One's personality is both a composition and reflection, but if I have to choose one of them, I will choose reflection as the "self" is more important to me than "me". One's composition may change, walking across the cultural landscapes and climbing the social ladder but one's self is tied to one's reflections. The fun part is that reflections are not bound to "Time-Space" barriers ( it is not time-space) and respective mental constructs, which have grown so thick over ages, that they had reduced the image of humans to Sisyphus, rolling different sizes of boulders on hills of different heights.… As the name of this Blog indicates, knols are my perspectives on topics of interests, sweet/bitter experiences or just doodling :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

A brief analysis of history of Hazaras


Hazaras are Turku-Mongol Shiites, who are mainly living in central mountains (Pamir and Kohi Baba Mountains) of current Afghanistan. They are also living in Pakistan and Iran in large numbers and in small numbers in countries like Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand, etc. There are different claims on the size of Hazaras population but none is authentic as all are based on estimations (There were no census; used the ambiguity as a political tool for subjugation and denial of political rights). Hazaras themselves think that their populations are between seven to ten millions. They speak in different dialects of Hazaragi, which are dominantly Persian enriched with Mongolian and Turkish words and expressions. Bamiyan is the historic city of Hazaras which carries Hazaragi culture and history in itself. It is a symbolic city of Hazaras which not only has the historical and cultural records of Hazaras but also represent the religious and ideological identity of Hazaras as well. If historical ruins of city of Zuhak and city of Ghalghola represent the cultural and historical pasts of Hazaras then Bamiyan Buddha represent the past religious and ideological bondage of Hazaras and Bandi Ameer (A series of six natural Lakes in canyon of Bamiyan) represent the current religious and ideological bondage of Hazaras.


We can grossly divide the history of Hazaras into two eras and eight periods as follows (We can subdivide each period if we want to make to elaborate it more) based on key characteristics in evolution of Hazaras as a nation.

A- Era of development of Hazara nation

1- Chinese period

2- Mongolian period

3- Turkish period

4- Aryan period

B- Era of development of political and economic thoughts of Hazaras

5- Period of Afghan invasion and occupation

6- Period of Islamic revolution

7- Period of Taliban

8- Period of western presence

The first four periods are key in developing composition of Hazaras as a nation and shaping their cultures, traditions, language into present form. The last four periods are key in developing the political and economical thoughts and positions of Hazaras among nations of World. Hence we can say that the History of Hazaras is composed of two eras. In the first era, Hazaras emerged as a nation and in second era they struggled for their political and economical autonomy. These two divisions ask historians, anthropologists, political and economical scientists for consideration in understanding human history and testing their hypothesis and theories. I think, history of Hazaras is very unique and has the potential to put new lights in understanding human evolution as it has all elements preserved in it.

A-  The era of development of Hazara nation

The era of development of Hazaras as a nation starts from Chinese period. The first Hazaras were the Dai people (Still, the major tribes of Hazaras are named as different Dai people, e.g, Dai-Zangi, Dai-Kundi,; Over time, migrations and assimilation have reduced and better say melted traditional tribal categories into a single Hazaragi identity pot and now these are mostly referred to name of places instead of traditional tribes) who came from southern parts of china during great exodus (Something that needs genetic studies to be confirmed or rejected) . These were the first people who carved the Bamiyan Buddha and Constructed the  Zuhak city and Ghalghola city in Bamiyan valley. The famous Silk Road was main trading route between central Asia, South Asia, Middle East countries and Far East countries. As the Buddhism was the dominant religion of the area, so Bamiyan had a peculiar significance as it was the central attraction for religious pilgrims and traders. The pilgrims and traders who came from different cultures and traditions played a vital role in behavioral, cultural and compositional development of earlier Hazaras. As Bamiyan was a cosmopolitan city, so the people were open minded and welcoming to other cultures and people. The monks, traders and pilgrims from different cultures and races came to Bamiyan mixed with local people and contributed to composition of local people. The religion was a bonding factor in the earliest Hazara society.

