A Short History of Pashtun Ethnicity

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A Short History of Pashtun Ethnicity

A Short History of Pashtun Ethnicity

History never repeats itself, but it seldom rhymes. History of everything-human history, ethnic history has been deemed influential even in this modern age. A comprehensive history could lead you to find out the ancient traditions, customs, rituals and ways of life: Howsoever history could teach every individual with particular knowledge about the concern being. Before the invention of writing, tribal history has been passed through inherent anecdotes, continuously changed with time, immaculate history could have been possible. Despite everything still, history could never be entirely accurate.

It is undoubtedly apparent, myriads of books and journals have been written on Pashtun’s culture, traditions, norms and customs, a lot of them spur controversy about Pashtun’s shadow past, some are significantly written barely on anecdotal shreds of evidence. Since then, Pashtun’s history has always been confusing between canny historians and nobody ever accurately wrote about the lurking history. Therefore, five different concepts are famous about the Pashtun’s ethnic history twp are ordinary amongst all: Pashtuns are the lost tribes of Israel: Pashtuns are archaic Indo-European- Aryans. Assiduously, I can only balance various references and evidence to find out the benign glorious past of Pashtuns. Indeed, I have gone through myriads of journals and books to usher the meek and glorious history.

Qais Abdur Rasheed is quite famous in Pashtun’s folk stories, pondering that he was the first Pashtun’s Sardar-Chieftain- However, some deem it not more than a myth or fantasy. The famous saying is: Qais is remembered amongst various tribes because he had spurred Pashtun’s unity. There’s an ordinary concept that looms in Pashtun’s society, Qais Abdur Rasheed had met with Muhammad P.B.U.M- The Last Prophet- and accepted Islam, later on, he preached all the tribes, fortunately, they all had accepted the benign religion- Islam. Although, Historians have never endorsed such myths and stories, which are indeed based on folk stories and inherently transferred forged tales.

Pashtuns are the lost tribe of Israel: Is this right or not; none has exceptional pieces of evidence or acquaintance about it except balancing the traditions, customs and norms of both nations. Israeli follows Judaism: Judaism is the world’s most traditional and old religion, the genesis of Judaism dating back approximately 4,000 years. Believers of Judaism believe in one God who unveiled himself through pristine prophets. The history of Judaism is necessary to getting the Jewish belief, which has a vibrant heritage of law, culture and custom.

Abraham’s son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob, also became pivotal personalities in Jewish history. Jacob solely took the name Israel, and his sons and later generations became identified as Israelites. Moreover, More than 1,000 years following Abraham, the prophet Moses commanded the Israelites out of Egypt after remaining imprisoned for hundreds of years. The empire collapsed apart nearby 931 B.C, and the Jewish people broke into two groups: Israel in the North and Judah in the South. With the passage of time, sometime around 587 B.C., the Babylonians sacked the First Temple and transferred several Jews into exile. Later on, a Second Temple was constructed in about 516 B.C. however, ultimately crushed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The abolition of the second Temple was sacred because Jewish people no longer had a collective place to gather, so they moved their focus to worship in local temples.

The Jewish community had been brutally dismayed and massacred in the past by the Christian kings, and seldom Jews had been treated comparatively pariah cast in some kingdoms. The then Jews tribes had left their motherland and sprawl into the east and west. Myriads of tribes had come to the sub-continent and some sprawl into Europe. Interestingly, there’s no explicit explanation and description of their journeys. Consequently, with time these tribesmen espoused local culture and traditions and, some defy their faith and continue like local people.

Pashtuns are the lost tribes of Israel; this narrative is ordinary in Pashtun’s community and has been collectively endorsed by the conservative Pashtuns. Howbeit, even western historians seldom describes Pashtuns as the lost tribe of Israel. Sir William Jones[1], after thoughtful and long research, concludes that the Afghans are Jews, descended from the ten tribes, and records a foresight amongst them, and in his time current in the East, that they are destined to re-establish the Jewish empire, under their awaited Messiah, at Jerusalem. Additionally, according to Alexander Burns, a Scottish explorer and diplomat, Afghans consider themselves descended of Jews, howbeit, they do not have any evidence concerning the claim. He said: Afghans look like Jews, and they deem themselves as the descended of Jews. On the other hand, he said: Afghans are promptly solely staunch Muslims stringently hate Jews.

