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Afghan Names

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On an everyday basis, Afghans usually use only their first name. In formal situations, they are identified by both their first name and their father’s name or family or tribe name. Western media however has mainstreamed a different picture. Due to their limited understanding and research on Afghanistan, they've concluded that most Afghans use 'one name only', read [1] & [2]. In fact Afghans prefer to have two names or two parts first name. Having one name is not considered more respectful so they'll add a subordinating noun to the name to show respect. Afghans are so used to having two names or two parts that they refer to western expats working in Afghanistan with their names plus Jan or Khan or qand, like Mike Jan, Steve Khan, Sarah Jan etc.

First name can have two or more parts but it is still considered to be one first name. For example, Ahmad Younis walade Muhammad Moqim translates to Ahmad Younis son of Muhammad Moqim. Ahmad Youness is the first name, and walade means “son of.”


Contents

Male Names

Afghan names could be of Arabic origin or traditional Afghan or Pashtun origin. Names with Arabic origin can have First names composing of two parts[3], the subordinating noun (A very common name such as -Ullah, Jan, Khan, Ali, Gholam, Abdul, Mohammad, Ahmad, Din, Khan, Shah, Gul) and the proper name. A subordinating noun can take both the first position as well as the second position. The subordinating name and proper name are not related to the individual’s parents or grandparents.[4], like Ahmad Khan, Ajmal Khan, Abdul Qadir, Abdul Rauf, Qudratullah, Rafiullah, Juma Gul etc. Names with Pashto origin are often first name followed by the last name which can be father's name or family or tribe name. First names are often the names of valued objects or qualities, such as Batoor, followed by the last name like Emal Wardak, Mirwais Hotak, Shapoor Zadran, Nowroz Mangal, Turyalai Zazai, Abasin Yusufzai, Sabawoon Habibi etc. The subordinating name could also be added followed by the last name, to Pashto names like Emal Khan Ahmadzai, Mirwais Jan Balkhi, etc.

Female Names

Female names like male names could be of Arabic or Pashtun origin. Both Arabic and Pashtun origin names are widely used throughout Afghanistan by all ethnicities. Pashtun names are not restricted to Pashtuns only. Most of these names end with the feminine marker “a”. Some traditional Afghan girls names might also have two parts. One of the parts could “Begum”, or “Khanom”, or "bibi" ‘lady’. Ex: “Khan Begom”, “Begom Jan”, “Gol Khanom”, and "Bibi Gul". Most of the traditional Afghan names are nouns or adjectives that have a pleasant meaning, such as flower, moon, beauty, virtue, etc[5].


Some of the most common names of Afghan or Pashtun origin are; Badrai (بدري), Bakhtawara (بختوره), Balbala (بلبله), Brekhna / Breshna (بريښنا), Diwa (ډيوه), Durkhanai (درخانئي), Ghatola (غاټوله), Ghotai (غوټې), Ghuncha (غونچه), Grana (ګرانه), Helai (هيلئ), Hila (هليه), Hina (حنه), Husay (هوسئ), Kashmala (کشماله), Khaista / Shaista (ښائسته), Khaperai / Shaperai (ښاپېرئ), Kharo (ښارو), Khkulay (ښکلې), Khwaga (خوږه), Kochai (کوچې), Kontara (کونتره), Lakhta (لخته), Lalma (للمه), Lamba (لمبه), Lawanga (لونګه), Lema (ليمه), Malala / Malalai (ملالئ), Malghalara (ملغلره), Mina (مينه), Makai /Gul Makai(مکئي), Muska (مسکا), Natkai (نتکې), Nazo (نازو), Palwasha (پلوشه), Panra (پاڼه), Perkha (پرخه), Ranra (رڼا), Rekhmina / Reshmina (ريښمينه), Reshtina (ريښتينه), Tsanga (څانګه), Sangina (سنګينه), Senzela (سينله), Shandana (شاندانه), Shanzai (شانزئ), Shaperai (شاپېرئ), Sherina (شېرين), Shinkai (شينکئ) Greenish, Shughla (شوغله), Silai / Selai (سيلئ), Sparghai (سپرغئ), Spogmai / Spozhmai / Uzhmakai (سپوږمئ / سپوژمئ), Storai (ستورئ), Tabana (تبانه), Talwasa (تل وسه), Tor Pikai (تور پيکائ), Wranga (وړنګه), Wagma (وږمه), Wida or Vida, Zarlakhta / Zarlashta (زرلښته).[6]


Afghan female names of Arabic origin are very common in Afghanistan as well like Aisha, Amina, Adila, Akila, Aliyah, Asiya, Atiya, Aziza, Bahira, Basira, Faiza, Faozia, Fahima, Farida, Feroza, Fatima, Hamida, Hadia, Jamila, Kamila, Khadija, Laila, Maliha, Madina, Reja, Safia, Zainab etc.

Honorific titles

Religious, royal, occupational, and military honorific titles often precede the name and are confused[7] to be the part of the name. Some of these titles could be: Hazrat, Sheikh, Malim, Haji, Wakil, Hafiz, Pacha, Jam, Sardar, Shaghelay, Mermon, Peghla, Agha, Mullah, Mawlawi, Mir, Qari, Qazi.


Tribal names as surnames

Most Pashtuns use their tribe name as their last name. They might go by their one first name throughout their childhood and youth but they adopt a last name of their own choice or a tribal last name to have a name with two or three parts. All Pashtuns have a tribe and can adopt a name easily, some of these tribal names could be: Abdali, Ahmadzai, Durrani, DawaR, Tanai, Wazir, Zazai, Zadran, Sulemankhel, Marwat, Wazir, Shinwarai, Apirdai (Afridai), Yusufzai, Momand, Niazai, Kakar, Mandokhel, Karzai.

References

  1. http://www.aan-afghanistan.org/index.asp?id=2894
  2. http://petersonzach.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/this-blog-which-like-many-only-uses-one-name/
  3. Alam 1975
  4. The Names of Afghanistan: Understanding Pashto and Dari Names
  5. The Names of Afghanistan: Understanding Pashto and Dari Names
  6. Pashto names for Girls by Khyber
  7. The names of Afghanistan