The inherited open-mindedness of Hazaras stands at the core of their cultural and behavioral developments  that  have survived even after long history of discrimination and persecutions and over time have become as a source of recognition for Hazaras. The earliest history of Hazaras is dominated by tendency towards art and creativity. The carving of Bamiyan Buddha in sandstone of Bamiyan canyon is a living evidence. It is also not amazing that Hazaras were the first people who invented the oil painting and used it in decorating and recording their religious beliefs in caves of Bamiyan. 

It was this period that Hazaras established the Shahri ghalghola (city of noises). There are two different  narratives about names of shahri ghalghola. Some believe that it was named so because most dwellers of this city were Buddhist monks. When they were worshiping and reciting their holy scripters, they were making noises. The second narrative is related to massive attacks of Mongols and mass killings of people of the city and surrounding areas. As Mongols attacked the city, they killed all it citizens and destroyed the Bamiyan in manner that it turned into ruins till now. This city and area as a whole lost its capacity of rebuilding and the area have not been able to revive its glory since then. As Mongols were killing local people noises of crying people filled the air and so the ruins of this city is named as shahri ghalghola, the city of noises.

Although Mongols destroyed the main city and massacred locals in large numbers but because of the resemblance of Hazarajat to Mongolian plateau, Mongolian soldiers that were seeking refuge adapted the area as their new homeland and  contributed greatly to its composition to an extent that Hazaras got the identity as Mongoloids. The climate, landscape, people and life styles were close to Mongols, so as time passed more Mongols took it as their new homeland, especially after Mongol rulers of Persia converted to Shiite. As Mongols clashed among themselves for thrones, the Hazarajat was an ideal place to take refuge to those who were defeated.

Hazaras e themselves believe that the conversion of Mongol rulers of Persia into shiites were though very significant in their history but the conversion of Hazaras into Shia Islam goes back to the time, when Imam Ali (P.B.U.H) were caliph. Hazaras legends have preserved this part of their history and the names of famous lakes in Bamiyan valley are linked to the conversion of Hazaras into Shia Islam. As Umavids took the caliphate, they started killings syeds (descendants of prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)and Shiites in general. Hazarajat were always a best refuge for those Syeds and Shiites due to two main reasons, firstly Hazaras were Shiites so they were welcoming fellow shiites and secondly, Hazarajat is rough country to pass and fight a war. After Hazaras become Shiites they never had a chance to grow their civilizations as the Hazarajat become an area of riots against Umavids and later on against Usmanid caliphates. The traditional rivalry among Muslims proved a big disadvantage to Hazaras as Hazarajat remained under siege for several centuries. The commerce and arts destroyed. The city life vanished. Hazarajat has started shrinking contiuousely under continuous attacks because Sunni Muslims were considering Shiite Hazaras as infidels and they were permitted to kill these infidels and occupy their lands and properties.

Despite these continuous siege and attacks on Hazarajat no army could enter Hazarajat until massive attacks of Mongols. Mongols completely destroyed the capacity of Hazaras to fight in an organized way. After this attack, Hazaras totally lost their civilized life. They never became able again to express themselves in general as this attack opened the door for occupation of Hazarajat by other nations.

As Mongols defeated by Turks, the Turks who were ruling Persia and central Asia also ruled Hazarajat and changed its composition, especially the Shiite Turks. Shiite Turks have contributed greatly to language and in changing the composition of Hazaras. As Hazaras were open to people that had the same religion so these Shiite Turks, never faced difficulty in accommodating and mixing with local population. Turks were defeated by Persians. Again as Persians were dominantly Shiites like Mongols and Turks they were welcomed. Due to rich literature and culture of Persian, Farsi were the official language of Mongols and Turks who ruled the area. Most of religious literature were also in Persian. Religious literature and administrative language influenced Hazaras to adapt Persian as their language. So, today we can see the Hazaragi so close to Farsi that it is counted as a dialect of Dari Farsi (Classical Persian). In fact, Hazaragi language is the only live history that have preserved each time period of Hazaras' history. Hazaragi have very rich language have the Mongolian, Turkish and Farsi words and expressions and there is the need of research to find links to those lingual connections to Dai people. Persians who are Aryans contributed mostly in cultural side of Hazaras than in composition of population of Hazaras but again the Aryan mixing is also present in Hazaras to some extent.