Benjamin was a medieval Jewish traveler who visited Europe, Asia, and Africa in the 12th century, his fantasy and stringent faith lead him to find those ten tribes of Israel, came to Nishapur, currently in Iran, where he noted tribes who lives on mountains and work hard in agriculture. Those tribes could be the lost tribe and, ostensibly the presence of Yousufzai, a sub-tribe of Pashtuns, in this region of Afghanistan is a good reason because historians ponder that the Yousufzai tribe is a descended of Yousuf (Josef)- a true Prophet of God. Yousuf (Josef) has been an admiring figure in Jewish history.

The chronicles of the precincts where Pashtuns have been lived:

Throughout history, Afghanistan has been the graveyard for foreign empires. Foreign occupation finds Afghanistan easy to invade but impossible to govern. The Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, the Mongols, the British, the soviets & presently, the Americans have gone down this road and all have failed. In the 13th century, Genghis Khan, a Mongol War-lord, invaded Afghanistan and perished thousands to expand his Mongol Dynasty. In the 19th century, the British tried three times but could endeavour. The British army made a venture from the Indian side; thrice they came and were bloodied. Once the entire army was finished, only one wounded dog was allowed to escape. In 1979, the Soviets entered Afghanistan and fought for over a decade. Over 1 million lost their lives up until the soviets withdrawal, setting the stage for the Taliban to take over in 1996. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S started to put her feet on Afghan soil and left her in chaos.

Arnold Toynbee, a famous historian, described Afghanistan as the ‘eastern crossroad of history. Located at the meeting point of Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia subcontinent, the precincts have been frequently trampled and violated by raiders and migrants who came to plunder, conquer, or inhabit India. But that was before the birth of Afghanistan. After 1747, the year Ahmed shah Durrani united tribes and communities to create this country, the former highway became a quagmire for invaders. He [Toynbee] might as well have called it the Eastern Bermuda Triangle, as this is the land that consumes empire, and many of those who happen to be in the neighborhood. The reasons for this are not too difficult to fathom out.

All the possible fault lines- geographical, demographic, tribal, even sectarian and cultural- run through this country. More importantly, an aggressor faces a little resistance from the conventional Afghan army but fails to subdue the tribesmen, who have mastered the art of unconventional warfare.

Afghanistan is not solely Pashtun; Afghanistan is the land of multiple tribes, a rainbow community. The majority of the nationals are Pashtuns rest of them are Tajiks, Uzbeks, Aimaqs, Turkmen, Farsiban and Badakhshani. Interestingly, this region has not been solely ruled by the Pashtuns but also by the other interested ethnicities.


Pashtun, also spelled Pushtun or Pakhtun, Indians/Hindustani call us Pathan, the Persian call us Afghans, the Arabs used to call us Suleimani or Ahle-Balkh, a hefty ethnolinguistic clique residing in the region that lies midst the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and the northern stretch of the Indus River in Pakistan. The Pashtun constitute the most populous ethnic society of the population of Afghanistan and owned the sole name of Afghan before that title evolved to denote any resident of the existing realm of Afghanistan.

The Pashtun are intertwined fundamentally by a common language, Pashto. Furthermore, other commonalities hold Sunni Islam and a common social law-Pashtunwali that rules both moral behavior and culture.

The roots of the Pashtun are questioned, including amongst the Pashtun themselves. In contrast, one Pashtun tradition declares that they are descended from Afghana, grandson of King Saul of Israel. Numerous Pashtun tribes are apprehended to have shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan amid the 13th and 16th centuries, many Pashtun travelled to northern Afghanistan following the establishment of the current Afghan state in the late 19th century. Consequently, Most Pashtun has settled farmers, consolidating agriculture with animal farming. Some are nomadic herders and caravaners. Many Pashtun serve in the army. Smaller numbers hold administrative offices. Kinship is the foundation of Pashtun society. Each tribe, consisting of kinsmen who pursue descent in the male bloodline from a traditional tribal father, is separated into races, subclans, and patriarchal relations. Conflicts over property, women and intimate injury frequently result in blood disputes among families and entire clans; these may be inherited except settled by the intervention of clan leaders or by the tribal council- Jirga.



“The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of writersclubpk.com and its staff members”

About the Author:

Sayed Huzaifa Nasir, a graduate student of Bahria University Islamabad. hails from a conservative town Mardan, Khyber Pukhtun-Khwa. He has penchant for writing short blogs about the contemporary status quo and international geopolitics- political analyst. He has already published blogs in the Daily Times [Newspaper]. The author has also published many journals and articles on the international platform, medium.com.

The writer could be reached at Huzaifa Nasir – Medium.

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