The Bangash (Pashto: بنګش; Urdu: بنگش) are one of the Karlani Pashtun tribe of the border region of eastern Afghanistan and North Western Pakistan. They primarily inhabit the Kohat, Hangu, Doaba, Thall, and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as portions of the Kurram Agency and Orakzai Agency in FATA. Many Bangash are also found in the northeastern section of the Paktia and Paktika Province in Afghanistan. Descendants of Bangash are also found in the Uttar Pradesh state of India, particularly in the city of Farrukhabad which was founded by Muhammad Khan Bangash in 1714.
Etymology and origins
The name Bangash or Bankash is said to be derived from Persian namely 'bun', which translates to root, and 'Kashtan', which translates to tear apart. Since the origin of the tribe it was believed that during battles the Bangash tribesmen would not rest until they had ripped the enemy off of their roots. Hence the name 'Bangash' or 'root destroyer' was given to them. It is believed by the tribe that they are the descendants of a man named Esmail, whose 11th generation ancestor happened to be Khalid ibn Walid, the famed warrior and companion of Muhammad. According to Pashtun folklore, the Bangash tribe traces its origin back to the eponymous ancestor of all Pashtuns, Qais Abdur Rashid, through his youngest son, Karlan. Thus, the Bangash tribe are one of the Karlani tribes.
The Bangash originally lived between the Gardez region of modern-day Afghanistan and Kurram Valley of present Pakistan, where they were still living as of the Ghaznavids period (975 to 1187). Later on, they came into conflict with the Ghilzais, and were ousted from their homeland eastwards across the Paywar Pass to the upper Kurram Basin (now in modern-day Pakistan), located on the eastern slopes of the Spin Ghar range. The Bangash allied with the Khattaks who were also moving to the same area and pushed the Orakzai of the area southeastwards. However, in the 18th century, the Bangash ceded most of the upper Kurram Basin, which they had vacated earlier, to the Turi tribe, though the Bangash still occupy some villages there, in particular in the Shalozan area near the Pakistan–Afghanistan border. This incorporation, which is never clearly formulated in terms of filiation or even of adoption, may have originated in a military alliance between the Bangaṧ and Ḵaṭak (q.v.) in the 9th/15th century."
The Mughal Emperor Babur, in his memoir Baburnama mentioned a population of approximately 5,600 Bangash located in the Kurram agency, which was formerly divided into Bangash-i-Bala (Upper Bangash) and Bangash-i-Payan (Lower Bangash), and listed Bangash as one of the fourteen provinces then dependent on Kabul. Babur wished to conquer these provinces, but was unable to conquer the territory bounded on the north by the Spin Ghar down as far as Bannu, where Bangash, Turis, and Wazirs live, as is clear from his comments: "Bangash is another tuman [of Kabul]. The area round about is full of highway robbers such as the Khogyani, Khirilchi, Turi and Landar. Since it is isolated they do not pay the desired revenue. As greater tasks such as the conquest of Kandahar, Balkh, Badakhshan and Hindustan occupied me, there has been no opportunity to subjugate the Bangash". However, in 1505 Babur raided and plundered the district of the Bangash.
Presently, the Bangash inhabit Miranzai valley (Hangu), the Kohat defile in the North-West Frontier Province (1901–1955), and the valley of Kurram river in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The tribe is one of the only three Pashtun tribes, the others being Orakzai and Turi tribes, that has followers of Shia Islam. It is not clear how some of these tribes converted to Shia Islam. The Kohat Gazetteer of 1883–84 records:
"The Orakzai tribes are said to have been converted by the Tirah Syeds about the beginning of the present century. The Bangash of Samizai were probably converted a little earlier."
Bangash in Afghanistan
The Bangash tribe is primarily found in Paktia, Paktika, Ghazni and Khost provinces of Afghanistan. There is also a significant population of Bangash in Gardez and Zurmat, the main cities of Paktia Province.
Sub-divisions of the Bangash
- Traditional affiliations to factions and lineages
There are two sub-tribal divisions, usually referred to as factions (or fractions), namely the Gar (Pashtun Gār) or Gaar. The other faction is Samil (Pashtun Sāmel) or Samel. These factions are traditionally purported to be reflect genealogical lineages from two sons of the tribal founder, Esmail.
