صدیق رهپو طرزی

We, Myth and Reality: Myths versus Realities about Afghans

صدیق رهپو طرزی

We, Myth and Reality: Myths versus Realities about Afghans

As we know, the most important factor that initially affects the course of a people’s history is the geographical setting, the terrain, the climate and especially the rivers. Ebn e Khaldun (27 May 1332-17 March 1406) described this rather well by saying that such communities pass from a crude and barbaric beginning which is marked by unruly courage and fierce clan solidarity to a dynamic and well-ordered society set to wield power, explore natural and human resources, acquire wealth, enjoy leisure, and develop arts and crafts, giving birth in the process to a distinct culture.
Cultures thus created keep on developing as long as communities possess its inner strength and creative power. It has to maintain and safeguard itself against external enemies and internal dissent and subversion. The comfort, leisure, luxury, and more importantly, the sheer weight of time that corrodes and enfeebles every dynasty, social order, and culture, eventually sap the energy and exhaust the cultural potentials of the community. The society can no longer defend itself against internal or external adversary forces, set to establish a new ruling power and possibly start a new culture. Finally the community becomes subservient to a new, rising culture and drifts along as its cultural or political client.
The total defeat of the Sassanian dynasty by Elam and Arab conquerors in the 7th century is a vivid example of the outcome of such cultural fatigue induced by old age.
Archaeological Data
The land which we call Afghanistan today, has a long and ancient history.  In the light of archaeological findings, this land was an important crossroad of different cultures in the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia and Far East.
During the prehistoric period, the Paleolithic people in the form of different clans and tribes were roaming and living in this region as early as 100,000 B.C.
In 1969, archaeologists discovered fragments of a Neanderthal skull along with the Mousterian, relating to or denoting the main culture of the Middle Paleolithic period in Europe, between the Acheulian and Aurignacian, elating to or denoting the main Lower Paleolithic culture in Europe (preceding the Mousterian) and a similar culture in Africa. It is represented by hand-axe industries, which are dated as a whole to about 1,500,000–150,000 years ago. periods (chiefly 80,000–35,000 years ago). It is associated with Neanderthal peoples and is typified by flints worked on one side only, type tools in the Dara e Kur ( Vally of Blind ) cave of Baba Darwishan ( Father Dervishes) village in Badakhshan province located in northeastern Afghanistan.  It is dated about 30,000 years. Dr. J. Lawrence Angel, who studied a large human temporal bone, believes that these fragments belong to modern man rather than that of Neanderthal.
Other reliable evidence reveals that an early Neolithic culture existed in the Indus Valley region. The Bronze Age remnants discovered in the area is indicative of a civilization before and after the Indus Valley ( Harappa ) of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC. This region was the trade center among China, Mesopotamia and Egypt civilizations.
This region was the crossroads of trade among China, Mesopotamia and Egypt. The most important precious stone of “ lapis lazuli”,a bright blue metamorphic rock consisting largely of lazurite, a bright blue mineral which is the chief constituent of lapis lazuli and consists chiefly of a silicate and sulphate of sodium and aluminum, used for decoration and in jewelry. and was carried from here to east and west. As a result of these trades and conquests, people from a lot of different ethnic groups settled down in this area, creating a colorful mosaic society.
Over the course of history, different people and powers have passed through this land, some of whom decided to settle there.
According to the latest data published in 1986, more than 50 ethnic groups of people live there. The ethnic groups can be categorized in three main categories of Indo -European or  Indo - Hittians , Altaic and Dravidian.
Our Traditional History
As we know, the history of our land is generally based on researches largely carried out by western scholars and has been available to us since the mid 19th century.  Prior to this date, our history was mostly  hidden in myths and stories which we can call  a historical tradition comprised of a mixture of myth, legend, and so called factual history.  Its origins can be traced to the oral traditions relating to the Avesta sacred personalities. These oral beliefs gradually assumed a national character with the spread of Zoroastrians and continued until the end of the Sassanian period. At that time they were committed for writing a semi-official historical book called Khodainama or Khodianamak.  After the advent of Islam, this book, which perhaps survived in more than one version, was translated into Arabic by Eben e Movaffaq in 757AD, and possibly by others as well. Later on, Persian redaction's of this book, primarily based on Eben e Movaffaq’s translation, were also written in both prose and verse, including a prose version ordered by Abeu Mansur Abdol Razzaq, the governor of Khorasan around 960, of which only its introduction, usually referred to as “The Older Preface to the Shah Nama” is extant. In all probability it served as the main source for Ferdawsi’s Shah Nama completed in 1010, which contains the most extensive interpretation of our traditional history.
The traditional history is divided into four sections:
(1) The Pishdadid kings, from Gayomarth, the initiator of kingship through Zav. These are the mythological world kings who supposedly ruled over all creatures on earth. The earlier ones had to fight the demons created by Ahriman. Through their acts and teachings, they create arts and crafts, and shaped useful institutions and civilizations too.
(2) The Kayanid kings, may be divided into two categories: (1) the major one from Kay Qobad, the founder of the dynasty to Kay Khosrow who disappeared mysteriously together with his noble warriors, and (2) the second one starts from king Lohrasp and ends with Dara who is defeated by Alexander the Great.
(3) The Ashkanid kings or the Arsacids, who are dealt with in a summary fashion version.
(4) The Sassanian from Ardashir I to Yazdgord III, who succumbs to the Muslim Arab invasions.
