History of Arabs in Afghanistan

History of Arabs in Afghanistan

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The history of Arabs in Afghanistan spans over one millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

, from the 7th century Islamic conquest
Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

 when Arab ghazis arrived with their Islamic mission
Islamic Missionary Activity
Dawah, Islamic missionary work, means to "invite" to Islam, which is estimated to be the second largest religion after Christianity. After the death of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, from the 7th century onwards, Islam spread rapidly from the Arabian Peninsula to the rest of the world, initially...

 until recently when others from the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 arrived to defend fellow Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s from the Soviet
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

 followed by their liberation by NATO forces. Most of the early Arabs gradually lost their Arabic hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 and ultimately mixed with the local population
Demography of Afghanistan
The population of Afghanistan is around 29,835,392 as of the year 2011, which is unclear if the refugees living outside the country are included or not. The nation is composed of a multi-ethnic and multi-lingual society, reflecting its location astride historic trade and invasion routes between...

, though they are still considered a cognizably distinct ethnic group according to the Constitution of Afghanistan
Constitution of Afghanistan
The Constitution of Afghanistan is the supreme law of the state Afghanistan, which serves as the legal framework between the Afghan government and the Afghan citizens...

 and the Afghan National Anthem
Afghan National Anthem
The Afghan National Anthem was adopted and officially announced in May 2006. According to article 20 of the Constitution of Afghanistan, "The national anthem of Afghanistan shall be in Pashto with the mention of "God is Greatest" as well as the names of the ethnicities of Afghanistan." The lyrics...

. Afghans who carry Sayed or Quraishi
Quraishi
Quraishi , is a family name that originates from Arabs in Saudi Arabia, particularly from the city of Mecca.- Lineage :...

 in their names usually claim Arab ancestry.

First wave



At the end of the 7th century, the Umayyad Arabs entered into the area now known as Afghanistan after decisively defeating 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...

 in Nihawand. Following this colossal defeat, the last Sassanid Emperor, Yazdegerd III, who became a hunted fugitive, fled eastward deep into Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. In pursuing Yazdegerd, the route the Arabs selected to enter the area was from north-eastern 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...

 (Khorasan
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 thereafter into 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...

 where they stationed a large portion of their army before advancing toward eastern Afghanistan
Name of Afghanistan
The name of Afghanistan is believed to be as old as the ethnonym Afghan, which is documented in a 10th century geography book called Hudud ul-'alam focusing on territories south of the Hindu Kush around the Sulaiman Mountains. The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the...

. Some Arabs settled in these new areas and married locals while adopting new customs. Other groups and contingents who elected not to settle gradually pushed eastwards but encountered resistance in areas surrounding Bamiyan
Bamiyan Province
Bamyan Province is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the centre of the country. Its capital is also called Bamyan. The majority of the population are Hazaras, with 16% Sadat, 15% Tajiks, and Pashtuns and Tatars in smaller numbers...

. When ultimately arriving at 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...

, the Arabs confronted the Kabul Shahan
Shahi
The Shahi , Sahi, also called Shahiya dynasties ruled one of the Middle kingdoms of India which included portions of the Kabulistan and the old province of Gandhara , from the decline of the Kushan Empire in the 3rd century to the early 9th century...

 who had built a long defensive wall around the city, part of which still remains today. The historical details of this battle remains largely unknown, though the Arabs were nonetheless victorious.

Despite the lack of much written accounts, another famous archaeological legacy of this battle remains standing in Kabul, notably the tomb of the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

-e Do Shamshir
Shamshir
A Shamshir also Shamsheer and Chimchir, is a type of sabre with a curve that is considered radical for a sword: 5 to 15 degrees from tip to tip. The name is derived from Persian شمشیر shamshīr, which means "sword"...

a (translated into, The leader with the Two Swords in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

) next to the Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque
Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque
Shah-Do Shamshira Mosque is a yellow two-story mosque in Kabul, just off the Kabul River in the center of the city. It was built during the reign of Amanullah Khan. The Mosque is located next to a tomb of an Arab commander who died in the 7th century when the Arabs entered Kabul....

