Monday, March 18, 2013

Asad, Hafiz al- - Awami League

Asad, Hafiz al-
Asad, Hafiz al-.   See Hafiz al-Assad.
Hafiz al-Azad see Asad, Hafiz al-.

Asaf ud-Daulah
Asaf ud-Daulah (September 23, 1748 - September 21, 1797).   The fourth nawab, or ruler, of the North Indian state of Awadh (Oudh) from 1775 until his death.  A weak sovereign but an active patron of arts and letters, he reigned during the turbulent period of political decentralization following Mughal decline, when the East India Company was becoming increasingly able to manipulate his regime’s finances and policies.

Asaf ud-Daulah (Asaf-Ud-Dowlah) was the nawab wazir of Oudh from 1775 to 1797, and the son of Shuja-ud-Daulah, his mother and grandmother being the begums of Oudh, whose destruction formed one of the chief counts in the charges against Warren Hastings.

When Shuja-ud-Daulah died he left two million pounds sterling buried in the vaults of the zenana (harem). The widow and mother of the deceased prince claimed the whole of this treasure under the terms of a will which was never produced. When Warren Hastings pressed the nawab for the payment of a debt due to the British East India Company, he obtained from his mother a loan of 26 lakh (2.6 million) rupees, for which he gave her a jagir (land) of four times the value. His mother subsequently obtained 30 lakh (3 million) more in return for a full acquittal, and the recognition of her jagirs without interference for life by the Company. These jagirs were afterwards confiscated on the ground of the begum's complicity in the rising of Chai Singh.

In 1775, Asaf ud-Daulah moved the capital of Awadh from Faizabad to Lucknow and built various monuments in and around Lucknow, including the Bara Imambara.

Asaf-ud-Daulah is considered the "Architect General" of Lucknow. With the ambition to outshine the splendor of Mughal architecture, he built a number of monuments and developed the city of Lucknow into an architectural marvel. Several of the buildings survive today, including the famed Asafi Imambara, and the Qaisar Bagh area of downtown Lucknow where thousands live in resurrected buildings.

The Nawab became so famous for his generosity that it is still a well-known saying in Lucknow that "he who does not receive (livelihood) from the Lord, will receive it from Asaf-ud-Daulah" (Jisko de na Moula, usko de Asaf-ud-Dowlah).

Asaf-ud-Daulah died on September 21, 1797, in Lucknow and is buried at Bara Imambara, Lucknow.

Daulah, Asaf ud- see Asaf ud-Daulah
Asaf-Ud-Dowlah see Asaf ud-Daulah
Dowlah, Asaf-Ud- see Asaf ud-Daulah

Ashab al-Kahf
Ashab al-Kahf (“Those of the Cave”).  The name given in the Qur’an to the youths who in the Christian West are usually called the “Seven Sleepers of Ephesus.”

The Roman Martyrology mentions the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus under the date of June 27, as follows: "Commemoration of the seven Holy Sleepers of Ephesus, who, it is recounted, after undergoing martyrdom, rest in peace, await the day of resurrection." The Byzantine Calendar commemorates them with feasts on 4 August and 22 October. They are also regarded as pious in Islam, and are known as "People of the Cave" (Ashab Al-Kahf).

A legend about them tells of the falling asleep of seven young men in a cave, who wake up after a great deal of time has passed. The basic outline of the tale appears in Gregory of Tours (b. 538 - d. 594), and in Paul the Deacon's (b. 720 - d. 799) History of the Lombards. The best-known version of the story appears in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend. Their story also appears in the Qur'an (Surah 18, verse 9-26), which also includes the mention of an accompanying dog beside them.
The outline of the story of the Ashab al-Kahf is that during the persecutions of the Roman emperor Decius, around 250, seven young men were accused of Christianity. They were given some time to recant their faith, but instead gave their worldly goods to the poor and retired to a mountain to pray, where they fell asleep in a cave. The emperor, seeing that the attitude of the young men towards paganism had not improved, ordered the mouth of the cave to be sealed.

300 (or 309) years passed. At some later time — usually, during the reign of Theodosius (379 - 395) — the landowner decided to open up the sealed mouth of the cave, thinking to use it as a cattle pen. He opened it and found the sleepers inside. They awoke, imagining that they had slept but one day. One of their number returned to Ephesus. He was astounded to find buildings with crosses attached; the townspeople were astounded to find a man trying to spend old coins from the reign of Decius. The bishop was summoned to interview the sleepers.  They told him their miracle story, and died praising God.
As the earliest versions of the legend spread from Ephesus, an early Christian catacomb came to be associated with it, attracting pilgrims. On the slopes of Mount Pion (Mount Coelian) near Ephesus (near modern Selçuk in Turkey), the 'Grotto' of the Seven Sleepers with ruins of the church built over it was excavated in 1927-28. The excavation brought to light several hundred graves which were dated to the 5th and 6th centuries. Inscriptions dedicated to the Seven Sleepers were found on the walls of the church and in the graves. The 'Grotto' is still shown to tourists.

The legend appeared in several Syriac sources before Gregory's lifetime. It was retold by Symeon Metaphrastes.

The Seven Sleepers form the subject of a homily in verse by the Edessan poet Jacob of Saruq ('Sarugh') (died 521), which was published in the Acta Sanctorum. Another 6th century version, in a Syrian manuscript in the British Museum, gives eight sleepers. There are considerable variations as to their names.
The legend rapidly attained a wide diffusion throughout Christendom, popularized in the West by Gregory of Tours, in his late 6th century collection of miracles, De gloria martyrum (Glory of the Martyrs).

In the 7th century, the myth gained an even wider audience when it found a mention in the Qur'an, in Sura 18, Al-Kahf, verse 9 to 14. See Islamic interpretation. According to Islamic belief, the "myth" has basis in reality, and the "7 sleepers" were pious men who experienced a miracle of God due to their piety and devotion to Tawhid (The Oneness of God).

In the following century, Paul the Deacon told the tale in his History of the Lombards but gave it a different setting:

During the period of the Crusades, bones from the sepulchres near Ephesus, identified as relics of the Seven Sleepers, were transported to Marseille, France in a large stone coffin, which remained a trophy of the church of Saint Victoire, Marseille.

The Seven Sleepers were included in the Golden Legend compilation, the most popular book of the later Middle Ages, which fixed a precise date for their resurrection, AD 378, in the reign of Theodosius.

The Islamic version is related in Surah (Chapter) Al-Kahf (18, "The Cave"), of the Qur'an. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the Jews of Medina challenged him to tell them the story of the sleepers knowing that none of the Arabs knew about it. According to tradition, God then sent the angel Gabriel (or Jibreel) to reveal the story to him through Surah Al-Kahf. After hearing it from him, the Jews confirmed that he told the same story they knew.

Mentioning the story in the Quran and the concurrent events that happened before revealing the story is claimed to confirm that the Quran was revealed by God and it contains only the words of God and not those of Muhammad, since it contained information that Muhammad did not know.

The legend of the seven sleepers has given origin to the word syvsover (literally seven-sleeper) in both Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, as in 'one of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus'. It has come to refer to someone who "sleeps hard and long". The word secondarily refers to a hibernating rodent, the edible dormouse. The word "Siebenschläfer" in German and "hétalvó" in Hungarian bear a meaning similar to the Scandinavian; they characterize someone who usually sleeps long, waking up later than what is considered necessary or proper. "Edible dormouse" in German is also "Siebenschläfer."

Kahf, Ashab al- see Ashab al-Kahf
“Those of the Cave" see Ashab al-Kahf
“Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” see Ashab al-Kahf
"People of the Cave" see Ashab al-Kahf

Ash‘ari, Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al-
Ash‘ari, Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al- (Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al-Ash‘ari) (Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ismā'īl al-Ash'arī) (874 – 936).  Muslim theologian who was the founder of orthodox scholasticism (kalam) and of the Ash‘ariyya.  Al-Ash‘ari became noted for his use of reason to support revelation and his intellectual defense of Sunnite religious beliefs. 

Al-Ash‘ari began by supporting the rationalist methods and positions of the Mu‘tazila school, but about 912 abandoned that school in favor of Hanbalite interpretations of Sunnite belief.  Indeed, al-Ash‘ari had been a student with the Mu‘tazila theologian al-Jubba’i, but came to disagree with al-Jubba’i on the question of God’s predetermination.  Al-Ash‘ari broke with al-Jubba’i and started to produce a large number of texts where he fought the teachings of Mu‘tazilism, like in the ‘al-ibana ‘an ‘usuli d-diyan --  “Clarification on the origin of religion,” as well as unbiased scientific works on Muslim groups, like the maqalatu l-‘islamiyin -- “Islamic articles.”

Against the Mu‘tazilites, al-Ash‘ari held that the Qur’an is eternal and uncreated, … not created.  Additionally, he argued that the anthropomorphic expressions in the Qur’an referring to Allah should not be interpreted as metaphors but accepted bi-la kayf (“without asking how”).  Most importantly, al-Ash‘ari originated the concept of “acquisition” (kash) with which he opposed the Mu‘tazilite doctrine of human free will. 

Al-Ash‘ari argued that Allah creates all the acts of humans but that they “acquire” these acts, thereby becoming responsible for them without creating them.  This formula preserved divine determination and sole creatorhood, while making humans responsible and thereby liable to judgment.

Al-Ash‘ari is considered to be the founder of Islamic scholasticism, as he used dialectics in order to combat Mu‘tazilism, and his techniques and theories were accepted by the conservative learned of his time.  Ash‘ari’s teaching became the dominant orientation among the Sunni schools. 

Al-Ash'ari was born in Basra, Iraq, a descendant of the famous companion of Muhammad and arbitrator at Siffin for Ali ibn Abi Talib, Abu Musa al-Ashari. He spent the greater part of his life at Baghdad. Although belonging to an orthodox family, he became a pupil of the great Mutazalite teacher al-Jubba'i (d.915), and himself remained a Mutazalite until his fortieth year. In 912 he left the Mu'tazalites and became one of its most distinguished opponents, using the philosophical methods he had learned. Al-Ash'ari then spent the remaining years of his life engaged in developing his views and in composing polemics and arguments against his former Mutazalite colleagues. He is said to have written over a hundred works, from which only four or five are known to be extant.

Al-Ash'ari was noted for his teachings on atomism, among the earliest Islamic philosophies, influenced by Greek and Hindu concepts of atoms of time and matter, and for al-Ash'ari the basis for propagating a deterministic view that Allah created every moment in time and every particle of matter. Thus cause and effect was an illusion. He nonetheless believed in free will, elaborating the thought of Dirar ibn Amr' and Abu Hanifa into a "dual agent" or "acquisition" account of free will.

While al-Ash'ari was opposed to the views of the Mu'tazili school for its over-emphasis on ijtihad (reason), he was also opposed to the views of certain orthodox schools such as the Zahiri, Mujassimite (anthropomorphist) and Muhaddithin (traditionalist) schools for their over-emphasis on taqlid (imitation) in his Istihsan al

Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al-Ash‘ari see Ash‘ari, Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al-
Abū al-Hasan Alī ibn Ismā'īl al-Ash'arī see Ash‘ari, Abu ’l-Hasan 'Ali al-

Ash‘ariyya (Ash‘ari) (Ash'arites).  School of theology founded by al-Ash‘ari.  It was attacked by the Hanbalites for the use of rational arguments and by the Maturidiyya for being too conservative.  The Ash‘ariyya became the dominant school in the Arabic-speaking parts of the ‘Abbasid caliphate.

The teachings of al-Ash‘ari together with those of his principal disciples laid the basis for a doctrine that sought to occupy a middle ground between the rationalism of the Mu’tazilis and the traditionalist views of the Hanbalis.  Against the Mu’tazilis, whose views al-Ash’ari himself had once espoused, the Ash‘ari school insisted, among other things, on the following: (1) the reality of God’s eternal attributes; (2) the createdness of the Qur’an; (3) the absolute sovereignty of God over human actions, and (4) the reality of the beatific vision.  While thus accepting the substance of traditionalist doctrine, Ash‘aris, however, insisted on the legitimacy of reason as a tool for the defense of the truths of revelation.  Since the Ash‘ari position was rejected by both Mu’tazilis and Hanbalis, what early Ash‘aris had hoped would form the basis for a reconciliation of the two polar positions ended by becoming a third school of thought.  Although the position represented by al-Ash‘ari and his early defenders underwent some degree of modification in the subsequent period, repudiation of Mu‘tazili doctrine, attachment to tradition, and insistence on the value of reason as an apologetic device remained characteristic features of Ash‘ari thought during the medieval period.  Among the leading Ash‘aris of the period are al-Baqillani (d. 1013), al-Juwaini (d. 1086), and al-Ghazali (d. 1111).

From Baghdad, the main center of the early school, Ash‘arism found its way to the major centers of the Near East, especially Khurasan, where it became a major intellectual force.  Although Ash‘arism is not to be equated with the Shafi‘i school of law, it found its greatest acceptance in areas where Shafi‘i law was the dominant legal influence. 

The Ashʿari theology (Arabic: al-asha`irah) is a school of early Muslim theology founded by the theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ash'ari (d. 324 AH / 936 AD). The disciples of the school are known as Ash'arites, and the school is also referred to as Ash'arite school. The Ash'arite school was instrumental in drastically changing the direction of Islamic theology, separating its development radically from that of theology in the Christian world. In contrast to the Mutazilite school of Islamic theology, the Ash'arite view was that comprehension of unique nature and characteristics of God were beyond human capability. Thus, while man had free will, he had no power to create anything. It was a taqlid ("faith" or "imitation") based view which did not assume that human reason could discern morality. This doctrine is now known as occasionalism. However, a critical spirit of inquiry was far from absent in the Ash'arite school. Rather, what they lacked, was a trust in reason itself, separate from a moral code, to decide what experiments or what knowledge to pursue.

Contrary to popular opinion, the Ash'arites (or "traditionalists") were not completely traditionalist and anti-rationalist, nor were the Mutazilites (or "rationalists") completely rationalist and anti-traditionalist, as the Ash'arites did depend on rationality and the Mutazilites did depend on tradition. Their goals were the same, to affirm the transcendence and unity of God, but their doctrines were different, with the Ash'arites supporting an Islamic occasionalist doctrine and the Mutazilites supporting an Islamic metaphysics influenced by Aristotelianism and Neoplatonism. For Ash'arites, taqlid only applied to the Islamic tradition and not to any other, whereas for Mutazilites, taqlid applied equally to both the Islamic and Aristotelian-Neoplatonic traditions.

Factors affecting the spread of the school of thought include a drastic shift in historical initiative, foreshadowing the later loss of Muslim Spain and Columbus' landing in the Western Hemisphere - both in 1492. But the decisive influence was most likely that of the new Ottoman Empire, which found the Ash'arite views politically useful, and were to a degree taking the advantages of Islamic technologies, sciences, and openness for granted. For some centuries thereafter, as the Ottomans pushed forth into Europe, they were able to continue taking advantage of Muslim sciences and technologies only to begin losing those advantages gradually up until The Enlightenment when European innovation finally surpassed and eventually overwhelmed that of the Muslims.

The influence of the Ash'arites is still hotly debated today. It was commonly believed that the Asharites put an end to philosophy as such in the Muslim world, with the death of Ibn Rushd (Averroes) at the end of the 12th century. While philosophy did indeed decline in the western Islamic world (Al-Andalus and the Maghreb), research has shown that philosophy continued long after in the eastern Islamic world (Persia and India), where the Ibn Sinan (Avicennian), Illuminationist and Sufi schools predominated, until Islamic philosophy reached its zenith with Mulla Sadra's existentialist school of transcendent theosophy in the 17th century.

The 12th to 14th centuries marked the peak of innovation in Muslim civilization, and this continued through to the 16th century. During this period many remarkable achievements in science, engineering and social organization were made, while the ulema began to generate a fiqh based on taqlid ("imitation based on authority") rather than on the old ijtihad. Eventually, however, modern historians think that lack of improvements in basic processes and confusion with theology and law degraded scientific methods. The rigorous means by which the Ash'arites had reached their conclusions were largely forgotten by Muslims before the Renaissance, due in large part to the success of their effort to subordinate inquiry to a prior ethics - and assume ignorance was the norm for humankind.

