known. Such intercourse with countries beyond their borders cannot
but have an effect favourable to the increase of knowledge, and that
desire for the amenities of civilized existence, which is such an incentive
The future of Afghanistan lies in Afghanistan ; and though the
ignorance of the mass of the population will retard the development of
the natural resources of their country ; of late years, it is evident that
the goV'ernment, and probably the more thoughtful among the popu-
lation, have realized the fact. Recent small importations of machinery
for industrial purposes is a very hopeful sign of this movement. The
absence of fuel is a serious hindrance ; but it has led to a search for
coal, hitherto apparently without much success, which will probably
lead to other discoveries, and finally may attain the desired end.
Lastly, owing to the poverty of the country and scanty supplies,
the difficulties of transport and communications, and the intractable
character of the inhabitants, in w4iom an aptitude for guerrilla warfare
has become an inherited talent, the words of King Henri IV of France,
by which he described Spain of his day, are almost equally appropriate
as a description of Afghanistan of the present time : â€” It is a
country which it is impossible to conquer, a little army is beaten
there, and a large one starved.'
^ Life of Louis, Prince of Conde â€” Earl Stanhope.
Claim of the Afghans to be descended from
Dispersed Tribes of Israel.
THE origin, ot the tribes who call themselves Afghans has
attracted a great deal of attention, owing to the fact that
they claim to be the descendants of Jews, who had settled
in Ghor ; and the various clans refer their origin to some
one of the three sons of Kais, the chieftain of that community, who is
said to have been the 37th in descent from Saul, King of Israel.
Owing to intercourse with the Jews settled in Arabia, so the story
goes, Kais was induced to visit the Prophet Muhammad, who won
the Jewish Chief to Islam, and bestowed on him the name of Abdur
Rashid, and the title of Pahtan. This last is a mysterious word which
cannot be traced to an origin in any known language, but it is believ-
ed to mean either or both, the rudder, or the mast of a ship. So say
those who have committed the genealogy of the Afghans to paper.
The conversion of Kais is not mentioned in the history of Islam.
The so-called genealogy of the Afghans was compiled at a time
when all the races of Mankind were believed to have been the
offspring of the first man and woman created by the Almighty and the
eponymous ancestor of every tribe appears at some stage in the
genealogy, which there seems every reason to believe was concocted
in the 15th century A. P., probably when the Afghans began to
attain to power in India, The main feature in it is the alleged Jewish
ancestry of all the tribes, and this belief must have been very strong
for the retention of the legend, when the tables of descent were
compiled. All that can be said at present is that the legend has pre-
served the memory of a fact which has dropped out of history. It is not
improbable that there may have been a Hebrew Community in Ghor.
The Jews of Bokhara delivered to Dr. Wolff a tradition to the
effect that * when their forefathers belonging to the Reubenites,
CLAIM TO ISRAELITISH DESCENT. I I
Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh were removed by Tig^hith
Pileser ' (B.C. 738) ' they were brought to Hala (Balkh), and Habor
(Samarkand) and Hara (Bokhara) and to the river of Gozan (that is
to say, the Amu, (called by Europeans the Oxus), from Palestine'. If
this is a genuine tradition, it would render possible the presence of
an independent community of professing Jews in the adjoining
fastnesses of Ghc>r and the Firuzkoh. This tradition described the
dispersal of the Hebrews by Chingiz Khan' and they fled into
Sabzawar and Nishapur in Khurassan and dwelt there for some
centuries till they at last returned to their former seats along the
Oxus, and claim to have been kindly treated by the famous Tamerlane.
In February iSg6, on the southern boundary of Afghanistan, men
pointed out an almost obliterated mound and a hollow, which they
said were the remains of a fort and tank constructed by the Bani Israel,
who had come from the west and passed on towards the north.
Both the mound and hollow needed to be carefully pointed out, so time-
worn were they. It is, as far as can be ascertained, the only instance
in which the tradition of the exiled Israelites â€” the Bani-Israel of the
Afghan legend, has been found to be associated, with a definite site
or remains. There is, of course, that famous shrine in the Lamghan
district on the Kabul River, dedicated to the Saint Mihtar Lam, who is
said to have been buried there and who is supposed by some to have
been none other than the Patriarch Lamech.
