Islamic Expression in Afghanistan
Arab armies carrying the banner of Islam reached the Afghan area in AD 642.On the western periphery, the princes of Herat and Seistan gave way to rule byArab governors, but in the east cities submitted only to rise in revolt and thehastily converted returned to their old beliefs once the armies passed. Later,in the 9th century, Yaqub ibn Layth Saffari, founder of the local Saffariddynasty in the Seistan, swept through the Afghan area conquering in the name ofIslam; in the north the Islamic dynasty of the Samanids ruling from Bokhara tookBalkh in AD 900 and extended their realm as far as Kandahar. Meanwhile a Turkishslave general who had been dismissed by the Samanids conquered Ghazni. Asuccessor, the great Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (998-1030), conducted numerousiconoclastic campaigns into India and returned laden with rich booty. Ghazni,until then an insignificant fort-town, became one of the most brilliant capitalsof the Islamic world.
Today, approximately 99 percent of Afghans are Muslims. Eighty-five percentare Sunni of the Hanafi School; the rest are Shia, the majority of whom areImami along with smaller numbers of Ismailis. There is also a strong influenceof Sufism among both Sunni and Shia communities.
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