It is very strange that we cannot find traces of Median and Achaemenid in the Traditional History. The absence of Median rulers and the early Achaemenid kings as Cyrus the Great, Darius, and duplicates from traditional history is due to domination of Zoroastrian faith. The traces of such traditions survive only through external evidence by the Greeks who were in touch with them.
Yar e Shater mentions in his article about this kind of Traditional History, “Thus the traditional history, far from reflecting a search for critical facts, is a work which combines myth and legend, fact and fantasy, wonder and wit, moral precepts and rules of conduct, examples of heroism, loyalty, ambition, and sacrifice, and human frailty in the clutches of an inexorable fate; and it aims to instruct, entertain, edify, and bolster the sense of Iranian identity according to the Iranian worldview of the Sassanian era.”
Unfortunately, our famous history writers have recorded these myths and stories in our history without analyzing or taking into consideration historical facts.
·     Fayz Mohammad Kateb in his history book “ Seraj ol Tawarikh”(Lamp of History) published in 1912-14, mentions the names Pishdadids and Kayanids.  He believes that at that time our land was called Kabulestan and Zabolestan. Thus, without making difference between myths and realities, he, too, recorded it as history.
·     Ahmad Ali Kohzad lived and worked during a period when the Aryan Super Race doctrine was trumpeted widely by Hitler and his circle. At that time Afghan rulers who were controlling the country with great despotism followed suit. Kohzad, who was the  president of the Afghanistan Historical Society for more than a decade during this period, researched this subject with great enthusiasm. In his book “History of Afghanistan” published in 1946 under the chapter “Pishdadids”, Kohzad calls them the first Kings based on Avesta. Then Kohzad refers to Yama as the first king of Aryans. The following quotation from Kohzad’s book sheds strong light on mythical aspects of this story, “It is important to mention that during such prosperous time, there was not very much warm nor cold weather, there was no age and no death no ghosts and jealousy. All people lived in calm and tranquility.’’
It is very interesting that despite being a history researcher as well as president of the Afghanistan Historical Society, Kohzad accepted this myth as reality without further analysis or research. What we have quoted above is nothing but full of ideas of a lost Paradise and Golden City.
More interestingly, even now some of our writers believe and promote this myth as reality.
·      Gholam Mohammad Ghobar, an Afghan historian of the second half of 20th century records this myth as real Afghan history in his book “Afghanistan in the Course of History”(1967) by saying, “Zahhak, an evil figure, the king of Semitics attacked this land and put an end to the rule of Yama or Jamshid the king of Pishdadids.”  He bases his ideas on Shah Nama without taking into consideration the critical historic facts or distinguishing between myth and reality.
·     Abdul Hai Habibi in his book “Short History of Afghanistan” published in (1967), also repeats the same error by recording this myth as part of factual events in our land’s history.
·     In his book, “Afghanistan during the Last five Centuries” published in1988, Seddiq Farhang, too, points to this period of time as the dawn of our history.
It is very interesting that some of our scholars and writers, in a bid to carry out scientific research on the history of our land, have naively recorded these types of myths as part of our  real history. We witness that the different names of Aryans have dominated the culture of our names. Thus according to these data we cannot look objectively to our past.
The Historical Period
In order to be able to trace the history of our land objectively, we must uncover the different historical layers first, especially the cultural ones. I believe that if we seek our past in the narrow frameworks of political borders which encircle our land at present time, we cannot put our foot beyond the19th century. These borders were drawn for and imposed upon our land from the 1880s on.
As a historical fact, we know that Great Britain and Russia were the two dominating empires during the 19th Century.The old saying depicts rather well the dominance of the then British Empire by saying, “ The sun never sets in Her Majesty’s Empire”. On the other hand, Russia, too, ruled over vast territories extended from Eastern Asia to the edges of the Western Europe.  These two superpowers, nicknamed as “Octopus” during that time, crept closer towards our land as part of their colonialism and expansionism. Their power and might enabled these superpowers to impose their will and plans upon smaller nations of the region; thus, shaping up their forms and boundaries or changing their rulers. For their own benefit, Britain and Russia skillfully managed to cut the mosaic cloth of different ethnic groups woven and tailored in the form of dervish mantels to put on the shoulder of our so called emirs or heads of Muslim states ranked lower than a king and run all political and military affairs of the land. In this way, the superpowers of the time made the dream of the Iron Emir, Amir Abdol Rahman, 1980-1900, come true and put a wall around his land. Thus they founded a country on the surface of geographical map which comprised of various ethnic minorities.
In order to understand the real history of this land, we must dig much deeper and trace back to a land located between three rivers - Amo /Oxus, Sind / Indus and Shash / Jaihun/Jaxartes rivers.  Taking this point into consideration, we must note that the land located between Amo/Oxus, Jaxartes/Shash and Indus rivers was the cradle of the Indus Civilization around 4000-1500 BC.
If we confine ourselves to the framework of exciting borders, before the coming or aggressions of the people, who spoke Indo -European languages, in the triangle of Three Rivers,  there was a splendid civilization which we call it  Indus and Helmand civilization
The First Chapter of Our Land’s History
In 1951, French archaeologists discovered remains of an old civilization in Mundigak area located approximately 35 kilometers northwest of Kandahar city near the bank of Keshk e Nakhud River and Deh Morsai Ghundi ( Hill of Morsai Village ) village in southwestern Afghanistan. It showed that these two places were connected to Indus Civilization. As the data shows, they belonged to the pre -historic era and on the same ranks as the of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa in Pakistan and Shanidar in Iraq. It is necessary to note that the influence of the civilization between the three rivers of Indus, Amo and Shash has close relations with the Mesopotamia civilization.