The persecution of the Hebrews in Persia, set on foot by the
Sassanian Monarch Firuz, in 490 A.D., scattered them over Asia.
European travellers and authors in the 12th century mention the
existence of independent communities of Israelites in Eastern Persia
and in Afghanistan and in India. ^
The silence of local historians as to the existence of any Hebrew
communities cannot be regarded as proof to the contrary ; for those
writers were more eager to embellish their pages with the record or
high political aflfairs and the marchings of vast armies, led by potent
sovereigns, than to treat of humbler events ; but the existence of an
independent community and a ruling chief could hardly have escaped
notice, except by reason of the fact that they had forsaken their
religion and had adopted Islam or an earlier Pagan religion instead.
^ Life and adventures of the Revd. Joseph Wolff.D D.,L,L.D., Vol. II, pp. 12-13
- The mystery that shrouded the fate of those Israelites, who never returned
to their native land, inspired the journey of discovery, undertaken by the Rabbi
Benjamin of Toledo and by Petachva of Prag-ue. The former discovered a com-
munity of professing Jews, 4,000 strong, belonging to the tribes of Dan, Asher,
Zebulon, and \aphthali who maintained their independence in the mountains of
12 THE KINGDOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
The district of Ghor is an unexplored part of Afghanistan, and no
European has set eyes on the ruins of the comparatively modern capi-
tal of the Ghori Sultans. It was also the last strong-hold of an ancient
religion professed by the inhabitants when all their neighbours had
become Muhammadan. In the nth century A. D. Mahmud of Ghazni
defeated the Prince of Ghor, Ibn-i-Suri, and made him prisoner in a
severely contested engagement in the valley of Ahingaran. Ibn-i-
Suri is called a Hindu by the author, who has recorded his overthrow ;
it does not follow that he was one either by religion or by race, but
merely that he was not a Muhammadan.
Although the Afghans firmly believe the legend of their Jewish
origin, yet indications exist which support a contrary opinion. Afghan-
istan has been the ante-chamber of India for centuries of time beginning
with ages of which no knowledge exists. Through this country have
passed those successive immigrations of nations which have spread
over the plains of the Punjab and Upper India, from which the present-
day population of those tracts has descended. Some part of these
immigrants may have drifted over the barrier of the Hindu-Kush, as
bands of fugitives, but the great movements must have followed the
easier route round the western end of those lofty mountains, the immi-
grants travelling deliberately, encumbered with their families, and
driving before them their herds of cattle and live stock. The valley of
the Helmand and of its tributaries provided easy routes for this advance,
and further to the east, the well trodden paths, which follow the
courses of the Kuram, the Tochi, Gomal and Bolan Streams admit-
ted the immigrants to their ultimate destination in the valley of the
Indus and further to the east. It is reasonable to suppose that some
part of the immigrating nations must have remained in Afghanistan,
Nishapur. Their Prince, a Hebrew, in 1 153 acknowledged the Sultan of the
Saljuks as his Suzerain. Petachya found a race of dark skinned Israelites in India,
who had preserved merely the observance of the Sabbath, and the rite of circum-
cision. History of the Jews. H. Graetz, Vol. II.
Edrisi in the lath century compiled a treatise on g-eography, and he
gives a curiously circumstantial and accurate description of the old town
of Kandahar, where he says a whole quarter in the town was occupied by
infidel, i.e., professing Hebrews, for Edrisi was a Muhammadan. The existence
of such a community is not confirmed by well known authors, such as Al
Baihaki (12th century), and the author of the Tabakat-i-Nasiri (13th century),
both of whom were natives of Khurassan and might be expected to have known
of the existence of such a community. There were, however, two cities both named
Kandahar and both with the same letters, one was in the Southern Afghan country
and the second in the Peninsula of India. Whether the latter town was in
existence in the 12th century is uncertain ; if it was, perhaps that was the town
intended by Edrisi, who may have confounded it with the other town of the same
name in Afghanistan. In the Indian town of Kandahar a community of pro-
fessing Hebrews might very possibly have been in existence.