Modern commentators blame or laud Ash'arites for curtailing much of the Islamic world's innovation in sciences and technology, then leading the world. This innovation was not in general revived in the West until the Renaissance, and emergence of scientific method - which was based on traditional Islamic methods of ijtihad and isnad (backing or scientific citation). The Ash'arites did not reject these, amongst the ulema or learned, but they stifled these in the mosque and discouraged their application by the lay public.

The Ash'arites may have succeeded in laying the groundwork for a stable empire, and for subordinating philosophy as a process to fixed notions of ethics derived directly from Islam - perhaps this even improved the quality of life of average citizens. But it seems the historical impact was to yield the scientific and technological initiative of Western civilization to Christians in Europe.

Ash‘ari see Ash‘ariyya
Ash'arites see Ash‘ariyya

‘Ashiq Celebi
‘Ashiq Celebi (1520-1572).  Ottoman man of letters. His most important work is his Biography of the Poets. 
Celebi, 'Ashiq see ‘Ashiq Celebi

Ashkenazi (Ashkenazim).  Those who have an orientation in Judaism which developed in central, northern and the eastern part of Europe.  The name "Ashkenaz" was the name that the Jews themselves used for Germany, a name taken from Genesis 10:3.  The Ashkenazi communities were from the start organized like small cities inside a Christian city.  The Jews had their own laws, they had social contact only with each other, and they organized and armed themselves in order to protect their communities against villains and thieves. 

In Poland, the Jews often formed shtetls, small towns where they represented the majority of the inhabitants.  Beginning in the eleventh century, the Ashkenazi scholars began to develop material that is still in use in Judaism today, like the Mahzor, a work that contained prayers by poets of Germany and France. 

For the Ashkenazi Jews, the study of Hebrew, the Torah and the Talmud was more than just a way of understanding their religion, it was also a way of protecting themselves against the influence of the societies around them.

Ashkenazim and Sephardim came to develop different prayer liturgies.  Torah services, Hebrew pronunciation and ways of life.  The rituals of the Ashkenazi were of the Palestinian traditions.  Ashkenazi and Sephardi tunes for both prayers and Torah reading are different.  An Ashkenazi Torah lies flat while being read, while a Sephardi Torah stands up. 

In order to decide upon Jewish law, there are different authorities.  The Ashkenazim go by Rabbi Moses Isseries, who wrote a commentary on the Shulhan Arukh (by Rabbi Joseph Caro) citing Ashkenazi practice.  There are differences in many respects of Jewish law, from which laws women are exempt from what food one is allowed to eat on Pesach.

Today, many of the distinctions between Ashkenazim and Sephardim have disappeared.  In Israel, as well as in other countries like the United States, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews live side by side, even if they generally have separate institutions.

The language of the Ashkenazi Jews was Yiddish, a language close to German.  In modern times, Yiddish is in danger of dying out. 

Today, about ten million of the thirteen million Jews in the world are Ashkenazi. 

Ashkenazi Jews, also known as Ashkenazic Jews or Ashkenazim, are the Jews descended from the medieval Jewish communities of the Rhineland in the west of Germany. Ashkenaz is the medieval Hebrew name for the region which in modern times encompasses the country of Germany and German-speaking borderland areas. Ashkenaz is also a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations (Genesis 10). Thus, Ashkenazim or Ashkenazi Jews are literally "German Jews."

Many Ashkenazi Jews later migrated, largely eastward, forming communities in non German-speaking areas, including Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere between the 10th and 19th centuries. With them, they took and diversified Yiddish, a Germanic Jewish language that had since medieval times been the lingua franca among Ashkenazi Jews. To a much lesser extent, the Judaeo-French language Zarphatic and the Slavic-based Knaanic (Judeo-Czech) were also spoken. The Ashkenazi Jews developed a distinct culture and liturgy; influenced, to varying degrees, by interaction with surrounding peoples of Central and Eastern Europe.

Although in the 11th century they comprised only 3% of the world's Jewish population, Ashkenazi Jews accounted for (at their highest) 92% of the world's Jews in 1931 and today make up approximately 80% of Jews worldwide. Most Jewish communities with extended histories in Europe are Ashkenazim, with the exception of those associated with the Mediterranean region. The majority of the Jews who migrated from Europe to other continents in the past two centuries are Ashkenazim, Eastern Ashkenazim in particular. This is especially true in the United States, where 6 out of the 7 million American Jewish population – the largest Jewish population in the world when consistent statistical parameters are employed – is Ashkenazi, representing the world's single largest concentration of Ashkenazim.

Ashkenazim see Ashkenazi

ashraf. Term which refers to the people who trace their lineage to the Prophet Muhammad or to the Companions of the Prophet.  In India, the term "ashraf" refers to the Mughal classes.

Ashraf refers to someone claiming descent from Muhammad by way of his daughter Fatima. The word is the plural of "sharīf" ("noble"), from "sharafa" ("to be highborn").

Like the Sada (plural of Sayyid), Ashraf often take their names from ancestry from Ali, Fatima and Muhammad.  In many Muslim societies, Ashraf evolved into an honorific denoting "master" or "gentry". More precisely, the Ashraf are descendants of Ali's elder son, Hassan, and the Sada those of Ali's younger son Husayn.

During the Abbasid period, the term was applied to all Ahl al-Bait, basically Muhammad's own family, including, for example, the descendants of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyya, of Ali's second wife and of the Hashemites.

During the Fatimid Dynasty, the use of the term was restricted to the descendants of Hassan and Husayn only. This restriction remained in force even after Egypt became Sunni again under the Ayyubids.

Social practice in modern Egypt does not distinguish between Ashraf and Sada. Sada Ashraf and Sayyid became a sharif's title. The distinction between Hassani Ashraf and Husayni Ashraf is not known. As late as the beginning of the nineteenth century, sayyid had no meaning other than sharif in Egypt. Abdurrahman al-Gabarti felt compelled to explain that a certain as-Sayyid Ali al-Qabtan was a Mamluk and not a Sharif, as might have been mistakenly inferred from his title. The title in this case, meaning a Mamluk master, originated from the Maghribi usage of "Sidi", which was equivalent in meaning to emir or sheikh.

In modern usage, sayyid has lost its religious significance and means simply "mister".

Egyptian Ashraf received great honor and played central roles in the Sufi culture. The status of Ashraf is heritable through either the father or mother, and this class is quite large throughout Egypt.

Well aware of their distinguished descent, the Ashraf in Egypt kept genealogical records and were socially acknowledged as a religious elite. Inevitably, doubts arose concerning the descent of many claimants to the title.

Asians of East Africa
Asians of East Africa.  The Asian presence in East Africa can be traced back several centuries, but the bulk of the Asian settlement there has occurred within the last 100 years.  The overwhelming majority, about 85 percent, of the Asian Muslims of East Africa are Shi‘a and belong to one of three sects: the Ithna Ashari (Twelvers), the Nizari Ismaili (Khoja) and the Mustali Ismaili (Bohra).  Sunni Muslims (Punjabi speakers) constitute about ten to fifteen percent of the Asian Muslims and include a large Ahmadiya community. 

The precise number of Muslims in Africa is unknown, as statistics regarding religious demography in Africa are incomplete. Islam is the largest religion in Africa, followed by Christianity. Forty-five percent (45%) of the population are Muslims, forty perecent (40%) are Christians and less than fifteen (15%) are non-religious or follow African traditional religions. Islam in Africa is increasing, as many Bantu speakers embrace Islam especially in central and eastern Africa. The long and rich history of these religions in the continent has proved to be the source of many conflicts, primarily in countries where there is no clear majority, such as Tanzania, Nigeria, and Cote d'Ivoire.

Islam arrived in Africa in the earliest days of Islam, when Muslims fleeing persecution in Mecca arrived in what was then the Aksumite empire. Islam spread to Africa via passages through the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt and through Islamic Arab and Persian traders and sailors. Islam's first muezzin, Bilal ibn Ribah, was also of Northeast African (Habasha) descent.

From 1869 to 1914 Islam in Africa probably doubled in size of countries. Despite its large contribution to the makeup of the continent, Islam is predominantly concentrated in North and Northeast Africa, as well as the Sahel region. This has served to further differentiate the various cultures, customs and laws of different parts of the African continent.

Islam continued a rapid growth into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Today, backed by gulf oil cash, Muslims have increased success in proselytizing, with a growth rate, by some estimates, that is twice as fast as Christianity in Africa.

Islamic values have much in common with traditional African life: its emphasis on communal living, its clear roles for men and women, its tolerance of polygamy.

Muslim Population Percentage by Country

Country                              Population Percentage

Somalia                                          100%
Mauritania                                      100%
Western Sahara                               100%
Tunisia                                             98%
Morocco                                          98%
Algeria                                             97%
Libya                                               97%
Niger                                               96%
Senegal                                            95%
Djibouti                                            94%
Mali                                                 94%
Guinea                                             92%
The Gambia                                     90%
Egypt                                              85%
Sudan                                              80%
Sierra Leone                                     65%
Burkina Faso                                    65%
Chad                                               54%
Nigeria                                            50%
Eritrea                                            50% 
Guinea-Bissau                                 50%
Ethiopia                                          45%
Cote D'Ivoire                                  40%
Tanzania                                         35%
Benin                                              24%
Cameroon                                       22%
Central African Republic                   22%
Liberia                                            20%
Togo                                              20%
Malawi                                           20%
Mozambique                                    18%
Ghana                                             16%
Uganda                                           16%
Gabon                                             12%
Rwanda                                           10%
Democratic Republic of the Congo     10%
Kenya                                              10%
Zambia                                              5%
Namibia                                             3%
Botswana                                           3%
South Africa                                       2%
Angola                                               2%
Republic of the Congo                         2%
Lesotho                                              1%
Swaziland                                           1%
Zimbabwe                                          1%


‘Asim, Abu Bakr
‘Asim, Abu Bakr.  See Abu Bakr ‘Asim.

‘Askari, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-
‘Askari, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-.  See Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-‘Askari.

‘Askari, Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-
‘Askari, Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-.  See Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-‘Askari.

Asma‘i, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-
Asma‘i, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al- (‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-Asma‘i)  (Abdul Malik Ibn al-Quraib al-Asmai) (c.740-828).  Philologist who made important contributions to zoology, botany, and animal husbandry.

‘Abd al-Malik ibn al-Quraib al-Asma‘i was born in Basra around 740.  He was a pious Arab and a good student of Arabic poetry.  Al-Asma‘i is considered to be the first Muslim scientist who contributed to zoology, botany and animal husbandry.   His famous writings include Kitab al-Ibil, Kitab al-Khalil, Kitab al-Wuhush, Kitab al-Sha, and Kitab Khalq al-Insan.  The last, a book on human anatomy, demonstrates his considerable knowledge and expertise on the subject. 

Interest in breeding of horses and camels was responsible for systematic scientific work by the Arabs as early as the seventh century of the Christian calendar.  During the Umayyad Caliphate, behavior and classification of animals and plants were studied and recorded by several scientists.  Al-Asma‘i’s work was very popular among scientists of the ninth and tenth centuries.

Later Arabic philologists owe most of their knowledge about Arabic lexicography and poetry to this scholar and to his contemporaries Abu ‘Ubayda and Abu Zayd al-Ansari (d. 830).  All of them were disciples of Abu ‘Amr ibn al-‘Ala’. 

Al-Asmai’s contributions, in addition to science, were also in Arabic poetry. He had an outstanding knowledge of the Arabic grammar and lexicography of classical Arabic. He also compiled an anthology of pre-Islamic Arabic poetry called al-Asma Iyyat. Several of his works were translated into European languages.

Al-Asmai was a disciple of Amr Ibn al’ala, and was a tutor to Harun Rashid’s son.

Al-Asma‘i died in 828.

‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-Asma‘i see Asma‘i, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-
 Abdul Malik Ibn al-Quraib al-Asmai  see Asma‘i, ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Quraib al-

Assad, al-
Assad, al-. The name that is associated with a family of Syrian politicians and leaders. 

Assad, Bashar al-
Assad, Bashar al- (Bashir al-Assad) (Bassar al-Asad) (b. September 11, 1965)  Became president of Syria on July 17, 2000, succeeding his father, Hafez al-Assad, who died on June 10, 2000.  Soon after the elder Assad’s death, the Baath Party dominated People’s Council (the Syrian Parliament) eased Bashar’s way to the presidency by amending the nation’s constitution to lower the minimum presidential age.  Bashar al-Assad was made commander of the armed forces and head of the Baath Party.  In a presidential referendum on July 10, he won 97 percent of the vote. 
Bashar al-Assad was born in Damascus on September 11, 1965.  The shy, unassuming second son of the president of Syria grew up in the shadow of his outgoing older brother Basil, Hafez al-Assad’s heir apparent.  Bashar studied medicine at Damascus University, becoming an ophthalmologist.  Syrians call him, “Dr. Bashar.”  When Bashar’s older brother Basil died in a January 1994 car accident, Bashar assumed the role of his father’s successor.  After Bashar al-Assad’s election, Western journalists speculated that he might prove to be a reformer and modernizer.  They were quick to observe changes of style in the new regime.  Portraits of the Assads, father and son, disappeared from public places, and the Syrian media dropped exaggerated terms of presidential respect from their reports.  In July 2000, Bashar released dozens of political prisoners. 

On the issue of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, however, Bashar reaffirmed Syria’s position on the return of the Golan Heights, lost to Israel in the 1967 war. 

Until he became President, Bashar al-Assad was not greatly involved in Syrian politics; his only political role was as head of the Syrian Computer Society, which was mainly in charge of introducing the Internet to Syria in 2001.

Al-Assad was confirmed as President by an unopposed referendum in 2001. He was expected to bring a more liberal approach to the leadership than his father. However, at best, politically and economically, Syrian life changed only slightly after 2000. Immediately after al-Assad took office a reform movement made cautious advances during the so-called Damascus Spring, and al-Assad seemed to accept this, shutting down the Mezze prison and releasing hundreds of political prisoners. The Damascus Spring, however, ground to an abrupt halt as security crackdowns commenced again within the year.

Although al-Assad ruled with a softer touch than his father, political freedoms were still extremely curtailed. Bashar resembled his father in many ways but was more subtle in reducing opposition.

Al-Assad failed to significantly modernize or liberalize the Syrian public sector.  Instead, he used the reliance of a vast amount of the population upon employment by the state as a means to maintain power. With a large number of people on the state payroll it was thought that it would be less likely that resistance movements would form since income from their government employment was virtually the only thing they had. .

Despite being re-elected in 2007, al-Assad’s position was considered by some to have been weakened by the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon following the ‘Cedar Revolution’ in 2005.

Assad opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, despite a long-standing animosity between the Syrian and Iraqi governments.  Assad's opposition was a decision that reflected the will of the majority of his people in his country. Assad used Syria's seat in one of rotating positions on the United Nations Security Council to try and prevent the invasion of Iraq. The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the accusation of Syrian involvement, and support for anti-Israeli groups, helped precipitate a crisis in relations with the United States.

Assad was criticized for Syria's presence in Lebanon (which ended in 2005), and the United States put Syria under sanctions partly because of this. Assad threatened many members of the Lebanese parliament in order to enforce the illegal accession of the pro-Syrian General Émile Lahoud to the Lebanese presidency in 1998.

The 2005 Lebanon crisis began with the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, which was blamed on Syria in the media. Assad has questioned the basis of such criticism. The main basis of the accusation is that the assassination removed an anti-Syrian political figure in an attempt to maintain influence. However, Assad argued that Syria's gradual withdrawal of troops from Lebanon, beginning in 2000, was precipitated as a result of the event. Syria remains influential in Lebanon, however, and economic activity is strongly interdependent.

Assad has repeatedly condemned the Hariri assassination. He strongly denied any Syrian involvement and promised to extradite or punish anyone found guilty of participating in the conspiracy to kill Hariri.
The Assad family are members of the minority Alawite sect, and members of that group have been prominent in the governmental hierarchy and army since 1963 when the Baath Party first came to power. Their origins are to be found in the Latakia region of north-west Syria. Bashar's family is originally from Qardaha, just east of Latakia. "Al Assad (or Asad)" means "the lion" in Arabic.