The discovery of the Indus Civilization in 1920’s brought to light a new chapter of thought among scholars. Two important points of this discovery can be stated:
1.   The Indus Civilization was a new discovery in this era.
2.   The Indus Civilization existed long before migration of the Indo -European speaking people to this area. The most important books of these Indo -European languages are Rig Vida and its twin sister Avesta. In accordance with these documents, we can safely conclude that this civilization reached its peak between 3600-1900 B.C. which is clearly long before the migration period of the Indo-European speaking people to the region.  On the other hand, we know for fact that the dates and times in the oldest books of Rig Vida and its twin sister Avesta does not go beyond 1500 B.C.
Agricultural Villages and Civilization
As we know the agricultural villages have played a vital role in the flourishing of every civilization including the Indus civilization. The presence of these primitive villages has paved the way for flourishing of cities and civilizations. It provided possibilities for people to concentrate their efforts on development of political, religious and technological achievements.
In this region, the land between Amo, Shash and Indus rivers is the center of this new discovered civilization.
The Mundigak and Hill of Deh Morasi
The two archaeological sites of Mundigak and Deh Morasi were studied extensively by the renowned American archaeologist and an expert on Afghanistan, L. Dupree in 1961.  According to Dupree, these two sites had played a very important role in the making of the Indus civilization.
W. Vogelsang, in his book Afghans published in 2002, uses the Helmand civilization whenever he talks about Mundigak.
The Ensuing Historical Developments
From the second Millennium B.C. onwards, the Indo-European speaking people either migrated or came by force to this land. As we know these groups of languages have two main branches: Indo- Iranian and Indo-Aryan.
The first category includes Persian, Pashtu, Kurdish, Baluchi and other languages. The second category has sub language such as Hindi, Bengali, and Nepalese. However, the original inhabitants of this area spoke non Indo-European languages. We can clearly find the traces of these non Indo-European languages in the form of Brahui which belongs to the Dravidian language.
Historical Facts
According to historical evidences, especially petrographic or sandstone, Medians managed for the first time to establish a vast kingdom extending from Mesopotamia in the East to Bacteria to the West. Cyrus the great (559-529 B.C) the emperor of Achaemenids defeated Medians and ruled these areas.
Darius the First (522- 486 BC), captured the following territories which extended from Haraiva/Aria called Herat today; Baxtish/Bacteria called Balkh today; Thatagush/Sattagydia called Ghazni today all the way to Indus Valley; Harauvatish/Arachosia called Kandahar today, and Zaranka/ Drangiana called Sistan today.
Note: The names in Italics belong to the Old Persian languages.
In the writings of Citesthae, the famous physician in Achamenchinds's court, we can trace the people of Bactrian to Herodotus of Saks or Scythian race.
Alexander the Great passed through this region before entering India in 327 BC. Then Seleucid’s Dynasty, established by Sleucus the First in 358 BC, ruled this land. There are ruins of a Greek outpost city which was built about 325 BC in the banks of Amo and Kukcha rivers in northern Afghanistan.
After this period, Mauryans from India under the rule of Ashoka came in the scene followed by the local rulers of Graeco - Bacteria, Parthian, Kushans, Samanids, Hephthalites and so on.  During the expansion of the Islamic era in the region, Arabs invaded and occupied this land under the flag of Islam. Only after two hundred years of resistance and on-going struggles, Arab rulers finally succeeded to dominate this land with the collaboration of their own local leaders while the ordinary people continued to safeguard and preserve their cultural and lingual heritage.
This cross section of migrations and aggressions to this region, gave birth to a kind of ethnic mosaic canvas of the land.  Morgensterne, the renowned Norwegian linguist who started his research in 1924’s in the field in Afghanistan, describes this area as the treasure land for languages and culture.
Afghans as an ethnic group are a piece of the big mosaic structure of this land. The history of Afghans, like every other people, starts from myths and then gradually evolves to reality. Having said this, I’m trying here to start from myths and eventually find my way to realities.
The early history of Afghans is shrouded with some pre-historic myths and stories. Afghan historians and writers, for various reasons, even up until the Rowshanian era of the 16th century, had not paid serious attention to find the real roots of their people. As such, a number of theories and myths have gradually been developed by different sources over the course of the history including:
We, and This Point
1-The Jewish attribute
Ayin e Akbari or Akbar Nama written by Abdol Fadel in 1597-98, is the oldest document which shows Afghans of Jewish descent. Later on, a number of authors/writers have also pursued this path.  Akhond Darwizah in his book Tazkera Ashrar wa Abrar (1603-1613) as well as Nehmatolla Herawi in his book Tarikh e Jahan Khani wa Makhzan e Afghani (1612-1613), followed suit without paying any attention to historical facts and realities.
Khwaja Nehmatolla Herawi, in his book which was written in time of Jahangir, the ruler of Mughal empire in India, 17th century,  extended this theory.
He says that in the court of Jahangir  the the question of the origin of the Afghans was discussed. The Persian ambassador spoke ill of Afghans as descended of Dev or Bogeys and amused the king by giving him following account, “ Book of authority recounted that once King Zhuak, hearing of a race of beautiful women that lived in some far-off western countries, sent an army thither, which was defeated by the beautiful women, but afterwards, a stronger expedition was sent under Nariman, and they were reduced to sue for peace and gave in tribute of a thousand virgins. Then, on its return march, one night the army was encamped close to a wild mountainous country, there suddenly came down upon it a phantom, smote and scattered the troops in all directions, and then, , ravished all thousand virgins. In due time all became pregnant, and when Zhuak learnt this, he gave orders that women should be kept in the remote deserts and plains lest the unnatural off-springs should breed strife and tumult in the cities. The off-springs comprised the race of the Afghan”.( Mohammad Hayat Khan, “ Hayat e Afghani ” tr. Henry Priestly. Lahore, 1981, p.53)
Khan Jahan Ludhi, who was an Afghan amir, asked his secretary Nematolla to collect the account of the history of Afghans. He sent five of his servants to Afghan country for the purpose of making inquiries of the origin of the races. From the results of their inquires, they reach to the conclusion that they belong to Bani Israelites.
