Abd Rab Al-Rasul Saiaf is a Kharotay Ghilzay Pashtun from Baghman in the State of Kabul, Afghanistan. He was born in 1945, and obtained a BA from the College of Theology in Kabul University, and an MA in Hadith from Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
Mr. Saiaf emerged as an important Muslim activist as early as 1963 when he founded the first Afghan Islamic movement. While serving as a professor of Hadith (Prophet Mohammad’s sayings) at Kabul University, he strove to unite Afghan Muslims around the principles of Islam through his copious lectures, publications and preaching activities. He was tortured and jailed for six years because of his part in the resistance to the 1973 communist coup in Afghanistan and narrowly escaped execution. Following his discharge in 1980, he fled to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he was chosen as a non-partisan independent to help unify an alliance formed under the name of “The Islamic Union for the Liberation of Afghanistan.” Other leaders soon seceded the Union, while Saiaf converted it into a party under his own leadership. Two years later, he joined with other factions in a courageous fight against the communists that resulted in their expulsion from his country. An eloquent speaker of Arabic, Saiaf led delegations in the early 1980’s to Islamic Summits and Foreign Ministers’ Conferences in Taif, Islamabad and Niger, to garner support for his country and his party.
Being a strong opponent of the Taliban regime, Mr. Saiaf joined the Northern Alliance led by Ahmed Shah Massoud. In 2005, he re-named his party “The Islamic Call Organization of Afghanistan.” In 2007, he was elected to the constitutional Loya Jirga in Kabul where he is calling for amnesty for the former mujaheddin.