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Hazara Culture

The origins of the Hazaras have not been fully reconstructed. At least partial Mongol descent is difficult to rule out, because the Hazaras' physical attributes and parts of their culture and language resemble those of Mongolians. Thus, it is widely accepted that Hazaras do have Mongolian ancestry, if not direct male-line descent from Genghis Khan, as some Hazaras allege.[11] Some Hazara tribes are named after famous Mongol generals, for example the Tulai Khan Hazara who are named after Tolui, the youngest son of Genghis Khan. Theories of Mongol or partially Mongol descent are plausible, given that the Il-Khanate Mongol rulers, beginning with Oljeitu, embraced Shia Islam. Today, the majority of the Hazaras adhere to Shi'ism, whereas Afghanistan's other ethnic groups are mostly Sunni. However, the population of the Sunni and Ismaili Hazaras against the Shi'ite Hazaras is not discussed extensively enough by the scholarship.
Another theory proposes that Hazaras are descendants of the Kushans,[12] the ancient dwellers of Afghanistan famous for constructing the Buddhas of Bamiyan. Its proponents find the location of the Hazara homeland, and the similarity in facial features of Hazaras with those on frescoes and Buddha's statues in Bamiyan, suggestive. However, this belief is contrary not only to the fact that the Kushans were Indo-European Tocharians, but also to historical records which mention that in a particularly bloody battle around Bamiyan, Genghis Khan's grandson, Mutugen, was killed, and he ordered Bamiyan to be burnt to the ground in retribution.[13]
A third theory, and the one accepted by most scholars, maintains that Hazaras are a very mixed race. This is not entirely inconsistent with descent from Mongol military forces. For example, Nikudari Mongols settled in eastern Persia and mixed with native populations who spoke Persian.[6] A second wave of mostly Chagatai Mongols came from Central Asia and were followed by other Turko-Mongols, associated with the Ilkhanate (driven out of Persia) and the Timurids, all of whom settled in Hazarajat and mixed with the local Persian population, forming a distinct group.[6]


Genetically, the Hazara are primarily eastern Eurasian with western Eurasian genetic mixtures.[14][15][16] Genetic research suggests that they are related to neighboring peoples, while there also seems to be a patrimonial relation to Mongol peoples of Mongolia.[17][18] Mongol male ancestry is supported by studies in genetic genealogy as well, which have identified a particular lineage of the Y-chromosome characteristic of people of Mongolian dscent ("the Y-chromosome of Genghis Khan").[14] This chromosome is virtually absent outside the limits of the Mongol Empire except among the Hazara, where it reaches its highest frequency anywhere. About 75-80 % the Hazara males sampled carry a Y-chromosome of this lineage.[19][20]


Emergence of the Hazara

In the late 16th century, the first mention of Hazaras are made by the court historians of Shah Abbas of the Safavid dynasty and by Babur (Emperor of the Mughal Empire) in his Baburnama, referring to the people living from west of Kabul to Ghor, and south to Ghazni.[6]

18th century

In their modern history, Hazaras have faced several wars and forced displacements. Since the beginnings of modern Afghanistan in the mid 18th century, Hazaras have faced persecution from the Pashtuns and have been forced to flee from many parts of today's Afghanistan to Hazarajat.[6] In the mid 18th century they were forced out of Helmand and the Arghandab basin of Kandahar.[6] During Dost Mohammad Khan's rule, Hazaras in Bamiyan and the Hazarajat area were heavily taxed. However, for the most part they still managed to keep their regional autonomy in Hazarajat.[6] This would soon change as the new Emir, Abdur Rahman Khan, was brought to power.