Conclusion: - A short and quick look into first era of Hazaras, clearly lead us to conclusion that religion was the dominant factor in construction of Hazaras as a nation both when they were Buddhist and when they  converted to Shia Islam. These processes are still continued. The most significant evidence of this can be seen both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, Hazaras are equal to synonym of Shiites. The same is true for Hazaras of Quetta. Both in Quetta Pakistan and Afghanistan the Shiites are represented by Hazaras. Hazaras in Pakistan never mixed with non Shiites but have mixed with fellow Shiites.

B- Era of development of political and economic thoughts of Hazaras

The new history of Hazaras starts by rise of Russians and European powers, especially the rivalry between English empire and Russian empire. The Russians and English empires weakened the Turkish and Persian empires and divided their areas. As English had less population so she used the local tribes as their proxies  by arming, supporting them and bringing them forward as an alternative to traditional Persian, Turkish and Mongol empires. This was the beginning of dark era in the history of whole region as tribal values replaced the traditional values of Eastern and Islamic values. The tribal leader asserted their power to fill the vacuum of power. It was the beginning of Pashtoon expansionism and Afghanization of neighboring tribes.

The ambitions of Pashtoon tribes, their Afghanization campaigns and their rivalry among themselves for power were suiting Imperial British's interests. British Empire organized, armed and helped them in their Afghanization campaigns to create a buffer zone  to stop Russians advance and avoid a direct confrontation with Russian Empire.This strategy of English Empire although beneficial to both Russians and English but proved disastrous to Hazaras. English helped in  training, armed them with new weapons and organized them to dominate the neighboring tribes so they could successfully create a buffer zone against Russians. As Afghans remained under Shiites Persians  rule for long so they had general hatred towards Shiites and Persians. Hazaras were both Shiites and Persian speaking, so the Afghans used those golden chances for ethnic cleansing of Hazaras.

The most conspicuous event is the campaign of Abdurahman khan against Hazaras. Britishers have sporadically recorded the events of Afghan invasions on Hazarajat. 75% percent of Hazaras land were cleared of Hazaras, allotted and repopulated by different tribes of Afghans. About 75% of Hazara populations were massacred and forced to migrate. Besides large number of forced migrations, a large number of Hazara population were forced to convert to Sunni Islam and their children and women were sold and presented to different Afghan tribes. In this period, Hazaras revolted several times against heavy taxes and injustices. Hazaras had not the permission to join Government posts and army. They were allowed only to jobs that other tribes were not willing to do. Those revolts though were not successful but developed the sentiments of Hazara nationhood and patriotism for Hazarajat. The thought of separate homeland for Hazaras were developed. Hazaras thought and think that the only solution for their miseries lie in freedom and liberation of Hazarajat. This process of Afghan invasion continued till the invasion of Afghanistan by Red Army.

The invasion of Red Army made Afghans busy with sponsored Jihad or so called Islamic revolution. This period is very significant for Hazaras. The communist regime allowed Hazaras in Kabul and Mazar sharif to enter school and universities, have government posts, and join the army.This was a golden era for Hazaras. Hazaras for the first time became able to organize themselves for their identities and rights. On other hand, in  Hazarajat, religious leaders inspired by Islamic revolution in Iran tried to wipe out the traditional feudal systems which were used by Afghans for exploitation of Hazaras. The attempted revolution turned into civil war among Hazaras. Although in this time period, the civil war snatched the opportunity for development  in Hazarajat however it resulted in some great changes that have and will have the positive impacts on Hazarajat. The feudal system vanished which made Hazarajat more open for democratization. The people became armed and hence they became able to resist Afghan invasion. The Afghan invasion, especially by means of Kuchis stopped and Hazarajat had autonomy in this period. It was this period that Hazaras after initial failed revolution and civil war reconciled again and united to create a single political party by name of Hizb Wahdat Islami. This party made for first time the presence of Hazara military and political presence to be felt in capital city of Kabul. It was first time that Hazaras made their voices heard by international community and get some shares in  Afghan government.

