Abdul Hamid II and Jamal Al-Din Al-Afghani

Jamal al-Din al-Afghani was the prime minister in Afghanistan during the era of King Muhammad Azam Khan, who took power in 1862. For political reasons, Al-Afghani moved to India, where the British imposed a siege around his home to prevent his meeting with Muslim scholars and followers. A month later, he was deported by sea to Egypt. 

He settled in Egypt in 1871 and was welcomed by the state, and the government granted him a house in Khan Al-Khalili and a monthly salary of ten pounds. During his stay, Al-Afghani joined the Masonic movement. When the Khedive Tawfiq took power in Egypt, fearing the influence of the Afghani on the political situation, he decided to deport him to India in 1879. In 1882 AD, the Afghani moved from Bombay to Calcutta, where the British authorities limited his activities until the events ended with the British army’s occupation of Egypt. At that time, the authorities allowed him to travel wherever he wanted. He went to France, and from here the story begins.

Al-Afghani organized the relationship of Al-Orwa Al-Wuthqa Association with the revolutionary organizations in France, and he had many activities. In 1892 AD, the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid invited Al-Afghani to go to Istanbul. He quickly responded, believing that with the help of the Sultan, he could develop a plan to implement an Islamic university.

For the first time in the history of the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdul Hamid tried to make the Arabic language the language of the state, or what is called the contemporary term “Arabization” of the Ottoman state. This was an attempt to stimulate religious passion to control what was out of power and control. In his diaries, he wrote about the necessity of working to strengthen the bonds of the Muslim brotherhood among all the Muslims of the world in China, India, Central Africa, and even Iran. He expresses his confidence in the unity of the Islamic world, and notes how he has reached a high level of domination that he wishes to reach to universality.

One of the most dangerous trends in establishing his Islamic university is that he worked to win over the sheikhs of the Sufi orders and sought to recruit them from various parts of the state. He worked to make ascetic people from non-Sufis also a means of advocating the thought of the Islamic gathering, and a central committee was formed in Istanbul, consisting of the sheikhs of the Sufi orders, who worked as advisers to the Sultan in the affairs of the Islamic University.

Among his works to realize the idea of the Islamic University is the approval of the Hejaz Railway. Sultan Abdul Hamid worked to win over the Islamic peoples by taking care of all their religious and scientific institutions and donating to them huge sums of money, but the real goal of this did not show its results except by exploiting and striking the country of the Two Holy Mosques and creating the “Safr Barlak”.

Returning to the talk about the end of al-Afghani, the owner of the idea of the Islamic university, the Sultan soon turned against him after linking his name to the assassination of the ruler of Persia, Nasir al-Din al-Qajari, as he was killed by a student of al-Afghani. Al-Afghani spent his last year almost as a prisoner at the royal court. It is reported by a number of historians that the dentist who was treating Al-Afghani had poisoned him, and this is a policy adopted in the Ottoman court to get rid of everyone who violated the higher orders, so he died in 1897 AD and was buried in Istanbul.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II mentioned in his diaries that he could not trust anyone, and if he was forced to make those around him feel this in order to discover any beginning of treachery, he has no confidence at all, and he quickly returns to tyranny.

Where did the idea of the university and the idea of gathering Muslims go?
That was a plan hidden in a slogan. It was only a slogan.