He believes that Afghan was the eldest son of King Saul (Shaul in Hebrew) or Malik Talut.  According to the Bible, he was elected by Judge Samuel and the people as the first king of Israel. Herawi also asserts that Afghans go ten generations back to Abraham and  twenty generations back to Adam. According to him, Afghans lived in Palestine and their descendants were captured by Sargon the second king of Assures in 722 B.C. Then, they were expelled by Bakhotonassar ( Nebuchadnezzar ) the king of Babylon who conquered Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Bakhotonassar, sent Afghans to a mountainous area called Ghur, situated in the central parts of Afghanistan now.  Philological and linguistic sciences find no common connection or bond between these two languages. As a matter of fact, the Afghan language belongs to what linguists call Indo-European language whilst the Hebrew language descended from Semitic languages.
2-The Islam factor
According to the tradition of Afghan genealogy, whatever its merit, all commence from Kyse, Qais ol Laik or Abdol Rashid. The tradition says that Kyse went to Arabia in the 7th century and embraced Islam in the hands of Prophet Mohammad. Then the Prophet gave Kyse the name of Abdol Rashid. He married the daughter of Khaled ben Walid and became the father of three sons: Sarban, Gharghasht and Bitan. Most historians emphasize on this legend. Hafez Rahmat Khan, In his book, “ Khulasat ol Asnab” (Brief of Genealogy) recorded the complete genealogy. In this genealogy they reach to Talut.
According to this legend, Khaled bin e Walid, the famous Arabian warrior, conquered Syria under the command of Abdol Rashid.
However, contrary to this myth, the Arabian historians have not mentioned Kaise’s (is it Kyse or Kaise ?) name at all. Similarly, they are silent about the name of Afghans as well. Therefore, we can safely conclude that this type of genealogical attributes can’t be relied upon as historical fact.
On the other hand, if we take a closer look at a book written by Nematolla, we can find a kind of nostalgia for the past. The author in this book tried to connect Afghans with mythical figures such as Solomon and David. Strangely enough, Nematolla, himself, acknowledges in his book that he had copied this genealogy of Afghan myth from a book originally written by Haibat Khan Kakar.
It is very interesting that Menhaj Seraj in his book Tabaqat e Naseri or The History of Naseri, rejected this myth of Jewish descent and Mountains of Ghur.
According to The Encyclopedia of Islam, “The roots of this theory can be sought in the fact that all Muslims around the world try to connect themselves to Prophet Mohammad and his descendants in one way or another and that is how this theory has found its way into the book of Tarikh e Jahan Khani wa Makhzan e Afghani.”
In the light of the above facts, we can reach the conclusion that such attributions are pure myths and legends rather than historical facts.
Miscellaneous legends
In addition to the above points, some other amusing legends and myths have also found its way into the history of our land and its people including:
1.   Afghans/Pathans believe that Qais is buried in the Solayman Mountains (called in Pashtu De Kase Ghar) located in Khorasan/Kaker Khorasan of Zhob district in Pakistan. The Solayman range lies between the Gomel River and northern Indus.
2.   According to some legends, Noah’s Ark, after the Deluge, alighted on peak of the Solayman Mountain.
3.   Other legends have it that Solayman (Prophet Solomon) once travelled to the Indian subcontinent to marry a lady named Belqis. Upon his return with the bride on a flying throne/carpet, Belqis requested him to stop for a while so that she takes a last look at her beloved native land and Solayman landed at this peak, which later on became known as the “Takht e Solayman” or Solomon’s Throne.
After a careful analysis and review of the above, we can clearly realize that such attributes have no scientific basis and thus are nothing but pure mythical and legendary stories. In conclusion, I believe that the famous Afghan contemporary writer, Habibolla Tezhi, in his book Pashtana questions the validity of this entire episode rather well by saying, “…some historians have tried to connect Afghans to the Israelis, Egyptians, Mongolian, Armenians, Tatarian, Hephthalites, Sacks, Rajputian, Brahmans, Jats (Gypsies), Greeks, Turks or even Arabs.”
The European point of view
Europeans, after coming to Asia, made contact to different people and cultures too.
Henry Vansittart in 1784 discovered a book by the name of “Asrar e Afghana” or the Secrets of Afghans. This book is the concise translation of a book that had been written in Pashtu by Hossain son of Saber. After translating this book into English, Henry sent it with a letter to Sir W. Jones who discovered the Indo-European languages groups for the first time.
He spread the legendary belief that Afghans are from Jewish origin.
Then a number of ensuing scholars such as A. Barnes in 1832, W. Moorcraft in 1825, C. Masson, G. Rose in 1852, H. Bellew and H. G. Raverty in 1854 spread the same theory without searching the facts. This subject has even found its way into the Jewish Encyclopedia too. They even heard it form Amir Dost Mohammad too.
These findings were mainly based on traditional genealogy which was picked up by oral stories. One of the authors based his theory by claiming that he had heard this from the mouth of Emir Dost Mohammad himself, the then king of Afghanistan.