 Subjugation by Abdur Rahman Khan

Besudi Hazara chieftains, taken by John Burke in 1879–80, possibly at Kabul, Afghanistan.
As the new Emir, Abdur Rahman set out a goal to bring Hazarajat under his control. After facing resistance from the Hazaras, he launched several campaigns in Hazarajat with many atrocities and ethnic polarization. The southern part of Hazarajat was spared as they accepted Abdur Rahman's rule, while the other parts of Hazarajat rejected Abdur Rahman and supported his uncle, Sher Ali Khan. Abdur Rahman waged war against Hazaras who reject his policies and ruling.[6]
In 1856 Abdur Rahman arrested Syed Jafar, chief of Sheikh Ali Hazara, and jailed him in Mazar-e-Sharif. The first Hazara uprising took place during 1888–90. When Abdur Rahman's cousin, Mohammad Eshaq, revolted against him, the Sheikh Ali Hazaras joined the revolt. The revolt was short lived and crushed as the Emir extended his control over large parts of Hazarajat. Sheikh Ali Hazaras had allies in two different groups, Shia and Sunni. Abdur Rahman took advantage of the situation, pitting Sunni Hazaras against Shia Hazaras, and made pacts among Hazaras.
After all of Sheikh Ali Hazara chiefs were sent to Kabul, opposition within the leadership of Sawar Khan and Syed Jafar Khan continued against government troops, but at last were defeated. Heavy taxes were imposed and Pashtun administrators were sent to occupied places, where they subjugated the people with many abuses.[6] The people were disarmed, villages were looted, local tribal chiefs were imprisoned or executed, and the best lands were confiscated and given to Pashtun nomads (Kuchis).[6][21]

 Second uprising

The second uprising occurred in 1890–93. The cause of the uprising was the rape of the wife of a Hazara chief by 33 Afghan soldiers. The soldiers had entered their house under the pretext of searching for weapons and raped the chief's wife in front of him. The families of the Hazara chief and his wife retaliated against the humiliation, killed the soldiers and attacked the local garrison, where they took back their weapons. Several other tribal chiefs who supported Abdur Rahman now turned against him and joined the rebellion which rapidly spread through the entire Hazarajat. In response to the rebellion, the Emir declared a "Jihad" against the Shiites and raised an army of 40 000 soldiers, 10 000 mounted troops, and 100 000 armed civilians (most of which were Pashtun nomads). He also brought in British military advisers to assist his army.[21] The large army defeated the rebellion at its center, in Oruzgan, by 1892 and the local population was severely massacred. According to S. A. Mousavi:
thousands of Hazara men, women, and children were moved to Mountain area from their land and Kabul and Qandahar, while numerous towers of human heads were made from the defeated rebels as a warning to others who might challenge the rule of the Amir.[21]

 Third upraising

The third upraising of Hazaras was in response to the harsh repression, the Hazaras revolted again by early 1893s. This revolt took the government forces by surprise and the Hazaras managed to take most of Hazarajat back. However, after months of fighting, they were eventually defeated due to a shortage of food. Small pockets of resistance continued to the end of the year as government troops committed atrocities against civilians and deported entire villages.[21]
Abdur Rahman's subjugation of the Hazaras due to fierce rebellion against the Afghan king gave birth to strong hatred between the Pashtuns and Hazaras for years to come. Massive forced displacements, especially in Oruzgan and Daychopan, continued as lands were confiscated and populations were expelled or fled. Some 35 000 families fled to northern Afghanistan, Mashhad (Iran), Quetta (Pakistan), and even as far as Central Asia. It is estimated that more than 60% of the Hazara population were massacred or displaced during Abdur Rahman's campaign against them. Hazara farmers were often forced to give up their property to Pashtuns and as a result many Hazara families had to leave seasonally to the major cities in Afghanistan, Iran, or Pakistan in order to find jobs and a source of income. Pakistan is now home to one of the largest settlements of Hazara, particularly in and around the city of Quetta.[21] Pashtun-Hazara conflicts were and are based solely on Shia-Sunni relations, thus the conflict was continued by the Talibans.

 Hazaras in the 20th century

Faiz Mohammad Katib Hazara, a historian from Afghanistan.
In 1901, Habibullah Khan, Abdur Rahman's successor, granted amnesty to all people who were exiled by his predecessor. However, the division between the Afghan government and the Hazara people was already made too deep under Abdur Rahman. Hazaras continued to face severe social, economic and political discrimination through most of the 20th century.[6]
Mistrust of the central government by the Hazaras and local uprisings continued. In particular, in the 1940s, during Zahir Shah's rule, a revolt took place against new taxes that were exclusively imposed on the Hazaras. The Pashtun nomads meanwhile not only were exempted from taxes, but also received allowances from the Afghan government.[6] The angry rebels began capturing and killing government officials. In response, the central government sent a force to subdue the region and later removed the taxes.

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