invasion of neighboring  Algeria in 1830. 'Abd al-Rahman rushed Moroccan troops up to defend Tlemcen, but they were thrown back and Tlemcen was captured by the French in 1832. 'Abd al-Rahman supported the continued guerilla resistance in Algeria led by 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'in, albeit only tentatively, not wishing to incur French retaliation. But the border tribes of Morocco continued supporting 'Abd al-Qadir more actively, prompting the French launch their own strikes over the border and establishing forward outposts in Moroccan territory, which only inflamed the reaction in Morocco and increased the irregular border war. The French demanded that Morocco cease its support of 'Abd al-Qadir and cede its eastern frontierlands to French control and, in 1844, launched the Franco-Moroccan War. The war did not go well for the sultan. The French navy bombarded Mogador (Essaouira) and Tangier, while the Moroccan army, under 'Abd al-Rahman's son Moulay Muhammad, was decisively defeated by the French at the Battle of Isly in August 1844. 'Abd al-Rahman was forced to consent to the humiliating Treaty of Tangier in September 1844, withdrawing support for al-Qadir, reducing the frontier garrisons and submitting the Moroccan-Algerian border to modification. The Treaty of Lalla Maghnia was signed in March 1845, whereby the Moroccan border was demarcated further west, closer to the Moulouya River.
The treaties aggravated the internal situation in Morocco, which grew more unstable as 'Abd al-Rahman was accused of yielding too quickly to French demands. 'Abd al-Rahman in fact rejected the treaty of Lalla Maghnia at first, blaming it on his negotiatiors, but was eventually forced to ratify it. Army units and rural tribes across the north and east, already basically ungovernable, started raising rebellions which were only crushed with difficulty. The aftermath saw the break between 'Abd al-Rahman and 'Abd al-Qadir.
In 1856, 'Abd al-Rahman established the souk of Zraqten on the north side of the High Atlas, adding to territory in southern Morocco controlled by the Glaouis, who wer Caids ruling various southern areas from the 18th century until Moroccan independence in 1956, after originally settling in Telouet to establish a souk. They would tax caravans travelling from the Sahara and Tafilalt regions as well as taxing goods sold locally.

The Agdal Gardens of Marrakesh, an irrigated garden, originally established by the Almoravids in the 12th century of the Christian calendar and enlarged in the days of the Saadians was revamped, reforested and encircled by ramparts during the reign of 'Abd al-Rahman.

'Abd al-Rahman died in Meknes in August 1859. He was succeeded by his son, sultan Mohammed IV of Morocco. 

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Rahman
'Abd al-Rahman ibn Hisham

'Abd ar-Rahman ibn Hisham
Ibn Hisham
Ibn Hisham, 'Abd al-Rahman
Ibn Hisham, 'Abd ar-Rahman


Sunday, March 3, 2013

'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf

‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf  (580-652) was an early Muslim convert and a companion of the Prophet.  Upon the death of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, he was one of the counsel of six who had to choose the new caliph.

'Abd al-Rahman was born with the name Abdu Amr ibn Awf into the tribe of Banu Zuhrah.  He married 'Uthman ibn Affan's half-sister, the daughter of 'Uthman's mother, Urwa bint Kariz, by her second husband.  Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas was his first cousin.

'Abd al-Rahman was one of the first eight persons to accept Islam, doing so two days after Abu Bakr.  On this occasion he adopted the name 'Abd al-Rahman, meaning "Slave of (God) the Beneficient."  

In 634, the dying Caliph Abu Bakr called in 'Abd al-Rahman (along with 'Uthman) and informed him of his designation of Umar ibn al-Khattab as successor.  

In 644, the dying Umar nominated a board of six members who were required to elect one of themselves as the next caliph.  The group consisted of Sad Ibn Abi Waqqas, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf, Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, Talha ibn Ubayd Allah, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and 'Uthman ibn Affan.  'Uthman was chosen as the third caliph.

Sunnis regard 'Abd al-Rahman as one of the Ten Promised Paradise.

'Abd al-Rahman was born tenth year after the Year of the Elephant (570).  He died in 31 A.H. (652).  He was one of the Sahaba. 

'Abd al-Rahman was married to Umm Kulthum bint Uqbah and Tamadur.   Some of his notable offspring were Ibrahim bin 'Abdur-Rahman, Yahya and Abu Salamah 

'Abd al-Rahman was one of the first eight people to accept Islam. He was one of the ten people (al-asharatu-l mubashshirin) who were assured of entering Paradise. During the difficult times in Mecca, when the pagans started abusing and treating the Muslims of the city unjustly, 'Abd al-Rahman along with others migrated to Abyssinia. 