. The site, located near Kabul's market district, was built near the area where an Arab commander died.

Following the Arab confrontation, the region was made part of Khorasan with its seat of power in Herat in the west. The Arabs later partially relinquished some of their territorial control though reasserted its authority approximately 50 years later in 750 when the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliphs replaced the Ummayads. By then, many Arabs increasingly blended with locals as the Arabic identity in the region began to undergo a significant change. Arab contingents settled throughout various parts of present day Afghanistan including the Wardak, Logar, 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...

, 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...

 and in the Sulaiman Mountains
Sulaiman Mountains
The Sulaiman Mountains are a major geological feature of southeastern Afghanistan and northern Balochistan province of Pakistan. In Pakistan, it forms the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau where the Indus River separates it from the Asian Subcontient...

. Over time they adopted local customs and languages, some became Persianized
Persianization
Persianization or Persianisation is a sociological process of cultural change in which something non-Persian becomes Persianate. It is a specific form of cultural assimilation that often includes linguistic assimilation...

 while others became Afghanized
Pashtunization
Pashtunization is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a...

 who followed Pashtunwali
Pashtunwali
Pashtunwali or Pakhtunwali is a non-written ethical code and traditional lifestyle which the indigenous Pashtun people from Afghanistan and Pakistan follow. Some in the Indian subcontinent refer to it as "Pathanwali". Its meaning may also be interpreted as "the way of the Pashtuns" or "the code of...

.

It was during the reign of the Ya'qub Saffari that Arabic began losing its influence in the region. Nevertheless, the Arabs attempted to re-exert their influence in the area by supporting the Samanid
Samanid
The Samani dynasty , also known as the Samanid Empire, or simply Samanids was a Persian state and empire in Central Asia and Greater Iran, named after its founder Saman Khuda, who converted to Sunni Islam despite being from Zoroastrian theocratic nobility...

 rulers of Balkh who in return, assisted the Abbasid Arabs against the defiant 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...

.

Despite maintaining some clothing customs and attire, most the early Afghan-Arabs (or Arab-Afghans) gradually lost their original tongue of Arabic. This is confirmed in the 15th century work, Baburnama
Baburnama
Bāburnāma is the name given to the memoirs of Ẓahīr ud-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur , founder of the Mughal Empire and a great-great-great-grandson of Timur...

, which notes that the Arabs of Afghanistan have virtually lost the Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 and instead speak Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Pashto language
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...

. Although the exact number of Arab-Afghans remains unknown, mostly due to ambiguous claims of descent, an 18th century academic estimated that they number at approximately 60,000 families.

Second wave


After the Bolshevik Revolution, many 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....

 Arabs residing in Bukhara
Bukhara
Bukhara , from the Soghdian βuxārak , is the capital of the Bukhara Province of Uzbekistan. The nation's fifth-largest city, it has a population of 263,400 . The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time...

 and other areas of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 ruled by Russians migrated to Afghanistan where they were better able to practice their religion without fear of religious persecution or discrimination. One estimate indicated that approximately 30,000 Arabs lived in Bukhara during the mid-nineteenth century. The Arabs who entered into Afghanistan during this time still retained some Arabic in contrast to the Afghan Arabs who came during the first wave.

The Arabic spoken is mixed with Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and Uzbeki words. Some Arabs from the second wave intermarried with the local population as they adopted the languages of northern Afghanistan, namely 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 people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

, and Persian language. Many settled in Kunduz, Takhar
Takhar Province
Takhār is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It was established in 1964 when Qataghan Province was divided into three provinces: Baghlan, Kunduz and Takhar. It is in the north-east of the country. Its capital is Taloqan. Its salt mines are one of Afghanistan's major mineral resources...

 and 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...

 provinces. Currently, while they still view themselves as Arab, almost all the Arabs from the second wave have lost their language of Arabic.

