Pakhtunwali: As Pukhtun Code Of Life
It’s been natural phenomena that every species on earth whether animals or human being can only survive in association or communal life which simultaneously give way to basics of the social order (folkways, mores, values, customs and traditions) and culture as a whole. Culture is a thing defined by social scientist Taylor that “Culture is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, moral, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Seeing Pukhtun culture in the context of this definition, we find things same as mentioned here. Pukhtuns are the people who traced back their origin and lineage for thousands of years, having own identity, unique way of life norms, mores and values.
Pukhtu is not only the language spoken by Pukhtun people or even a person who speaks Pashto should be considering as Pukhtun. Pukhtun is a person who speaks Pashto as language and follows Pukhtu as code of life as well and should think upon observing Pukhtun code of life in order to adjust in a Pukhtun community which is called Pukhtunwali. It contains set of values pertaining to Namoos (Females respect, family’s prestige, land and propert), Melmastya (Hospitality), Badal (Revenge). If one wants to live with honor and respect he/she must follow Namoos in family, village or tribe. There is most famous proverb in Pashto language “Mal da Sara Zar, Aw Sar Da Namoosa” (Sacrifice wealth to save life and sacrifice life to save Namoos!)
Melmastya also carries the same value when it comes to hospitality of a person whether known or strange person passing by or staying in a village, Hujra or Mosque. Melmastya is not followed only in individualist approach but history proved it as communal responsibility and attachment to the refugees when military wars or other natural disasters took place in the world or national spheres. Khushal Khan Khattak says that “It goes waste if you feed yourself alone; it gives satisfaction to have your meal in the company”.
The way guest is warmly welcomed in different phrases is also noteworthy like “Pa Khair Raghley” (means welcome), “Khwar ma Shay” (You may remains prosperous), “Kha Charey” (Your business may flourish), “Har kala rasha” (always keep on coming), “Abad Usay” (you may live prosperous) and so on. “Katt Puzay” is also one the most important and interesting term in hosting guest as melma. Because it is symbol of humbleness and is metaphorically used to warmly welcome the guest and to show feelings of heart. “Katt Puzay” actually means bed and bedding.
Khawanda Tola Me Tre Zar Krhe,
Da Yar Da Kale Melmana Raghale Dena.
It is also said that don’t see the food I provided as a host but see the warmth and joy in my eyes because the food served with scowl on the forehead of the host is not valued.
Nang is also one of the main components in the set of values. According to some of the people it has the same meaning of English word honor but it is defined differently. It means the courage to stand for the honor of the tribe and homeland. Being a Pukhtun it is compulsory to protect his homeland. As says in Pashto Tappa (genre):
Pa Tor Topak Weshtale Rashe
Da Be-Nangai Awaz Dei Ra’ma’sha Mayana
O my love! It is better to see you dead than having the news of your showing your back in war.
It is required to be a Nangyaley (possessing Nang) to behave accordingly. It is best explained in the verses of Khushal Khan Baba (one of Pashto great poets):
Pa Jahan Da Nangyaley De Da Dwa Kara,
Ya Ba Ukhre Kakarey Ya Ba Kamran Shi!
Da Afghan Pa Nang Me Utarhala Tora,
Nangyaley Da Zamane Khushal Khatak Yam.
If a person is honoring following Nang so it is also derogatory to be Be-Nanga (not possessing Nang) and considers as Be-Nangi and is looked down upon.
A Tappa says that:
Pa Hindustan De Saley Jorr Sha,
Da Be-Nangai Awaz De Ra’ma’sha mayan!
Where Pukhtun is sensitive to respect and honor of the land, at the same time he is sensitive to his own self-respect as well. He cannot observe any insult into his own self-esteem and is provoked emotionally to take his Badal (revenge). Every person is equal in respect and dignity and does not compromise on taking revenge, going to any extreme irrespective of cost and consequences of retaliation. Revenge is being taking in any case threatening Pakhtunwali (Nang/Patt, Namoos, Ghairat etc). “Ka chari Pukhtun khpal Badal sal Kaala pas hum wakhli, nu bya ye hum berra karhe da” (if a Pukhtun take his revenge even after years, it means that he is still in hurry).
It never means that Pukhtun is wildish, savage and blood thirsty and free of human feelings and affection. He loves, forgiving and open-hearted if his relative is killed by mistake but will not let his enemy free if he has killed his friend or any associate intentionally. Because Pukhutnwali is in accordance with Islamic Sharia law such as an eye for eye, tooth for tooth and blood for blood. He never satisfies till he does not wreak his vengeance on his enemy with full success. Those who fail in taking revenge of the threatened-Pukhtu (self-respect) lose prestige, fame and earn an unfair name as “Paighor” (reproach). Pakhtunwali is also being referred as an instrumental factor in provoking emotions of a particular group as argued by Glatzer (2002). A newly born child just after his father murder wreaked his vengeance patiently waiting for many years. Pukhtun prefer to die an honorable death rather than live a life of disgrace due to not taking Badal.
With the passage of time when people experienced bloodshed and vendetta causing loss of many live and unending dispute for hundreds of years, they tend to have “Nanawatey” means “entering into someone house or Hujra seeking pardon to the other party. It simply means keeping own life on the mercy of opponent through surrender. It is in case when the guilty party or person admitting his crime and express shame so Pukhtun seek pardon. It plays its conciliatory role to tone down the aggression of retaliation between the parties.
Depending upon the situation and nature of the conflict Pukhtuns also let their women for Nanawatey when they want to give more esteem and prestige to the aggrieved party. The women could be “Sartor Sar” (unveiled), can bring Holy Quran and also “Parray pa Gharrah” (going with the rope in the neck), in order to end up the vendetta before taking place of long life murder exchange. In the result of Nanawatey dispute is settled peacefully.
James W. Spain stated that it is required for the aggrieved party to accept Nanawatey. There is no Nanawatey when the dispute involves with “Tor” (Blame) or “injury to women”. Tor is a stigma applied to a suspected woman for illegal relations with a man and they both may be killed.
In this entire scenario Jirga play its important role. There are some legal terms in Jirga judicial functionality. Narkh (known as customary law) is collection of rules standard and is Jirga unwritten constitution, with the help of which problems are judged and solved.
Teega means truce and is worked out when the proposal of dispute is presented in front of the Jirga council by any party, so for temporary basis till decision is not being taken, no property is allowed to show any aggression on one another. In case of violation of Teega before the verdict of Jirga session, Nagha (tribal fine) will be implemented to penalize the guilty party.
After proper investigation of the dispute by Jirga elders till knowing facts and realities, decision is being taking to ensure justice. If a party goes against the decision without any legitimate reason, Jirga plays its executive role against the guilty party and implement Badraga (escort), in order to burn his corps, destroy his house or compel a party to leave the place and exile to another city.
By: Tanzeem Alam
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those writersclubpk.com and its staff members.
Note: The Author is a scholar and registered member of Writers Club Pakistan. His detailed profile is available in Writers Directory.