This accomplishment of Hazaras was not fitting to interests of Pakistan and Gulf States whose strategic interests and regional rivalries favor the dominance of Islamic radicals. These governments financed, trained and organized the radical Muslim militants from all Muslim countries under military organization of Taliban. Soon these efforts succeeded and the government of Mujahidin fell to Taliban. Once again, history repeated. The policies of Afghan invasion revitalized. The worst ethnic cleansing started under Taliban rule. Mazari sharif, Yakaolang, Bamyian were the scences of worst massacres. People killed, women raped and presented and sold to different Afghan tribes, Arabs and other radical Muslim militias, homes and mosques were burnt, livelihood of people were looted and freedom and autonomy of people vanished. Afghan Khuchis once again brought to Hazarajat(You can read Human Rights Watch report in external link section of this knol).Khuchis started demanding people for "losses" that they had during last thirty years of their absence from Hazarajat (Autonomy of Hazarajat). They started asking people for paying of taxes they had not collected for thirty years of Mujaheddin.

The emergence of Taliban and their repeat of same the policies of Afghan invasion made the beliefs of Hazaras more strong that there is only one solution for their all miseries and that is their own country by name of Hazarajat. They can’t be secure in state of Afghanistan, because Afghanistan provides the Afghans the legal rights and opportunities to continue the ethnic cleansing of Hazaras and snatching their lands and rights.

As the event of 9/11 affected other nations of world, it also had great significance in history and lives of Hazaras. Western countries faced for the first time the terror and danger that Hazaras were facing for centuries. The world first time realized the threats of radical Islamist  and how the minds that are filled with ideas of expansionism and rule by terror can destroy the nations who play with them as their strategic assets. The military defeat of Taliban brought hope of justice and equal shares along with freedom and development to Hazaras. The Western countries under umbrella of USA look friendlier to Hazaras, as they were not interfering with religion of Hazaras (the most important issue to Hazaras) contrary to Red Army, which Hazaras didn’t helped and cooperated based on the same single issue. But to astonishment of Hazaras, the Western coalition didn’t care much about the Justice, equal share of rights, autonomy and development of Hazarajat. The Western Coalition focused more on their national interests than securing people from terrorists. For sure, Hazaras are thankful to international community for their liberation and providing them more opportunities to earn recognition but Hazaras have still real concerns. And some of the recent events make their concern more real. The Kuchis are back to Hazarajat.

Hazaras returned their arms to international forces and disbanded their military forces believing on their good wills and capability to keep with their promises made to people of Afghanistan but Kuchis are still armed under nose of international community and they have made twice armed incursions into Hazarajat, (At times , it appeared that it has become a routine that every year Kuchis attack freely on Hazarajat, killing people, looting homes, burning homes, mosques, schools and cultivated lands. Then Hazaras demosntrate around the world and Afghan government request Kuchis to return. It is a big question mark on the face of ISAF and Afghan government as they were equally responsible for all losses. They are responsible because they allow armed Kuchis to attack Hazarajat and not preventing them) whose people un-armed themselves on the promise of international community for their protection. Kuchis killed people, looted people’s homes and burnt their crops. Even Kuchis claimed the lands of Hazaras and neither Afghan government nor international community did anything significant about arms and invasions of Kuchis. Amazingly! the policies of Afghan invasion of Hazarajat continued even in the presence of international community. Certainly! The last hopes of Hazaras are also finished. Time again and again proving to Hazaras that they have very limited chances of survival in co-existing with others unless they do not have autonomy or freedom. by their history. Soon or later the Western allies will leave Afghanistan and Hazaras once again will face Afghan invasion. That has put a big question mark on existential survival of Hazarajat.

