Mysterious scholar between East and West: Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani
“To his followers he was a great scholar of Islam, the leader against imperialism, the one who awakened the East, while to his opposers he was a charlatan who deceived Muslims by concealing his real identity, a thrill-seeker, a British spy, a heretic, Not much is known about Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897), who was highly influential on the Muslim world in the last century with the slogan that a powerful Islamic civilization can be restored against the dominance of Europe. And what little information available is filled with contradictions.
He comes from a Shiite Azerbaijani family from the Asadabad village of Iran. There is a another village with the same name in Afghanistan. He used the name al-Afghani to hide his Iranian and Shiite origin as he was generally active within predominantly Sunni areas. He usually traveled with his Iranian passport. The Sayyidi lineage as well as the name Muhammad were appended later to prove he is Mahdi. From time to time his nationality too would change – like his headgear – depending on the time and place. (In Islam, it is believed that close to the Day of Judgment, a religious leader named "Mahdi" will come from the lineage of Prophet Muhammad.)”