Officially a Republic, Syria has been under Emergency Law since 1963 and governed by the Baath Party. The head of state since 1970 has been a member of the Assad family.

Family connections are presently an important part of Syrian politics. Several close family members of Hafiz al-Assad have held positions within the government since Hafiz's rise to power. Most of the al-Assad and Makhlouf families have also grown tremendously wealthy, and parts of that fortune have reached their Alawite tribe in Qardaha and its surroundings.
Assad was about 189 cm (6 ft 2 in) with blue eyes. He spoke English from an intermediate to an advanced level and also spoke casual conversational French, having studied at the Franco-Arab al-Hurriyah school in Damascus, before going on to medical school at the University of Damascus Faculty of Medicine. He completed his ophthalmology residency training in the Military Hospital of Latakia and subsequently went on to receive sub-specialty training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital in London. He could not finish his formal training due to the unexpected death of his brother. Bashar was a staff colonel in the Syrian military.

Assad married Asma (Emma) Assad, née Akhras, a Syrian Sunni Muslim from Acton (west London) whom he met in the United Kingdom, where she was born and raised. They married in December 2000. On December 3, 2001, they became the parents of their first-born child, named Hafiz after his late grandfather. Zein was born on November 5, 2003, and Karim on December 16, 2004.

Beginning in March 2011, Assad faced a significant challenge to his rule when anti-government protests broke out in Syria, inspired by a wave of pro-democracy uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. As the Syrian security forces used lethal force against demonstrators, Assad offered a variety of concessions, first shuffling his cabinet, then announcing that he would seek to abolish Syria’s emergency law and its Supreme State Security Court, both used to suppress political opposition. However, implementation of those reforms coincided with a significant escalation of violence against protesters, drawing international condemnation for Assad and his government.

As unrest spread to new areas of the country, the government deployed tanks and troops to several cities that had become centers of protest. Reports of indiscriminate violence by security forces against civilians multiplied, bringing further criticism from human rights groups. In early May the European Union (EU) issued sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, against members of Assad’s inner circle of trusted military and security officials, many of whom were members of the Assad family. The sanctions excluded Assad, still viewed by some as a potential reformer, and singled out Assad’s brother Maher, the commander of the Republican Guard and the army’s fourth armored division, as the principal overseer of the crackdown. A week later, as violence continued unabated, the United States and the EU passed individual sanctions against Bashar al-Assad.

Bashir al-Assad see Assad, Bashar al-
Bashar al-Assad see Assad, Bashar al-
Bassar al-Asad see Assad, Bashar al-
Asad, Bassar al- see Assad, Bashar al-

Assad, Hafiz al-
Assad, Hafiz al- (Hafiz al-Assad) (Hafez al-Assad) (Hafiz al-Asad)  (October 6, 1930- June 10, 2000).  President of Syria (r. 1970-2000).  Born in Qardahah, the ninth of what would become eleven children.  In 1946, Assad joined the Ba’th Party as a student and was educated in Syrian military colleges.  In 1951, Assad started at the Homs Military Academy.  He graduated from the Homs Military Academy as an air force pilot in 1955.    Assad also received some military training (flight training) in the Soviet Union.  In 1960, Assad was one of four founders of the Military Committee.  On March 8, 1963, after the Ba’th Party seized power in Syria, with the Military Committee as a driving force, Assad became commander of the air force.

In 1966, Assad became minister of defense after participating in a coup against the civilian leaders of Syria.  In June 1967, under the leadership of Assad, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel, as a result of the Six Day War. 

By the end of the 1960s, Assad’s rivalry with the effective leader of Syria, Salah al-Jadid, became more and more central to Syrian politics.  Assad focused on improved military force, while Jadid focused on a socialist reformation of the Syrian society.

In February 1969, Assad became the real ruler of Syria but he kept Nuriddin Attasi as president of Syria.

On November 12, 1970, Assad had his opponents arrested, and took full control over Syria.  However, once again, he did not assume any official leading position, leaving Ahmad Khatib as president.

In February 1971, Assad staged a referendum in which he received an official 99.2% mandate in support of him becoming the country’s new president.

In January 1973, a new constitution for Syria was presented, declaring that the country was a “democratic, popular, socialist state.”  An Arab nationalist, Assad tried to improve relations with other Arab countries and cooperated closely with Egypt in the Yom Kippur War in 1973.  In October 1973, the closer relationship between Syria and Egypt, resulted in a military attack on Israel, which at first brought victory to Syria and Egypt, but ended with the defeat of both states.

In 1974, Assad performed the umra in Mecca.

In 1976, Assad intervened in the ongoing civil war in Lebanon.  He took the side of the Christians, after the Muslims rejected a peace proposal from him in January.

In June 1980 Assad survived an assassination attempt.  In 1982, he cracked down on Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama.

In November 1983, Assad suffered a heart attack.  His rivals, among them his brother, Rifaat, tried to seize control of Syria.  Tensions between Rifaat’s forces and elite forces from the army that were loyal to Hafez continued to mount.  On March 30, while on the verge of an armed conflict between the two military groups, a meeting was held between Rifaat, Hafez and their aged mother.  The outcome of this meeting, and other meetings, was that Rifaat was sent abroad as a Syrian representative, while Hafez returned to office without the challenge of Rifaat’s troops.  Once back in office, Hafez used his position to undermine his brother.

By the end of the 1980s, with the decline of the Soviet Union, Assad began to orient himself more in the direction of the West. 

In October 1991, Assad participated in the Middle East peace conference, where there were direct talks with Israel’s representatives.  Assad insisted on an uncompromising land for peace principle, requiring that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights before any details could be decided.  In December 1991, in the fourth plebiscite on his presidency, Hafez received 99.9 percent of the vote.

In February 1999, Assad participated in the funeral for King Hussein of Jordan, to the surprise of the world media.  Later that month (on February 11), Assad was re-elected in a referendum for a new constitutional term.

In September 1999, hundreds of supporters of Hafez’ brother, Rifaat, were arrested in Damascus and Latakia.  This action was interpreted as a way of helping his son, Bashar, to get rid of all possible opponents when Hafez died.

On June 10, 2000, after repeated reports of his ill health, Assad died from a heart attack.  A few days after his passing away, his son, Bashar, took office and was elected Syria’s new president.  This was all according to Hafez’s plan.

All through his rule, Assad was the most valued ally of the Soviet Union, but he also became slightly more pro-Western in his last years in power.  However, even though he was in contact with the main leaders of the West for several years, he remained an outcast in their eyes.

The main reasons for this ostracism were several.  First, his stalemate position towards Israel, where he claimed that every inch of occupied Syrian land from 1967 should be returned to Syria (a position that was in accord with international law and United Nations resolutions).  Second, Syria’s continued presence in Lebanon (which outlasted the Israeli control over the southern parts of the country).  Third, repeated allegations that Syria was involved in international terrorism fostered the image of Assad as a problematic political figure.  Fourth, because of repeated reports of political oppression inside Syria.

Assad worked on making Syria into a leading nation in the Arab world.  In this effort he never became very successful, and he is more remembered for a negative relationship with the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein and the king of Jordan, King Hussein, as well as his support of radical and often violent Muslim groups that are based in Lebanon and Syria. 

During his time in office, Assad was known for being one of the best informed and hardest working politicians in Southwest Asia.   He was famous for his long work sessions and working days -- many 18 hours long -- as well as his self-deprecating humor.  Assad was also well-known for a modest lifestyle, without much excess.  He lived in a normal villa in a residential neighborhood in Damascus.  However, surrounding Assad, there were several people who became wealthy thanks to the nepotism which was rampant in Syrian government and society.

Assad belonged to the Alawites, a small Shi‘a group, that through the centuries has not had national political power.  Among the main group of Syrians, the Sunnis, many would say that the Alawites are heretics.   This means that Assad lacked broad support within the Syrian population, and his survival depended on control and suppression of contending groups.  Assad early made sure that many of the important positions in the Syrian society were filled with fellow Alawites.  It is also believed that this is one of the main reasons for Assad’s continued politics of state control over the economy. After all, a liberalization would have meant that other groups in the society (Sunnis and Christians) would have gained economical force, and through this, also political force.

Assad built a political system, where the army was both a symbol of Syria’s power, as well as a techinque of controlling the country.  On more than one occasion, the army was used against Syria’s own population in order to protect political stability.

Assad also saw to the construction of an effective police state, where there were no less than 15 competing intelligence agencies.

Internally, Assad’s politics did not result in much economic progress.  The country had had a system of strong political control with almost all aspects of the economy, and many businessmen found it hard to establish companies and run them.  During the time of Assad, Syria was in several fields the least developed country.  Computer technology and telecommunications were sparsely utilized and there were minimal possibilities for private initiative in the economic life of the country. 
Hafez al-Assad was born in the town of Qardaha in the Latakia province of western Syria (then a French Mandate) into a minority Alawite family. He was the first member of his family to attend high school. He attended Jules Jammal High School in Lattakia from which he graduated. He joined the Baath Party in 1946 at the age of 16. Because his family had no money to send him to university, Assad went to the Syrian Military Academy and received a free higher education. He showed considerable talent and the military sent him for additional training in the Soviet Union. As a pilot during the 1950s, he flew the Gloster Meteor jet fighter, amongst other types. He rose through the ranks and became an important figure in the military.

Assad opposed the 1958 union between Syria and Egypt which created the United Arab Republic (UAR). Stationed in Cairo, he worked with other officers to end the union, sticking to his pan-Arab ideals while arguing that the UAR concentrated too much power in the hands of Gamal Abdel Nasser's regime. As a result, Assad was briefly imprisoned by the Egyptian authorities at the breakup of the union in 1961. .

In the chaos that followed the dissolution of the UAR, a coalition of left-wing groups led by the Baath Party seized power in Syria. Assad was appointed head of the air force in 1964. The state was officially ruled by Amin Hafiz, a Sunni Muslim, but was in practice dominated by a coterie of young Alawite Baathists.
In 1966, the Baath launched a coup d'etat within the government and cleared out the other parties from the government. Assad became Minister of Defence and wielded considerable influence over government policy. However, there was much tension between the dominant radical wing of the Baath Party, which promoted an aggressive foreign policy and rapid social reform, and Assad's more pragmatic, military-based faction. After being discredited by the failure of the Syrian military in the Six-Day War in 1967, and enraged by the aborted Syrian intervention in the Jordanian-Palestinian Black September war, the government faced conflict within its ranks. By the time President Nureddin al-Atassi and the de facto leader, deputy secretary general of the Baath Party Salah Jadid, realized the threat and ordered Assad be stripped of all party and government power, it was too late. Assad swiftly launched a bloodless intra-party coup, the Corrective Revolution of 1970. The party was purged, Atassi and Jadid jailed, and Assad loyalists installed in key posts throughout the government.

Assad inherited a dictatorial government shaped by years of unstable military rule, and lately organized along one-party lines after the Baathist coup. He increased repression and attempted to secure his domination of every sector of society through a vast web of police informers and agents. Under his rule, Syria turned genuinely authoritarian. He was made the object of a state-sponsored cult of personality, which depicted him as a wise, just, and strong leader of Syria and of the Arab world in general.

Syria under Assad never quite reached the levels of repression practiced in neighboring Iraq, ruled by a rivaling Baathist faction. Where Saddam Hussein's policies of perpetual state terrorism aimed to secure his rule through fear, Hafez al-Assad took a more sophisticated approach: rather than immediately brutalizing restive communities, his government often bribed or threatened dissidents. Only after milder forms of persuasion had failed would brute force be used. Then, the government could be counted on to act with unflinching cruelty in order to intimidate all would-be dissidents.

Whilst dictatorial, the government of Assad initially achieved some popularity for bringing stability to the country, which had experienced dozens of attempted coups since 1948. He also implemented many social reforms and infrastructure projects, notably the Thawra (Revolution) dam on the Euphrates River. It was built with Soviet assistance, and came to supply much of Syria's electricity. Public schooling and other reforms were extended to larger segments of the population, and a notable rise in living standards occurred. The government's secularism meant that many members of religious minorities, such as the Alawites, Druze, and Christians, naturally supported Assad, fearing a return to historic persecution under a Sunni Islamist successor government to Assad.

Assad also continued previous Baath policies by overseeing massive increases in Syria's military strength (again with Soviet support) and by maintaining a strong Arab nationalist position. School curricula and the state-controlled media gave much attention to the glorious past of Syria and the Arabs, and portrayed Assad's government as the lone uncorrupted champion of the Arab nation against Western imperialism and aggression. This propaganda aimed to legitimize the government, but also to unify the diverse and fractured Syrian society, and instill a sense of national pride among the populace.

In 1979, the Syrian public was shocked by a chain of assassinations which took place starting in the artillery school in Aleppo. No one could identify who was responsible for these assassinations. After almost a year, a member from the group believed to be behind the assassinations was injured and taken into custody by the Syrian intelligence system. He was identified as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood party. The party's goals were to eliminate all persons who had strong ties with the government or Baath party, focusing on Baathists who were educated and had a good reputation within the government, or army high ranking members who were relatives of Assad family or Alawites. It took The Syrian intelligence system a long time to penetrate the Muslim Brotherhood and diminish its power. Unfortunately, the Syrian security forces were, in some incidents, brutal. Many innocent civilians died in the battles between the army and the party members. Some sources estimate that the number of civilians killed was between 150,000 to 200,000. The violence damaged the national growth of the Syrian economy. The Muslim Brotherhood organization aimed to weaken the government's authority, hoping that Sunni Muslims in the army would overthrow the Alawite-dominated government.
In 1983, Assad suffered a heart attack and was confined to hospital. He named a six-man governing council to run the country in his absence, among them long-time Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass. All six were Sunnis, possibly because they had no independent power over his Alawite-dominated government, and were thus less likely to try to seize power. Despite this, rumors spread that Assad was dead or nearly so, and indeed his condition was serious. In 1984, Assad's brother, Rifaat al-Assad attempted to use the security forces under his control to seize power. His Defence Company troops of some 50,000 men, complete with tanks and helicopters, began putting up roadblocks throughout Damascus, and tensions between Hafez loyalists and Rifaat supporters came close to all-out war. The stand-off was not ended until Hafez, still ill, rose from his bed to reassume power and speak to the nation. He transferred command of the Defence Company and, without formal accusations, sent Rifaat on an indefinite "work visit" to France.
Assad's foreign policy was shaped by the relation of Syria to Israel, although this conflict both preceded him and persisted after his death. During his presidency, Syria played a major role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. The war was, despite heavy losses and Israeli advances, presented by the Syrian government as a victory, as Syria regained some territory that had been occupied in 1967 through peace negotiations headed by Henry Kissinger. Since then Assad-led Syria has carefully respected the United Nations-monitored ceasefire line in the occupied Golan Heights. The Syrian government denied the state of Israel any recognition, and long preferred to refer to it as a "Zionist Entity". Only in the mid-1990s did Hafez moderate his country's policy towards Israel, as he realized the loss of Soviet support meant a different balance of power in the Middle East. Pressed by the United States, he engaged in negotiations on the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, but these talks ultimately failed.

Syria deployed troops to Lebanon in 1976, officially in response to a request from the Lebanese government for Syrian military intervention during the Lebanese Civil War. It is alleged that the Syrian presence in Lebanon began earlier with its involvement in as-Saiqa, a Palestinian militia composed primarily of Syrians. The Arab League agreed to send a peacekeeping force mostly formed by Syrian troops. The initial goals were to save the Lebanese government from being overun by the Left and the Palestinian militancy. Critics allege that this eventually turned into an occupation by 1982, which is more or less not disputed within the Lebanese community. The Syrian presence ended in 2005, due to the UN resolution 1559 after the Rafiq Hariri assassination and the March 14 protests.

The hostile attitude to Israel meant vocal support for the Palestinians, but that did not translate into friendly relations with their organizations. Hafez al-Assad was always wary of independent Palestinian organizations, as he aimed to bring the Palestinian issue under Syrian control in order to use it as a political tool. He soon developed an implacable animosity towards Yassir Arafat's PLO, against which Syria fought bloody battles in Lebanon.