As of now, there are several  future scenarios of Hazaras in association with changing Afghanistan,

a. A strong federation of Afghanistan that allows each nation have autonomy and hence a peaceful co-existence (That is a demand made by Afghan opposition but as of now, the Afghan government is taking it as Balkanization of Afghanistan)

b. The partition of Afghanistan into two states, one for Afghans and other one a federation of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazaras areas. This is one of the escape strategy suggested to international forces.

c. The current Scenario continues and after withdrawal of international forces in 2014, the repetition of 1990s decade.

Hazaras in Quetta Pakistan; 


1st Era; Because of several invasions, deliberate efforts of cultural destruction, changes in population compositions, forced migrations and economic blockade, the history and collective memory of Hazaras are lost. It is natural that there are many claims and counterclaims but despite all these ambiguities certain characteristics of Hazara people and their history remained intact, including,

a. Asiatic, specifically central Asian characters are evident both in their biology and culture.

b. Consisting to history of this part of word, despite of dominant Mongolian features, the Hazaras are a historical nation whose composition have been changed by invading forces and  people who migrated to seek shelter in Hazarajat.

c. Culture and ethnicity have been the dominant force in suppression, resistance and identity of Hazaras.

2nd Era: In the second era of Hazara history that is characterized by developments of political and economical thoughts, one idea has been strengthen during all four periods and that is the sole solution for securing Hazaras and their existence from Afghan invasion is freedom of Hazarajat as a homeland of Hazaras. Hazaras, neighboring nations and international community have sooner or later have to realize that if they do not want the repetition of historical tragedy again and again, they have to let Hazaras to have their own homeland and decide their own fate. The longer the realization, the bigger will be loss for all and bitterer will be the fate of this part of world.

External Links:

Afghanistan, The Messenger from Dark Past (Video Documentary)

4. Kuchis attacking Hazarajat;


Note. 1; [... Before we discuss the historical evolution of Hazara nation, let me make clear one thing. Modern people who are exposed to the concept of the nation states, ethnicity and races, usually ignore one key factor of not so long concept (perhaps a century old concept) and that is the nation meant very different thing in past particularly in most part of Asia. It was mostly the families who were ruling and making empires and the constant struggles for power within family of ruling classes and with other families were constantly shifting empires and alliances. The constant power struggles were a main cause of migrations and changes in the compositions of populations. In short when we talk, about history of nation we have to keep in mind two things,

1. The history of this region is not the history of nations but empires (which were families not nations) and empires were aggregates of different people. So when people try to link a nation with Kushanis or Sassanids and so on, they should not forget that they are mixing families with nations)

2. There is no nation purely based on an ethnicity or a culture but on aggregates of people that have enough commonalities that distinct them from other nations)....]

Note. 2;  Despite of systematic and several attempts for total destruction of the historical and cultural pasts of Hazaras by demolitions of historical places, burning of books and written records, killings of scholars and denial of education, the carved history of Hazaras on rock cliffs, Archaeological ruins and their genes could not be destroyed. Beside systematic efforts to delete the pasts of Hazaras, there have been systematic efforts to distort their past through creating ambiguity. In short, Archeology, language, cultural traditions and genetic studies are still reliable sources that invite for research into history of Hazaras. Having said that, I should acknowledge that so far history has been mostly composed of narratives. As a Hazara, I have my narrative of my history. Through my interactions with other people, I have noted several characteristics of Hazaras and these characteristics become even more distinct when we compare Hazaras to neighboring nations and those are the diversity of Hazaras' physical morphology, language, culture, a long history of migrations and ease of acceptance and assimilation to those who took refuge in them and adaptations. My narrative of my history comes from talks of my elders, my observations and history of the area and somewhat also of genetic studies. You may take it as my perception of my history but it is not just perceptions but RISE OF A NATION FROM ASHES...

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