CLAIM TO ISRAELITISH DESCENT. I3
and that from them are descended the semi-pastoral tribes who call
themselves Afghans. These may have come to regard, in course of
time, the Jewish Princes of Ghor as their overlord and, as time passed,
themselves as members by blood of that community. At the present
day there are confederacies of tribes called by one name, the members
of which belong to a variety of tribes who have been drawn together
by common interests, and who now call themselves by the general
name of the group to which they belong â€” Brahui, Imak, Durani, and
so on. The spread of Islam, which for some six centuries had put an
end to the recurring immigrations, on a large scale, of nations from
Central Asia into the countries to the south of the Oxus, has in a
great measure obliterated all knowledge of their origin among those
who follow the teachings of that religion.
The name Afghan appears in chronicles of the nth and succeed-
ing Centuries A. D., when they had passed under the rule of the dynasty
founded by Sabaktakin (on the ruins of the Empire of the Samanis),
and whose capital was Ghazni, now a town of second-rate import-
ance in Afghanistan. At that time the Afghans appear to have been
located in the country to the south and east of that city, on the banks
of the Indus river, and in the narrow valleys and glens of the Roh.
This name was applied to the mountainous and unproductive tract, with
which we are now very familiar as the home of those unruly people,
the Afridis and the Waziris. It is composed of great spurs which
descend from the western water-shed of the Indus ; and the name was
given to all the country from the Safed Koh, south of the Kabul River to-
Cape Monze, overlooking the Sea of Oman. The mountains to the
north of the Kabul River and between the Kunar and Jhelum rivers
also, were at one time regarded as forming a part of the Roh. Later,
when the Afghans had risen to importance in the country to the west
of the water-shed, the country up to the Helmand River was supposed by
them to be a part of the Roh. In the nth century, the Afghans were
notorious for their turbulence and as bad subjects, and the famous
Mahmud Sultan of Ghazni, the son of Sabaktakin, was forced to
take order with them, and the difficult character of their abodes or
fastnesses (in the Roh) is mentioned.
Up to the first quarter of the 13th century, the countries to the
west of the Roh were occupied and controlled by a civilized population.
Then took place the collapse of the barriers that Islam had opposed for
almost six centuries to the inroads of barbarians from Central Asia.
Religious schisms had weakened the faith of the professors of Islam, and
political rivalries had still further relaxed the bond of unity between.
14 THE KINGDOM OK A IC.II AXISTAN.
them that had prevailed at an earlier period." The hordes of Chingiz
Khan beat down the ill-concerted and desultory opposition offered by
the world of Islam, and for a time the fabric of society and civilization
was overthrown by the onslaught of the Mongols. The fair Province
of Khurassan was depopulated and devastated. For three hundred
years and more, wandering hordes of Mongols, Turks and later of
Uzbegs rendered life in it too strenuous for the barbarous Afghans, who
were pushed about the country or projected into India. It was not
till the i6th century and the early part of the following century that
the Uzbegs were forced beyond the Hindu-Kush and the vacant lands
that existed in all districts were available for the Afghans to occupy."
These conditions which lasted for nearly 300 years have left their
impress on the population, which is now composed of three races, each
of which differs from its neighbours in many very itnportant respects :
in physlogonom}-, in character and in their mode of life. These are the
Hazara, the Tajik, and the Afghim tribes. The Hazaras are Mongols â€”
relics of the invasion of Chingiz Khan, reinforced afterwards by later
arrivals from the banks of the Oxus and the country beyond. The
physical traits of the Hazaras have rendered them easily distinguishable.
They are addicted to the heretical form of belief of the All Illahi sect.
They do not coalesce socially or politically uith either Tajik or
Afghan. They are located to the west of the road from Kandahar to
Kabul ; and they occupy that tract to-day in which the Huns settled and
where they had their centres of government In the 6th century A. D.
The Hazaras are hard)-, strongly built and industrious, and the ranks
^ The political ambitions of the Caliph-an-Nasir, caused him to fall out with
his (at one time) aiiy, Muhammad, Khwarazm Shah. The Caliph was powerless
for open enmity with a potentate whose Empire reached from the Jaxartes to the
Persian Gulf, sc he invited Chingfiz Khan to attack the Khwarazm sovereign, and
sent an embass\- to the pagan chieftain to urge him to take this course, which a
few years later extinguished the Caliphate itself. The Caliphate, Muir. pp. 582-3.