As Arafat allegedly moved the PLO in a more moderate direction, supposedly seeking compromise with Israel, Assad also feared regional isolation, and he resented the PLO underground's operations in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria. Arafat was depicted by Syria as a rogue madman and an American marionette and, after accusing him of supporting the Hama revolt, Assad backed the 1983 Abu Musa rebellion inside Arafat's Fatah-movement. A number of unsuccessful Syrian attempts to kill Arafat were also made.

An effective strategy was undermining Arafat through support for radical groups both outside and inside the Palestine Liberation Organization. This way Syria secured some influence over PLO politics, and was also able to literally blow up any attempts at negotiation with the United States and Israel through pushing for terrorist attacks. The PLO's As-Sa'iqa faction was and is completely controlled by Syria, and under Hafez, groups such as the PFLP-GC were also turned into clients. In later years, Syria focused on supporting non-PLO Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Even though Iraq was ruled by another branch of the Baath Party, Assad's relations with Saddam Hussein were extremely strained. Hostile rhetoric between the two was intense, and until Saddam's fall in 2003, Iraq was listed in Syrian passports as one of the two countries no Syrian citizen could visit (the other being Israel). But with the exception of a few border guard skirmishes and mutual support for cross-border raids by opposition groups, no heavy fighting broke out until 1991, when Syria joined the United States-led United Nations coalition to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

Assad had originally groomed his son, Basil al-Assad as his successor, but he died in a car accident in 1994. Assad then called back a second son, Bashar, and put him in intensive military and political training, with Bashar becoming a staff colonel in the military of Syria. Despite some concerns of unrest within the government, the succession ultimately went smoothly. Hafez al-Assad is buried together with Basil in a mausoleum in his hometown of Qardaha.

Hafiz al-Assad see Assad, Hafiz al-
Hafez al-Assad see Assad, Hafiz al-
Hafiz al-Asad see Assad, Hafiz al-
Asad, Hafiz al- see Assad, Hafiz al-

Assad, Rifaat al-
Assad, Rifaat al- (b. 1937). Syrian politician, the brother of the former Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad, and the uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

During his life, Rifaat went from being an important ally of his brother to becoming a contender for Hafiz’s position as well as his nephew’s present position.  Rifaat enjoyed support from large groups in the Syrian army, and until 1999 (when many of these supporters were arrested) he was perceived to be a viable successor of his brother.  This however, would have been against the plans of Hafiz and Bashar.  Rifaat was also active in business, especially after his return to Syria in 1992. Together with his son, Shawmar, he was successful. 

Rifaat al-Assad was born in the village of Qardaha, near Lattakia in western Syria.  He played a key role in his brother's takeover of executive power in 1970, dubbed the Corrective Revolution, and ran the elite internal security forces and the 'Defence Companies' (Saraya al-Difaa). He had a pivotal role throughout the 1970s and, until 1984, many saw him as the likely successor to Hafiz.

In February 1982, Rifaat commanded the forces that put down a Muslim Brotherhood revolt in the central city of Hama, by instructing his forces to shell the city, killing thousands of its inhabitants (reports differ between 5,000 and 40,000, the most common suggestion being around 15-20,000). This became known as the Hama Massacre.

When Hafiz al-Assad suffered from heart problems in 1983, he established a 6-member committee to run the country. Rifaat was not included, and the council consisted entirely of close Sunni Muslim loyalists to Hafiz, who were mostly lightweights in the military-security establishment. This caused unease in the Alawi-dominated officer corps, and several high-ranking officers began rallying around Rifaat, while others remained loyal to Hafiz's instructions. Rifaat's troops, then numbering more than 55,000 with tanks, artillery, aircraft and helicopters, began asserting control over Damascus, putting up posters of him.  Rifaat was clearly launching a bid to succeed his brother. Tensions between forces loyal to Hafiz and those loyal to Rifaat were extreme, but by early 1984 Hafiz had returned from his sick bed and assumed full control, at which point most officers rallied around him. In what at first seemed a compromise, Rifaat was made vice-president with responsibility for security affairs, but this proved a wholly nominal post. Command of the 'Defence Companies' was transferred to another officer, and Rifaat was then sent abroad on "an open-ended working visit". His closest supporters and others who had failed to prove their loyalty to Hafiz were purged from the army and Baath Party in the years that followed.

Although he returned for his mother's funeral in 1992, and for some time lived in Syria, Rifaat was thereafter confined to exile in France and Spain. He nominally retained the post of vice president until 1998, when he was stripped even of this. He retained a large business empire both in Syria and abroad, partly through his son Sumer. However, a 1999 crackdown -- involving armed clashes in Lattakia -- destroyed much of his remaining network in Syria.  Large numbers of Rifaat's supporters were arrested. This was seen as being tied to the issue of succession, with Rifaat having begun to position himself to succeed the ailing Hafiz, who in his turn sought to eliminate all potential competition for his designated successor, his son Bashar al-Assad.

In France, Rifaat protested the succession of Bashar to the post of president, claiming that he himself embodied the "only constitutional legality" (as vice president, alleging his dismissal was unconstitutional). He made threatening remarks about planning to return to Syria at a time of his choosing to "assume his responsibilities and fulfill the will of the people", and that while he would rule benevolently and democratically, he would do so with "the power of the people and the army" behind him.

Assamese.   Refers to the Asamiya speaking Muslims of Assam in India.  Like Muslim communities in other parts of India, the Asamiya speaking Muslims of Assam are the product of prolonged interaction between Islam and local cultures.  They are considered less orthodox than other Indian Muslims and share many culture traits with Assamese Hindus.  Nevertheless, the basic values of Islam are the values of the Assamese Muslims. 

Assam came into contact with Islam for the first time in 1206, when a Turkish army led by Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar made an expedition to Tibet through the region.  He was followed by other Muslim invaders.  In 1532, a Muslim army under Turbak invaded Assam.  The forces of the local Ahom king defeated the Muslims, and those who were taken prisoners were settled in different parts of the state.  They married Assamese women and, after a few generations, their descendants immersed themselves so deeply into the indigenous culture that they lost whatever Islamic moorings their ancestors ever had.  Descendants of these soldiers today are called Marias.

The history of Assam’s contact with Muslims clearly suggests that they never really gained a significant foothold.  However, these early encounters contributed towards the propagation and strengthening of the Islamic faith in Assam, and some traits of Islamic culture were adopted by the indigenous population.  Furthermore, the prolonged wars between the Muslim and Assamese kings led to the growth of the Muslim population in Assam.

The consolidation of Islam in the Assam valley dates from the early part of the seventeenth century.  A Muslim saint named Shah Milan, popularly known as Azan Faqir, was the chief patron of this consolidation.  He is said to have come to Assam during the 1630s and to have proselytized and preached reform.  Through his work, as well as that of other clerics who followed him, Islam was revived among those who were nominal Muslims, on the one hand, and some indigenous population converted to Islam, on the other.  Presumably, these preachers were patronized by the Ahom rulers in their missionary work and in propagating the Islamic faith.  (The Ahoms, a Thai or Shan peoples from northern Burma, entered eastern Assam in the thirteenth century and established a kingdom that eventually included the whole of the Brahmaputra Valley.)

The Assamese people are defined by the Assamese government as the multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-linguistic people of Assam but can also refer to the Assamese-speaking Indo-Aryans of the Brahmaputra valley. Historically, the definition of the "Assamese people" has remained in flux and this has had strong political repercussions in Assam, especially in the colonial (1826-1947) and post-colonial (after 1947) periods. Attempts in the past to define the Assamese people on linguistic, cultural or ethnic basis have failed.

The lack of a definition put stumbling blocks in implementing clause 6 of the Assam Accord, an agreement signed by the activists of the Assam Movement and the Government of India in 1985. The Government of Assam formed a ministerial committee to finalize the definition of Assamese people in March 2007. To address the clause 6 issue AASU announced a definition on April 10, 2000 which was based on residency with a temporal limit: "All those whose names appeared in the 1951 National Register of Citizens and their progenies should be considered as Assamese".

In the period before 1826, the eastern part of present-day Assam was called the "Kingdom of Assam", presently known as the Ahom kingdom, and the word "Assamese" was used to refer to the subjects of this kingdom. "Assamese" was also used to refer to the soldiers that fought under the Ahom king's command that included subjects of allied kingdoms. Therefore, in this period, Assamese was a political category, not cultural or linguistic, that was used to define those associated with the Ahom kingdom.

The group that now identifies as Tai-Ahom were historically seen as "Assamese" people. However, the term "ethnic Assamese" is now associated by the Indian government at Delhi with the Assamese-speaking ethnic group of Assam. The latter group is the majority people of Assam, while the Tai-Ahoms were a dominant minority during the Ahom kingdom.

Assassins (Nizarites) (Nizari Ismailis) (Hashshashin) (Hashishin) (Hashashiyyin) (Hashasheen).  The Hashshashin from which the word assassin is thought to originate, was the Arabic designation of the Nizari branch of the Ismā'īlī Shia Muslims during the Middle Ages. The Nizari or Hashshashin, as they were designated by their enemies, split from the Fatimid Isma'ili Empire following a dispute regarding the succession of their spiritual and political leader the Fatimid Caliph Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah.

The Assassins were an Isma‘ili sect that supported the imamate of Nizar, the successor of Badr al-Din al Jamali, the emir and vizier of the Fatimid Empire. When Nizar was defeated in battle and killed in prison, some Isma‘ilis claimed that Nizar had gone into occultation. 

In the Persian fortress Alamut, Hasan al-Sabbah predicted the return of Nizar, and instigated attacks on Sunni, Fatimid and Christian leaders.  Allegedly the members of this sect (who called themselves fida’iyyun – “those who sacrifice themselves”) were prone to take hashish, hence their name “Hashishiyyun,” or the European version, “Assassins.”

“Assassin” is the name given in medieval times by Europeans to the followers of the Nizari branch of the Isma‘iliyya sect of Shi‘ism.  The term was first applied in Syria, and then was extended to include the Persian branch of the sect.  The origin of the appellation can be traced back to the Arabic hashish, a name for Indian hemp (cannabis sativa). 

The name “assassins” was carried to Europe by the Crusaders, who were confronted by members of the Isma‘iliyya sect -- the hashishiyya -- in the hill fortresses of Syria.  The term eventually passed into various European languages in the form “assassin.”

The meaning of the word “assassin” has gone through changes reflecting the deep impact Syrian Assassins made on the imagination of Europe.  At first, it was a general name for the mysterious sect in Syria and other Islamic lands; then following Marco Polo’s description of the gardens of paradise belonging to the “Old Man of the Mountains,” whose devoted followers were ready to carry out his command to get rid of their opponents by assassination, “assassin” became a common noun meaning “murderer.”

Though it has been widely believed that Nizari leaders made secret use of hashish to give their emissaries a foretaste of the delights of paradise that awaited them on the completion of their missions of murder, this is not supported by the sources, even when the name hashishiyya is used for the Nizaris.  The term was, in all probability, applied to the Ismailis, who were despised as a minority and thus associated with the prevailing vices of the time.

The history of Assassins or the Nizaris begins with Hasan-i Sabbah (d. 1124), who seized the key fortress of Alamut, south of the Caspian, in 1090 and began an aggressive mission in northern Iran, as well as battles with the Seljuks. 

After 1092, a number of religious fanatics launched a series of spectacular attempts on the lives of leading Sunnis and other opponents.

In 1094, the Fatimid Caliph, al-Mustansir, died, and Hasan-i Sabbah did not recognize the new caliph, al-Mustali.  He and his followers transferred their allegiance to his brother Nizar.  The followers of Hasan-i Sabbah soon came at odds with both the caliph in Baghdad as well as the one in Cairo.

The Assassins developed an esoteric doctrine and at the start of the twelfth century began to extend themselves, even into the Syria of the Crusade era, under an independent grand master, the “Old Man of the Mountains.”  The Assassins’ excursion into Syria was supported by the local Shi‘a minority as the Seljuk sultanate had captured this territory.   During this time, the Assassins captured a group of castles in the Nusayriyya Mountains.  The most important of these castles were the Masyaf, from which the “The Old Man of the Mountains”, Rashid ud-Din Sinan, ruled practically independent from the main leaders of the Assassins.  Rashid made several attempts on the life of Saladin, the leader of the Ayyubids.   Whether or not these murderous commando units were ever actually under the influence of narcotics is questionable.

Between 1090 and 1256 there were eight rulers of Alamut who, as the Imams of the Isma‘ilis, played an important role in the new “summons to truth.”  Their downfall in Iran and in Syria was effected by the Mongols under Hulagu in 1256 and 1258, and the Mameluke Sultan Baybars dealt the Assassins of Syria a final blow in 1272. 

There are many legends connected to the Assassins, and most of the legends are most doubtful.  Indeed, the legends appear to be more the product of the imaginations of medieval European story tellers (including Marco Polo) rather than the product of fact.  The main theme of the stories is that the Assassins performed their acts under strong intoxication from hashish.  These acts resulted in the death of the Assassins but each Assassin would go to his death with the promise of immediate entry into paradise.  Indeed, according to the stories, many Assassins were provided a taste of the paradise to come during their training where they were provided access to sweet food and wine and beautiful and willing women. 

Of course, these stories have never been confirmed by any investigations of contemporary Isma‘ili sources, and there is good reason to believe that such a lack is a clear indication that such stories are purely fabrications. 

From the available original sources, scholars have learned that the Assassins changed the original Isma‘ili doctrine, so that acts of terrorism became a religious duty.  Growing out from their center in Kazvin, the Assassins constructed a number of strongholds all over Iran and Iraq.  The idea of a constructed paradise around Alamut was probably based upon the sayings of imam al-Kahir, where he talks about a paradise that man has already entered.  However, al-Kahir’s paradise was meant as a spiritual one. 

Despite being a minority within a minority, the Isma'ili, under the leadership of their Imams, succeeded in establishing a generational secretive underground movement against the Abbasid Caliphate. They based their ideas on Greek philosophy, mysticism, and an end to perceived corruption and greed. They would turn their revolutionary ideals into reality by establishing the first Shia state—the Fatimid Empire, spanning across the Mediterranean and Levant, with its capital in Cairo. The empire's goal was to bring scientific and social breakthroughs to all its peoples, including religious freedom.

When in 1094 the eighth Fatimid Caliph and Isma'ili Imam Ma'ad al-Mustansir Billah took ill in Cairo, his powerful Vizier, Al-Afdal, took the reins of state power. Following the death of the Caliph, Vizier Al-Afdal led a palace coup, appointing the Caliph's younger son Ahmed and the vizier's brother-in-law as Caliph, dubbed Al-Musta'ali. Nizār, the heir apparent, left for Alexandria, where he was given strong local support and led another rebellion, only to be defeated and executed on his brother's orders. This caused a split in the Fatimid Empire amongst the Isma'ili.

Nizār's supporters, called the Nizāriyya or Nizari, continued his cause under the charismatic Iranian leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah, also known as the leading Isma'ili missionary "Da'i" of the secret Fatimid propaganda machine within the enemy Abbasid Caliphate. Hassan-i Sabbah successfully gained the majority support of Fatimid Shia east of Egypt within the Levant, Persia (Iran), and Iraq, and a small underground following within the Empire's heart (Egypt and the rest of North Africa). However, by breaking with the Fatimid Empire, the followers of Hassan-i Sabbah found themselves alone and outnumbered in enemy territory.

Not merely content to survive, but instead determined to build a new utopia, the Nizari formulated a strategy of gaining control of strategically important fortresses by covertly converting local inhabitants living within and around the strategically vital fortresses to Isma'ili Shi'ism and seizing control. They established a new kind of state consisting of a number of "island" fortified settlements within a sea of hostility in present day Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The formal origin of the Federation of the Assassins is marked as 1090 when Hassan-i Sabbah established his first stronghold in the Daylam at the fortress of Alamut ('The Place of the Eagle's Teaching' or "Eagles Nest"), south of the Caspian Sea. Alamut remained capital of the federation, and home of its rulers—styled "The Lords of Alamut"--until its destruction.