Although some tribal names, including Qureshi and Shaiboni
Bani Shaiba
The Bani Shaiba are an Islamic tribe that hold the keys to the Kaaba. The members of the tribe greet visitors into the Kaaba during the cleaning ceremony and clean the interior together with the visitors.-History :...

 are still remembered, most of the Arabs view genealogies as unimportant. Many of these Afghan Arabs work in the agricultural industry, often growing cotton and wheat while others raise karakul sheep. According to an academic, the Central Asian Arabs have not had any contact with Middle Eastern Arabs since the time of Tamerlane (circa 1400).

Third wave



During the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

, many Arab Muslims arrived and volunteered to help Afghans fight Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Some of these remained after the Soviets withdrew from the country and were granted citizenship. Others intermarried with local Afghans while some arrived with their families to Afghanistan. Kandahar
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...

 is home to a small Arab cemetery where over 70 graves belong to Arab victims of the U.S. War on Terror
War on Terror
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

. These Arabs are revered by many as shahid
Shahid
Shahid is an Arabic word meaning "witness". It is a religious term in Islam, meaning both "witness" and "martyr." While a martyr may die as a consequence of fighting, a shahid is a "witness" because he gives his life out of passion for truth. The shahid exchanges himself for the divine and thereby...

 (martyr
Martyr
A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

s).

Balkh


Around 900 families live in Khoshal Abad and Yakhdan villages of Dawlat Abad district of the province, the villagers can trace their lineage back to the third caliphate of Hazrat Osman, in the 7th century. These families are mainly engaged in agriculture and carpet weaving. Most Arabs in Balkh Province
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...

, speak in Arabic as their mother tongue, and Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 as a second language. While some of the older generation had never learned to speak either of Afghanistan’s two official languages, Dari and Pashto, many of the younger generation were being taught Dari in school and forgetting their Arabic; about 40 percent can no longer speak Arabic. Many of their customs have been forgotten, or are no longer relevant to a younger generation that identifies more with Afghanistan. Arabs who settled in northern Balkh province are worried that their culture is being wiped out as more people adopt the language and traditions of Afghanistan. Arabs form the smaller minorities in the town and district of Kholm
Kholm
Kholm is a town and the administrative center of Kholmsky District of Novgorod Oblast, Russia, situated at the confluence of the Lovat and Kunya Rivers, north of Toropets, southwest of Staraya Russa, and south of Veliky Novgorod. Population:...

; many identify themselves as ethnic Arabs although no one actually speaks Arabic.

Jowzjan


There are about 1,000 families living in Hassanabad of Shebarghan, capital of Jowzjan province, and in Sultan Arigh village of Aqcha district that speak Arabic and follow the arabic tradition.

See also

  • Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
    Islamic conquest of Afghanistan
    The Islamic conquest of Afghanistan began in the middle of the 7th century after the Islamic conquest of Persia was completed, when Arab Muslims defeated the Sassanid Empire at the battles of Walaja, al-Qādisiyyah and Nahavand. The Muslim Arabs then began to move towards the lands east of Persia...

  • Central Asian Arabic
    Central Asian Arabic
    Central Asian Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and currently facing extinction. It was once spoken among Central Asia's numerous settled and nomadic Arab communities, which inhabited areas in Samarqand, Bukhara, Qashqadarya, Surkhandarya , and Khatlon...

  • Persian Arab
    Persian Arab
    Persian Arab generally refers to people who are of both Arab and Persian ethnic, cultural or cultural background.-History and current situation:...

  • Persianization
    Persianization
    Persianization or Persianisation is a sociological process of cultural change in which something non-Persian becomes Persianate. It is a specific form of cultural assimilation that often includes linguistic assimilation...

  • Pashtunization
    Pashtunization
    Pashtunization is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a process of cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Pashtun becomes Pashtun Pashtunization (also called Afghanization) is a...

  • 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,...

  • Quraishi
    Quraishi
    Quraishi , is a family name that originates from Arabs in Saudi Arabia, particularly from the city of Mecca.- Lineage :...

  • Siddiqui
    Siddiqui
    Siddiqui, is a Muslim family name, found in the South Asia and the Middle East. Shaikh is an additional title used occasionally by Siddiqui/Siddique to signify their Arab heritage...

  • Farooqi
    Farooqi
    Farooqui , is a distinctt name or surname or last name.- Origin :...

  • Hashemi