IV. The Early Modern Period, 1500–1800 > C. The Middle East and North Africa, 1500–1800 > 2. The Middle East, 1501–1808 > c. Afghanistan
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1490)
c. Afghanistan
In the 16th and 17th centuries, the Mughal Empire of India and the Safavid Empire of Iran held between them the area that would emerge in the 18th century as Afghanistan. The province of Herat remained with Iran, while Kabul was administered by the Mughals. The contested province of Qandahar moved between the two empires during this period but by 1700 became part of the Iranian sphere. Unlike Shi’ite Iran, the populace of Afghanistan remained Sunni Muslim.  1
c. 1700
The Afghan tribes of Ghilzay situated in Qandahar became essentially independent of Safavid rule, as did their enemies, the Abdali tribe located in Herat.  2
Consolidation of Ghilzay control of Qandahar. Mir Vays, leader of the Ghilzay Afghans, fell out with the Safavids and defeated their attempts to assert control over Qandahar, which he held until his death in 1715. His son Mahmud, who succeeded him, consolidated his command of the area.  3
THE AFGHAN INVASION OF IRAN. Led by Mahmud, the Ghilzays defeated the Safavid army and entered Isfahan after a six-month siege (Oct. 1722). The Safavid shah Sultan Husayn abdicated after declaring the Afghan victor Mahmud his successor. The Ghilzay Afghan dynasty ruled much of Iran and Afghanistan under Mahmud (1722–25) and his successor Ashraf (1725–30). But Nadir Shah, the Safavid general, mounted a campaign that expelled the Afghans from Iran and made him master of the country.  4
OCCUPATION OF AFGHANISTAN BY NADIR SHAH. The ruler of Iran captured Herat, Qandahar, Ghazna, and Kabul. The power of the Ghilzay was broken in this campaign. Nadir favored the Abdalis and enlisted large numbers in his army for his invasion of India in 1739. His army comprised largely Sunni Afghan troops, since his own Sunni beliefs had alienated his Shi’ite Iranian soldiers. His reign consolidated all of Afghanistan, a situation that ended with his death in 1747.  5
AHMAD SHAH DURRANI, FOUNDER OF THE SADOZAY DYNASTY. Following the death of Nadir Shah, Ahmad Shah, the Afghan commander of his bodyguard and a member of the Abdali tribe, proclaimed himself the ruler in Qandahar. He adopted the title Durr-i Duran (“Pearl of Pearls”), and after that the Abdalis were known as the Durranis. He invaded India several times and extended Afghan control from the eastern borders of Iran to Lahore, Kashmir, and Delhi.  6
TIMUR SHAH. The son of Ahmad Shah inherited an extensive empire. He faced many revolts in his Indian possessions as well as internal difficulties in controlling the Durranis. In 1776 he moved the capital from Qandahar to Kabul.  7
ZAMAN SHAH. The fifth son of Timur ruled the Durrani Empire with the help of the chief of the Afghan tribe of Barakzay. His attempt to invade India alarmed the British, who induced the Iranian Qajar ruler Fath Ali Shah to support Zaman Shah's brother Mahmud in his struggle for power. With British help Mahmud advanced on Kabul, captured and blinded his brother, and assumed power. (See Afghanistan)  8
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.