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 Origin of the name

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PostSubject: Origin of the name   Origin of the name Icon_minitimeSun Oct 17, 2010 3:17 pm

The first part of the name, "Afghan", is, at least since the 16th century AD, the Persian alternative name for the Pashtuns who are the founders and the largest ethnic group of the country. According to W. K. Frazier Tyler, M. C. Gillet and several other scholars "the word Afghan first appears in history in the Ḥudūd al-ʿĀlam in 982 AD." Al-Biruni referred to Afghans as various tribes living on the western frontier mountains of the Indus River, which would be the Sulaiman Mountains.[19]

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. Their principle mountain is called Kuh Sulayman.[20]

However, it is unknown whether these historical Afghans were identical with the Pashtuns.[21] Summarizing the available information, the Encyclopćdia Iranica states:

From a more limited, ethnological point of view, "Afghān" is the term by which the Persian-speakers of Afghanistan (and the non-Paštō-speaking ethnic groups generally) designate the Paštūn. The equation [of] Afghan [and] Paštūn has been propagated all the more, both in and beyond Afghanistan, because the Paštūn tribal confederation is by far the most important in the country, numerically and politically.[22]

It further explains:

The term "Afghān" has probably designated the Paštūn since ancient times. Under the form Avagānā, this ethnic group is first mentioned by the Indian astronomer Varāha Mihira in the beginning of the 6th century CE in his Brihat-samhita.

By the 17th century AD, it seems that some Pashtuns themselves were using the term as an ethnonym - a fact that is supported by traditional Pashto literature, for example, in the writings of the 17th-century Pashto poet Khushal Khan Khattak:

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