Hazarajat

Hazarajat

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The Hazarajat is the original homeland of the Hazara people, and lies in the central highlands of Afghanistan
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...

, among the Koh-i-Baba
Koh-i-Baba
The Baba mountain range is a western extension of the Hindu Kush, and the origin of all three of Afghanistan’s major river systems, the Kabul, the Hilmand-Arghandab, and the Hari River. It is crowned by Foladi peak rising 4951 m; 16,244 ft...

 mountains and the western extremities of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

. Its physical boundaries, however, are roughly marked by the Bamiyan Basin
Bamiyan
Bamyan , also spelt Bamiyan and Bamian, at an altitude of about 9,200 feet and with a population of about 61,863, is the largest town in the region of Hazarajat in central Afghanistan and the capital of Bamyan Province. It lies approximately 240 kilometres north-west of Kabul, the national capital...

 to the north, the headwaters of the Helmand River
Helmand River
The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin....

 to the south, Firuzkuh
Turquoise Mountain
The Turquoise Mountain is the lost Afghan capital of the Middle Ages. It was reputedly one of the greatest cities of its age, but was destroyed by Ögedei Khan, son of Genghis Khan, in the early 1220s and lost to history. It has been proposed that the magnificent Minaret of Jam, in Shahrak...

 to the west, and the Unai Pass
Unai Pass
Unai Pass traverses the Sanglakh Range, an offshoot of the Hindukush, west of Kabul. It is the main road connection of Kabul with Hazarajat....

 to the east. Its boundaries have historically been inexact and shifting. It is made up of the three central provinces of Bamyan and Daykundi and includes large areas of Maidan Wardak, Ghazni
Ghazni Province
Ghazni is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. Babur records in his Babur-Nama that Ghazni is also known as Zabulistan It is in the east of the country. Its capital is Ghazni City...

, Orūzgān
Oruzgan Province
Orūzgān or Urōzgān , also spelled Uruzgan or Rōzgān , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the center of the country, though the area is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar in the south. Its capital is Tarin Kowt...

, Sar-e Pol
Sar-e Pol Province
Sar-e Pol, also spelled Sari Pul , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Sar-e-Pul Province is situated between the central highlands and the northern Turkmen plains. Sar-e-Pul borders Ghor and Baniyan provinces to the south, Faryab, Jawzjan and...

, Samangan
Samangan Province
Samangan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The province covers and has a population of approximately 313,211, as of 2006.Its capital, Samangan, is known for its ancient ruins including, notably, the Takht e Rostam...

, Ghowr
Ghowr Province
Ghōr , also spelled Ghowr or Ghur, is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is located in central Afghanistan, towards the north-west. The capital of Ghor is Chaghcharan...

 and Parvan
Parvan Province
Parwān , also spelled Parvān, once also the name of an ancient town in the Hindu Kush mountains, is today an administrative province in northern Afghanistan, directly north of Kabul Province...

 provinces. The region has also been known as Paropamizan.

History



Little information exists on the history of the region; however, at different times it has remained under Persian, Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Indian
Indian people
Indian people or Indisians constitute the Asian nation and pan-ethnic group native to India, which forms the south of Asia, containing 17.31% of the world's population. The Indian nationality is in essence made up of regional nationalities, reflecting the rich and complex history of India...

, Mongol and Timurid dynasty
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...

 rule. Archaeological finds can be traced back to the Greek empire of Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 and Buddhist civilization.

The region has been identified by Witzel as the location of the Avestan Airyanəm Vaējah
Indo-Aryan migration
Models of the Indo-Aryan migration discuss scenarios of prehistoric migrations of the proto-Indo-Aryans to their historically attested areas of settlement in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent...



Subsequent rulers of the region include the Ghorids, Persians, Ghaznavids and Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

. They were followed by 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....

 in 1220. It has been said that Genghis's grandson was killed in Bamian. Enraged, Genghis Khan ordered his forces total annihilation
Annihilation
Annihilation is defined as "total destruction" or "complete obliteration" of an object; having its root in the Latin nihil . A literal translation is "to make into nothing"....

 of the town and surrounding region, with the Mongols formally laying a curse on the site. Later the region remained a colony of the Ilkhanids, Chughtai
Chughtai
Chagatai or Chughtai is a family name in portions of South Asia, Central Asia, Middle East and the associated diaspora that claims descent from Chagatai Khan .-Origin of the name:...

s, and others.