- Some time in the 13th or 14th century the Mongols expelled the Momands
and Khallils from their possessions in the valley, from Kalat-i-Ghilzai, towards
Kabul, including Ghazni, Shashgau, Haftasia and Haidar Khel. The tribes then
wandered down the valley of the Kabul, and seized the lands they now occupy
turning out the Dilazaks, who were driven across the Indus into Chach. The
Wardak clan deprived the Hazaras subsequently of the lands they had taken
from the Momands and Khallils to the north of Ghazni.
A similar probable cause also decided the Yusufzais to abandon their homes
in the country between Nushki and Quetta. They wandered northwards through
the Zhob Vallej', and after a long period passed in moving about Afghanistan and
northwards towards the Hindu-Kush, in the first quarter of the 15th centur}' ; thej'
finally settled down in their present abodes.
The Parni tribe, who came into collision with Timur at the close of the 14th
century, in the upper part of the Lohgar Valley, were impelled southwards.
These are a few instances that will illustrate tlie vicissitudes the tribes suffered
before the rise of the Safavi, and Moghul Empire of Delhi gave them an
opportunity of a less strenuous existence.
TAJIKS AND Al'CWlANS. I 5
ot servants and labourers throug-hout the country are recruited from
them. In consequence of this they are to be found all over Afghanistan,
and have even provided the Indian Army with useful soldiers.
The Tajiks display to-day all those qualities, which distinguished
the agricultural population in the valley of the Oxus, who were known to
the Chinese as the Ta-hia. They live in houses and form orderly village
communities. They are appreciative of the benefits of education
and of the amenities of civilized existence ; and in their households
they iriaintain a higher standard of comfort to that which prevails
among the Afghans or Hazaras. They are everywhere regarded as
the people of the soil ; descendants of the ancient race which
owned the land. In spite of centuries of misgovernment and op-
pression at the hands of predatory barbarians, they have clung
tenaciously to agriculture, and engage in commerce as well. Wherever
there is arable soil and water to irrigate it, there always is to be
found a remnant of this ancient race. Called by different names in
different localities, whether they be known as Dehwar or Dehkan
(inhabitants of villages), Tajik, or Farsiwan (Persian-speaking â€” Persian
is their mother-tongue) ; they are one people and in all probability they
represent the original Iranian or Aryan race among whom Zoroaster
published his doctrine ; among whom the Greek colonists of Alexander
settled, and to whom a thousand years later the soldiers of Islam
offered the alternatives of the Koran, the Poll-tax, or the sword.
While the Mongol Hazara holds aloof, the Tajik and Afghan are
drawn together by common interests ; and the former first calls himself
an Afghan and owns to being a Tajik afterwards.
The Afghans pride themselves on their nomadic proclivities,
and on those qualities, which they complacently regard as military
virtues, but which others may stigmatize, with good reason, as
brutality. The Afghan is frequently spoken of as a Pat-han, and in the
latter some have professed to recognise the name of a people
mentioned by Herodotus ' and other writers of antiquity. In some
parts of the country, the term Pat-han appears to be restricted to
those tribes who are cultivators of the lands they occupy. Afghan is
applied to the tribes collectively, and also to the pastoral tribes among
them. These affect to despise the Tajik as men of peace, civilians, in
fact â€” and this attitude towards the arts of peace attaches a stigma to
those tribes of Afghans, who themselves engage in agricultures.
^ The Paktues. and Pakthas of the V'edas. The Afghans call themselves
Pakbtan Cpi. Pakhtana), from which the change to Pahtana and again to Pathan
l6 THE KINGDOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
Differences of religious dogmas of Islamâ€” the Shia and Sunt
schools of thought tend to keep the Tajik apart from the Afghan.
The Tajik is usually a Shia â€” the Afghan always professes to be a
Suni of a bigoted type. In the Kuram Valley there are, however,
tribes which regard themselves as Afghans, but which profess the Shia
doctrines. They are, however, the exception, and of not great im-
portance. The ignorant and arrogant Afghan cannot, however, do
without the despised Tajik, whether as agriculturists or administrators.'
They intermarry, but the Tajik wife ranks below other wives belonging
to Afghan tribes. Some of the greatest men in the history of the
country have been the offspring of such mixed unions, the ability and
prudence for which they have been distinguished having been in-
herited from their Tajik mothers.