It was M. Elphinstone in1814, who for the first time, put this theory under question. Then B. Dorn, the famous Orientalist, reached this conclusion in accordance with linguistic science findings, Afghans belong to Indo-European languages. However, it was Morgensterne, who put an end point to this myth.
The Realities
In a search for establishing their Afghan Identity, some Afghan historians of the 20th century have emphasized that Ahmad Abdali was the founder of Afghanistan in 1747. On the contrary, I believe that Ahmad Abdali did not have the intention of establishing a country by the name of Afghanistan. A lot of historians, called the territory and land under his rule as Abdali and later on as Dorrani Empire or even the King of Khorasan. This theory draws a red line, and cuts short our long history only to the 18th century.
According to some historians, Amir Abdul Rahman who ruled Afghanistan 1880-1901, is the founder of contemporary Afghanistan. At that time, the international borders of our land were drawn. L. Dupree, the famous historian expert on Afghanistan writes, “The dream of Abdul Rahman, as he mentioned himself, has changed to reality and came true. He called it Yaghistan (The land of Rebels). We can call it Land of the Unruly, the Land of Free and the Land of Insolence”.
A- The word of Afghans in the old texts
The word of Afghan is an old word. There are different ideas about its origin:
1.   Some scholars including Mojawer Ahmad Zyar, believes that the word Afghan existed in documents as back as the Sassanian period. As a proof, Zyar wrote to me in his letter in 2006 referring to a decree issued by the Sassanian king, Shahpur the First in 273-260 BC. This decree is engraved in the “Takht e Jamshid” or Throne of Jamshid  petrographic mentioning the word A- bagan or A- pagan.
2.   Some philologists argue that the word Afghan was derived from the Sanskrit word Ashvake meaning Horseman. Panini, the famous 5th century linguist has referred to it as Ashvakayana.
3.   Varahamihira, or Varaha or Mihira (505-587), the famous Indian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician wrote a book in the Sanskrit language called Panca - Siddhantika or Five Books. The author, in this book, depicted a vivid picture of India in the 6th century. He referred to Afghans as Avaganas. It is worth mentioning that even today the colloquial word for Afghan is called Awghan. In his book Brhat - Samhita, he wrote…“Under this comet ( a celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a Tail of gas and dust particles pointing away from the sun), there are these lands, mountainous trenches, Pahlavians, Sotians, Kolans and Avaganas…the cruel and arrogant people…”.
4.   In the 7th century, the famous Chinese pilgrim, Xuan Zang, Hsüan - Tsang or Hiun - Tsiang  noted down the word Afghan as A-Pokier or O-Pokier or Abujan or Abugan which is equal to Afghan word in the Chinese language.
I believe that the Arab conquerors of Afghanistan  transformed the word Avagana, or Avgan to its present form of Afghan because the Arabic language lacks letters P and G. Arabs changed the sound P or V to F (ف) and the sound G (گ) to GH (غ) resulting in creation of the word Afghan as well call it today.
B – The word Afghan in new texts
During the 8th and 9th centuries, Afghans emerged as a viable power in the political arena of this land when their warriors served in the armed forces of big conquers of the time. Professor A. K. Thakur, in his famous book India and the Afghans: A study of a Neglected Region, (1370-1576), writes that environmental forces and facts have made Afghans strong warrior. In this way, whenever the Muslim conquerors or Sultans of Delhi wanted to build a formidable fighting force against their enemies, they used Afghan leaders and their tribal armies.
According to a book called Fereshta published in 1192, these types of services offered by Afghans started during the era of Soboktagin of the Ghaznavids Dynasty in 1597 and continued all the way to the era of the Big Game in the 20th century and even today.
The word Afghan has also been mentioned in various literature as follows:
1.   In the book Hodud ol Aalam Menal Mashreq Elal Maghreb (The Boundaries of the World from East to West), by an anonymous author is among the first reliable books where the word Afghan is mentioned. This book was written during the time of Mohammad bin Ahmad Faraighun of the Faraighun Dynasty. Nuh bin e Mansur from the Samanids family, on page 16 of his book written in 1593under the chapter India and its cites talks about the city of Gardiz. On page 47 of this book, he calls it the border city between Ghazni and India. Then he mentions, “… the city is on the upper slopes of a valley. It is a strong fort surrounded by three walls. Their residents are called Kharejit ( foreigners )”. Then he talks about Saul, may be Shal which Baihaqi mentioned several times in his famous history book as, Shal, and writs as” It is a beautiful and pleasant village on a mountain in which Afghans live. The road passes between two mountains, and crosses from seventy-two torrents. The road is full of dangers and terrors.”
Then on page 49 of this book, he explains about the city of Husynan as, “It is a city situated in a hot desert”. On page 50 of this book, he mentions the name Ninhar or Banihar city, perhaps it is the old name of a present time province in Afghanistan called Nengarhar located in southeast of Kabul. He describes it as, “It is a place that the King tries to show that he is a Muslim. He has a lot of wives some of whom are Afghans and Indians. Thirty of the wives are Muslims and the rest are Idol worshippers.”
2.   Otbi or Mohammad bin Abdol Jabar wrote the book under the title of Yamani History in 1049. This book talks about Mahmud Ghaznavids and his great dynasty. This book was originally written in Arabic and translated into Persian by the famous writer of the Seljuk Dynasty in the 11th century by the name of Abulsharaf Naseh bin e Zafar bin e Saad Jarfadqani or Golpayagani. Under the Chapter About Afghans he writes, “…Sultan fought Afghan tribes who had captured the castles and mountains of our land. When the king was returning from the battle of Qonnuj, Afghans attacked king’s army. As an act of revenge, the king attacked them and destroyed their homes and ended their rebellious acts and killed a lot of their people.”