'Abd al-Rahman was one of the six people chosen by Umar to form the council of shura to choose the Khalifah after his death. His name in Jahiliyyah days was Abdu-Amr - the servant of Amr. However, when he accepted Islam, Muhammad called him Abdur-Rahman - the servant of the Most Merciful.

'Abd al-Rahman was friends with Umayyah ibn Khalaf, a stern opponent of Islam. When 'Abd al-Rahman emigrated to Medina, the two formed a written agreement, according to which 'Abd-al-Rahman was to protect Umayyah's property and family in Medina, while Umayyah would protect 'Abd-al-Rahman's in Mecca. When 'Abd al-Rahman wanted to sign the document, Umayyah protested, saying "I do not know Ar-Rahman" and requested that the pre-Islamic name "Abdu Amr" should be used, to which Abd al-Rahman yielded.

The two met again in the Battle of Badr.  A narration attributed to 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf reports:

On the day (of the battle) of Badr, when all the people went to sleep, I went up the hill to protect him (Umayyah).  Bilal saw him (Umayyah) and went to a gathering of Ansar and said, "(Here is) Umayyah bin Khalaf!  Woe to me if he escapes!"  So, a group of Ansar went out with Bilal to follow us ('Abdur-Rahman and Umayyah).  Being afraid that they would catch us, I left Umayyah's son for them to keep them busy but the Ansar killed the son and insisted taht they would catch us.  I left Umayyah's son for them to keep them busy but the Ansar killed the son and insisted on following us.  Umayyah was a fat man, an when they approached us, I told him to kneel down, and he knelt, and I laid myself on him to protect him, but the Ansar killed him by passing their swords underneath me, and one of them injured my foot with his sword.  

Sunnis tend to view this narration as Sahih (authentic) and have included it in Sahih Bukhari.

During the lifetime of Muhammad, Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf was directed to participate in the battle of Daumatul-Jandal. When victory was secured by the Muslims, Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf took the opposition general's daughter, Tamadur, in marriage under the instructions of Muhammad.  

One day, a loud rumbling sound was heard coming from beyond the boundaries of Madinah (Medina) normally a calm and peaceful city. The rumbling sound gradually increased in volume. In addition, clouds of dust and sand were stirred up and blown in the wind. The people of Madinah (Medina) soon realized that a mighty caravan was entering the city. They stood in amazement as seven hundred camels laden with goods moved into the city and crowded the streets. Sayadah Aishah shook her head and gazed in the distance as if she was trying to recall some scene or utterance of the past and then she said: "I have heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say: I have seen Abdur-Rahman bin Awf entering Paradise leaping and of the Prophet? Some friends of his related to Abdur-Rahman the hadith which Aishah had mentioned. He remembered that he had heard the hadith more than have never forgotten," he is also reported to have said. He was so over-joyed and added: "If I could I would certainly like to enter Paradise standing. I swear to you, yaa Ammah, that this entire caravan with all its merchandise, I will give sabilillah." And so he did. In a great festival of charity and righteousness, he distributed all that the massive caravan had brought to the people of Madinah (Medina) and surrounding areas. This is just one incident which showed what type of man Abd al-Rahman was. He earned much wealth but he never remained attached to it for its own sake and he did not allow it to corrupt him.  

In 634 C.C., the dying Caliph Abu Bakr called in 'Abd al-Rahman (along with Uthman) and informed him of his designation of Umar ibn al-Khattab as successor. 

In 644, the dying Umar nominated a board of six members who were required to elect one of themselves as the next caliph. The group consisted of Sad Ibn Abi Waqqas, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf, Zubayr ibn al-Awwam, Talha ibn Ubayd Allah, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and Uthman ibn Affan. Uthman was chosen as the third caliph by Abdur Raman bin Awf.

'Abd al-Rahman died in the year 31 A.H., during the reign of Uthman ibn Affan in the Levant and was buried on a hill to the north east of present day Amman, Jordan.

Sunnis regard 'Abd al-Rahman as one of the Ten Promised Paradise. 

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Rahman ibn 'Awf

Abdel Rahman bin Awf
Abdu Amr ibn Awf
Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf
Abdur Rahman bin Awf
Abdur Rahman ibn Awf
Bin 'Auf
Bin 'Auf, Abdur-Rahman
Bin Awf
Bin Awf, Abdel Rahman 
Bin Awf, Abdur Rahman
Ibn 'Awf
Ibn 'Awf, 'Abd al-Rahman
Ibn Awf, Abdu Amr
Ibn Awf, Abdur Rahman
One of the Ten Promised Paradise