Each individual belongs to a khel: a minor lineage or section. Each khel belongs to a major lineage, or zai. There are three zai within the Bangash: Baizai, Miranzai and Samilzai. The Balzai and Miranzai appear to have originally constituted the Gar, while the Samilzai alone appear to have originally constituted the Samil.
|Gar||Baizai||Alisher, Yousaf-Khel, Hassan-Zai, Shari Khel, Gulshah, Landi, Shingi, Biland, Hasan, Mandar, Tapi, Dang, Isa, Mastu, Shamshedi, Musa, Darsamand, Kamal, Mysaro, Doda, Kati, Shadi, Makhizai etc.|
|Gar||Miranzai||Mardu Khel, Haji khel, Yousaf-Khel, Hassan-Zai Alisher, Azi, Badda, Isap, Khoja, Labi, Lodi, Mandar, Shahu etc.|
|Samil||Samilzai||Ali, Darbi, Yousaf-Khel, Hassan-Zai, Kalesar, Kasi, Khadi, Khadir, Khoti, Landi, Mama, Mari, Mastori, Mozu, Musa, Naso, Pae, Tana, Tazi, Ustarizai, Alizai, Khadizai, Darvikhal, Kohat, Hangu, Togh Sarai, Kahi, Lodhi Khel, Mohammad khwaja etc.|
- Modern factional and religious affiliations of each Zai
Despite the traditional affiliations of each zai in a particular faction (i.e. either Gar or Samil), in modern times most Bangash are affiliated to the Gar. However, some Samilzai and even some Miranzai, remain affiliated politically to the Samil.
|Zai||Modern factional affiliation||Islamic denomination|
|Miranzai||Gar, with a Samil minority.||Sunni and Shia|
|Samilzai||Gar, with a Samil minority.||Shia, with a Sunni minority.|
The Baizai are a sub-tribe of the Bangash. The name "Baizai" originated from that of a tribal chieftain of the Bangash, Behzad Khan-son of Amirzai chief Daulat Khan-a tribal chieftain and feudal lord. Behzad Khan is said to have been married to a daughter of Ahmad Shah Durrani, the Amir of Afghanistan. The Baizai Bangash inhabit most of rural Kohat and parts of the city limits where most government installations, institutions and commercial centers have been built on their lands. Originally, the Baizai Bangash (also known as Behzadi being the direct descendedants of Behzad Khan) established their village in Kohat at the location of the present fort constructed by the British to secure the area. All Baizais are Sunni Muslims. They are further divided into clans or khels. Izzat Khel, also known as Dolat Khel, is one of the khels. 
The Bangash of Hangu occupy a vast territory known as the Miranzai Valley. Before Bangash made themselves masters of the valley, Miranzai valley was controlled mostly by Orakzai and to some extent by Khattaks. Bangash pushed the Orakzais towards nearby mountains and the Khattaks towards the other side and took the control of the valley, in much the same fashion the Baizais of Kohat did so. Miranzai Bangash include both Shias and Sunnis. The Miranzai are the descendants of Miran, one of the grandchildren of Ismail, the progenitor of the Bangash tribe. This valley was ruled by the Khan of Hangu chiefs. The Miranzai Bangash are renowned for their bravery. They have constantly come into conflict with various forces such as the neighboring tribes, the British Raj, and the Mughals. On one account, during Darveza Niazi's attack on Hangu, The Khan of Hangu was pushed towards "Kasha", a place in the Samana mountain range. The Miranzai Bangash struck and took back control of the valley. Darveza was killed in the battle and the influence of the Khan was restored.
All Bangash follow the religion of Islam. The Bangash, along with the Orakzai and the Turi (Pashtun tribe), are the only Pashtun tribe with significant Shia population. The Shias are concentrated around upper Kurram Agency in FATA, Hangu, and a small number in Kohat, KPK, while the Sunnis are the majority in Kohat (Nusrat khel, Kagazai, Muhammad Zai, Banda Jat, Gumbat, Lachi, Togh, etc). Sunni Bangash are also found in Lower Kurram Agency of FATA and Tall area of Hangu.Sunni bangash are also found in Galoch village of district Swat.These bangash migrated from kohat to swat in late nineteenth century. 
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