3.   Abu Raihan Mohammad Biruni, the famous Khwarizmi philosopher and mathematician compiled the book Tahqiq Malhand between 973-1050. This book talks about religions, literature, geography, chronology, astronomy, tradition, horoscopes and laws of India.  On page 102 under the Chapter 18 of this book, Biruni says, “The Sind/Indus river begins from the Unangin Mountains in the territory of Turks….This place is the end of the northern borders of India. On the western borders of India, in the Indus valley, live a lot of Afghan tribes.”
4.   Khwaja Abul Fazel Mohammad bin e Hossain Baihaqi wrote the famous history book “Tarikh e Baihaqi” between 995-1080. In this book, the author refers to the word Shal or Shahr meaning city in the Persian and Pashtu languages. This city of Shal is situated in Ghazni province, approximately 120 km southwest of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. Baihaqi writes that Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna built a big and splendid palace in this city.” Then on page 821 of this book, he mentions “… and on Friday, 21st of the month, the king arrived in glory to the capital and rested in the palace of Mahmudi in Afghan Shal.”
5.   Abu Saaid Abdul Hai bin e Zahak bin e Mahmud Gardizi on page 102 of his book Zain ol Akhbar written in 1050 writes, “When Amir (Masud) arrived in Hopian (a small village on the outskirts of Charikar city in Parwan province 55 km north of Kabul) he settled there. Then he sent Amir Majdud with two thousand soldiers to Multan and sent Amir Iziedyar (His son) to Ghaznin (Ghazni) mountains. There were rebellious Afghan people and Amir said, “Keep that province calm and do not let it to be disorderly and stormy.”
6.   According to Fereshta (1192), the army of Muazez ol Din Mohammad, the son of Sam, consisted of Turks, Tajiks, and Afghans. His Indian opponent, Prithwi Raj, assembled a force of Rajputs and Afghan horsemen. It shows that Afghans were battling in two trenches.
7.   Ibn e Battuta, who travelled in the 13th century from Morocco to China, recorded in his memoirs that Afghans lived between Ghazni and the Indus valley.
8.   Emperor Babor of the Indian Moguls writes in his 16th century memoir called Tozuk e Babori that Afghan tribes were living in the south of Kabul.
The new Ideas
Not reaching a consensus, some expert linguists on the different old languages of Afghanistan, argue that probably Afghans are the decedents of Sakes or Scythian. We can trace their profile in the castle of Dariush (486-522 BC) in Apadan. “…They have long shirts and trousers and wear turbans that cover their head, chin and neck. They have long and straight hair and their beards are the same. “ In another document they are called Bakhtarians.
In the 10th century, Afghans crossed the high mountain passes towards the south and settled in the land between Farah in the southwest and Solayman Mountains in the east.
However, the big migration of Afghans to the south and west started in the 13th century. Professor Thakur believes that this occurred in the time of the Mongolian onslaughts. During this period, more than 15 Princes from the Central Asia region took refuge under the protection of Olegh Khan, a famous general in the Mahmud Gazanvi’s army. Later on, Olegh Khan gained the title of Sultan Balban. He stood fast and fought fiercely against the Mongolian invasions.
The word of Pashtu
The word Pashtu, Pashtun, Pakhtu, or Pakhtun, (Indians pronounce it Pathan), is rather new. Some famous scholars such as Morgensterne, Mayrhofer and Brandenstein believe that different views exist about the roots of the Pashtu language. (Morgensterne Afghans p.17)
The Encyclopedia of Islam says Pashtu is a synonym for the Indian word Pathan. The word Afghan was referred to Abdali or Dorrani tribes while the word Pathan was used for Ghalzai tribes. Some scholars argue that the so called intellectuals of the Ghalzai tribes have started this theory during the 3rd decade of the 20th century and are pursuing it even as of this date.
According to the religious myths, some believe that Prophet Mohammad gave the title of Pathan to Kais or Abdul Rashid for his braveness. As we know the letter P doesn’t exist in the Arabic language, therefore, this can be rebutted as a traditional myth rather than historical fact.
Some scholars argue that the word Pashtu was taken from the Greek word of Pactyca. Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, used this word on page 192 of his history book. Herodotus talks about Darius and the tax which was being collected from his Empire. On page 93 of the original book, Herodotus refers to Pactya as the 13th province by saying, “Pactyca together with Armenians, and their neighbors as far as Black sea...” On page 44 of his original book, Herodotus writes, “The greater part of Asia was conquered by Darius. He wanted to find out where the Indus joins the sea -- the Indus is the only river other than the Nile where crocodiles are found—and for this purpose he sent off a number of his trusted men on an expedition down the river. Led by a Caryandian named Scylax, the expedition sailed from Caspatyrus in the district of Pactyca, following the course of river eastward until it reached the sea. Then, turning eastward, the ships followed the coast and after a voyage of some thirty months reached a place from which the king of Egypt had sent out Phoenician, mentioned earlier, to circumnavigate Libya. After this voyage was completed, Darius subdued the Indians and made regular use of the Southern Ocean.”
A lot of scholars and linguists, including Morgensterne, (See Pashtu, Pathan etc. 1940), have questioned the validity of this theory.
