Afghan Biographies

Afghanistan Shia Community

Name Afghanistan Shia Community
Ethnic backgr.
Date of birth
Function/Grade Background Wahdat
History and Biodata

On the political side, the most influential groups among Afghanistan’s Shia community are the various Wahdat (unity) parties that go back to Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami-ye Afghanistan, established in 1989 in Bamyan, upon a suggestion by the Iranian leadership, in an attempt to bring together the Shia mujahedin groups. This name is still used by the party led by Khalili; Sarwar Danish, the second vice president to Ashraf Ghani, is a member as well. The second most important of the Wahdat parties is Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami-ye Mardom-e Afghanistan led by Mohammad Mohaqqeq, who was second vice presidential candidate to Abdullah and who now will become deputy CEO. There are some smaller groups, too, some officially registered, others not. None of the Wahdat party leaders considers themselves as religious leaders, although all of them have a background of religious education. The religious wing of Shia leadership is less pluralistic. (20141102)

The most powerful religious Shia leader in post-2001 Afghanistan is Ayatollah Mohammad Asef Mohseni, who is also a former mujahedin and political party leader. For many decades, until 2003, he headed the second largest Shia party, Harakat-e Islami (Islamic Movement) that had refused to join the original Wahdat party. After his retirement as Harakat leader, he built the biggest hawza (a university-like madrassa) of Afghanistan, in west Kabul, the Hawza-ye Khatm ul-Nabi’in that reportedly cost an estimated 17 million US-Dollars. He also founded the well-known TV channel Tamadon. He has been widely accused of having received Iranian financial support for these projects in order to promote Iranian policies in Afghanistan – although, in an interview with Radio Azadi, he rejected this and said the entire budget came either from his own wealth or from worshippers’ taxes (khoms). Other high-ranking Afghan Shia ayatollahs are Mohaqqeq Kabuli and Mohammad Hashem Salehi and the younger, thus less influential, Waezzada Behsudi.

Last Modified 2014-11-02
Established 2014-11-02