The subjugation of the Hazarajat, the mountain fortresses of Ghor in particular, proved difficult for the Mongols after their conquest of the region, and ultimately Mongol military detachments left behind in the region “adopted the language of the vanquished”. In late 14th century, Timur's
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

 armies made expeditions into Hazarajat, but Hazarajat was once again free after his death. During Mongolian era, majority of Hazara were pastoralists dwelling in yurt
Yurt
A yurt is a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. The structure comprises a crown or compression wheel usually steam bent, supported by roof ribs which are bent down at the end where they meet the lattice wall...

s and spoke Moghol
Moghol language
Moghol is a Mongolic language spoken in the region of Herat, Afghanistan, by a few members of the Hazara community. In the 1970s, when the German scholar Michael Weiers did fieldwork on the language, few people spoke the language, most knew it passively and most were older than 40...

. They started inhabiting the fortified villages, adopted a Persian dialect
Hazaragi language
Hazaragi is a dialect of the Persian language spoken by the Hazara people, most of all in an area known as the Hazarajat.- General :The primary differences between Standard Persian and Hazaragi are the accent and Hazaragi's greater array of Turkic and Mongolian loanwords...

, and farming in the high steppes in the early 16th century. However, they kept flocks and some, on the norther slopes of Koh-i-Baba
Koh-i-Baba
The Baba mountain range is a western extension of the Hindu Kush, and the origin of all three of Afghanistan’s major river systems, the Kabul, the Hilmand-Arghandab, and the Hari River. It is crowned by Foladi peak rising 4951 m; 16,244 ft...

, remained nomadic and continued migrating between highland summer pastures and lowland winter pastures.

18th Century


In 1720s when the Ghilzai Afghans
Ghilzai
Ghilzai are the largest Pashtun tribal confederacy found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are also known historically as Ghilji, Khilji, Ghalji, Ghilzye, and possibly Gharzai...

 were independent of 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...

, Pashtun
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...

 began the migration into the pastures of Hazarajat and pushing Hazara people toward west.

19th Century


In the 18th and 19th centuries, as a sense of “Afghan-ness” developed among the Sunnite
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 Pashtuns, the Shiʿite Hazara tribes began to cling together. It has been suggested that in the 19th century there was an emerging awareness of ethnic and religious differences among the population of Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

. This brought about divisions along “confessional lines” that became reflected in new “spatial boundaries”. During the reign of 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...

, Mir Yazdanbakhsh
Mir Yazdanbakhsh
Mir Yazdanbakhsh of Kharzar was a chieftain of the Hazara people in the Hazarajat of central Afghanistan in the 19th century.Yazdanbakhsh was a powerful figure in Behsud , who controlled the Shibar and Hajikak passes into Bamiyan. His great power concerned Dost Muhammad Khan, who lured him to...

, a diligent chief of the Behsud Hazaras, consolidated many of the and the districts they controlled. Mir Yazdanbakhsh collected revenues and safeguarded caravans traveling on the Hajigak route through Bamyan to Kabul from Shaikh Ali and Besud bandits. The consolidation of the Hazarajat thus increasingly made the region and its inhabitants a threat to the Durrani
Durrani
Durrani or Abdali is the name of a chief Pashtun tribal confederation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Originally known by their ancient name Abdali later as Durrani they have been called Durrani since the beginning of the Durrani Empire in 1747. The number of Durranis are estimated to be roughly 16%...

 state based in Kabul.
Until the late 19th century, the Hazarajat remained independent and only the authority of local leaders, khans or mirs, was obeyed. Joseph Pierre Ferrier, a French author who supposedly traveled through the region in the mid-nineteenth century, described the inhabitants settled in the mountains near the rivers Balkh
Balkh Province
Balkh is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country and its name derives from the ancient city of Balkh, near the modern town...

 and Kholm
Kholm, Afghanistan
Kholm or Khulm is a town, until recently, in Samangan province, and now in Balkh province of northern Afghanistan 60 km east of Mazar-i-Sharif one-third of the way to Konduz. Kholm is an ancient town located on the fertile, inland delta fan of the Khulm River . As such, it is an...

