Farah, Afghanistan

Farah, Afghanistan

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Farah is a city in western Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, situated at 650 m altitude, and located on the Farah River
Farah River
The Farah River is a river in western Afghanistan. The river originates in the Band-e Bayan Range, and flows for 560 km to the Helmand swamps on the Afghanistan-Iran border. The town of Farah is located on the river....

. It is the capital of Farah Province
Farah Province
Farah is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Farah. Farah is a spacious and sparsely populated province that lies on the Iranian border...

, and has a population of approximately 109,409.

Farah is also the resting of the Islamic religious figure Muhammad Jaunpuri, believed by the Mahdavi
Mahdavi Islam is a sect within Islam, founded by Hazrath Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri in India in the 15th century CE. Jaunpuri declared himself to be the Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer in Islam, and the denomination takes its name from the term mahdi...

 group to be the Mahdi
In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years- before the Day of Judgment and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny.In Shia Islam, the belief in the Mahdi is a "central religious...

 (Islamic messiah).

Ancient history

The Citadel at Farah is one of a series of fortresses constructed by Alexander the Great, the city being an intermediate stop between Herat
Herāt is the capital of Herat province in Afghanistan. It is the third largest city of Afghanistan, with a population of about 397,456 as of 2006. It is situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan...

, the location of another of Alexander's fortresses, and Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

. Under the Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

, Farah fell under the satrapy of Aria, and was one of its key cities. It is thought to be Phra, mentioned by Isidorus Characenus
Isidore of Charax
Isidorus Characenus , commonly translated Isidore of Charax, was a geographer of the 1st century BC/1st century AD about whom nothing is known but his name and that he wrote at least one work....

 in the 1st century AD. In the 5th century CE Farah was one of the major strongholds on the eastern frontier of the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...


The region was historically part of the Persian Khorasan province
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 and was controlled by the Tahirids
Tahirid dynasty
The Tahirid Dynasty, was a Persian dynasty that governed from 820 to 872 over the northeastern part of Greater Iran, in the region of Khorasan . The dynasty was founded by Tahir ibn Husayn, a leading general in the service of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun...

 followed by the Saffarids
Saffarid dynasty
The Saffarids or the Saffarid dynasty was a Persian empire which ruled in Sistan , a historical region in southeastern Iran, southwestern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan...

, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

s, Timurids
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

, and Saffavids until the early-18th century when it became part of the Afghan Hotaki dynasty followed by the Durrani Empire
Durrani Empire
The Durrani Empire was a Pashtun dynasty centered in Afghanistan and included northeastern Iran, the Kashmir region, the modern state of Pakistan, and northwestern India. It was established at Kandahar in 1747 by Ahmad Shah Durrani, an Afghan military commander under Nader Shah of Persia and chief...


Islamic conquest

Islam was spread in the region during the 7th century and later the Saffarid dynasty
Saffarid dynasty
The Saffarids or the Saffarid dynasty was a Persian empire which ruled in Sistan , a historical region in southeastern Iran, southwestern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan...

 took control of Farah. During the 10th century, Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni
Mahmud of Ghazni , actually ', was the most prominent ruler of the Ghaznavid dynasty who ruled from 997 until his death in 1030 in the eastern Iranian lands. Mahmud turned the former provincial city of Ghazni into the wealthy capital of an extensive empire which covered most of today's Iran,...

 took possession of the city, followed by the Ghurids
The Ghurids or Ghorids were a medieval Muslim dynasty of Iranian origin that ruled during the 12th and 13th centuries in Khorasan. At its zenith, their empire, centred at Ghōr , stretched over an area that included the whole of modern Afghanistan, the eastern parts of Iran and the northern section...

 in the 12th century. Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

 and his army passed through in the 13th century, and the city fell to the Timurids. It was controlled by the Safavids
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

 until 1709, when they were defeated by the Hotaki Afghan forces of Mirwais Hotak.