The power of the Hashshashin was destroyed by the Mongol warlord Hulagu Khan during the Mongol assault of Alamut on December 15, 1256. The Syrian branch of the Hashshashin was destroyed in 1273 by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars. The Hashshashin captured and held Alamut for a few months in 1275 but their political power was lost. The Mamluks continued to use the services for which the Assassins had become more widely known: Ibn Battuta recorded in the 14th century their fixed rate of pay per murder. In exchange, they were allowed to exist. Eventually, they resorted to the act of Taqq'iya (dissimulation), hiding their true identities until their Imams would awaken them.

Unable to mount a conventional military army, the Nizari developed a form of asymmetric warfare transforming the act of political assassination into a system of survival and defense against greed, corruption, injustice and foreign domination. They trained highly capable sleeper commandos (trained in languages, science, trade, and so on, not combat) known as Fedayeen, who would covertly infiltrate enemy positions and remain undercover. If Nizari civilians were facing pogroms or their forts faced imminent attack, the Fedayeen were activated to prevent an attack.

Fedayeen used their well-known deadliness for political goals without necessarily killing; for example, a victim, usually high-placed, might one morning find a Hashshashin dagger lying on his pillow upon awakening. This was a plain hint to the targeted individual that he was not safe anywhere, that maybe even his inner group of servants had been infiltrated by the assassins, and that whatever course of action had brought him into conflict with the Hashshashins would have to be stopped if he wanted to live.

Within Persian Iran, they employed their tactics directly against the Seljuk Turks, rulers who had been persecuting Nizari sects. They were meticulous in killing the targeted individual, seeking to do so without any additional casualties and loss of innocent life, although they were careful to cultivate their terrifying reputation by slaying their victims in public. Typically, they approached using a disguise, or were already sleeper agents in an entourage. Preferring a small hidden blade or dagger, they rejected poison, bows and other weapons that may have allowed the attacker to escape and live.

Within the Levant it is believed that Saladin, incensed by several almost-successful Hashshashin attempts on his life, besieged their chief Syrian stronghold of Masyaf during his reconquest of Outremer in 1176. He quickly lifted the siege after parley, and thereafter attempted to maintain good relations with the sect. The sect's own accounts tell of Rashid ad-Din Sinan stealing into Saladin's tent in the heart of his camp, and leaving a poisoned cake and a note saying "You are in our power" on Saladin's chest as he slept. Another account tells of a letter sent to Saladin's maternal uncle, vowing death to the entire royal line; perhaps no idle threat. Whatever the truth of these accounts (and likely it will remain a mystery) Saladin's uncle clearly heeded their warning, and desisted.

The Hashshashin were often motivated by outsiders. Richard the Lionheart was among those suspected of commissioning the assassination of Conrad of Montferrat. In most cases they were aimed at retaining the balance of the Hashshashin's enemies.

Notable victims include the Abbasid Vizier Nizam al-Mulk (1092), the Fatimid vizier al-Afdal (1122) (responsible for imprisoning Nizar), ibn al-Khashshab of Aleppo (1125), il-Bursuqi of Mosul (1126), Raymond II of Tripoli (1152), Conrad of Montferrat (1192), and Prince Edward (later Edward I of England) was wounded by a poisoned assassin dagger in 1271.

The library of Alamut was destroyed, along with much of their Persian power base, and thus much of the sect's own records were lost. Most accounts of the Hashshashin stem from the polemic of Arab historians of the period, and Marco Polo's accounts. Most Muslim contemporaries were hostile toward Nizari; in fact they were described using the term Batini. The term was sometimes used pejoratively to refer to those, especially Isma'ili, who discerned an inner, esoteric level of meaning (batin) in the Qur'an. This constant religious estrangement would eventually see them go so far as allying with the Occidental Christians against Muslims on a number of occasions when it suited their interests.

A popular legend derives from Marco Polo, who claimed to have visited Alamut during his journey east. The legend states that future assassins were subjected to rites similar to those of other mystery cults.  The subject was made to believe that he was in imminent danger of death. The twist was that they were drugged to simulate "dying" and later they awakened in a garden flowing with wine and served a sumptuous feast by virgins. The supplicant was then convinced he was in Heaven and that the cult's leader, Hassan-i Sabbah, was a representative of the divinity and all his orders should be followed, even unto death.

Much of the current western lore surrounding the Assassins roots from Marco Polo's supposed visit to the Syrian fortress of Alamut in 1273 (a visit widely considered fictional since the stronghold had been destroyed by the Mongols in 1256), and from returning Crusaders from the Levant who encountered their local Syrian leader Rashid ad-Din Sinan (the old man of the mountain) in the fortress of Masyaf.

The use of intoxicants is never mentioned in contemporary Ismaili sources, nor from rival Sunnis and Shia, despite their suffering from the assassination acts of that rival sect.

Nizarites see Assassins
Hashishiyyun see Assassins
hashishiyya see Assassins
Hashshashin see Assassins
Hashishin see Assassins
Nizari Ismailis see Assassins

Ata Malik Juvaini
Ata Malik Juvaini (Ala'iddin Ata-Malik Juvayni) (1226–1283). Persian historian who wrote an account of the Mongol Empire entitled Ta' rīkh-i jahān-gushā (History of the World Conqueror).

Ata-Malik Juvaini was born in Juvain, a city in Khorasan in northeastern Iran. Both his grandfather and his father, Baha al-Din, held the post of sahib-divan or Minister of Finance for Muhammad Jalal al-Din and Ögedei Khan respectively. Baha al-Din also acted as deputy ca. 1246 for his immediate superior, the emir Arghun, in which role he oversaw a large area including Georgia and Armenia.

Juvaini too became an important official of the empire. He visited the Mongol capital of Karakorum twice, beginning his history of the Mongols conquests on one such visit (c. 1252-53). He was with Ilkhan Hulagu in 1256 at the taking of Alamut and was responsible for saving part of its celebrated library. He had also accompanied Hulagu during the sack of Baghdad in 1258, and the next year was appointed governor of Baghdad, Lower Mesopotamia, and Khuzistan. Around 1282, Juvaini attended a Mongol quriltai, or assembly, held in the Ala-Taq pastures northeast of Lake Van. He died the following year in Mughan or Arran in Azarbaijan.

Juvaini's brother was the powerful Shams al-Din, who served as Minister of Finance under Hulagu and Abaqa Khan. A skillful leader in his own right, Shams al-Din also had influential in-laws: his wife Khoshak was the daughter of Awak Zak'arean-Mkhargrdzeli, Lord High Constable of Georgia, and Gvantsa, a noblewoman who went on to become queen of Georgia. Juvaini's own position at court and his family connections made him privy to information unavailable to other historians. For unknown reasons Juvaini's personal history terminates in 1260, more than twenty years before his death.
Juvaini, Ata Malik see Ata Malik Juvaini
Ala'iddin Ata-Malik Juvayni see Ata Malik Juvaini
Juvayni, Ala'iddin Ata-Malik see Ata Malik Juvaini

Ataturk (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) (1881 - November 10, 1938).  Turkish soldier, nationalist leader, and statesman.  Ataturk is credited with founding the modern republic of Turkey and he served as the republic’s first president (1923-1938).  The name “Ataturk” (“Father Turk”) was bestowed upon Mustafa Kemal in 1934 by the Grand National Assembly as a tribute to his unique service to the Turkish nation.

Mustafa Kemal became known as an extremely capable military officer during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Mustafa Kemal led the Turkish national movement in what would become known as the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His successful military campaigns led to the liberation of the country and to the establishment of the Republic of Turkey. During his presidency, Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms. An admirer of the Age of Enlightenment, Atatürk sought to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic and secular nation-state. The principles of Atatürk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.

Mustafa Kemal was born in Salonika (now Thessaloniki, Greece).  He was the son of a minor official who became a timber merchant.  When Mustafa Kemal was 12 years old, he went to military schools in Salonika and Monastir, centers of anti-Turkish Greek and Slavic nationalism.  In 1899, Mustafa Kemal attended the military academy in Istanbul, graduating as staff captain in January 1905.

Because of his activities in the secret Young Turk movement against the autocratic government of the Ottoman Empire, of which Turkey was a part, Mustafa Kemal was posted to Syria, in virtual exile. There he founded the secret Fatherland and Freedom Society (1906).  Transferred to Salonika the following year, Mustafa Kemal joined the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) that carried out the Young Turk revolution in July 1908. He was not, however, in the inner circle of the CUP and therefore played no role in the actual revolution.

In the 1909 coup that ousted the Sultan, Kemal was a central and active participant. 

From 1911 to 1912, Mustafa Kemal fought in Libya against Italy.  He distinguished himself in the defence of Tripolitania and was promoted to major in November 1911.

He organized the defense of the Dardanelles during the Balkan Wars (1912-13) and was military attache in Bulgaria in October 1913.  During World War I, in which the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) sided with Germany, Mustafa Kemal enhanced his military reputation at Gallipoli (1915), where he played a crucial role in repelling the Allied invasion.  He then served in the Caucasus and Syria, where he was given command of a special army group just before the armistice was signed in October 1918.

Returning to Istanbul, Mustafa Kemal watched in anxiety as the victorious Allied powers prepared to partition Anatolia -- to divide Turkey.  Mustafa Kemal did not agree with such draconian terms of the Armistice and made up his mind to fight for the total independence of Turkey.

A Greek army occupied Izmir on the Anatolian coast on May 15, 1919.  Mustafa Kemal, who had been appointed inspector of the Third Army in Anatolia, reached Samsun on May 19.  He immediately set about uniting the Turkish national movement and creating an army for defense.   First, however, the nationalists had to wage a struggle against the Ottoman sultan’s regime in Istanbul, which seemed willing to allow the dismemberment of the national territory. 

By 1920, the Istanbul government had been discredited for acquiescing to the Allied occupation of the capital and signing the Treaty of Sevres, which recognized Greek control over parts of Anatolia.  Mustafa Kemal, meanwhile, had organized congresses at Erzurum and Sivas and had set up a provisional government in Ankara in April 1920.    After initial setbacks, he won decisive battles against Greek forces at Sakarya (in August 1921) and Dumlupinar (in August 1922).  Finally, his forces reoccupied Izmir in September 1922.

Having dealt with the external threat, Mustafa Kemal next turned to the internal one posed by the conservative forces around the sultan.  The sultanate was abolished on November 1, 1922, and the republic was proclaimed on October 29, 1923, with Mustafa Kemal -- the Ataturk -- as president.  Ataturk founded the People’s party (renamed Republican People’s party in 1924) in August 1923 and established a single party regime that, except for two brief experiments in 1924-5 and 1930 with opposition parties, lasted until 1945.

Ataturk created a modern and secular state, using his great prestige and charisma to introduce a vast program of reforms.  These included abolishing the caliphate, which embodied the religious authority of the sultans, and all other Islamic institutions; introducing Western law codes, dress and calendar; using the Latin alphabet; and removing (in 1928) the constitutional provision naming Islam as the state religion.  Ataturk also introduced the vote for women and formulated new civil, criminal and commercial codes.  In 1934, a law was enacted which required all citizens to use family names and it was in this year that the Grand National Assembly accorded Mustafa Kemal the name of “Ataturk” --  “Father of the Turks.”

Ataturk’s achievements were many, but most were based on Western models.  Ataturk believed that the traditional way of running Muslim countries had outlived itself, and that Turkey’s chances of surviving the future as well as gaining new strength would only be through adopting principles from the European countries, which at that time had outdistanced Turkey in all fields.

His reforms included imposing regulations that hindered the use of central elements of Muslim clothing style, the introduction of the Latin alphabet, a reduction of the centrality of Islam in Turkish public life, equality of all citizens regardless of religion, emancipation of women and regular education of the masses.  He introduced a political system that had many elements from Western systems, but he never allowed political pluralism, allowing only his own Republican People’s party.  Ataturk’s system of government had a unicameral parliament, a government that had to answer for the quality of its achievements, as well as an effective bureaucracy. 

By 1931, the ideology of the Turkish regime, known as Kemalism or Ataturkism, was articulated and defined by six principles: republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism, and revolutionism.  In 1919, Mustafa Kemal had been first among equals, but by 1926, Ataturk had eliminated all political rivals, using an alleged assassination conspiracy as the excuse.  Thereafter, although he ruled as an autocrat, his regime was in fact based on an alliance of the civil and military bureaucracy, the newly developed bourgeoisie, and the landowners.

Ataturk’s principal aim had been to save his people from humiliation and to transform Turkey into a modern, twentieth century nation.  Ataturk pursued this aim with total determination and political finesse.  Perhaps Ataturk’s most essential trait was his political realism which enabled him to carry out his reforms without disastrous adventures and allowed Turkey to live at peace with its neighbors.  Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died in Istanbul on November 10, 1938. 

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk see Ataturk
“Father Turk” see Ataturk
“Father of the Turks” see Ataturk

Atay, Falih Rifqi
Atay, Falih Rifqi.  See Falih Rifqi Atay.

Atsiz ibn Uvak
Atsiz ibn Uvak (d.1079).  Turkmen chief.  At the appeal of the Fatimids, he occupied Jerusalem, Palestine and southern Syria, conquered Damascus in 1076 and attacked Egypt itself in 1077, but was defeated.  He appealed to the Great Seljuk Malik-Shah, who decided to make Syria an appanage for his own brother Tutush ibn Alp Arslan, who had Atsiz killed. 

Attahiru Ahmadu
Attahiru Ahmadu (d. 1903).  Ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate at the time of the British conquest from 1902 to 1903.  His predecessor, Abdurrahman (1891-1902), had died shortly after Frederick Lugard had begun the British conquest of Northern Nigeria.  Because of internal dissension the Sokoto army could not put up a strong defense against Lugard’s forces, and Attahiru was forced to flee (1903).  Lugard entered the capital afterwards, and persuaded the people to elect a new ruler.  Attahiru reminded the citizens of Sokoto that the founder of the caliphate, ‘Uthman dan Fodio, had prophesied that one day the faithful would be called to take the hijra (flight) to the east.  He soon gathered a large following of people willing to abandon their homes to join him on the journey.  British forces followed and were beaten off six times by Attahiru’s army before the British finally defeated and killed the deposed ruler about 1000 kilometers from Sokoto.  As many as 25,000 of his followers continued the journey, however, traveling to the Blue Nile in modern Sudan where their descendants live today. 
Ahmadu, Attahiru see Attahiru Ahmadu

'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim (Farid al-Din ‘Attar) (Abū Hamīd bin Abū Bakr Ibrāhīm (born 1145-46 in Nishapur – died c. 1221), much better known by his pen-names Farīd ud-Dīn and ‘Attār (the pharmacist), was a Persian Muslim poet, theoretician of Sufism, and hagiographer from Nīshāpūr who left an everlasting influence on Persian poetry and Sufism.. 

He was born and spent most of his life in Nishapur in north-east Persia.  By profession a pharmacist (Arabic “‘attar”) and physician, ‘Attar spent many years collecting the tales and sayings of Muslim mystic saints, putting together 97 biographies in his one prose work, Tadhkirat al-Awliya.  Attar was also a believer in the theosophical tenets of the mystical Sufi movement.  He traveled widely throughout Egypt, Turkestan, and India, always returning to Nishapur.  

‘Attar was an extremely prolific writer.  His most celebrated work is Mantiq al-Tayr (“The Conference of Birds”) [Mantiq ut-Tair (“Language of Birds”)], a poem of 4600 couplets that expounds through allegory the Sufist doctrine of human and divine union. Mantiq al-Tayr is an elaborate allegory with numerous digressions.  Mantiq al-Tayr became a much imitated and commented on work in the Muslim world.  In Mantiq al-Tayr, ‘Attar, the born storyteller, describes how all the birds (i.e., human souls) set out in search of the Simurgh (a mythical bird, i.e., the Godhead).  All but thirty of the birds die and the survivors realize that they are themselves the Simurgh.

‘Attar’s other important writings are Pandnamah (“Book of Counsel”); Bulbul Namah (“Book of the Nightingale”); Ilahi-nama (“The Book of the Divine”), the parable of the quest for happiness of a king’s six sons; Musibat-nama (“The Book of Affliction”), an allegory of the soul’s ascent to God; and Asrar-nama (“The Book of Secrets”). 