 in an orientalist vein, casting the Hazaras as savage criminals: “The Hazara population is ungovernable, and has no occupation but pillage; they will pillage and pillage only, and plunder from camp to camp”. Subsequent British travelers doubted whether Ferrier had ever actually left Herat
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...

 to venture into Afghanistan’s central mountains and have suggested that his accounts of the region were based on hearsay, especially since very few people dared then to enter the Hazarajat; even Pashtun nomads would not take their flocks to graze there, and few caravans would pass through.
Later in the early 1890s, the tribes of the Hazarajat were taxed and conscripted, while thousands were massacred. Pashtun nomads were moved into the Hazarajat, where they overran Hazara farmlands and pastures. Increasingly during summers, Pashtun nomads would camp in large numbers in the Hazarajat highlands.

20th Century


In the 1920s the ancient Shibar Pass
Shibar Pass
Shibar Pass is situated at a height of 3,000 m above sea-level and is one of the two main routes from Kabul to Bamiyan in central Afghanistan. The journey is approximately 6 and half hours long covering around ....

 road which leads through Bamyan and east to the Panjshir Valley
Panjshir Valley
The Panjshir Province is a valley in north-central Afghanistan, 150 km north of Kabul, near the Hindu Kush mountain range. Located in the Panjshir Province it is divided by the Panjshir River...

 was paved for lorries, and it remained the busiest road across the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 until the building of the Salang tunnel
Salang tunnel
The Salang Tunnel , located in Parwan province, is a link between northern and southern Afghanistan crossing the Hindukush mountain range under the difficult Salang Pass....

 in 1964 and the opening of a winter route. The Hazarajat became increasingly depopulated as Hazaras migrated to cities and to surrounding countries, where they became laborers and undertook the hardest and lowest-paid work.
In 1979, there were reportedly one and a half million Hazaras in the Hazarajat and Kabul. As the Afghan state weakened, uprisings broke out in the Hazarajat, freeing the region from state rule for the first time since the death of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.The third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul after the disarray that followed the second...

. Under the inspiration of the Islamic Revolution, various Hazara-Shiʿi resistance groups were formed in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, including Nasr
Al-Nasr (Afghanistan)
Al-Nasr was a Hazara militant group opposed to the leftist Afghan government during the 1980s. After the Revolutionary Council of Islamic Unity of Afghanistan, Al-Nasr was the primary Hazara militant group. The organisation included many young men educated in Iran, including Shia clergymen, and...

 and Sipah Pasdaran, with some being “committed to the idea of a separate Hazara national identity". During the war with the Soviets, most of the Hazarajat was unoccupied and free of Soviet or state presence. The region became ruled once again by local leaders, or mirs, and a new stratum of young radical Shiʿi commanders. Economic conditions are reported to have improved in the Hazarajat during the war, when Pashtun Kuchis stopped grazing their flocks in Hazara pastures and fields.

Taliban Regime


During the regime of Taliban, once again, ethnic and sectarian violence struck Hazarajat. In 1997, a revolt broke out among Hazara people in Mazar-i-Sharif when refused to be disarmed by Taliban. 600 Taliban were killed in subsequent fighting. In retaliation, genocidal policies of Amir Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.The third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul after the disarray that followed the second...

's era was adopted by Taliban. In 1998, six thousand Hazaras were slaughtered in the north, the intention was ethnic cleansing of Hazara. At that stage, Hazarajat didn't exist on official map of Afghanistan
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...

, the area was divided between the administrative provinces of Bamyan
Bamyan
Bamyan is the name of* The city of Bamyan, Afghanistan* The Bamyan Province, Afghanistan...

, Ghor, Wardak
Wardak Province
Maidan Wardak Province is one of thirty four provinces of Afghanistan located in the central east region of Afghanistan. It has a population of approximately 540,100. The capital of the province is Maidan Shar...

, Ghazni
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

, Oruzgan, Juzjan, and Samangan
Samangan
Samangan is a provincial town, medieval caravan stop, and the headquarters of the Samangan Province in the district of the same name in the northern part of Afghanistan...

, with the Hazaras being a minority in each.

