The Constitution and Laws of Afghanistan


The Constitution and Laws of Afghanistan originally was written as a dissertation at Christ’s College, Cambridge, by an Afghan student, Sultan Muhammad Khan, and published in London in 1900. In his introduction, the author writes that in “searching in the libraries of the University of Cambridge and the British Museum, all the books of reference on Afghanistan which I have been able to find were either on history, travels, or war, and none specially on law.” One of his objectives is to compare “the modern laws of the most advanced European countries with the immature laws of a country which is now only just emerging from a state of lawlessness.” Sultan notes that the laws of Afghanistan are based on several sources, including ancient customs and Islamic law, borrowings in modern times from India and other neighboring countries, and on the work of the current ruler of Afghanistan, Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (circa 1844–1901, reigned 1880–1901). Another of Sultan’s objectives is to identify and analyze these different sources of law. The book begins with a brief outline of Afghan history. This is followed by several chapters on the crown and different aspects of the monarchy and the royal prerogative and chapters on the king in durbar and council; the king and his cabinet; the crown, justice, and courts of justice; the departments of government; and the crown and foreign powers. It concludes with a long chapter entitled “Comments on Private Law.” The book is dedicated to Amir ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan and his son, the heir apparent, Prince Habibullah Khan (1872–1919, reigned 1901–19). Sultan Muhammad Khan was mir munshi (state secretary) under ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan and edited and translated the amir’s autobiography for publication, which also appeared in 1900.

Last updated: September 30, 2016