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Afghanistan

 
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Afghanistan

Early Development of Islam

In AD 570 Mohammad ibn Abdullah was born into the family of a caravan merchant belonging to the Hashimite branch of the ruling Quraysh tribe that lived in the prosperous Arabian town of Mecca. In AD 610, at the age of forty, Mohammad began to receive the first of a series of revelations from God which were transmitted to him through the angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years. These directives of moral principles are contained in the Quran (The Recitation), the sacred scripture of Islam.

The Prophet Mohammad preached against socioeconomic inequities and denounced polytheism with its thriving pilgrimage business centered around the Kaaba shrine and numerous religious sites in the vicinity of Mecca. His vigorous reform messages challenged the powerful ruling establishment, threatened their economic and political interests and eventually earned him their bitter enmity.

Forced to leave Mecca in 622, he moved with a group of followers to the town of Yathrib, later called Medina. Here he established a Muslim community-state, consolidating both temporal and spiritual leadership in his person. The migration to Medina is known as the hijra and the creation of a Muslim community (ummah) marks the beginning of the Islamic era. The Muslim calendar, based on a 354-day lunar year, begins in AD 622. From Medina, the Prophet Mohammad fought a series of successful battles and returned to Mecca in triumph in AD 630, shortly before his death in 632.

After the Prophet Mohammad's death, the leaders of the Muslim community chose as his successor or caliph, Abu Bakr, who was one of the Prophet's earliest followers as well as the father of Aisha, the youngest and most beautiful of the Prophet's wives. There were those, however, who favored Ali, the Prophet's cousin and husband of his daughter Fatima. These supporters of Ali were known as Shiat-u-Ali (Party of Ali), later to be called Shia. Ali eventually succeeded as the fourth caliph in AD 656, but this led to civil war in 661 during which Ali was assassinated. Ali's son Husayn led a second rebellion in 680 during which he was killed at the Battle of Karbala which is commemorated by the Shia each year on the tenth of Muharram. Husayn's death marks the division of Islam into Sunni and Shia, ending the period in which the entire Islamic community recognized a single caliph.

Data as of 1997

 

Afghanistan - TABLE OF CONTENTS

RELIGION


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GENERAL FACTS & LINKS

Country name
Afghanistan
conventional long form
Islamic State of Afghanistan
conventional short form
Afghanistan
local long form
Dowlat-e Eslami-ye Afghanestan
local short form
Afghanestan
former
Republic of Afghanistan

Area -
total: 647,500 sq km
land: 647,500 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Geographic Location - Southern Asia, north and west of Pakistan, east of Iran

Map references - Asia

Capital - Kabul

Border Countries - China 76 km, Iran 936 km, Pakistan 2,430 km, Tajikistan 1,206 km, Turkmenistan 744 km, Uzbekistan 137 km

Major Cities - Kabul, Majar-e-Sharief, Jalalabad

Independence - Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

National holiday - Independence Day, 19 August (1919)

Languages Spoken - Pushtu, Dari Persian, other Turkic and minor languages

Weather Forecast -
 Farah
 Faizabad
 Herat
 Jalalabad
 Jabul Saraj
 Mazar I Sharif
 Shindand
 Shebirghan
 Zebak
 Zaranj

Airports - Kabul Airport

Ports - Kheyrabad, Shir Khan

Population - 27,755,775 (July 2002 est.)

Religion - Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%, other 1%

Nationality - Afghan(s)

Currency - Afghani

Currency Code - AFA

Internet country code - .af

Mountains & Peaks - Shah Fuladi

Lakes - Helmand, Istada

Rivers - Amudarya, Harirud, Helmand, Kabul

Terrain - mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest

Climate - arid to semiarid; cold winters and hot summers

Geography - landlocked; the Hindu Kush mountains that run northeast to southwest divide the northern provinces from the rest of the country; the highest peaks are in the northern Vakhan (Wakhan Corridor)

Waterways - 1,200 km note: chiefly Amu Darya, which handles vessels up to 500 DWT (2001)

Natural hazards - damaging earthquakes occur in Hindu Kush mountains; flooding; droughts

Natural Resources - natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, precious and semiprecious stones


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Information Courtesy: The Library of Congress - Country Studies


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