Etymology & Usage


The name Hazarajat is rarely used by the Hazara people. This makes sense when one examines the word linguistically - it is compounded from the root Hazara and the suffix jat; jat is a suffix that otherwise is used to make root words associated with food and inanimate objects plural as is the case with sabzijat (سبزىجات) vegetables or herbs. The association with inanimate objects can be seen as the reason that Hazaras rarely use the term.

In the book Shah Nameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

 by Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 Hazarajat is referred to as, an independent region in Turan
Turan
Tūrān is the Persian name for Central Asia, literally meaning "the land of the Tur". As described below, the original Turanians are an Iranian tribe of the Avestan age. As a people the "Turanian" are one of the two Iranian peoples both descending from the Persian Fereydun but with different...

, Barberistan. Maqdesi, an Arab geographer
Geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

, named Hazarajat as Gharj Al-Shar-Gharj meaning “mountain” area ruled by chiefs. The region was known as Gharjistan
Gharjistan
Gharjistan or Gharshistan refers to the region around the Badghis Province in Afghanistan or more specifically to the rising place of Murghab river. It was part of Greater Khorasan. Gharjistan is mentioned by name in the 16th century Baburnama, describing Babur's visit to the area in early 1507...

 in the late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, though the exact locations of main cities still remain unidentified.

Ethnicity


Afghanistan is a multiethnic society
Multiethnic society
A multiethnic society is one with members belonging to more than one ethnic group, in contrast to societies which are ethnically homogenous. In practice, virtually all contemporary national societies are multiethnic...

 with a variety of ethnolinguistic groups
Ethnolinguistics
Ethnolinguistics is a field of linguistics which studies the relationship between language and culture, and the way different ethnic groups perceive the world. It is the combination between ethnology and linguistics. The former refers to the way of life of an entire community i.e...

. Because of poor census exact figures about the size and composition of ethnic group
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

s are not available. In this regard, the Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

 states:

A research poll was conducted in Afghanistan in 2009, where 72% of the population labelled their identity as Afghan despite of being from different ethnic groups. Within Hazarajat the majority is Hazara, with minority Tajiks, 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...

, Sayyid
Sayyid
Sayyid is an honorific title, it denotes males accepted as descendants of the Islamic prophet Muhammad through his grandsons, Hasan ibn Ali and Husain ibn Ali, sons of the prophet's daughter Fatima Zahra and his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib.Daughters of sayyids are given the titles Sayyida,...

s, and Qizilbash. A minority of Balochs
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....

 and Tatars
Tatars
Tatars are a Turkic speaking ethnic group , numbering roughly 7 million.The majority of Tatars live in the Russian Federation, with a population of around 5.5 million, about 2 million of which in the republic of Tatarstan.Significant minority populations are found in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan,...

 are also found in Hazarajat.

Language


The history of the language in Hazarajat has been an issue of debate. In 16th century, when Mongol king Babur
Babur
Babur was a Muslim conqueror from Central Asia who, following a series of setbacks, finally succeeded in laying the basis for the Mughal dynasty of South Asia. He was a direct descendant of Timur through his father, and a descendant also of Genghis Khan through his mother...

 came to Afghanistan, the Hazara spoke Mongolian language
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

, writers like Bacon and Schumann believed the original language of Hazara people was Dari Persian since the beginning. On the other hand, Dulling wrote Hazaras' language was a mixture of Persian and Hindi in which Persian took over Hind in Middle Ages. Hazara people spoke Mongolian
Mongolian language
The Mongolian language is the official language of Mongolia and the best-known member of the Mongolic language family. The number of speakers across all its dialects may be 5.2 million, including the vast majority of the residents of Mongolia and many of the Mongolian residents of the Inner...

 until the late 18th century. In late 19th century Hazaragi
Hazaragi language
Hazaragi is a dialect of the Persian language spoken by the Hazara people, most of all in an area known as the Hazarajat.- General :The primary differences between Standard Persian and Hazaragi are the accent and Hazaragi's greater array of Turkic and Mongolian loanwords...