According to The Encyclopedia of Islam, some scholars argue “…The -ün goes back to -ana and the ancient sound-group which has resulted in Pashtu sht or kht is a later dialect form …could scarcely have been rendered by Greek xt.” (page 216).
In this regard, Professor Dr. Mojawer Ahmad Zyar expressed in his correspondence dated 2006, “Orientals at the end of the 19th century, in the light of historical comparative philology, have related the word Pashtu and Pashtun to Aryan ancient period as Parswana or Pasrwah. At the same time, they  linked it to Ptolemy who called all Eastern Aryans residents as Parvaswiti, but not Pactyea, Pachhat or Pactycus of Herodotus.”
The Encyclopedia of Islam also argues that, “…Probably the ancient form was Parsw-ana. This derived from Parsu or Assyrian-Babylonians word Parsu/a or Persian.”
Professor Thakur argues that since Afghans, after entering India settled down in the area of Patna, called them first Patnan and then Pathan. A group of Afghans, who lived in Rohilkand, are called Rohela or Hill men. These arguments show that the word Pashtu was derived from Pathan word.
M. Elphinstone, in  his book “ An Account of the Kingdom of Cabul and its Dependencies in Persian, Tatary and India, Comprising a View of Afghan Nation, and A History of Dorrani Monarchy” during his dealing with Yousofzais, or as written by him Izvestia's says, “…These causes filled India with colonies of the descendants of Afghauns (as Elphinstone heard it at that time) who are now called Patans”
M.E.(New Edition, London, 1972, Vol. 2, p.35 note D2.)
Note: This book was translated in Mashhad, Iran by Mr. Asef Fekrat in Persian language under the title of “Afghans” which is quite different from its original name.
Background of Pashtu Literature
Abdul Hai Habibi, Afghan contemporary scholar and writer, noted in 1971 that the oldest book in Pashtu language is called Khair ol Bayan written by Bayazid Ansari, known as Pir e Rowshan or Saint Rowshan 1524-1572). The Encyclopedia of Islam refers to this book as, “…The manuscript exists and was examined.” This book is a calligraphic literary piece written in the town of Toy located near the Khyber Pass. In his other book called Hal Nama, whenever he talks of Pashtu, he uses the word “Afghani” as “…in Afghani language, they have composed a lot of lyrics and elegy poems”.(A. Kargar in 2006)
Then, Dawlat, a follower of Rowshan and his contemporary writer, used the word Afghani whenever he was speaking of Pashtu language. He says, Afghani language is difficult and not easy to read and write so they made 13 special letters so that it could be read easily.” (Abdul Hai Habibi, 1971)
Akhond Darwizah, who lived after Rowshan in the 17th century, was Rowshan’s fierce and orthodox opponent. He wrote a book by the title of Makhzan e Islam” (Treasure of Islam) rebutting Rowshan. He, too, uses the word Afghani instead of Pashtu. He says, “It would be clear since letters in Afghani and Indian languages are very strong and difficult, so they made some special signs to make its reading easy” (A. H. Habibi 1971).
Seraj ol Akhbar e Afghaniah (1911-119), was among the pioneer newspapers in Afghanistan. It’s editor, Mahmud Tarzi used the word Afghani whenever referred to Pashtu language. (see Seraj ol Akhbar e Afghani, V. 5., No. 15, pp. 4 -11.1915).
The background of Pashtu literature can be best traced in The Encyclopedia of Islam as, “Until recently no Pashtu literary work older than 17th century has been published. However, Abdul Hai Habibi published excerpts from Tazkera Aulia by Solayman Maku, in the Da Kabul Salnamah (Almanac de Kabul, 1940-1), poems which said to go back to the 11th century. In1944, Habibi published Pota Khazanah (Hidden Treasure) by Mohammad Hutak, believed to be written in Kandahar in 1729, and to be an anthology of Pashtu poets from the 8th century down to the time of compiler. However, these works raise a number of serious linguistic and historical questions which can undermine their authenticity until these manuscripts undergo philological investigations.”(I.E.P.22/1986)
At one part of this Encyclopedia of Islam we can read, “The 17th and 18th centuries are rich in poets but most of them are imitators of Persian models. According to European standards,the most remarkable one is Khushal Khatak (1613-1694), chief of the Khatak tribe, a patriot, a warrior, and a prolific writer on a multitude of subjects.”
After careful review of all the above, we can say that the word Pashtu was widely used in the beginning of the 20th century.
Crises making Strive
The word Afghan for a long time was used as a synonym for the people who spoke the Afghani language or as we call it Pashtu now. Then it was used as a way of expressing national unity. Now this word means an Afghan citizen and is referred to all ethnic groups who live in Afghanistan. I think that it is a mistake. National unity has to come from a grass-roots and long process of deep socio - economic changes, building trust and eliminating misunderstandings among different ethnic groups in a multi-ethnic and cultural society such as Afghanistan, not by force or decrees imposed by authorities.
Strives for equalizing the word of Afghans, as Pashtuns, has been propagated for political goals in the 3rd decade of the 20th century. They wanted  the word Afghan to be applied to all ethnic groups in Afghanistan and the word Pashtun for people who speak Afghani language as they call it Pashtu now.
Royal Decree prompted the Pashtu language as the official language of Afghanistan in 1936. The ensuing attempts to Pashtunise all governments paper work offices resulted in disaster during the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Dauod in 1953-63. At that time, government officials tried to change all government correspondence to the Pashtu language. Even compulsory Pashtu language courses were introduced for government employees. Employees were given rewards for finishing the courses successfully. Such actions only brought about social and political crises which, unfortunately, continues until present time and has posed a big barrier for the national unity and national state building process in Afghanistan.