An Afghan tribe is theoretically constituted from a number of
kindred groups of agnates, that is to say, descent is through the
father, and the son inherits the father's blood. The groups com-
prisino- the tribe are divided into a multiplicity of sub-divisions, which
it is almost impossible to folio a' ; but for practical purposes, four are
in common use â€” the ** Kaum " or main body, the " Khel " or " Zai,"
representing both the class (a group generally occupying a common
locality), and the section, a group whose members live in close
proximity to one another and probably hold common land ; and lastly
the " Kahol", a family group united by kinship. Affiliated with many
tribes are to be found a number of alien groups known as *' mindun "
or " hamsayah." In such cases the test of kinship does not apply,
and such groups, families, or individuals are united to the tribe by
common good and common ill. In other words, common blood feud
is the underlying principle uniting a tribe, but the conception in
time merges into the fiction of common blood, i.e., connection by
Among the Afghans, heredity is not a fixed principle, but the unfit
is passed by in favour of another who is better able to lead the tribe
in war and to manage its affairs in times of peace. Individuality has
a greater field for its expression among Afghans than among other
Social or class distinctions are lightly esteemed by them.' In
every tribe, however, there are families who claim a superior social
^ As free-born, all Afghans are on an equality with, though not as rich, perhaps
as their chiefs. Honours and property can only be inherited by sons borne by
free women â€” the son of the handmaid inherits the disabilities of his mother, and
is regarded as spurious. A bare subsistence is all he is entitled to.
Baluchistan District Gazetteer, Vol. V, â€” Quetta, Pishin, 1907.
DEMOCRATIC CHARACTER. 1 7
Status, the reason for which is no long-er apparent. Among; the rest
all are on an equal social level, and even the office of malik does not
give the holder of it any superiority over the rest of his countrymen.
The office is filled by election, and depends on the goodwill of the
electors. With regard to the supreme chieftainship of a great tribe,
consisting of many sub-divisions, the dignity is hereditary in some par-
ticular family, any member of which, however, can be elected as
the chief, the choice depending on the characters of the available
candidates. In time of peace the eldest son of the chieftain usually
succeeds his father ; but in times of peril it not unfrequently
happens that some person who has displayed pre-eminent courage and
ability is acknowledged as their chieftain by the tribesmen, although he
may not belong to the family in which the office has become hereditary.
The bold and warlike character of the Afghans has always pre-
served them from being crushed by the despotic use of power by their
chiefs or kings. Innovations are liable to be fiercely resented and
opposed by the armed strength of the tribes concerned. The
petty and selfish ambitions of the chiefs, tribal feuds and jealousies
have always enabled an adroit Ruler to maintain his authority, and
by acts of well-timed daring even' to assert his supremacy, over the
chiefs and people of Afghanistan. The great Ahmad Shah, and his
equally famous minister, were compelled to regard the wishes of the
people, and their policy and schemes were liable to be frustrated by
his stiflF-necked subjects, when they were not in accordance with popu-
lar feeling. The ruthless determination displayed by the late Amir,
Abdur Rahman, with regard to the establishment of the supremacy of
the crown, and in order to break down opposition to his plans for
raising his country in the scale of civilization, placed him far above
his predecessors. Having subdued the tribes by removing those
persons whose influence was likely to prove dangerous, he was able to
control the irresponsible priesthood of Afghanistan â€” a measure which
no preceding Rulers of the country would have dared to attempt.^
The progress of modern ideas which promises to remodel the con-
servative and despotic monarchies of Turkey and Persia into some
form of constitutional governments cannot but affect Afghanistan i
course of time ; and it is easy to understand the interest which events
^ The support of the Duranis and Tajiks enabled him to do this succesfully.
The latter are always ready to support a stable government. Their interest lies
on the side of law and order or as close to these conditions as it is possible to
attain in Afghanistan. The Duraois had their ancient feud with the Ghilzais and
no common interests with the Hazaras. The Triumph of the Barakzai Amir was
shared by every single Durani, as they attained to supremacy over all the other
tribes in their country period.
l8 THE KINGDOM OF AFGHANISTAN.
in those countries are reported to have created among the Afghans,
who appear to be peculiarly susceptible to a movement which has
revolutionized the Muhammadan Empires of Western Asia, by reason
of their democratic nature and the practice of managing their domestic
ffairs by means of tribal and family councils.
The history of the Afghans is practically the story of the two
great confederacies led by the Duranis and Ghilzais. At present the