, a distinct Persian dialect, began to emerge among the people of Hazarajat. It remains uncertain when Mongolian died out as living language. Dulling writes, "they ceased to be Mongol speakers by the end of eighteenth century at the latest, and were then speaking Tajik
Tajik language
Tajik, Tajik Persian, or Tajiki, is a variety of modern Persian spoken in Central Asia. Historically Tajiks called their language zabani farsī , meaning Persian language in English; the term zabani tajikī, or Tajik language, was introduced in the 20th century by the Soviets...

 of a sort". Dari
Dari language
Dari language may refer to*Dari , an ethnolect of the Zoroastrians of Yazd and Kerman*Dari , a modern variety of Persian language, spoken in Afghanistan*Persian language...

 is the official language in Hazarajat, and Pashto
Pashto language
Pashto , known as Afghani in Persian and Pathani in Punjabi , is the native language of the indigenous Pashtun people or Afghan people who are found primarily between an area south of the Amu Darya in Afghanistan and...

 is also spoken in the region.

Religion


Even during the Islamic era in Greater Khurasan, when Islam was spread all across, Hazarajat was not practicing Islam as W. Barthold says “the only region surrounded on all sides by Islamic territories and yet inhabited by infidel
Infidel
An infidel is one who has no religious beliefs, or who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a particular religion – especially in reference to Christianity or Islam....

s” was Hazarajat.In the 11th century, Islam was established in Bamyan, Ghor and other parts of Hazarajat, during the rule of Ghaznavid dynasty, though Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

 and other polythestic customs being strong. Probably, most of Hazarajat was Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 and converted in Shi'ism in the Safavid
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...

 ear. Some believe that traces of Shi'ism can be dated back to Ilkhanate
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...

 period. Most are Twelver Shias, but there also exist Ismaʿili
Ismaïlia
-Notable natives:*Osman Ahmed Osman, a famous and influential Egyptian engineer, contractor, entrepreneur, and politician, was born in this town on 6 April 1917....

, Zaidi
Zaidiyyah
Zaidiyya, or Zaidism is a Shi'a Muslim school of thought named after Zayd ibn ʻAlī, the grandson of Husayn ibn ʻAlī. Followers of the Zaydi Islamic jurisprudence are called Zaydi Shi'a...

, and Sunni Hazaras.

Geography




History


The travels of Captains P. J. Maitland and M. G. Talbot from Herat
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...

, through Obeh
Obe, Afghanistan
Obe is a town and the administrative center of Obe District, Herat Province, Afghanistan. It is located at at 1277 m altitude in the valley of the Hari River, northeast of Herat....

 and Bamyan, to Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, during the autumn
Autumn
Autumn is one of the four temperate seasons. Autumn marks the transition from summer into winter usually in September or March when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier....

 and winter
Winter
Winter is the coldest season of the year in temperate climates, between autumn and spring. At the winter solstice, the days are shortest and the nights are longest, with days lengthening as the season progresses after the solstice.-Meteorology:...

 of 1885, explored the Hazarajat proper. Maitland and Talbot found the entire length of the road between Herat and Bamyan difficult to traverse. As a result of the expedition, parts of the Hazarajat were surveyed on one-eighth inch scale and thus made to fit into the mapped order of modern nation-states. More thought and attention was put into demarcating the definite borders of modern nations than ever before, which entailed great difficulties in frontier regions such as the Hazarajat.
During the Second Anglo-Afghan War
Anglo-Afghan War
Anglo-Afghan War may refer to:*First Anglo-Afghan War *Second Anglo-Afghan War *Third Anglo-Afghan War -See also:* European influence in Afghanistan where the backdrop for the three wars mentioned above are discussed....

, Colonel T. H. Holdich
Thomas Holdich
Colonel Sir Thomas Hungerford Holdich, KCMG, KCIE, CB was an English geographer and president of the Royal Geographical Society. He is best known as Superintendent of Frontier Surveys in British India and author of numerous books, including The Gates of India, The Countries of the King's Award and...

 of the Indian Survey Department referred to the Hazarajat as “great unknown highlands”. And for the next few years, neither the Survey nor the Indian Intelligence Department succeeded in obtaining any trustworthy information on the routes between Herat and Kabul
Kabul
Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

 through the Hazarajat.
Various members of the Afghan Boundary Commission were able to gather information that brought the geography of remote regions such as the Hazarajat further under state surveillance. In November
November
November is the 11th month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of four months with the length of 30 days. November was the ninth month of the ancient Roman calendar...