It is worth mentioning that among the 44 different spoken languages of Afghanistan such as Afghani/ Pashtu, Uzbeki, Turkmeni, Baluchi and so on, the Persian language was and is the Lingua Franca.
Linguists that are working on different languages in the area, have expressed their serious concern recently. They argue that the some branches of old Indo-European language whose speakers live close to the areas of the Pashtu and Persian-speaking people, are in the process of extinction and after some years they will enter the list of dead languages.
Contemporary View of points
Modern scholars trace the Afghans to Indo-European, with some mixture of Mongol-Turkic, and other groups. The people in Afghanistan, in their ethnological and physical characteristics are different. They are of Indo–European people and the great Mediterranean Caucasoid home stock. Most groups north of the Hindu Kosh Mountains (Black Mountains) are of Mongoloid physical characteristics.
Generally, Afghanistan is a land of ethnic minorities. Most of Pashtuns, Tajiks and Mongol-Turkish ethnic groups live in the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
Afghans have different tribal groups. Among them, Abdali and Ghelzai tribes are the most famous ones. Abdali and Ghalzai cultures have been influenced by the dominant cultures of the Safavid and Indian Mongols during 16th and 17th centuries respectively.
The political crises and battles of the past decades prove that Afghans were exploited once again by the foreign forces and left deep scars in their social structure as well as their souls. These problems must be dealt with a thorough and careful approach.

کتابشناسی به زبان های پارسی و پشتو :
۱/ بیهقی، خواجه ابوالفضل محمد بن حسین دبیر ٫٫تاریخ بیهقی،، به کوشش: داکتر خلیل خطیب رهبر. ناشر: انتشارات سعدی، تهران، ایران. چاپ اول : پاییز ( ۱۹۸۴ــ ۱۳۶۳).
۲/ تــږی، داکتــر حبیب اله. ٫٫پشتانه،، ددانش کتابتون، قصه خوانی بازار پشاور، پاکستان. دوم چاپ،(۲۹۰) مخونه. د وری (۱۳۸۲، د اپریل ۲۰۰۳) سره سم..
۳/ حبیبی، عبدالحی. ٫٫تاریخ مختصر افغانستان،،. چاپ سوم، قوس (۱۳۷۷)، دانش کتابخانه، پشاور، پاکستان.
۴/ -----. ٫٫تاریخ خط و نوشته های کهن افغانستان،،. نشر انجمن تاریخ، کابل (۱۹۷۱/۱۳۵۰).
۵/ حسینی، محمود.٫٫تاریخ احمد شاهی،، مقدمه، تحاشی و تعلیقات از: داکتر سرور همایون. ناشر: دانش خپروندویه تولنه. جنوری( ۲۰۰۱)، برابر جدی (۱۳۷۹). دانش کتابخانه واقع قصه خوانی  پشاور، پاکستان.
۶/ خانلری، داکتر زهرا ناتل. ٫٫فرهنگ ادبیات فارسی،، چاپ سوم، توس در ایران ( ۱۳۶۹ برابر۱۹۸۱). 
۷/ دهخدا، علی اکبر ابن خان بابا خان. ٫٫لغت نامه،، روایت دوم به شـــکل لــــوحه فــــشرده یا سی.دی ر. انتشارات دانشگاه تهران، (۱۳۸۲/۲۰۰۳)
۸/ عُتبی Otbi، مــحــمد بن عبدالجبار. ٫٫تاریخ یمنی،، به زبان عربی. گزارشگر به فارسی، ابوالشرف ناصح بن ظفر جرفادقانی. به اهتمام دکتر جعفر شعار. سازمان چاپ و انتشارات وزارت فرهنگ و ارشاد اسلامی، چاپ سوم، تهران، ایران. (۱۳۷۴).
۹/ غبار، غلام محمد.٫٫افغانستان در مسیر تاریخ،،. ناشر: انتشارات جمهوریت. تهران، ایران. چاپ دهم.(۱۹۹۵/۱۳۷۴).
۱۰/ فرهنگ، محمد صدیق. ٫٫افغانستان در پنج قرن اخیر،،. ناشر :انــتشارات درخـــشـــش، توس، ایران سال چاپ : (۱۹۹۲/۱۳۷۱).
۱۱/ فیض، محمد. ٫٫سراج التواریخ. مطبعه حروفی دارالسلطنه کابل. .سه جلد. (۱۴-۱۹۱۲).
۱۲/ کرگر، محمد اکبر.٫٫په حالنامه کی د بایزید روشان عرفانی او فلسفی څیره،،، دویم چاپ، دافغانستان د کلتوری ودی تولنه، جرمنی، (۲۰۰۶ ـ ۱۳۸۵).
۱۳/ کهزاد، احمد علی. ٫٫تاریخ افغانستان،، دو جلد.نشر دوم، ناشر: بنیاد فرهنگی کهزاد، جای نشر :استوکهولم، سویدن. اکتوبر۲۰۰۲.
۱۴/ گردیزی، ابو سعید بن الضحاک بن محمود. ٫٫زین الاخبار،، به مقابله، تصحیح، تحشیه و تعلیق عبدالحی حبیبی، استاد دانشگاه کابل. انتشارات بنیاد فرهنگ ایران.( ۱۵ تیر(سرطان) ۱۳۷۴برابر با ۶ جولای۱۹۶۷).

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Monday 28th Saratan 1388/29th of June 2009.
Geottingen, Germany

Seddiq Rahpoe Tarzi
Rise and Fall of Cultures

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