A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Burhanuddin Rabbani, 1940-2011

The assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani in Kabul today is a sign that hopes for negotiations with the Taliban are unlikely to bear fruit; it also marks the end of the career of an Islamic scholar turned guerrilla fighter turned politician, an intriguing career trajectory in the evolution of modern political Islam. An Afghan Tajik from Badakhshan, he was trained as a scholar of Islamic law and theology at Kabul and at Al-Azhar in Egypt. During his Egyptian stay it's said he was influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. Returning to Afghanistan he became involved in the Jamiat-e Islami movement, which he came to lead. He organized students at the University and, in the Soviet era, became an active mujahideen leader in the countryside. After the fall of the Soviet Union, he served as Afghan President 1992-96, whn ousted by the Taliban, and in the Northern Alliance thereafter. In 2001 he was briefly named President before the election of Hamid Karzai, and who named him to head the Peace Council seeking negotiations with the Taliban. He was respected as a scholar and a political leader.

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