 1884, the Commission crossed over the Koh-i Baba Mountains by the Chashma Sabz Pass. General Peter Lumsden
Peter Lumsden
General Sir Peter Stark Lumsden GCB, CSI, DL was a British military officer who served in India. Born in Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire, he was the fourth son of Colonel Thomas Lumsden CB. He studied at Addiscombe Military Academy, before officially joining military service as an ensign in the 60th...

 and Major C. E. Yate, who surveyed the tracts between Herat and the Oxus, visited the Qala-e Naw
Qala i Naw, Afghanistan
Qala i Naw is a town in Qala i Naw District and the capital of Badghis Province, of north-west Afghanistan. Its population is estimated 9,000 in 2006.It has a small airport, Qala i Naw Airport....

 Hazaras in the Paropamisus mountain range, to the east of the Jamshidis
Jamshidi (tribe)
The Jamshidi are a sub-tribe of the Chahar Aimaq ethnic group in Afghanistan, one of the four major Aimaq tribes which also include the Firozkohi, Taimani, and Taimuri...

 of Kushk
Kushk
Kushk or Koshk is a town in Afghanistan that shares its name with the Kushk River which flows by the town. It is the center of Kushk District, Herat Province. The population is 17 479. It is located at at 1068 m altitude....

. Noting surviving evidence of terraced cultivation in times past, both described the northern Hazaras as semi-nomadic with large flocks of sheep and black cattle. They possessed an “inexhaustible supply of grass, the hills around being covered knee-deep with a luxuriant crop of pure rye”. Yate noted clusters of kebetkas, or the summer dwellings of the Qala-e Naw Hazaras on the hillsides, and described “flocks and herds grazing in all directions”.
The geographical reach of the authority of the Afghan state was extended into the Hazarajat during the reign of Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan
Abdur Rahman Khan was Emir of Afghanistan from 1880 to 1901.The third son of Mohammad Afzal Khan, and grandson of Dost Mohammad Khan, Abdur Rahman Khan was considered a strong ruler who re-established the writ of the Afghan government in Kabul after the disarray that followed the second...

. Caught between the strategic interests of foreign powers and disappointed by the demarcation of the Durand Line
Durand Line
The Durand Line refers to the porous international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which has divided the ethnic Pashtuns . This poorly marked line is approximately long...

 in southern Afghanistan, which cut into Pashtun territory, he set out to bring the northern peripheries of the country more firmly under his control. This policy had disastrous consequences for the Hazarajat, whose inhabitants were singled out by Abdur Rahman Khan’s regime as particularly troublesome: “The Hazara people had been for centuries past the terror of the rulers of Kabul”.

Topography


Hazarajat, the homeland of the Hazaras, lies in the central highlands of Afghanistan, among the Koh-i Baba Mountains and the western extremities of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

. Its boundaries have historically been inexact and shifting, and in some respects Hazarajat denotes an ethnic and religious zone rather than a geographical one–that of Afghanistan’s Turko-Mongol Shiʿites. Its physical boundaries, however, are roughly marked by the Bamiyan to the north, the headwaters of the Helmand River
Helmand River
The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin....

 to the south
South
South is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.South is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the bottom side of a map is south....

, Firuz Koh to the west
West
West is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.West is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of east and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the left side of a map is west....

, and the Salang Pass to the east
East
East is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.East is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of west and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the right side of a map is east....

. The regional terrain is very mountainous and extends to the Safid Koh
Safed Koh
Spin Ghar or Safed Kuh or the Indian Caucasus, also known as the Safīd Mountain Range or Morga Range, is a mountain range on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, up to above sea-level at Mount Sikaram, straight and rigid, towering above all surrounding hills...

 and the Siah Koh mountains, where the highest peaks are between 15,000 to 17,000 feet. Both sides of the Koh-i Baba range contain a succession of valleys. The north
North
North is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.North is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of south and is perpendicular to east and west.By convention, the top side of a map is north....

 face of the range descends steeply, merging into low foothills and short semi-arid plains, while the south face stretches towards the Helmand Valley and the mountainous district of Besud.
Northwestern Hazarajat encompasses the district of Ghor, long known for its mountain fortresses. The 10th century geographer Estakhri
Estakhri
Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al Istakhri was a medieval Persian geographer in the 10th century.-Career:...

 wrote that mountainous Ghor was “the only region surrounded on all sides by Islamic territories and yet inhabited by infidels”. The long resistance of the inhabitants of Ghor to the adoption of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 provides an indication of the region’s inaccessibility; according to some travelers, the entire region is comparable to a fortress raised in the upper Central Asian highlands: from every approach, tall and steep mountains have to be traversed to reach there. The language of the inhabitants of Ghor differed so much from that of the people of the plains, that communication between the two required interpreters ”.
The northeastern part of the Hazarajat, is the site of ancient Bamyan
Bamyan
Bamyan is the name of* The city of Bamyan, Afghanistan* The Bamyan Province, Afghanistan...

