His Excellency Mahmud Beg Tarzi
H.E. Mahmud Tarzi was an Ambassador, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of War, and leader of the constitutionalists movement. However, he is known around the world as Afghanistan’s greatest thinker. He is known as the father of Afghan journalism and poetry. As a great modern thinker, he became a key figure in the history of Afghanistan, leading the charge for modernization and being a strong opponent of religious obscurest's.
Copyright © 2010 The Tarzi Family & The Tarzi Family Historical Society
Berlin - California - Geneva - Istanbul - Kabul - Kandahar - London - Moscow - New Delhi - New York - Rome - Washington D.C.
Mahmud Tarzi was born in the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan in 1866. His father was Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Tarzi, a leader of the Mohammadzai royal house and a well known poet who was a leader in his own right. In 1881, Amir Abdur Rahman Khan exiled Mahmud Tarzi's father and family - who would end up living in Turkey. On Mahmud Tarzi's second trip to Damascus in 1891, Tarzi married the daughter of Sheikh Saleh Al-Mossadiah. Tarzi would stay in Turkey until the age of 35, where he learned fluent Dari, Pashto, Turkish, French, Arabic, and Urdu. When Abdur Rahman Khan passed away, his son Amir Habibullah Khan, the new king, invited the Tarzi family back to Afghanistan in 1902.
Mahmud Tarzi would be known as the "Father of Afghan Journalism" and "Afghanistan's Greatest Intellectual. Through his accomplished life, Tarzi would publish a large number of articles and books. One of Mahmud Tarzi's earliest works was known as the "Sayahat-Namah-e Manzum (Account of a Journey)" that was published in Lahore, Pakistan. However, Mahmud Tarzi's most influential work - and the foundation of journalism in Afghanistan - was his publishing "Siraj al-Akbar Afghaniyah." This newspaper/magazine published bi-weekly from October 1911 to January 1919. It played an important role in the development of an Afghan modernist movement, serving as a forum for a small, enlightened group of young Afghans, who provided the ethical justification and basic tenets of Afghan nationalism and modernism. The paper took on controversial issues such as gender equality and anti-British Colonialism. Mahmud Tarzi also published Siraj al-Atfal (Children's Lamp), the first Afghan Publication aimed at a juvenile audience.
Tarzi was the first who introduced Novels in Afghanistan and translated many English and French novels to Dari. He also contributed in editing, translations, and modernization of the Afghan press. He translated into Dari many major works of European authors, such as Around the World in Eighty Days, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Mysterious Island, International Law (from Turkish), and the History of the Russo-Japanese War. When he lived in Turkey and Syria, he immersed himself in reading and research, using both Turkish and Western literary and scientific sources. In Damascus, Tarzi wrote The Garden of Learning, containing choice articles about literary, artistic, travel and scientific matters. Another book entitled The Garden of Knowledge (later published in Kabul), concludes with an article My beloved country, Afghanistan in which he tells his countrymen in Afghanistan how much he longs for his native land and recalls with nostalgia the virtues of its climate, mountains and deserts. In 1914, his novel Travel Across Three Continents in Twenty-Nine Days published. In the preface, he makes an apt comment about his love for history and its importance:
Although age has its normal limits, it may be extended by two things-the study of history and by travel. Reading history broadens one's perception of the creation of the world, while travel extends one's field of vision.
He was instrumental in developing a modern literary community his last two decades in Afghanistan. Many of Tarzi's writings would be published after his death. His intellectual discourse and literary prowess gave him a modernist and progressive social philosophy that would lead to political action later in his life.
H.E. Mahmud Beg Tarzi with his wife, Asma Rasmiya
Political & Social History
Politically, Mahmud Tarzi was an Afghan nationalist and intellectual. Tarzi held many government positions in his life. He is a good example of the reform-minded individuals that ruled Afghanistan at the beginning of the 20th century. After Amanullah Khan ascended the throne, Tarzi would not only become his father, but Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan in 1919. Shortly thereafter, the third Anglo-Afghan war began. After national independence from the British in 1919, Tarzi, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, established Afghan Embassies in London, Paris, and other capitals of the world. Tarzi would also go on to play a large role in the declaration of Afghanistan's independence. From 1922 to 1924, Tarzi served as Ambassador in Paris, France. He was then again placed as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1924 to 1927. However, throughout his tenure in Afghanistan, Tarzi was a high government official during the reigns of Amir Habibullah Khan and his son King Amanullah Khan.
Tarzi effectively guided the second movement of the young constitutionalists called ''Mashroota Khowha''. This led to reviving the first suppressed movement of the constitutionalists in Afghanistan. Tarzi served as high counsel and advisor during this event. From 1902 to 1927, he reached the highest points of government as a chief advisor and Foreign Minister. Tarzi was one of the main forces behind Habibullah Khan's social reforms, especially with regard to education. These reforms included changing the medieval maktep and madrasah systems, allowing publication of books and journals, and lifting all restrictions that ban girls and women from the rest of society. He lead the charge for modernization - doing so as a strong opponent of religious obscurest. Although very religious, he was strongly against the state establishing a religion, even if it was his o
Amir Amanullah Khan's Cabinet; Minister of Foreign Affairs Mahmud Tarzi sitting in the Middle.
Do you see something missing? Have some more detailed information? Saw an inaccuracy? Let us know!