Information about Attar's life is rare. He is mentioned by only two of his contemporaries, `Awfi and Nasir ud-Din Tusi. However, all sources confirm that he was from Nishapur, a major city of medieval Khorasan (now located in the northeast of Iran), and according to `Awfi, he was a poet of the Seljuq period. It seems that he was not well known as a poet in his own lifetime, except in his home town, and his greatness as a mystic, a poet, and a master of narrative was not discovered until the 15th century.
`Attar was probably the son of a prosperous chemist, receiving an excellent education in various fields. While his works say little else about his life, they tell us that he practiced the profession of pharmacy and personally attended to a very large number of customers. The people he helped in the pharmacy used to confide their troubles to `Attar and this affected him deeply. Eventually, he abandoned his pharmacy store and traveled widely - to Kufa, Mecca, Damascus, Turkistan, and India, meeting with Sufi Shaykhs - and returned promoting Sufi ideas.

`Attar's initiation into Sufi practices is subject to much speculation and fabrication. Of all the famous Sufi Shaykhs supposed to have been his teachers, only one - Majd ud-Din Baghdadi - comes within the bounds of possibility. The only certainty in this regard is `Attar's own statement that he once met him.  Nevertheless, from childhood onward `Attar, encouraged by his father, was interested in the Sufis and their sayings and way of life, and regarded their saints as his spiritual guides.

`Attar reached an age of over 70 and died a violent death in the massacre which the Mongols inflicted on Nishabur in April 1221. Today, his mausoleum is located in Nishapur. It was built by Ali-Shir Nava'i in the 16th century.

The thought-world depicted in `Attar's works reflects the whole evolution of the Sufi movement. The starting point is the idea that the body-bound soul's awaited release and return to its source in the other world can be experienced during the present life in mystic union attainable through inward purification. In explaining his thoughts, 'Attar uses material not only from specifically Sufi sources but also from older ascetic legacies. Although his heroes are for the most part Sufis and ascetics, he also introduces stories from historical chronicles, collections of anecdotes, and all types of high-esteemed literature. His talent for perception of deeper meanings behind outward appearances enables him to turn details of everyday life into illustrations of his thoughts. The idiosyncrasy of `Attar's presentations invalidates his works as sources for study of the historical persons whom he introduces. As sources on the hagiology and phenomenology of Sufism, however, his works have immense value.

Farid al-Din ‘Attar see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim 'Attar see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
'Attar, Farid al-Din see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
Abu Hamid bin Abu Bakr Ibrahim see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
Farid ud-Din see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim
'Attar see 'Attar, Farid ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim

Auda Abu Tayeh
Auda Abu Tayeh (d. 1924).  Bedouin tribal leader and warrior.

 Many consider Auda Abu Tayeh the real hero of the Arab revolt of World War I.   T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) described him as the “greatest fighting man in northern Arabia.”

Auda could trace his roots back through many generations of great desert Howeitat warriors of the Arabian peninsula.  He epitomized everything noble, powerful and proud about the Bedouin.

Lawrence wrote of Auda, “he saw life as a saga, all the events in it were significant:  all personages in contact with him heroic, his mind was stored with poems of old raids and epic tales of fights.”

As was customary in the desert, Auda was known for his sweeping hospitality and generosity that “kept him always poor, despite the profits of a hundred raids.”

He married 28 times and was wounded more than a dozen times in action.  Legend had it that he had killed 75 Arabs by his own hand.  Auda did not even bother to keep count of the Turks.

In battle, Auda became a wild beast assuaged only after he had killed.  He was hot headed but always kept a smile on his face.  Despite his fierce reputation, he was described as modest, direct, honest, kind-hearted and warmly-loved.

Auda lived in the desert near the Hejaz Railway.  He preferred the isolation – and isolation came when he killed one too many debt collectors from Constantinople and the Turks put a price on his head.  These desert landscapes were the precise areas Faisal and Lawrence needed to operate in order to avoid close attention from the Turks.

“Only by means of Auda abu Tayi” wrote Lawrence, “could we swing the tribes from Maan to Aqaba so violently in our favour that they would help us take Aqaba and its hills from their Turkish garrisons.”

Auda’s tribesmen were reputedly the finest fighters in the desert which is why his support and assistance was vital to the Arab Revolt.  With the incentives of kicking the Turks out of Arabia – and the lure of gold and booty – Auda joined the Revolt.

He was repeatedly approached by the Turks with further financial inducements if he would switch to their side, but he refused to go back on his word.  He was an Arab patriot and he rode with Lawrence, proving instrumental in the capture of Aqaba.

The great warrior was by Lawrence’s side when they entered Damascus.  The crowds, yelling, dancing and firing volleys into the air, cheered Auda and Lawrence, covering them in flowers and kisses.

After the war, Auda returned to his home town of el-Jefer to build himself a great kasr (palace) of mud-brick using Turkish prisoner-labor.

His golden years were short, years of hard riding and fighting finally caught up with Auda, who died in 1924. 

Tayeh, Auda Abu see Auda Abu Tayeh
“greatest fighting man in northern Arabia” see Auda Abu Tayeh
Auda abu Tayi see Auda Abu Tayeh
Tayi, Auda abu  see Auda Abu Tayeh

Aurangzeb.  See Aurangzib.

Aurangzib (Aurangzeb) (Muhi ud-din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I) (Al-Sultan al-Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram Abul Muzaffar Muhi ud-din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I, Padshah Ghazi) (November 4, 1618 – March 3, 1707) (November 4, 1618 - March 3, 1707).   The last of the great Mughal emperors of India (r. 1658-1707).  During his reign, the Mughal Empire reached its widest extent but also began its descent.  Towards the end, the Empire was in shambles, ruined by a series of wars (many of which were of Aurangzib’s own making).
Aurangzib, also known by his chosen imperial title Alamgir I (Conqueror of the Universe), was the 6th Mughal Emperor whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707. Aurangzib's reign as the Mughal monarch was marked by years of wars of expansion and a series of rebellions by his non-Muslim subjects.

Aurangzib (Aurangzeb) was the third son of Shah Jahan.  His mother was Shah Jahan’s principal wife, Mumtaz Mahal.  He was originally named Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad, but was given the name Aurangzib (“Ornament of the Throne”) while still a prince. 

His first responsible assignment under his father as emperor came with his appointment to the viceroyalty of the Deccan (1636-1644).  He was subsequently governor of Gujarat (1645-1647) and of Multan (1648-1652).  He led two expeditions against Kandahar (1649 and 1652), but was unsuccessful.  In 1652, he was reappointed viceroy of the Deccan.  He reorganized the revenue administration of the Deccan with the assistance of Murshid Quli Khan and led successful expeditions against Golconda (in 1656) and Bijapur (in 1657).

When his father was incapacitated by illness in 1657, Aurangzib and his brothers began a deadly struggle for the succession.  First, Aurangzib seized the opportunity offered by the sudden illness of Shah Jahan to unite with his younger brother Murad Bakhsh and overthrow the imperial forces at Dharmatpur (in April 1658).  The civil war continued for some time, but the ultimate result was that Shah Jahan (d. 1666) became his prisoner; Dara Shikoh was captured and executed (in August 1659); his other elder brother Shuja driven to exile and death in Araccan (1660-1661); and Murad Bakhsh imprisoned (in 1658) and executed (in 1661).

Aurangzib prevailed and ascended to the throne in June 1659, adopting the title Alamgir (“Conqueror of the World”).  He began his reign by organizing a vigorous campaign in the Deccan against Bijapur and the Marathas under Shaista Khan (1660-1661) and against Cooch Bihar and Assam under Mir Jumla (1661-1663).  These campaigns were not as successful as expected; and in the Deccan the Mughals received a great setback when Shivaji overran Shaista Khan’s camp at Pune in 1663 and plundered Surat in 1664.  A large army under Jai Singh forced Shivaji to accept the treaty of Purandhar (1665), but the subsequent campaign against Bijapur proved a failure (1665-1666).  This lack of success was compounded by Shivaji’s flight from Agra (1666) and his renewal of war with a second sack of Surat (1670).  This period was also one of considerable agrarian distress, marked by scarcities and high prices, which continued until 1670.  Aurangzib issued two important firmans (farmans) containing detailed regulations to protect peasants against excessive revenue demand and to encourage them to extend cultivation.  Whether these had any practical effect is debatable.  The agrarian “crisis” might have been one factor behind uprisings such as those of the Jats in 1669 and the Satnamis in 1672.  The Afghan tribes revolted from 1672 to 1675, necessitating Aurangzib’s own stay at Hasan Abdal from 1674 to 1675.

These difficulties probably explain Aurangzib’s recourse to a more orthodox religious policy than his predecessors as a possible means of gathering firmer Muslim support.  He doubled customs duties on non-Muslims (1665), sanctioned temple destruction (1669), and imposed the poll tax (jizya) on non-Muslims (1679).  These measures were not without qualifications.  Many great ancient temples were allowed to stand; many areas, and the Rajputs and Hindu officers, were exempted from the jizya.  The Rajput and Maratha component in the nobility was not directly affected by the new policy.  The Rajput revolt of 1679 to 1681 involved the Marwar and Mewar principalities, and the latter returned to its allegiance in 1681.  But the revolt was complicated when Aurangzib’s son Akbar joined it (in 1681).  As the revolt died out, Akbar fled to Shambhuji in Maharasta, and this compelled Aurangzib in 1682 to march to the Deccan, never to return to the North.

Aurangzib initiated vigorous campaigns against the Deccan powers.  Bijapur was annexed in 1686, and Golconda in 1687.  Shambhuji was captured and executed in 1689.  He also extracted a tribute from Tanjore (now Thanjavur) and Trichinopoly (now Tiruchchirappalli) in 1691.

A four year campaign (1691-1695) by Asad Khan and Zulfiqar Khan resulted in the occupation of all of South India, with the exception of Kerala.  But Maratha power was revived in its homeland, and Aurangzib’s armies proved unable to contain the Maratha sardars (chiefs).  Aurangzib himself besieged and took fort after fort while large parts of the Deccan were sacked by the Marathas.  During a great famine in the Deccan from 1702 to 1704, more than two million people perished, according to a contemporary estimate.  Aurangzib was compelled to open the ranks of the Mughal nobility so as to win over opponents, and this brought about a crisis in jagirs, which was also a reflection of the financial strains caused by war on the Mughal administration. In spite of revolts such as those of the Jats and Sikhs, North India by and large remained peaceful.

Aurangzib died in February 1707, and lies buried in a simple grave at Khuldabad, near Aurangabad.  Unlike his three predecessors, Aurangzib was not a great builder nor a great patron of the arts.  His interests lay elsewhere.  He patronized the compilation of a great collection of rules of Muslim law, the Fatawa-i Alamgiri, and liberalized awards of land grants to theologians.  He was not, however, a blind fanatic, and tried to maintain the administrative machinery of the empire in as efficient a shape as he had found it.  He had few personal vices, and remained dedicated to his work until his death.  His death was followed by a war of succession among his sons Mu’azzam (Bahadur Shah), Azam, and Kam Bakhsh; and although Mu’azzam was successful (1709), the empire was badly shaken by the war.  Aurangzib’s failure to resolve the Maratha question also left alive a threat to the empire that would only grow with time. 

From a contemporary perspective, Aurangzib is perceived to have been a shrewd military leader and a brilliant ruler, with an administrative talent matched by cunning statesmanship.  A devote Muslim, Aurangzib unwisely abandoned the religious tolerance of his Mughal predecessors and ruled the Hindu majority by ruthless force that earned him their universal hatred.  Aurangzib also won the enmity of the Sikhs when he executed their ninth guru, Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675).  Nevertheless, when Aurangzib died, on an expedition against the Marathas, he left a vast empire, albeit an internally weakened one that would not long endure.

Today, Aurangzib is usually perceived as being the complete opposite in temperament to his great grandfather, Akbar.  If Akbar’s reign was characterized by the word “tolerance”, then Aurangzib’s was summed up by the word “persecution.”

Aurangzib observed the precepts of Islam faithfully. He lived in the palace almost as if he were an ascetic and, like his great grandfather, turned to a largely vegetarian diet.  A strict legalist, Aurangzib could not condone the “idolatry” of his Hindu subjects.  Ironically, his fanatical dedication to Islam did more to hamper the spread of Islam than did Akbar’s alleged apostasy. 

Under Aurangzib, Hindu Indians once again resisted their foreign rulers.  Within Aurangzib’s Islam, bitterness developed between those who were doggedly determined to follow the militaristic rules of the Qur’an and those inclined to the spreading of faith in Allah by example and preaching.  Aurangzib’s reign marked the beginning of the end for the Mughal empire.  His narrow vision of justice and his grim determination to unite his subjects by force finally shattered the fragile foundations of peaceful cooperation which Akbar had sought to establish. 

Aurangzeb see Aurangzib
Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I see Aurangzib
Muhammad, Muhi-ud-Din see Aurangzib
“Ornament of the Throne” see Aurangzib
Alamgir see Aurangzib
“Conqueror of the World” see Aurangzib

Aussaresses, Paul
Paul Aussaresses (November 7, 1918 – December 4, 2013) was a French Army general, who fought during World War II, the First Indochina War and Algerian War. His actions during the Algerian War, and later defense of those actions, caused considerable controversy.

Aussaresses was a career Army intelligence officer with an excellent military record when he joined the Free French Forces in North Africa during the Second World War. In 1947, he was given command of the 11th Shock Battalion, a commando unit that was part of France's former external intelligence agency, the External Documentation and Counter-Espionage Service, the SDECE (replaced by the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE)).

Aussaresses provoked controversy in 2000, when in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde, he admitted and defended the use of torture during the Algerian war. He repeated the defense in an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, further arguing that torture ought to be used in the fight against Al-Qaeda, and again defended his use of torture during the Algerian War in a 2001 book, The Battle of the Casbah. In the aftermath of the controversy, he was stripped of his rank, the right to wear his army uniform and his Légion d'Honneur. Aussaresses remained defiant, he dismissed the latter act as hypocritical.

Aussaresses, recognizable by his eye patch, lost his left eye due to a botched cataract operation, not combat.

Aussaresses was born on November 7, 1918, just four days before the end of World War I, in Saint-Paul-Cap-de-Joux, Tarn department, in Languedoc. His father, Paul Aussaresses senior, was serving in the French military at the time of his son's birth because of the war.

In 1941, Aussaresses served a year as an officer cadet in Cherchell, Algeria. The next year, in 1942, he volunteered for the special services unit in France. He was a member of a Jedburgh team and a member of Team CHRYSLER which parachuted into France behind the German lines in August 1944. The Jedburghs worked clandestinely behind enemy lines to harness the local resistance and coordinate their activities with the wishes of the Allied Commanders. CHRYSLER deployed from Algeria via an American aircraft to work with the local French Resistance in Ariège. On September 1, 1946 he joined the 11th Choc Battalion and commanded the battalion from 1947 until 1948, when he was replaced by Yves Godard. Later, he served in the First Indochina War with the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment.
In 1955, he was transferred to Philippeville, Algeria, to be part of the 41st Parachute Demi-Brigade as an intelligence officer. He restarted his demi-brigade's intelligence unit, which had been disbanded during peacetime but was deemed necessary by the French Army who wanted to quell the insurgency of the 'Algerian rebels'. On August 20, 1955, the FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front) staged an attack against the police of Philippeville. Aussaresses states that he had information about this attack well beforehand and therefore he was able to prevent much of the possible bloodshed. The members of the FLN had also forced many of the men, women and children of the countryside to march in front of them, without weapons, as human shields. Aussaresses reports that his battalion killed 134 of these men, women and children, and that hundreds more had been wounded. He reports that two men from his own side also died, and that around one hundred others had been wounded.

In the spring of 1956, Aussaresses attended a top-secret training camp in Salisbury, England for a one-month training to prepare for the battle at Suez Canal. He returned to Bône, Algeria in May 1956 to continue exercises with paratroopers on their way to the Suez Canal. On June 1, 1956, he received a spinal fracture from a parachuting exercise, which prevented him from participating in the Suez operation.