, a center of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and a key caravanserai
Caravanserai
A caravanserai, or khan, also known as caravansary, caravansera, or caravansara in English was a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day's journey...

 on the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

. The town is situated at a height of 7,500 feet and surrounded by the Hindu Kush to the north and Koh-i Baba to the south. The Hazarajat was considered part of the larger geographic region of Khurasan (Kushan), the porous boundaries of which encompassed the vast region between the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and the Oxus River, thus including much of what is today Northern Iran
Northern Iran
Northern Iran includes the Southern Caspian regions representing provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, and Golestan of Iran ....

 and Afghanistan.

Climate


Hazarajat is mountainous, a series of mountain passes extend along the eastern edge, where Salang Pass is blocked for half of the year due to snow while Shibar Pass
Shibar Pass
Shibar Pass is situated at a height of 3,000 m above sea-level and is one of the two main routes from Kabul to Bamiyan in central Afghanistan. The journey is approximately 6 and half hours long covering around ....

, being at a lower elevation, is snowed for two months. Bamyan, where winters are severe, is the cold part of the region. The rivers of Helmand
Helmand River
The Helmand River is the longest river in Afghanistan and the primarily watershed for the endorheic Sistan Basin....

, Harirud, Kabul
Kabul River
Kabul River , the classical Cophes , is a 700 km long river that starts in the Sanglakh Range of the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan and ends in the Indus River near Attock, Pakistan. It is the main river in eastern Afghanistan and is separated from the watershed of the Helmand by the Unai Pass...

, Morghab, and Panjab
Panjab District
Panjab district is in the central part of Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan. The capital is the town of Panjab. Panjab contains 5 valleys , the water running through the 5 valleys meet in the centre of the district...

 flow from the Hazarajat and During the summer and spring, the area accounts for some of country's greenest pastures. Natural lakes
Band-e Amir
Band-e Amir is a series of six deep blue lakes separated by natural dams made of travertine, a mineral deposit. The lakes are situated in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Afghanistan at approximately 3000 meters of elevation, west of the famous Buddhas of Bamiyan.They were created by the carbon...

, green valleys and caves are found in Bamyan.

Health



Leprosy has been reported in the central Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

 region of Afghanistan, including Hazarajat provinces such as Bamyan, Wardak, and Ghazni. The vast majority (80%) of the Afghan leprosy victims are Hazara. In 1999, Leprosy Control
Leprosy Control
Leprosy Control is a non-governmental organization addressing leprosy. The organization has been active in such countries as Afghanistan....

 stated that they were the only NGO providing anti-leprosy aid in the Hazarajat, and had been doing so since 1984.

A 1989 report noted that common diseases in the Hazarajat included gastrointestinal infections, typhoid, whooping cough, measles, leprosy, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis and malaria.

List of Provinces within Hazarajat

align=center style="background:#BFD7FF"| Provinces which are part of Hazarajat (as whole or partially)
Province Capital ISO 3166-2:AF
ISO 3166-2:AF
ISO 3166-2:AF is the entry for Afghanistan in ISO 3166-2, part of the ISO 3166 standard published by the International Organization for Standardization , which defines codes for the names of the principal subdivisions of all countries coded in ISO 3166-1.Currently for Afghanistan, ISO 3166-2 codes...

Provincial capital Province population Province Area (km²) Languages spoken # of districts in province U.N. Region
Baghlan  19 AF-BGL Puli Khumri  741,690 21,118 Dari Persian, Uzbek
Uzbek language
Uzbek is a Turkic language and the official language of Uzbekistan. It has about 25.5 million native speakers, and it is spoken by the Uzbeks in Uzbekistan and elsewhere in Central Asia...

