Niazi, Ghulam Mohammad (1932-1978)
Niazi was the founder of the Islamic Movement of Afghanistan. The son of Abdul Nabi, Niazi came from the village of Raheem Khel in the district of Andar in Ghazni Province. He received his early education at the local Hajwiri school and later joined Madrasa-e-Abu Haneefa at Kabul; in 1957 he earned a master’s degree from the University of al-Azhar in Cairo. There Niazi was influenced by the teachings of Sayyed Qutb and the organizational structure and underground activities of the Islamic Brethren, founded by Hassan-al-Bannan in 1929. “Niazi returned to Afghanistan a firm believer in reorganizing the Afghan society in conformity with the requirement of Islam.” In 1957 he established cells first at Abu Haneefa and then at Paghman, enlisting a group of devout teachers. The meetings continued uninterrupted and the number of participants increased, especially after the fall of Premier Mohammad Daoud in 1963.
After expansion, the organization was divided into five levels: cell (hasta), circle (halqa), precinct (houza), provincial shura (shura-e-vilayati), and central shura (shura-e-markazi). Meanwhile, Niazi had attained the status of professor and headed the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Kabul University. Until 1972 the organization still had no specific title; it was probably then that it was named the Islamic Association of Afghanistan (Jam’iyyat-e-Islame-e-Afghanistan). By then Niazi had succeeded in developing three distinct cells: (1) a thinker’s cell through which religious scholars were to plan the future course of action; (2) a worker’s cell to carry its messages to the public; (3) a link cell to establish contacts in the government with a view to influence policymakers.
In 1972 Professor Niazi was arrested and later released; he was arrested again in April 1974 and killed in 1978. (For details, see M. A. Khan, “Emergence of Religious Parties.”)