A book written by 19th century Afghan Philosopher Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani in which he has discussed the origins and meaning of the word “Afghan” in the first chapter of his book. He says,”Persians used to call them “Afghan” and the reason was because they were shouting and whining when they were captured by “Bakht Nasr”. In Persian, “Afghan” means to shout or to whine. Ordinary Persian (Farsiwans) call them “Awghan”, Indians call them “Pathan”, some pashtun tribes who live in Kandahar call themselves “Pashtun” or “Pashtan”… and Afghans who live in Khowst, Karam and Bajour call themselves “Pakhu” or “Pakhtan”.
In the second chapter of his book, Jamaluddin Afghani writes: “…these people are a combination of different tribes which are “Ghiljai”, “Abdul”, “Kakar”, “Duzbri”, “Yousufzai”, “Mohmand”, “Afridi”, “Bangash” and other branches who call themselves after the place they live in, like “Khosti”, “Karami” and “Bajouri”.
Sayed also writes: “Each of the tribes mentioned here are divided into many smaller tribes. For example, the “Ghiljai” tribe is divided into “Hotak”, “Tokhi” and “Oriakhel” branches… And then these smaller tribes are divided into even smaller branches and we don’t want to go into the details about them here. All these branches and tribes have only one root and origin which is “Pashtu” and “Pashtan”. He also writes in another place: “The language of the Afghans is called “Pashtu”.” Page 19.
The 4th chapter of the book “tatimmat-ul-bayan fi tarikh al-afghan” which focuses on characteristics and customs of Afghanistan’s ethnic groups starts with this phrase: “Afghans” live in the south and southeastern parts of Afghanistan.” This is the world of a famous scholar and social philosopher who traveled to many countries and was very honest in his observations and writings. He discussed characteristics and customs of all ethnicities and tribes in the country. He believed that we should know both positive and negative aspects of our society. Ignoring our flaws will only be an obstacle in the process of social prosperity. If he was with us today, he would surely be the subject of insult and blames by the fascist and chauvinist elements and maybe that’s why he couldn’t live in this society even then.
Afghani also mentions the father of the nation and says that Ahmad Shah Durrani took great interest in all his tribes and considered them all for strengthening national unity. He gave equal attention to all of them. He formed a nine-member council that represented each tribe from around the country for the purpose of advising him in all affairs. The council was powerful and heard in all matters pertaining to the country and building and maintaining national unity.
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