Name of Afghanistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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.[1] The root name "Afghan" has been used historically in reference to the Pashtun people and the ending suffix "-stan" means "place of" in sanskrit. Therefore, Afghanistan translates to the "place of Afghans" or "land of the Afghans". [2][3]As per another interpretation, the name "Afghanistan" comes from "Upa-Gana-stan" which means in Sanskrit "The place inhabited by allied tribes".


Main article: Pashtunization
Tents of Afghan nomads in Badghis Province of Afghanistan. They are known in Pashto language as Kuchans, who migrate from region to region depending on the season.

Afghanization (Pashtunization) has been going on in the Afghanistan-Indian subcontinent since at least the 8th century. It is a process of a cultural or linguistic change in which something non-Afghan becomes Afghan.

"In the eighth and ninth centuries ancestors of many of today's Turkic-speaking Afghans settled in the Hindu Kush area (partly to obtain better grazing land) and began to assimilate much of the culture and language of the Pashtun tribes already present there."[4]

Afghan dynasties[edit]

According to Ta'rikh-i Yamini (author being secretary of Mahmud of Ghazni), Afghans enrolled in Sabuktigin's Ghaznavid Empire in the 10th century[5] as well as in the later Ghurid Kingdom (1148–1215).[6] From the beginning of the Khilji dynasty in 1290, Afghans are becoming more recognized in history among the Delhi Sultanate of India. The famous Moroccan travelling scholar, Ibn Battuta, visiting Kabul in 1333 writes: "We travelled on to Kabul, formerly a vast town, the site of which is now occupied by a village inhabited by a tribe of Persians called Afghans. They hold mountains and defiles and possess considerable strength, and are mostly highwaymen."[7] The later Lodi dynasty and Sur dynasty of Delhi were both made up of Afghans.

Early references to Afghanistan[edit]

The name "Afghanistan" is mentioned in writing by the 16th century Mughal rulers Babur and his descendants, referring to the territory between Khorasan, Kabulistan, and the Indus River which was inhabited by tribes of Afghans.

"The road from Khorasān leads by way of Kandahār. It is a straight level road, and does not go through any hill-passes... In the country of Kābul there are many and various tribes. Its valleys and plains are inhabited by Tūrks, Aimāks, and Arabs. In the city and the greater part of the villages, the population consists of Tājiks* (Sarts). Many other of the villages and districts are occupied by Pashāis, Parāchis, Tājiks, Berekis, and Afghans. In the hill-country to the west, reside the Hazāras and Nukderis. Among the Hazāra and Nukderi tribes, there are some who speak the Moghul language. In the hill-country to the north-east lies Kaferistān, such as Kattor and Gebrek. To the south is Afghanistān.[8]


The name "Afghanistan" is also mentioned many times in the writings of the 16th century historian, Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (Ferishta), and many others.

"The men of Kábul and Khilj also went home; and whenever they were ques­tioned about the Musulmáns of the Kohistán (the mountains), and how matters stood there, they said, "Don't call it Kohistán, but Afghánistán; for there is nothing there but Afgháns and dis­turbances." Thus it is clear that for this reason the people of the country call their home in their own language Afghánistán, and themselves Afgháns. The people of India call them Patán; but the reason for this is not known. But it occurs to me, that when, under the rule of Muhammadan sovereigns, Musulmáns first came to the city of Patná, and dwelt there, the people of India (for that reason) called them Patáns—but God knows!"[9]


Last Afghan empire[edit]

Main articles: Hotaki dynasty and Durrani Empire
A Lithography collection made by James Rattray in the early 1800s shows the name Afghaunistan on the front cover.

Regarding the modern state of Afghanistan, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Iranica, and many others explain that the political history of Afghanistan begins in 1709 with the rise of the Hotaki dynasty,[10][11][12] which was established by Mir Wais Hotak who is regarded as "Mirwais Neeka" ("Mirwais the grandfather").[13]

"The modern Afghan kingdom begins with the rise to supremacy first of the Ghalzais and shortly afterwards of the Durranis under Ahmed Shah."[14]

—M. T. Houtsma

The Encyclopaedia of Islam states:[15]

"The country now known as Afghanistan has borne that name only since the middle of the 18th century, when the supremacy of the Afghan race became assured: previously various districts bore distinct apellations, but the country was not a definite political unit, and its component parts were not bound together by any identity of race or language. The earlier meaning of the word was simply "the land of the Afghans", a limited territory which did not include many parts of the present state but did comprise large districts now either independent or within the boundary of British India (Pakistan)."[16]

—M. T. Houtsma

Afghanistan's first diplomatic foreign relations were established in 1801 with Great Britain and Fat′h-Ali Shah Qajar, ruler of the Qajar dynasty of neighboring Persia. According to one historian or book writer, "the name Afghanistan is mentioned since 1801 in the Anglo-Persian peace treaty for the first time officially."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vogelsang, Willem (2002). The Afghans. Wiley Blackwell. p. 18. ISBN 0-631-19841-5. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  2. ^ Banting, Erinn (2003). Afghanistan: The land. Crabtree Publishing Company. p. 4. ISBN 0-7787-9335-4. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  3. ^ "General Information About Afghanistan". Abdullah Qazi. Afghanistan Online. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  4. ^ "Islamic Conquest". Craig Baxter. Library of Congress Country Studies on Afghanistan. 1997. 
  5. ^ "AMEER NASIR-OOD-DEEN SUBOOKTUGEEN". Ferishta, History of the Rise of Mohammedan Power in India, Volume 1: Section 15. Packard Humanities Institute. Retrieved 2012-12-31. "The Afghans and Khiljies who resided among the mountains having taken the oath of allegiance to Subooktugeen, many of them were enlisted in his army, after which he returned in triumph to Ghizny." 
  6. ^ Houtsma, M. Th. (1993). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936. BRILL. p. 611. ISBN 90-04-09796-1. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  7. ^ Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354 (reprint, illustrated ed.). Routledge. 2004. p. 180. ISBN 0-415-34473-5. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  8. ^ John Leyden, Esq., M.D. and William Erskine, Esq., ed. (1921). "Events Of The Year 910 (1525)". Memoirs of Babur. Packard Humanities Institute. p. 5. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  9. ^ Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah (1560–1620). "The History of India, Volume 6, chpt. 200, Translation of the Introduction to Firishta's History (p.8)". Sir H. M. Elliot. London: Packard Humanities Institute. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  10. ^ Louis Dupree, Nancy Hatch Dupree and others. "Last Afghan empire". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  11. ^ D. Balland. "AFGHANISTAN x. Political History". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  12. ^ Otfinoski, Steven Bruce (2004). Afghanistan. Infobase Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 0-8160-5056-2. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  13. ^ Bleaney, C. H.; María Ángeles Gallego (2006). Afghanistan: a bibliography. BRILL. p. 216. ISBN 90-04-14532-X. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
  14. ^ Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1987). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936 2. BRILL. p. 157. ISBN 90-04-08265-4. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  15. ^ M. Longworth Dames, G. Morgenstierne, R. Ghirshman, "Afghānistān", in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Online Edition
  16. ^ Houtsma, Martijn Theodoor (1987). E.J. Brill's first encyclopaedia of Islam 1913-1936 2. BRILL. p. 146. ISBN 90-04-09796-1. Retrieved 2010-08-23.