Sa'id al-Afghani

Sa'id al-Afghani was a professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Damascus. He was regarded as one of the 20th century's leading scholars in both fields.[1]


Afghani was born in Damascus in 1911 to an Afghan father and a Syrian mother.[1] Having been born in an Arab country, Afghani spoke the language as his mother tongue and was eventually appointed to the position of professor of the Arabic language and later dean of the faculty of arts at the University of Damascus. He also taught at universities in Jordan, Libya and Saudi Arabia.[1] Afghani died on February 18, 1997 in Mecca, where he was buried.


Afghani's most well-known work is al-Mujaz, a book attempting to simplify Arabic grammar for those unfamiliar with the language. He was a strong supporter of reforming the way in which Arabic grammar was understood and taught, blaming traditionalists and their opposition to any reform for the failure of language education in Arab countries. In Afghani's view, opposition from traditionalists such as the Arab Academy of Damascus stifled efforts of reform-minded bodies such as the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo.[2] Afghani was instrumental in the founding of Al-Arabi, a magazine showcasing the arts and culture of the Arab World.[3]

Afghani also spent ten years composing a biography of Aisha, the Muslim prophet Muhammad's second or third wife; the book was noted for Afghani's views on women in Islam, which Moroccan feminist writer Fatema Mernissi described as representative of all the Muslim world's most conservative views.[4] Afghani was also learned in the field of Islamic studies, devoting much attention to the aspects of Muslim jurisprudence. On both language and religion, he wrote very little, seeing that books should only be written if there was a clear need for research on the given topic.[1] Being a follower of the Zahirite school of Islamic law, Afghani devoted much attention to preserving and commenting on the works of Ibn Hazm, one of the school's champions. Afghani's 1960 published edition of Ibn Hazm's Mulakhkhas, an important work of Zahirite legal theory, is considered a key moment in Arab intellectual history and the modernist revival of Ibn Hazm's legal method.[5] In Hadith studies, Afghani was a student of Habib Al-Rahman Al-Azmi.

Edited works

  • Ibn Hazm, Mulakhkhas Ibtal al-Qiyas wa al-Ra'y wa al-Istihsan wa al-Taqlid wa al-Ta'lil. Damascus: University of Damascus Press, 1960.[6][7][8]
  • Ibn Muhanna, Tarikh Darayya. Damascus: al-Majma' al-'Ilmi al-'Arabi, 1950.[9]

Original works

  • A'isha wa-al-Siyasse. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1971.[4]
  • al-Müjaz fī qawāʻid al-lughah al-ʻarabīyah. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1969. Arabic.[10][11] OCLC number 30066819
  • Fi usul an-nahw. Damascus, 1951.[12]
  • Hadir al-luga al-Arabiyya fi as-sam. Cairo, 1962.[12]
  • Ibn Hazm wa Risalatuhu al-Mufadhala baina al-Sahaba. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1969.[13][14]


  1. ^ a b c d Adil Salahi, Scholars of renown: Saeed Al-Afghani. Arab News: Thursday, April 18th, 2002. Archived 2013-04-07 at Archive.today
  2. ^ Salih J. Altoma, "Language Education in Arab Countries and the Role of the Academies." Taken from Advances in language planning, pgs. 295 and 303. Ed. Joshua Fishman. The Hague: Mouton & Co. N.V., 1974.
  3. ^ Al Arabi Magazine Archived 2010-09-17 at the Wayback Machine: the Idea and the Reality, at Al-Arabi's official website.
  4. ^ a b Fatema Mernissi, Women in Muslim History: Traditional Perspectives and New Strategies Archived 2014-06-03 at the Wayback Machine. Taken from Women's Rebellion and Islamic Memory. London: Zed Books, 1996.
  5. ^ Adam Sabra, "Ibn Hazm's Literalism: A Critique of Islamic Legal Theory." Taken from: Ibn Ḥazm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker, pg. 98. Volume 103 of Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 1: The Near and Middle East. Eds. Camilla Adang, Maribel Fierro, and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2012. ISBN 9789004234246
  6. ^ Saim Kayadibi, Ijtihad by Ray: The Main Source of Inspiration behind Istihsan Archived 2012-11-24 at the Wayback Machine, pg. 91. The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, vol. 24, #1.
  7. ^ Jose Miguel Puerta Vilchez, "Inventory of Ibn Hazm's Works." Taken from Ibn Hazm of Cordoba: The Life and Works of a Controversial Thinker, pg. 705. Eds. Camilla Adang, Maribel Fierro and Sabine Schmidtke. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2013. ISBN 9789004243101
  8. ^ Camilla Adang, "Ibn Hazm on Homosexuality," pg. 13. Al-Qantara, vol. XXIV. 2003.
  9. ^ Khalid Yahya Blankinship, The End of the Jihâd State: The Reign of Hishām Ibn ʻAbd Al-Malik and the Collapse of the Umayyads, pg. 360. Albany: SUNY Press, 1994.
  10. ^ WorldCat, al-Müjaz fī qawāʻid al-lughah al-ʻarabīyah.
  11. ^ al-Mujaz fi qawa'id al-lughah al-'Arabiyah wa-shawahiduha : wifqa manhaj al-sanah al-ula fi jami'at Suriyah wa-Lubnaniyah Archived 2013-04-13 at Archive.today Universiti Putra Malaysia catalog.
  12. ^ a b Altoma, pg. 307.
  13. ^ Leigh Chipman, "Ibn Hazm - Bibliography of Secondary Sources." Taken from Ibn Hazm of Cordoba, pg. 763.
  14. ^ Zahirism at Islamic Philosophy Online.

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