General Jacques Massu, who had noted Aussaresses' work against the insurrections in Philippeville, ordered Aussaresses to work under him in Algiers as an agent to control the FLN in Algiers. Aussaresses reported for duty in Algiers on January 8, 1957. He was the main executioner and intelligence collector under Jacques Massu during the Battle of Algiers. On January 28, he broke a city-wide strike organized by the FLN using repressive measures. Soldiers forcibly dragged all public utilities workers to their jobs. Store fronts were torn open so that the owners had to open the store for fear of being looted. Later in 1957, he ordered his men to hang Larbi Ben M'Hidi, an important member of the FLN, as if he had committed suicide. In a separate incident he ordered that an officer throw Ali Boumendjel, an influential Algerian attorney, from the 6th floor of the building he was held prisoner in, claiming that Boumendjel had committed suicide. France decreed that both deaths were suicides, but Aussaresses admitted both assassinations in 2000.

Aussaresses contends, in his book, that the French government insisted that the military in Algeria "liquidate the FLN as quickly as possible". Subsequently, historians debated whether or not this repression was government-backed or not. The French government has always claimed that it was not, but Aussaresses argues that the government insisted upon the harsh measures he took against Algerians - measures which included summary executions of thousands of people, hours of torture of prisoners, and violent strike-breaking.

Aussaresses was quite candid in his interview in Le Monde forty years later (May 3, 2001):
"Concerning the use of torture, it was tolerated, if not recommended. François Mitterrand, the Minister for Justice, had, indeed, an emissary with Massu in judge Jean Bérard, who covered for us and who had complete knowledge of what went on in the night."
Aussaresses justified the use of torture by saying how shocked he was by the FLN's massacre at the El Halia mine. He suggested that torture was a small but necessary evil that had to be used to defeat a much larger evil of terrorism. Aussaresses also claimed that he used these methods because it was a quick way to obtain information. He also defended its use by saying that the legal system was meant to deal with a peacetime France, not a counter insurgency war that the French army was faced with in Algeria.

In an interview to Marie-Monique Robin, Aussaresses described the methods used, including the creation of death squads (escadrons de la mort), the term being created at this time.

Following Aussaresses' revelations, which suggested that torture had been ordered by the highest levels of the French state hierarchy, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Jacques Chirac (RPR) to indict Aussaresses for war crimes, declaring that, despite past amnesties, such crimes, which may also have been crimes against humanity, may not be amnestied. The Ligue des droits de l'homme (LDH, Human Rights League) filed a complaint against him for "apology of war crimes," as Paul Aussaresses justified the use of torture, claiming it had saved lives following the Necessity Defense [AKA: Choice of Evils] and/or the Self-Defense (although he did not explicitly use this expression). He was fined 7,500 Euros by the Tribunal de grande instance court of Paris, while Plon and Perrin, two editing houses who had published his book in which he defended the use of torture, were sentenced each to a 15,000 Euros fine. The judgment was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in April 2003. The Court of Cassation rejected the intercession in December 2004. The Court of Cassation declared in its judgment that "freedom to inform, which is the basis of freedom of expression" does not lead to "accompany the exposure of facts ... with commentaries justifying acts contrary to human dignity and universally reproved," "nor to glorify its author." Aussaresses had written in his book: "torture became necessary when emergency imposed itself."

Aussaresses had a successful military career after the war. Unlike many of his fellow officers, he did not choose to join the OAS militant group to continue the fight in Algeria after the French military began to withdraw their forces. In 1961, he was appointed as a military attaché of the French diplomatic mission in the United States, alongside ten veterans of the Algerian War formerly under his charge. In the United States, he also served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, alongside the 10th Special Forces Group, a military unit that specialized in tactics of unconventional warfare. There he taught the "lessons" of the Battle of Algiers", which allegedly included counter-insurgency tactics, interrogation, and torture. According to Aussauresses, he specifically taught lessons from Colonel Trinquier's book on "subversive warfare" (Aussaresses had served under Trinquier in Algeria). The Americans' Vietnam era Phoenix Program was inspired by these American students of Aussaresses, after they had sent a copy of Trinquier's book to CIA agent Robert Komer.

Aussaresses relocated to Brazil in 1973 during the military dictatorship, where he maintained very close links with the military. According to General Manuel Contreras, former head of the Chilean DINA, Chilean officers trained in Brazil under Aussaresses' orders and advised the South American juntas on counter-insurrection warfare and the use of torture that was widely used against leftist opponents to the military regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.

The character of Julien Boisfeuras in the novels The Centurions and The Praetorians by Jean Larteguy was according to Larteguy not based on anyone, but many believe that he was at least partially inspired by Aussaresses and Roger Trinquier.

Avars.  Ibero-Caucasian people inhabiting the mountainous part of Dagestan and the northern part of Azerbaijan.

The Eurasian Avars, sometimes referred to as the European Avars, or Ancient Avars, were a highly organized and powerful confederation of a mixed ethnic background, thought to be closely related to Bulgars, Khazars and other Oghur Turkic peoples of the time. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit retinue of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turkic groups. They first appeared in the late 4th century as the Rouran on the northern borders of China, where they maintained their power for two centuries. They appeared in Central and Eastern Europe in the 6th century, where Avar rule persisted over much of the Pannonian Plain up to the early 9th century.They are also found in north India as ahirs.

The origin of the European Avars is unclear. Information about origins is derived primarily from the works of Byzantine historians Menander Protector and Theophylact Simocatta. The confusion is compounded by the fact that many clans carried a particular name because they believed it to be prestigious, or it was attributed to them by outsiders describing their common characteristics, believed place of origin or reputation. Such a case has been seen repeatedly for many nomadic confederacies.

The ethnic Avars formed in central Asia in the classical age through a fusion of several tribal elements. Turkic Oghurs migrated to the Kazakh steppe, possibly moving south to inhabit the lands vacated by the Huns. Here they interacted with a body of Indo-European-speaking Iranians, forming the Xionites (Hunas). Sometime during the 460s, they were subordinated by the Mongolic Rouran. The Rouran imposed their own rulers, referred to as Uar, at the head of the confederacy. Being a highly cultured people, the Oghurs rose to prominence within the tribal confederacy.

Early in the sixth century, the confederacy was conquered by the Göktürk empire (the Göktürks were previously yet another vassal tribal element under Rouran supremacy). The Göktürks enslaved the Oghur tribe, which was one of the most powerful, and was accomplished in the art of war. One body of people, perhaps wishing to evade Göktürk rule, escaped and migrated to the northern Caucasus region c. 555 C.C.  Their new neighbors believed them to be the true Avars. They established diplomatic contact with the Byzantines, and the other nomadic tribes of the steppes lavished them with gifts. However, the Göktürks later persuaded the Byzantines that these nomads were not the real Avars, but were instead a group of "fugitive Scythians" who had fled from the Göktürks and stolen the prestigious name of Avar. Hence they have subsequently been called pseudo-Avars.

If the Avars were ever a distinct ethnic group, that distinction does not seem to have survived their centuries in Europe. Being an "Avar" seems to have meant being part of the Avar state (in a similar way that being "Roman" ceased to have any ethnic meaning). What is certain, by the time they arrived in Europe, the Avars were a heterogeneous, polyethnic people. Modern research shows that each of the large confederations of steppe warriors (such as the Scythians, Xiongnu, Huns, Bulgars, Avars, Khazars, Cumans, Mongols, etc.) were not ethnically homogeneous, but rather unions of multiple ethnicities.

Whatever the origin of the initial group of nomadic warriors, the Avars rapidly intermixed with the Slavic population on the lower Danube basin and Pannonian Plain  Slavic was likely used as a lingua franca within the khaganate amongst the disparate peoples. Anthropological research has revealed few skeletons with Mongoloid-type features, although there was continuing cultural influence from the Eurasian nomadic steppe.

The Avars arrived in the northern region of Caucasia in 557. They sent an embassy to Constantinople, marking their first contact with the Byzantine Empire. In exchange for gold, they agreed to subjugate the "unruly gentes" on behalf of the Byzantines. They defeated and incorporated the various nomadic tribes - Kutrigur Bulgars, Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, Sabir Bulgars, and Antes, and by 562 controlled the vast steppes of Ukraine and the lower Danube basin. By their arrival into the Balkans, the Avars were a heterogeneous group of c. 20,000 horsemen. Having been bought off by the Eastern Emperor Justinian I, they pushed north into Germany (as Attila the Hun had done a century before), eventually reaching as far north as the Baltic. However, further expansion into Germania was halted by Frankish opposition and the harsh conditions of western Europe.

Seeking rich pastoral lands, they initially demanded land south of the Danube River (in present-day Bulgaria), but this was denied them by the Byzantines, who used their contacts with the Göktürks as a threat against Avar aggression. They thus turned their attention to the Carpathian plain and the natural defenses it afforded. However, the Carpathian basin was then occupied by the Gepids. In 567, the Avars signed an alliance with the Lombards, who were the enemies of the Gepids, and together they destroyed much of the Gepid Kingdom. The Avars then persuaded the Lombards to move into northern Italy, an invasion that marked the last Germanic mass movement in the Migration Period.

Continuing their successful policy of turning the various barbarians against each other, the Byzantines convinced the Avars to attack the Sclavenes in Scythia Minor - for their land was rich and had never been conquered before. After devastating much of the Sclavenes' land, the Avars returned to Pannonia, but not before many of the khagan's subjects deserted to the Byzantine Emperor. By 600, the Avars had established a nomadic empire stretching from modern-day Austria in the west to the Pontic steppes in the east, ruling over a multitude of peoples.

Like Attila before him, by about 580 the Avar Khagan, Bayan, established supremacy over practically all Slavic, Hunno-Bulgar, and Germanic tribes. When the Eastern Roman Empire was unable to pay subsidies or hire Avar mercenaries, the Avars raided Rome's Balkan communities. According to Menander, to sack Dalmatia in 568, Bayan commanded 10,000 Kutrigur Bulgar, effectively cutting Byzantium's land link with North Italy and the West. By 582, the Avars had captured Sirmium, an important fort in the former Roman province of Pannonia. When the Byzantines refused to increase the stipend amount requested by Bayans's son and successor Bayan II (from 584), the Avars proceeded to capture Singidunum and Viminacium. However, during Maurice’s Balkan campaigns in the 590s, the Avars experienced setbacks. Being defeated in their homeland, some Avars defected to the Byzantines in 602, but Emperor Maurice decided against returning home as was customary. He maintained his army camp beyond the Danube throughout the winter, which caused the army to revolt (602). This gave the Avars a desperately needed respite. The ensuing civil war prompted a Persian invasion and after 615 gave the Avars a free hand in the undefended Balkans. They attempted an invasion of northern Italy in 610. Payments in gold and goods reached the record sum of 200,000 solidi shortly before 626.

In 626, the joint Avar and Persian siege of Constantinople failed. Following this defeat, the Avars' prestige and power declined. The Byzantines document a battle between the Avars and their Slav clients in 629.  Seven Croat tribes were hired as mercenaries to help in war against the Avars. Shortly after this, the Croats and Serbs took over rule in Dalmatia/Illyria. In the 630s, Samo increased his authority over lands to the north and west of the khanate, at the expense of the Avars, becoming King of the Wends. Around 630, the Great Khan Kubrat (Kurt), of the Dulo clan of the Utigur and Onogur Bulgars, led a successful uprising from Patria Onoguria ("the homeland of Onogurs"), to end Avar authority over the Pannonian Plain, establishing what the Byzantines used to call Old Great Bulgaria. In 631-32, there was a civil war, possibly a succession struggle, between the joint Avar/Kutrigur Bulgar parties and Kubrat's Utigur Bulgar forces. The Kutrigur Bulgar party lost, and chroniclers recorded that 9,000 Kutrigur Bulgars sought asylum and fled to Bavaria, only to be slaughtered by King Dagobert. However a significant number of Cozrigurs must have remained in Pannonia (Transylvania in particular), as they were noted in the time of Menumorut.

The Great Khan Kubrat, the ruler of Great Old Bulgaria, died in 665 and was succeeded, in what is present-day Ukraine, by his eldest son Batbayan (Bayan). By 670, the Khazars had shattered the unity of the Onogur Bulgar confederation, causing the Utigur Bulgars to leave Ukraine and migrate west. By 677, the "Hungar"/(Onogur) ethnicon established itself decisively in Pannonia. This new ethnic element (marked by hair clips for pigtails; curved, single-edged sabres; broad, symmetrical bows) marked the middle Avar-Bulgar period (670-720). One group of Onogur Bulgars, led by Khan Kuber, after defeating the Avars in Srem, moved south and settled in the present-day region of Macedonia. Another group of Onogur/Utigur Bulgars, led by Khan Asparuh (the father of Khan Tervel), had already settled permanently in the Balkans (c. 679-681). Although the Avars’ empire had diminished to half its original size, they consolidated rule over the central "Hungar"/(Onogur) lands, mid-Danubian basin, and extended their sphere of influence west to the Viennese Basin. With the death of Samo, some Slavic tribes again fell under Avar rule. New regional centers appeared, such as those near Ozora and Igaz (county Fehér/Hungary). This strengthened the Avars' power base, although most of the Balkans now lay in the hands of Slavic tribes, since neither the Avars nor Byzantines were able to reassert control.
The gradual decline of Avar power was brought to a rapid crash within the space of a decade. A series of Frankish campaigns in the 790s led by Charlemagne ended with their conquest of the Avar realm, taking most of Pannonia up to the Tisza River. The song "De Pippine regis Victoria Avarica" celebrating the defeat of the Avars at the hands of Pepin of Italy in 796 survives. The Franks baptized many Avars and integrated them into the Frankish Empire. In 804, the Bulgarian Empire (Khanate) conquered the southeastern Avar lands- Transylvania and south-eastern Pannonia to the Middle Danube River. Many Avars became subjects of the Bulgar Khanate. The Franks turned the Avar lands under their control into a military march. The eastern half of this March was then granted to the Slavic Prince Pribina, who established the Balaton principality in 840. The western part of Awarenmark continued to exist until 871, when it was integrated into the Carantanian and Eastern marches.

After the fall of the Avar Empire, the name Avar, and the self-identified constructed ethnicity it carried, disappeared within a single generation. An Avar presence in Pannonia was still extant in 871 but thereafter the name was no longer used by chroniclers.  The Avars had already been fusing with the more numerous Slavs for generations. In turn, they came under the rule of external polities – that of the Franks, the Bulgar Khanate and Great Moravia. Isolated pockets of Avars in Transylvania and eastern Pannonia escaped assimilation, and might have been the “Huns” encountered by the invading Magyars in the 10th century. The Avars of Tiszántúl and Crisana were still bilingual when the Hungarians arrived in 895. Their hypothetical descendants, the Székely (who apparently preserved the Avar Dragon Totem well into the 15th century), were relocated to Transylvania in the 12th century. In contrast to Transylvania, the descendants of those who had considered themselves "Avars" in the 700s (i.e., part of the Avar polity, even if actually of Slavic or Germanic background) in the central Pannonian Plain were absorbed by the invading Magyars to form the new nation of Hungary.

Avempace (in Arabic, Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Bajja) (Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh) (Ibn Bajjah) (c.1095-1138).  Spanish-born Muslim philosopher and the first known exponent in Spain of the Neo-platonic tradition of intellectual mysticism.  Avempace conceived of the divine as an “Active Intellect,” to which the human soul can be joined.  This union is achieved through stages of intellectual ascent.  It begins with basic sense impressions of form and matter and ascends, through a hierarchy of increasingly less material forms, ultimately reaching the pure Active Intellect, or God.  Avempace propounded these ideas in his book On the Union of the Intellect.  Avempace also wrote several commentaries on Aristotle.

Ibn Khaldun ranked Avempace with Averroes (Ibn Rushd) in the West and Alfarabius and Avicenna (Ibn Sina) in the East, as one of the greatest philosophers of Islam.  Avempace was also a poet, musician, and composer of popular songs.  He also studied mathematics, astronomy, and botany. 

Avempace became a vizier under the Almoravids of Saragossa, Spain.  His works survive in their original Arabic in a few manuscripts and in Hebrew translations.  His most celebrated work, Rule of the Solitary, is of a Neo-platonic character. 

Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh was an Andalusian-Arab Muslim polymath: an astronomer, logician, musician, philosopher, physician, physicist, psychologist, poet and scientist. He was known in the West by his Latinized name, Avempace. He was born in Zaragoza in what is today Spain and died in Fes, Morocco in 1138. Avempace worked as vizir for Abu Bakr ibn Ibrahim Ibn Tîfilwît, the Almoravid governor of Saragossa. Avempace also wrote poems (panegyrics and 'muwasshahat') for him, and they both enjoyed music and wine. Avempace joined in poetic competitions with the poet al-Tutili. He later worked, for some twenty years, as the vizir of Yahyà ibn Yûsuf Ibn Tashufin, another brother of the Almoravid Sultan Yusuf Ibn Tashufin (died 1143) in Morocco.

The philosophic ideas of Avempace (Ibn Bajjah) had a clear effect on Ibn Rushd and Albertus Magnus. Most of his writings and books were not completed (or well organized) because of his relatively early death.  Nevertheless, he had a vast knowledge of medicine, mathematics and astronomy. His main contribution to Islamic philosophy is his idea on Soul Phenomenology.

Though many of Ibn Bajjah's works have not survived, his theories on astronomy and physics were preserved by Maimonides and Averroes respectively, which had a subsequent influence on later astronomers and physicists in Islamic civilization and Renaissance Europe, including Galileo Galilei.

Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Bajja  see Avempace
Abū-Bakr Muhammad ibn Yahya ibn al-Sāyigh  see Avempace
Ibn Bajjah see Avempace

Avennasar.  See Abu Nasr al-Farabi.

Avennathan.  See Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham.

Averroes (Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd).  See Ibn Rushd.
Ibn Rushd see Averroes
Abu al-Walid Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Rushd see Averroes

Avicenna.  See Ibn Sina.

Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati
Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati (AMGT).  Turkish name of the Organization of the National Vision in Europe.  In the early 1970s, the first branches of the “National Vision” (Milli Gorus) organization were founded by Turkish labor migrants in Europe.  These groups had close connections to the National Salvation Party (Milli Selamet Partisi [MSP]).  The name “Milli Gorus” stands for a philosophy as well as for the organization and is derived from the programmatic book Milli Gorus (Ankara, 1973) of party leader Necmettin Erbakan.  In 1976, the various groups joined together in the Turkish Union in Europe, which changed its name in 1982 to the Islamic Union in Europe and in 1985 to the Organization of the National Vision in Europe (Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati [AMGT]).  With its headquarters in Cologne, Germany, about twenty-five to thirty centers and 145 mosques in different parts of Germany, 150 to 220 affiliated organizations, about seventy thousand members and the Organization of Islamic Youth in Europe (Avrupa Islamci Genclik Birligi), the AMGT is the largest non-governmental organization of Muslims in Germany.

The AMGT also runs centers in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Austria.  It cooperates with other Islamist organizations, such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, the Afghan Party of God (Hizbullah), the Filipino Moro National Liberation Front, and the Libyan Islamic Call Society.  After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and the military takeover in Turkey in 1980, severe ideological and political conflicts erupted within the organization.  In 1984, a group of radical fundamentalist and anti-secular Muslims around Cemalettin Kaplan left the AMGT and founded the Iran-oriented Federation of the Islamic Unions and Communities.  In 1986, three members of AMGT were accused at the State Security Court in Ankara of attempting to establish a theocratic state in Turkey.  They were also suspected of working as a connecting link between AMGT, the Kaplan group, and Iran.

The ideological orientation of AMGT is Islamist.  It is based on the Qur’an, the sunnah (traditions of the Prophet), and shari‘a.  The Qur’an ranks as the only legitimate constitution.  The political developments in Iran are considered to be an important step toward the liberation of Islam and as a model for the re-islamization of Turkish society.  AMGT advocates the bipartite division of the world in accordance with Islamic international law (dar al-Islam/dar al-harb). Living in Western societies means living in societies alien and hostile to Islam.  Integration into Western societies and adaptation to the Western way of life is strictly rejected and is regarded as a treason to Islam.  Consequently, AMGT is also opposed to the integration of Turkey into the European Community.  Since the end of the 1980s, however, there have been indications of a new dialogue with trade unions, churches, and the media.  But it is too early to tell if this portends a change in policy or if this is mainly a tactical move.  Like other Muslim organizations, AMGT has applied for the legal status of “body of public law,” but no Muslim organization in Germany has yet been granted this status. 

AMGT see Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati
Organization of the National Vision in Europe see Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati
“National Vision” see Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati
Milli Gorus see Avrupa Milli Gorus Teskilati

Awami League
Awami League (Awami Muslim League) (Bangladesh Awami League) (BAL) (Bangladesh People's League) (All Pakistan Awami Muslim League) (All Pakistan Awami League). Pakistani political party founded in June 1949 by Hussain Shahid Suhrawardy as a vehicle for his political ambitions and as a party that could present an alternative program to the ruling Muslim League. Suhrawardy opposed the exclusiveness of the Muslim League (hence the early dropping of the word “Muslim” from the title of the Awami League). Designed to be a national party, it had its greatest strength in East Pakistan and very little in the west.  Key Bengalis associated with Suhrawardy were Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his de facto successor in 1963, and Maulana 'Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, a leftist agrarian leader who left the party in 1957. 

The program of the Awami League was moderate in economics but, especially under Mujibur, supported a high level of autonomy for the provinces and parity in administrative, economic, and developmental matters between the eastern and western portions of the country.  These ideas were embodied in the six-point program announced by Mujibur in 1966.  On this platform, the Awami League won a majority in the Pakistan National Assembly in 1970 but was denied the opportunity to take the reins of government.  The party was the spearhead of the civil war of 1971 leading to Bangladeshi independence.  The post-independence program emphasized democracy, secularism, socialism, and nationalism, but before the assassination of Mujibur in August 1975, the rule of the Awami League had become authoritarian.  The party has not since governed in Bangladesh, but remains politically important.  In the 1979 parliamentary election it won about 10 percent of the seats.  There have been several changes of leadership culminating in the selection of Mujibur’s daughter, Hasina Wajid, as the current leader. The party favors a parliamentary system with a socialist and secular society and economy. 

The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL)  (translated from Urdu Bangladesh People's League), commonly known as the Awami League, became the mainstream center-left and secular political party in Bangladesh. It also became the governing party after winning the 2008 Parliamentary elections in Bangladesh.

The Awami League was founded in Dhaka, the erstwhile capital of the Pakistani province of East Bengal, in 1949 by Bengali nationalists Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani and Shamsul Huq. The Awami League was established as the Bengali alternative to the domination of the Muslim League in Pakistan. The party quickly gained massive popular support in East Bengal, later named East Pakistan, and eventually led the forces of Bengali nationalism in the struggle against West Pakistan's military and political establishment. The party under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, would lead the struggle for independence, first through massive populist and civil disobedience movements, such as the Six Point Movement and 1971 Non-Cooperation Movement, and then during the Bangladesh Liberation War. After the emergence of independent Bangladesh, the Awami League would win the first general elections in 1973 but was overthrown in 1975 after the dramatic assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.The party was forced by subsequent military regimes into political wilderness and many of its senior leaders and actvists were executed and jailed. After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the Awami League emerged as one of the principal players of Bangladeshi politcs.

Amongst the leaders of the Awami League, five hav become the President of Bangladesh, four have become the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and one became the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Since the independence of Bangladesh, the party has been under the control of the family of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) laid down four key principles as the basis of its ideology and approach to politics, which is to establish "Sonar Bangla" (Golden Bengal), a term that refers to Bangladesh as a modern developed nation. The four key principles are in line with the original constitution of Bangladesh. Those four principles are Bengali nationalism, democracy, secularism and socialism.

The "All Pakistan Awami Muslim League" was formed as a breakaway faction of the "All Pakistan Muslim League" in 1949, within two years of the formation of Pakistan through the partition of India. The word "Muslim" was dropped in 1955. Two parties of the same name were created in Pakistan, one in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) on June 23, 1949 by Maulana Abdul Hameed Khan Bhashani. Its first general secretary was Shamsul Hoq and Treasurer was Nurul Islam Chowdhury . Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Khondokar Mostaq Ahmed and A.K. Rafiqul Hussain were its first three joint secretaries in East Pakistan. The other in the North-West Frontier Province of the then West Pakistan was created by Peer Manki Shareef soon after. In February 1950, the two were merged, creating the "All Pakistan Awami Muslim League", with Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy as its leader. As the years went by the Awami League became associated with the oppressed Bangla speaking majority of East Pakistan. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was elected party president in 1966, and the BAL gained much popularity through the famous six point movement.

The 6-point demands, proposed by Mujib, were widely accepted by the East Pakistani populace, as they proposed greater autonomy for the provinces of Pakistan. After the so-called Agartala Conspiracy Case, and subsequent end of the Ayub Khan regime in Pakistan, the Awami League and its leader Sheikh Mujib reached the peak of their popularity among the East Pakistani Bengali population. In the elections of 1970, the Awami League won 167 of 169 East Pakistan seats in the National Assembly but none of West Pakistan's 138 seats. It also won 288 of the 300 provincial assembly seats in East Pakistan. This win gave the Awami League a healthy majority in the 313-seat National Assembly and placed it in a position to establish a national government without a coalition partner. This was not acceptable to the political leaders of West Pakistan and led directly to the events of the Bangladesh Liberation War. The AL leaders, taking refuge in India, successfully led the war against the Pakistani Army throughout 1971.

After independence on December 16, 1971, the party formed the national government of Bangladesh. In 1972, under Sheikh Mujib, the party name was changed to "Awami League". The party was plagued by internal corruption and failed to repair the nation's wounds from the independence war. As Bangladesh continued exporting jute to Egypt, violating US economic sanctions, the Nixon government barred grain imports that Bangladesh had already paid for from reaching the country. As a consequence, the famine of 1974 occurred. 28,000 people died, and support for Mujib declined dramatically.

In January 1975, Mujib declared a state of emergency and later assumed the presidency, after the Awami League dominated parliament decided to switch from parliamentary to a presidential form of government. Sheikh Mujib renamed the League the "Bangladesh Farmers and Workers Awami League (Bangladesh Krishok Sramik Awami League, BAKSAL), and banned all other parties. BAKSAL became the strong arm of what had turned into a dictatorship, with Sheikh Mujib becoming the lifetime president. Many opposition political workers, mostly revolutionary communist elements, were jailed after three Members of Parliament were killed by the communist insurgency. The crackdown on opposition was aided by the elite paramilitary force Rakkhi Bahini.

These negative developments led to a widespread dissatisfaction among the people and even inside the Army. On August 15, 1975 some junior members of the armed forces in Dhaka, led by Major Faruk Rahman and Major Rashid, assassinated Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and all his family members. Within months, on November 3, 1975, four more of its top leaders, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmed, Captain Muhammad Mansur Ali and A. H. M. Qamaruzzaman were killed inside the Dhaka Central Jail. Only Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana, two daughters of Mujib, survived the massacre as they were in West Germany as a part of a cultural exchange program. They later claimed political asylum in the United Kingdom. Sheikh Rehana, the younger sister, chose to remain in the United Kingdom permanently, while Sheikh Hasina moved to India and lived in self imposed exile. Her stays abroad helped her gain important political friends in the West and in India that proved to be a valuable asset for the party in the future.

After 1975, the party remained split into several rival factions, and fared poorly in the 1979 parliamentary elections held under a military government. In 1981, Sheikh Hasina returned after the largest party faction, the "Bangladesh Awami League", elected her its president, and she proceeded to take over the party leadership and unite the factions. As she was under age at the time she could not take part in the 1981 presidential elections that followed the assassination of then President Ziaur Rahman. Throughout the following nine years of military rule by General Ershad the Awami League participated in some polls but boycotted most, nearly all of them allegedly rigged.

The Awami League emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament in the elections in 1991, following the uprising against Ershad. It made major electoral gains in 1994 as its candidates won mayoral elections in the two largest cities of the country: the capital Dhaka and the commercial capital Chittagong. Demanding electoral reforms the party resigned from the parliament in 1995, boycotted the February 1996 parliamentary polls, and subsequently won 146 out of 300 seats in the June 1996 parliamentary polls. Supported by a few smaller parties, the Awami League formed a "Government of National Unity," and elected a non-partisan head of state, retired Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed.

The Awami League's second try at governance produced mixed results. Apart from sustaining economic stability during the Asian economic crisis, the government successfully settled Bangladesh's long standing dispute with India over sharing the water of the river Ganga (also known as Padma) in late 1996, and signed a peace treaty with tribal rebels in 1997. In 1998, Bangladesh faced one of the worst floods ever, and the government handled the crisis satisfactorily. It also had significant achievements in containing inflation, and peacefully neutralizing a long-running leftist insurgency in south-western districts dating back to the first Awami League government's time. However, rampant corruption allegations against party office bearers and ministers as well as a deteriorating law and order situation troubled the government. Its pro poor policies achieved wide micro-economic development but that left the country's wealthy business class dissatisfied. The Awami League's last months in office were marred by sporadic bombing by alleged Islamist militants. Hasina herself escaped several attempts on her life, in one of which two anti-tank mines were planted under her helipad in Gopalganj district. In July 2001, the second Awami League government stepped down, becoming the first elected government in Bangladesh to serve a full term in office.

The party won only 62 out of 300 parliamentary seats in the elections held in October 2001, despite garnering forty percent (40%) of the votes, up from thirty-six percent (36%) in 1996 and thirty-three percent (33%) in 1991. The BNP and its allies won a two-thirds majority in parliament with forty-six percent (46%) of the votes cast, with BNP alone winning forty-one percent (41%) up from thirty-three percent (33%) in 1996 and thirty percent (30%) in 1991..

In its second term in opposition since 1991, the party suffered the assassination of several key members. Popular young leader Ahsanullah Master, a Member of Parliament from Gazipur, was killed in 2004. This was followed by a grenade attack on Hasina during a public meeting on August 21, 2004, resulting in the death of 22 party supporters, including party women's secretary Ivy Rahman, though Hasina lived. Finally, the party's electoral secretary, ex finance minister, and veteran diplomat Shah M S Kibria, a Member of Parliament from Habiganj, was killed in a grenade attack in Sylhet later that year.

In June 2005, the Awami League won an important victory when the Awami League nominated incumbent mayor A. B. M. Mohiuddin Chowdhury won the important mayoral election in Chittagong, by a huge margin, against BNP nominee State Minister of Aviation Mir Mohammad Nasiruddin. This election was seen as a showdown between the Awami League and the BNP. However, the killing of party leaders continued. In December 2005, the Awami League supported Mayor of Sylhet narrowly escaped the third attempt on his life as a grenade thrown at him failed to explode .

In September 2006, several of the party's top leaders, including Saber Hossain Choudhury and Asaduzzaman Nur, were hospitalized after being critically injured by police beatings while they demonstrated in support of electoral-law reforms. Starting in late October 2006, the Awami League led alliance carried out a series of nationwide demonstrations and blockades centering around the selection of the leader of the interim caretaker administration to oversee the 2007 elections. Although an election was scheduled to take place on January 22, 2007 that the Awami League decided to boycott, the country's military intervened on January 11, 2007 and installed an interim government composed of retired bureaucrats and military officers.

Throughout 2007 and 2008, the military backed government tried to root out corruption and get rid of the two dynastic leaders of the Awami League and BNP. While these efforts largely failed, they succeeded in producing a credible voter list that was used in the December 29, 2008 national election.

The Awami league participated in the national election on December 29, 2008 as part of a larger electoral alliance that also included the Jatiya Party led by former military ruler General Ershad as well as some leftist parties. The Bangladesh Awami League won 230 out of 299 constituencies, and together with its allies, garnered a total of 262 seats. The Awami League and its allies received fifty-seven percent (57%) of the total votes cast. The Awami League alone got forty-eight percent (48%), compared to thirty-six percent (36%) of the other major alliance led by the BNP which by itself won thirty-three percent (33%) of the votes. Ex-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, as party head, was the Prime Minister-Elect.
 Awami Muslim League see Awami League
Bangladesh Awami League see Awami League
BAL see Awami League
Bangladesh People's League see Awami League
All Pakistan Awami Muslim League see Awami League
All Pakistan Awami League see Awami League

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