, Turkmen
Turkmen language
Turkmen is the national language of Turkmenistan...

, Pashto
16 districts North East Afghanistan
Bamyan  15 AF-BAM Bamiyan  343,892 14,175 Dari Persian 7 districts Central Afghanistan
Daykundi  10 AF-DAY Nili
Nili District
Nili is a district in Daykundi Province, Afghanistan. The main town in the district, also called Nili is the capital of Daykundi Province. The town of Nili is at 2,022 m altitude and has a small airport with a gravel runway and a commercial radio station...

 
477,544 8,088 Dari Persian and Pashto 8 districts
Formed from Orūzgān Province
Oruzgan Province
Orūzgān or Urōzgān , also spelled Uruzgan or Rōzgān , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the center of the country, though the area is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar in the south. Its capital is Tarin Kowt...

 in 2004
South West Afghanistan
Ghazni
Ghazni Province
Ghazni is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. Babur records in his Babur-Nama that Ghazni is also known as Zabulistan It is in the east of the country. Its capital is Ghazni City...

 
16 AF-GHA Ghazni
Ghazni
For the Province of Ghazni see Ghazni ProvinceGhazni is a city in central-east Afghanistan with a population of about 141,000 people...

 
1,080,843 22,915 Pashto, Dari Persian 19 districts South East Afghanistan
Ghor  6 AF-GHO Chaghcharan
Chaghcharan
Chaghcharān , in historical literature as Chakhcherān, formerly known as Ahangaran, is a town and district in central Afghanistan, which serves as the capital of Ghor Province...

 
635,302 36,479 Dari Persian, Pashto 10 districts West Afghanistan
Orūzgān
Oruzgan Province
Orūzgān or Urōzgān , also spelled Uruzgan or Rōzgān , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the center of the country, though the area is culturally and tribally linked to Kandahar in the south. Its capital is Tarin Kowt...

 
11 AF-ORU Tarin Kowt
Tarin Kowt
Tarinkot or Tarin Kowt is the capital of Orūzgān province in southern Afghanistan in Tarin Kowt District. It is a town of about 10,000 people, with some 200 small shops in the city's bazaar...

 
320,589 22,696 Pashto, Dari Persian 6 districts Central Afghanistan
Parwan  20 AF-PAR Charikar
Charikar
Charikar is the main town of the Kohdaman Valley and the capital of Parwan Province in northern Afghanistan. The city lies on the road 69 km from Kabul to the northern provinces. Travelers would have to pass by the city when going to Mazari Sharif, Kunduz or Puli Khumri. Charikar is at the...

 
491,870 5,974 Dari Persian, Pashto 9 districts Central Afghanistan
Samangan
Samangan Province
Samangan is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. The province covers and has a population of approximately 313,211, as of 2006.Its capital, Samangan, is known for its ancient ruins including, notably, the Takht e Rostam...

 
14 AF-SAM Aybak
Aybak
Izz al-Din AybakThe name Aybeg or Aybak is a combination of two Turkic words, "Ay" = Moon and "Beg" or variant "Bak" = Emir in Arabic. - Izz al-Din AybakThe name Aybeg or Aybak is a combination of two Turkic words, "Ay" = Moon and "Beg" or variant "Bak" = Emir in Arabic. -(Al-Maqrizi, Note...

 
378,000 11,262 Dari Persian, Uzbek 5 districts North West Afghanistan
Sar-e Pol
Sar-e Pol Province
Sar-e Pol, also spelled Sari Pul , is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country. Sar-e-Pul Province is situated between the central highlands and the northern Turkmen plains. Sar-e-Pul borders Ghor and Baniyan provinces to the south, Faryab, Jawzjan and...

 
9 AF-SAR Sar-e Pol  505,400 16,360 Dari Persian, Pashto and Uzbek 7 districts North West Afghanistan
Wardak
Wardak Province
Maidan Wardak Province is one of thirty four provinces of Afghanistan located in the central east region of Afghanistan. It has a population of approximately 540,100. The capital of the province is Maidan Shar...

 
21 AF-WAR Meydan Shahr  529,343 9,934 Pashto, Dari Persian 9 districts Central Afghanistan

See also


  • Hazara people
  • Hazara tribes
  • Bamyan Province