Anglo-Afghan war

Farah was seized by Sultan Jan
Sultan Jan
Sultan Jan, also known as Sultan Ahmed Khan was installed as ruler of Herat by the Persians, as they evacuated Herat on March 4, 1857 in accordance with the Treaty of Paris....

, then ruler of Herat, but re-captured by Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan
Dost Mohammad Khan was the Emir of Afghanistan between 1826 and 1863. He first ruled from 1826 to 1839 and then from 1843 to 1863. He was the 11th son of Sardar Pāyendah Khan who was killed by Zaman Shah Durrani in 1799...

 on July 8, 1862.

Soviet-Afghan War

At the start of the Soviet invasion, Farah was, along with Herat, Shindand, and Kandahar, occupied by the Soviet 357th and 66th Motorized Rifle Divisions (MRD).

The mujahideen established themselves in the Farah area in 1979. They maintained a presence in the city until they were forced out in 1982, and established a stronghold at the nearby mountain Lor Koh
Lor Koh
Lor Koh is a mountain southeast of the city of Farah in western Afghanistan.The mountain was renamed Sharafat Koh by the Afghan mujahideen after they established a stronghold there in 1979. The Afghan communists referred to the mountain as Mordar Koh .-References:...

, which they renamed Sharafat Koh ("Honor Mountain"). Primary among the Farah mujahideen groups was the Sharafat Kuh Front
Sharafat Kuh Front
The Sharafat Kuh Front was an Afghan mujahideen group active in the 1980s in Farah Province. It was led by Mulawi Mohammad Shah, an Achakzai Pashtun....


Civil war to present

Following the collapse of the Soviet-backed government of Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah
Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai , originally merely Najibullah, was the fourth and last President of the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. He is also considered the second President of the Republic of Afghanistan.-Early years:Najibullah was born in August 1947 to the Ahmadzai...

 in 1992, Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan
Ismail Khan is a politician and former mujahideen commander from Afghanistan. Born in the western Afghan city of Herat, he rose to become a powerful rebel commander during in the Soviet War in Afghanistan, and then a key member of the Northern Alliance until finally becoming the Governor of Herat...

 returned to power in Herat, and came to control Farah, as well as the other surrounding provinces of Ghor and Badghis, until Herat fell to the Taliban in 1995.

On 20 November 2009 it was reported that a suicide bomber on a motocycle detonated near a market in Farah Naz city, killing 17 people and wounding 29.

Mullah is generally used to refer to a Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. The title, given to some Islamic clergy, is derived from the Arabic word مَوْلَى mawlā , meaning "vicar", "master" and "guardian"...

 Hayatullah is the Taliban commander for the province and is known to run suicide training camps.


As of 2004, the population of Farah is 109,409. Pashtuns
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 form the overwhelming majority of the city, comprising ca. 90%. The remaining are Tajiks at 7% and Baloch people
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

 at 3%.

Economy and transportation

The city is a major trading and farming center in this area.There is an airport with a paved runway which is one of many that were constructed for the hauling of freight and passengers. However, the runway is used and protected by coalition forces to transport supplies to needy Afghans throughout Farah Province. There are secondary roads in different directions from the city. The major road is Route 515
Route 515 (Afghanistan)
Route 515 is the main road in Bakwa District in Afghanistan. The road connects Delaram with Farah City and goes through the Bakwa District Center. The Delaram end of the road starts at Highway 1 or Ring Road. It is a compacted gravel road. The road was about 75 kilometers long and about 38...

which connects Farah to the Ring Road, both improved in 2009 in coordination with many different ISAF/NATO countries. Many civilian contractors died from Taliban attacks and forgotten landmines from the Soviet invasion.

Books about Farah

Little has been written about Farah; some fleeting references can be found in works related to Afghanistan or works that focus on the Great Game Politics of the UK and the Russian Empire during the 19th century. However, 2011 saw the publication of Words in the Dust by author Trent Reedy, who was one of the first American soldiers to enter Farah in 2004. His book, while fiction, is set in Farah City and the wider province.

External links