Chapter

What Is to Be Done?

Mahmud Tarzi

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 What Is to Be Done?

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Mahmud Tarzi (Afghanistan, 18651933) was Afghanistan's foremost proponent of modernization and reform within an Islamic context, after Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (chapter 11), whose birthplace is claimed by both Afghanistan and Iran. The son of a famed poet whose outspokenness led the family into exile, Tarzi spent more than 20 years in the Ottoman Empire, mostly in Damascus. Tarzi studied with Afghani for seven months in Istanbul, and also had intellectual contact with reformers in the Levant, Central Asia, and India. He returned to Afghanistan in 1905, opened a translation office, taught history and geography at a military school, and assumed editorship of Siraj al-akhbar (The Lamp of the News), the bimonthly periodical that became the cornerstone of modern Afghan journalism. He used this publication as a forum to spread his message of modernization, nationalism, and identity Afghan, Eastern, and Islamicamong the elite of Afghanistan and neighboring Muslim states. Because of his break from ornate literary styles, Tarzi is sometimes referred to as the father of modern prose in Afghanistan. The specimen of Tarzi's work presented here is drawn from a book presented to subscribers of Siraj al-akhbar in September 1912. Tarzi's account of Afghan history is sketchy and not always factual, reflecting the version that enjoyed state sponsorship at the time. It is likely that Tarzi was one of the main architects of this version, just as Tarzi's model for education policy was later adopted by the state, forming the foundation of modern education in Afghanistan.1

Chapter.  3298 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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