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Afghanistan's IslamFrom Conversion to the Taliban$
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Nile Green

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520294134

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520294134.001.0001

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The Beginnings of Islam in Afghanistan

The Beginnings of Islam in Afghanistan

Conquest, Acculturation, and Islamization

(p.41) 1 The Beginnings of Islam in Afghanistan
Afghanistan's Islam

Arezou Azad

University of California Press

Covering the period from 709 to 871, this chapter traces the initial conversion of Afghanistan from Zoroastrianism and Buddhism to Islam. Highlighting the differential developments in four regions of Afghanistan, it discusses the very earliest history of Afghan Islam both as a religion and as a political system in the form of a caliphate.  The chapter draws on under-utilized sources, such as fourth to eighth century Bactrian documents from Tukharistan and medieval Arabic and Persian histories of Balkh, Herat and Sistan. In so doing, it offers a paradigm shift in the way early Islam is understood by arguing that it did not arrive in Afghanistan as a finished product, but instead grew out of Afghanistan’s multi-religious context. Through fusions with Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, early Abrahamic traditions, and local cult practices, the Islam that resulted was less an Arab Islam that was imported wholesale than a patchwork of various cultural practices.

Keywords:   Afghanistan, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Conversion, Abbasid, Arabic, Persian, Bactrian

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